New Plans Brought to You by Time & Wine

Things are continuously building and changing with our new church start.  We’re always learning and that means adjusting as we go.  To that end we are moving back to having only one dinner a week, starting the week of February 8th.  Our core group of 9 has felt a little disconnected between the 2 dinners, so we’re responding to that.  We also feel like we’ve gotten away from hosting parties and from gateway events for new people, so reducing the dinners allows our core group to focus on these other aspects of our model.  We’ve got exciting new things in the works like a website and a possible spin-off community.  There are cool new projects afoot such as a meditation hike for the spring and an idea for a children’s ministry. Some of this came together last night after spending January focusing on our spiritual goals as individuals and as a community.  As we drank wine and ate dinner we shared the hopes we had for this community. It was easy to see the decisions we needed to be making to really stay true to our vision of living present love in our neighborhoods.  We lingered over the table, filled with hope and excitement about the possibilities of what God was calling us to. Now, I don’t actually think alcohol needs to be involved, although it did help last night to free us from some of our inhibitions so we could share our wildest ideas.  What really got us to this space where possibilities can develop was the sort of relationships described by that metaphor of sharing a bottle...

On the Trapeze Without a Net

This work of planting a new church can sometimes feel like being on a trapeze without a net.  Part of this is because I sometimes feel isolated and part of it is the pressure to make something grow.  I’m not doing the same kind of work as many of my colleagues, so when we get together to share I often feel like the odd one out.  The pressure to succeed in ways that benefit the church institution means that my relationship with the leaders in my area feels more difficult than in the past. The risk of falling seems very real and often I think no one will be there to catch me.  What I have realized is that these feelings aren’t the whole picture.  We’ve been so supported and encouraged by our peers.  I just need to look at our donation records, or read the lovely cards people have sent to  let us know that they are praying for us.  Each of my colleagues serves a unique context, but we all have a common ground of trying to faithfully serve where we are located.  Maybe I’m not so odd after all.  Or maybe if I am it doesn’t really matter.  It’s clear when I look for it that my pastor friends are cheering me on. As to the leadership I think my problem here is that I expected them to have all the right answers, when really all of us are experimenting and exploring uncharted territory.  I have to trust that they are not the ones holding the net, but rather are with me as I step out in...

Faith in Money

Our online banking username and passwords are scripture references.  This means that every time I log in to balance our checkbook or pay bills I start by typing scripture.  It is a way of being grounded in what I believe as I distribute and manage one of my worldly resources.  Part of the reason I do this is that once I heard a sermon that claimed that a checkbook is a theological statement.  I think this is true because money is a distillation of our lives. It’s what we trade our time and energy for so that we can in turn trade the money for housing, food, entertainment, and more. How we do this illumines what we value.  If you were to look at your bank statements as a reflection of what matters to you would it match up? I know that when I’m stressed and annoyed I find myself buying things to pamper myself.  This is not inherently a bad thing and in small doses can be good self-care, but it can spiral in to self-indulgence.  Suddenly I’m telling myself I deserve all sorts of things and before long all my resources are allocated to frivolities that were fun for a moment, but have no lasting depth.  That’s not what I want my life to be about. Reminding myself what matters to me and using my resources, not just money, but time and energy as well to reflect those values is a regular part of my spiritual practice.  This is something I am refining.  It’s also something that a lot of people in our community are interested in...

I’ve Got the Magic in Me

Magic is not a subject that we often talk about in church.  In fact churches are known for being anti-magic, with a reputation for everything from burning witches at the stake to banning books like Harry Potter. In this rejection of magic I think we’ve lost something, a way to name the wonder and awe of divine celebration. This is true for me especially at epiphany, the day on which folks in traditional churches celebrate the arrival of the wise men to see the child Jesus.  In fact the greek word to describe the wise men is μάγοι, often written in English as magi. This is the root word of magic. Astronomers, alchemists, illusionist, fortune tellers, and the like were labeled as magi as were the Zoroastrians, practitioners of an ancient Persian religion.  There is a mysteriousness here.  This story is full of meaning and depth from bright stars to prophetic gifts to warning dreams.  It is a magic tale. As a child the wise men were by far my favorite members of the creche scene.   Maybe it was the presents or how their opulence contrasted with the shepherds and the humble stable.  Perhaps it was the star, following something like that so different from my map based life.  There is something quiet and majestic about the three kings that has always fascinated me. Sometimes in the day to day work of church, in the well worn aspects of my faith I long for a bit of mystery.  I need to be reminded by ones who journeyed far on the strength of nothing more than a star that sometimes risking...