The God of What’s Next

I came home on a recent Friday to a large stack of packages on the front door step.  One box was Paige’s Easter goodies from her Grandpa Bud in Chicago.  The other two boxes held books.  One box was stuff for our upcoming trip to Scotland and Ireland, including a gift for the groom.  The other was all Rob Bell books.  Over the years my collection has been depleted as I loaned out his books to others.  I think this is the 4th or 5th time I’ve bought the book Sex God, which I’m sure makes my Amazon.com preferences a little skewed.  The release of his new book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God was the perfect excuse to make sure my works of Rob Bell shelf was full once again.  Friday was busy as was Saturday, so I didn’t open the boxes until Saturday night.  My practice of late has been to watch a couple of reruns of Friends after Jeff goes to bed.  Something about laughing and spending time with these old, familiar characters has been just what I need before sleep.  In the midst of a time of turmoil and change this show has brought some solace.  Saturday night though I decided instead to start on the new book, maybe read the first chapter.  I could not put it down and only forced myself to go to sleep when the text became blurry. Instead of laughing at a comedy from last decade this book provided me with the comfort I needed, desperately.   My mom’s daily morning text woke me early Sunday.  I...

People Actually Notice?

Something completely breathtaking and wonderful happened today.  The community got together and decided that they needed to say thank you to the church I currently serve for the work we have done in this community.  The school board sent us a thank you note for the contributions we have made to the Fern Ridge School District.  The Ministerial Association sent a message offering thanks for our membership and support.  Other groups were represented at worship today when a speaker got up and shared the way our church has made a tangible difference in this community.  And apparently there is more coming.   As the woman got up during announcements to speak I had no idea what was happening.  Her mother is a member and this woman has attended very sporadically, and it was surprising to see her come over to make an announcement.  As she spoke I felt my heart strangely warmed.  The people of this community clearly understand what we have been doing, and how we have been striving to faithfully follow Jesus and to share God’s love with our neighbors.   This makes it so much harder to leave and so much easier to leave.  I know that the work we have done has been felt and seen, and, in the case of the community meal, tasted.  I know that there is more work to do here, but I also see that some of the things we have done have worked and I’m anxious and excited to try them in our new setting.  I know the spirit will continue on in new and surprisingly holy ways here...

Holiness in Paper Mache

As the news of our new community has spread among our colleagues, friends, and family it’s clear that while many of you are happy for us and excited about this ministry,  you also think we are a bit crazy.  You are right.  Starting with not much; a house, a plan, and a little bit of money is terrifying, but really I wouldn’t want it any other way.   You see I love the church and I can’t even begin to count the number of amazing holy moments I’ve experienced during worship or in the life of the church.  Yet some of the most transformative moments I know happen outside of the church.  I’ve never found a good way to bring those two things together, so that’s part of what we’re trying to do in Sellwood. For instance, just this last week I saw the scripture of the lost sheep happen at our local elementary school.  One little guy was unaccounted for because he decided it would be more fun to hide in the girl’s bathroom than to go to reading group. He was located in under two minutes, but in those moments glimpsing the staff’s response and care for him was overwhelming. God’s love and the importance of a single lost sheep were on display on just a regular day at school.  I wept in the parking lot after, for to be so close to God at work in the world is amazing.  This may just confirm to you that I am crazy, the mundane of a child being naughty and the staff just doing their job causes me...

Thank you!

In the weeks since our announcement I’ve had tons of questions about how we got the idea to do this.  The answer is that we think it’s divinely inspired and that this inspiration has partially come through all the people who have been part of our journey. The heart of the new start community, the cake if you will, is based on small group gatherings.    We will gather each week in small groups to worship, study, pray, eat, and talk.  This is born out of countless dinners with friends.  So thank you to Jeff, Courtney, Dan, Angie, David, & Jen who sat around the table with us, talking about everything and anything and in the process helping us grow in spirit.  It is born out of the most incredible bible study. Thank you to Sharlene, Mike, Dan, Ashley, Julie, and others who talked about the bible and everyday life each week at Shari’s.  It is born out of intentional small group formation.  Thank you to Kelly who helped us learn how vital small groups can be and to Cassie, Brian, Chris, Brenda, and Darlene who were part of our first group that incorporated kids as equal members (The kiddos, Camren, Brennon, Phillip, Jack, and Riley, deserve a shout out too!)   Mission Opportunities are another weekly aspect of the new start community. (The filling or perhaps another layer of cake?  My metaphor may be wearing down a bit)  At first there will be a few options each month, some of them family friendly.  Over time those will grow to a few options each week.  The first thank you...