I was talking on Sunday about our community and how it feels. I was wondering out loud about how to encapsulate what made it so welcoming and inspiring. This reminded me of when I did an evaluation of a regeneration scheme which was very successful - everyone said that the one factor above all that made it good was Eric the programme manager who had led the project from day one. Given that there was only one Eric I needed to talk to people about what it was about Eric that made him such an effective leader if we were to find similar staff to run schemes. When I had finished I was not certain that I had the essence of Eric - but I was getting close.
And so it is when we try to encapsulate the best of our communities - there are things which we can explain - how people are welcoming and then describing what welcoming actually means: how people are generous - with their time, their money, their resources and their smiles; how people approach difficulties - being committed to resolving conflict without feeling hard-done to at the end of the resolution; being mindful of the needs of others; being committed to making changes if things aren't working well; and I guess some other characteristics. Whilst we can describe all of this, it is how to make it real that is the hard bit.
I feel that there is a spiritual imperative to invest time and energy into my chosen faith community. The choice that I/we make is whether to commit or not to commit - if we decide to commit then we should be prepared to do what it takes.