God’s Developing Call

We’ve now been having dinner together as a faith community for several weeks and it’s been really lovely.  There is a flow to the conversation; We check in and catch up as we gather, then we talk about the question of the day while we eat, and finally over dessert we share the ways that we can be present to one another in the coming week.  It’s an amazing time of connection and honest conversation.  The things that people share and the ways that bonds have formed take my breath away in their depth and holiness.  Sometimes we have more people, sometimes we have less.  And sometimes we have awkward moments as we talk.  But that is what make it even better- it’s real.  We as people are awkward and busy and our dinners reflect that. God is in the ordinariness of life and we definitely see that here.As we’ve stepped in to the dinners it’s getting harder to juggle everything else we are doing as a faith community   We have a small group of participants, but it seems like everyone has a favorite thing.  In fact the reason we’ve started each event is because someone was excited about it.  But it’s time to refine.  We need to let go of some of the things we’ve started so we as leaders aren’t stretched too thin and we’re not diluting our connection with one another.  In fact what I’m finding is that we constantly have to think about what we are doing and how effective it is.  And that is hard.  I like taize, but we’re taking the summer off.  It’s...

Pushup Perseverance

Jeff and I have been doing Pilates faithfully for several months now.  We attend a class for an hour every Wednesday and then each night we do 20 minutes of exercising right after our daughter’s bedtime.  I never do pushups doing those 20 minutes.  I hate pushups.  Not surprisingly to many of you who know me well, I whine about pushups during class.  Which means that our instructor Anne makes me do pushups.  Every week.  I’m pretty sure the other students hate me at this point.  It’s enough that I just do 20 minutes of Pilates a night, but to really be healthy and to change my body I need Anne to push me during class to try the exercises that are hard for me. This truth revealed through Pilates is a mirror of my spiritual life.  Sometimes it feels like freedom is what I need most in life, the freedom to create, to follow my spiritual journey, to live the life God has called me to live.  Sometimes however I long for accountability.  To be challenged to grow and to confront those things that are barriers in my life I need to be held accountable by a community.  I feel like in my faith life I am sometimes so bound up by the business of church there is no room or freedom for ministry.  If I went to Pilates class every day and was pushed too far I would quit sooner rather than later.  Sometimes I’ve found myself so far off the path and so disconnected from God that I’m not really sure what I’m doing anymore. If...

I Go To Church on Sunday

The number one question I get from people when they are asking me how the new start is going is, “How many people do you have in worship?” My response of, “We’re not doing a worship model,” inevitably brings confusion.  It seems like no matter how many times I say that we are experimenting with the form of church it never quite makes sense. For most of us church is Sunday morning worship.  There are other activities to be sure, but gathering on Sunday morning for worship and fellowship is the defining experience for most congregants today.  However, the church didn’t start out with Sunday morning worship.  The church started out as groups of people living and eating together.  These early Christians were sharing their lives as they tried to faithfully follow the teachings of Jesus.  Over time church buildings were built and regular worship services were held.  Worship was the celebration of the community life, a time to come together to participate in reinforcing rituals that taught the theology and illuminated the practice of the day. The church has evolved over two millennia to the form we currently have in the US, but that doesn’t mean it is the only way for people to be living lives of deep faith.   For us a faith community is about sharing our lives with others as we all strive to be more faithful to God.  Right now this means bible study, book study, one-on-one conversations, service projects, weekly dinners, and monthly worship. What I really think people want to know is are we successful?  We’re meeting our financial benchmarks, learning...

The Changing ‘Hood

We’ve been living here in Sellwood for 10 months now.  When we arrived I knew that the neighborhood had undergone some pretty big changes in the previous ten years.  The student population at the local elementary school has doubled in that time. What was a slightly gritty, if antique store filled, part of town has become more gentrified with developers moving in to tear down 80 year old craftmans to put up the best of modern design.  Somehow, despite knowing about these changes, I assumed that the Sellwood I had researched and then discovered by living here was a static entity.  Even though I’m not an old hand I know this place and these people. My first real world inkling that this was not the case was when the Subway down the block closed.  Part of me was sad, this was where we had grabbed sandwiches to take to the family in those first awful days at the hospital. Part of me was indifferent as we hadn’t eaten there since.  Part of me was excited to see what would take up residence in the spot.  Then I started to notice more For Lease signs on closed businesses in the area and a new restaurant moved into the neighborhood.  The coffee shop where I hold meetings announced that they were moving down the road to a better location.  Our next door neighbor is putting an apartment in his basement.  The house across the street cut down large trees, radically changing the way our block looks. A farmer’s market opened up down the street and I found out a shop I...