This however, has not been my calling.
My calling has been to walk alongside a group of people for a long time, and through that time, see them grow and change to become a healthy vibrant part of The Church.
Often during the past ten years, I confess frustration with the pace of health we have experienced.
Then there are days like today.
Today I was so proud of them.
When I first met them, so many of their decisions were made based on fear. Fear of loss of control or power. Fear of change and New. Fear that others could not be trusted with power.
Fear was always at the core of their motivation.
But to see them today, exercising trust and confidence, you would hardly recognize them.
Yesterday we as a church reached the "third level".
I had always believed that given our difficult past, we needed to first of all get ourselves forgiven of our past mistakes. Then we needed to draw near to our God, to begin to see him as the head of our church and our hearts. Then finally we could reach out to our needy community with a gospel that was tried and true and lived out in our daily lives right here. Thatâ€™s kind of been my three step program Iâ€™ve been working towards here at Gateway.
Well, lately God has been bringing up before us the needs of our city and more specifically the marginalized in this city. We have been asking how we can help with the needs here.
Yesterday 8 or 9 of our people together in a group somewhat representative of the church, headed over to a weekend food kitchen a couple of churches started up for the weekends. There is no hot food available here on the weekends and that is a need here.
But our involvement in this outreach signifies for me a real milestone. It was always where I hoped we would one day be, together as a church.
Today a bunch of them got up in front of the church and told us their stories from yesterday. And for a guy whoâ€™s been here ten years, hoping for us to one day reach this level of looking beyond ourselves, well it was a real emotional day.
Now Iâ€™m not the one who has fixed them. I have no sense of that and frankly, Iâ€™m just not that good.
What I have sought to give them is a sense of stability.
Itâ€™s one of those things I feel deeply in my bones, that the calling or gift of being a long time in one place can create a safe place for people to explore their own growth and healing. And I have tried to give them that.
I like how the Abbey Way Covenant Church has made stability one of their core principles:
Stability calls us to a committed way of life with a certain group of people for the long haul. Stability in monastic tradition would also add the willingness to be grounded in a geographic location from which mission and ministry is birthed. From a place of deep listening to God and connection to the people around them, the community's charism and calling is discovered.
In particular, stability requires a interior stay with-it-ness when external or internal forces toss us about, making us want to flee.
The principle of stability is deeply rooted in God's faithfulness to us. It is promised, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." It is in this promise of God with us through His constant abiding presence we are able to commit ourselves to each other in God.
Yeah, thatâ€™s how itâ€™s resonated in my heart too.
It creates a safe place to be myself, and from that place, to grow. And to reach outward.
Now as we enter this summer and autumn, there seems to be a shift happening in the church. I donâ€™t know what that looks like or where it goes, but I am excited to see it unfold.
And honestly, it has the feel of graduation in it. Like we as a church have graduated from one level of growth and are preparing for the next part of our life.
As the Abby Way church has put it; â€œFrom a place of deep listening to God and connection to the people around them, the community's charism and calling is discovered.â€
I think we might be ready to see what it is that God has been shaping us for.
And I have some suspicions but for now itâ€™s just good that we enjoy the graduation ceremonies.
We have come so far. Letâ€™s celebrate that and enjoy our progress.
Tomorrow we can decide which University to go to.