Slow Communion: Habitus-changing Formation for Multiethnic Churches

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2021

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Colón-Emeric, Edgardo
Holton, Jan

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Abstract

Multiethnic churches could be places of healing and profound witness to the reconciliation found in Christ. Unfortunately, our habitus, that interior framework that shapes the way we conceive of the world, is not currently sufficient to allow for the flourishing of multiethnic churches. Western cultural habitus has shaped us to see divisions as normal, to place value judgments on people and see them as other, and to prioritize success and efficiency over the slow growth of humans and relationships. The church has largely accepted this habitus, which has resulted in Christians who are unable to imagine and live into the realized reconciliation, communion, that is the hallmark of the new creation in Christ.Multiethnic churches and their people need a new habitus to enable them to reimagine their gathered life together. Drawing upon Paul’s discussion of the Lord’s Supper and the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians, we find that Spirit-led communion with Christ allows us to reimagine communion with others. Herein, four elements emerge as helpful in forming the new habitus: finding identity and belonging in communion with Christ; discerning the body of Christ; waiting for and receiving one another; and becoming a witness to the crucified and risen Christ, for the sake of the world. These suggest slow, embodied practices that, when led by the Holy Spirit, reshape our vision of the world and our ways of gathering. Ways of engaging a number of such practices toward the formation of a new habitus, and thus a new communion, will be suggested. Slow communion becomes a way of describing both the long journey of reconciliation, and those practices that reshape us for communion on this journey. Our communion is slow because it takes time to form a new habitus, and be formed by it. It is slow because the new vision of life together requires us to engage the brokenness we wrought in our old habitus of division and speed, a reckoning which cannot be skipped over or rushed. And it is slow because it leads toward a realized reconciliation, a communion for lifetimes together, never ending, always seeking to follow close to the leading of the Holy Spirit. By learning to see the life together as a Spirit-shaped, slow communion, multiethnic churches may be able to become bodies of true communion, living and proclaiming the reconciliation of Christ, for the sake of a weary and hopeless world.

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Citation

Wu, Jodie (2021). Slow Communion: Habitus-changing Formation for Multiethnic Churches. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/24475.

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