Have you ever felt that while you are surrounded by people your still on your own? Unfortunately this seems to be the norm for many of us. I travel all over the world, but I’ve never visited any place like Ecivres. The first thing I noticed was how everyone was helpful and considerate. As I neared Ecivres, people stopped cutting in front of me on the freeway, and readily let me change lanes as soon as I switched on my indicator light. When I arrived in the parking lot at my destination, I pulled up to the last parking spot at the same time as another car. To my surprise they motioned me to go first!
I was delivering a large box to my contact person, and as I neared the door of the building, a smiling passerby stopped and held it open for me. When I hesitated in the lobby uncertain which way to go, several people noticed and warmly offered to help. One even guided me to the elevator, opened the door and hit the button for my floor while wishing me a great day.
People appeared busy, but somehow not so preoccupied that they ignored each other. Instead, they smiled and greeted each other, creating a personal, unhurried atmosphere that I experienced wherever I went. When I mentioned to my contact how clean the streets and sidewalks were, he just smiled and said, “It’s important to us to make our environment pleasant for everyone.”
Then I asked about crime rates and homelessness in Ecivres, and my contact looked puzzled. “How do these help others?” he asked. “We don’t practice these in Ecivres. We are here to serve each other. When anyone has a need, we all feel it, and we come together to see the need is met.”
As my day in Ecivres continued, the warm, caring attitude of others relaxed and infused me with a deep feeling of peace and happiness. I found myself wanting to move there. How wonderful it would be to live in that atmosphere every day!
What is your most pressing concern right now? Imagine living in a community like Ecivres where peoples’ main goal is to serve one another and see others’ needs met. How would this change the way you experience your problems and your relationships with others? How would it affect your stress level and your sense of hope?
Can you imagine a society where power is determined by the ability to serve, rather than the “dog eat dog,” “winner take all” attitude that tends to dominate our culture today? How would your life be different if you knew people were committed to being helpful, rather than taking advantage of each other? Living in such a community of service would increase understanding, acceptance and unity between people, and promote hope, encouragement and a sense of belonging and self-worth within each person.
For now, the community of Ecivres exists only in that realm called possibility, but it is a reality to which God is consistently calling us. The night before Jesus was crucified, in His last conversation with His disciples, He took time to give them an object lesson on servanthood. He wrapped a towel around His waist and washed the feet of each disciple. He then told them to always serve one another, for in doing this they would be demonstrating their love for one another.
Ecivres is a backward community. It is the reverse of the daily world we know and live in. God tells us that real power is not having control over or manipulating people, but willingly serving others, lifting them to become all they can. (Matthew 20:25-28) In God’s eyes, servants of others like Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela are the ones who are truly great and powerful.
Come join us this Sunday at 10:30 am and continue this discussion. I will speak on “Church Service: Meeting or Ministry?” the 3rd part in my current series on church membership.