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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

24 August 2012: Rev'd Thomas James, assistant curate at St Peter's.

Community values

My first few weeks living in Petersfield have flown by. The boxes are unpacked, the pictures hung. I am busy settling in and enjoying exploring the town and local area. After years in flat East Anglia the presence of hills have been a joy, and a certain surprise when cycling. By far the most enjoyable aspect of moving here has been getting to know new people and becoming a part of the community.

Community is at the heart of Christianity. We believe that God created us to be in relationship with Him, and to be in relationship with each other. For Christians faith has to be a communal, not an individual activity. This is why the central ritual in Christianity is the Eucharist, that shared communal meal of bread and wine, which unites us not just with Christ but also with each other.

In the Church of England just before receiving communion we often say together: 'Though we are many, we are one body, because we all share in one bread'. The Christian community is one called to transcend differences of age, gender, or background; all are welcome. Sadly, being in a community is not always easy, and we don't always live up to it. All I can do is apologise if your experience of Christian communities has left something to be desired. But, if we can stick at it, working through our differences and disagreements, community offers enormous opportunity and reward.

Being a part of a community brings friendship, support, and solidarity, and it offers the chance to live a life lived for others and with others. This is an amazingly countercultural demand in a culture based so strongly on the individual. And so I look forward to being here in Petersfield and building community with you.

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