Sacred Restraint

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A Radical Love

Subscribe to the Spiritual Formation Center to share your Lenten Journey experience.

hands holding the sun at dawn

Lenten Practice: Fasting
Daily Act: Engage in an act of generosity today. Buy someone a cup of coffee, send a note or gift to someone you think could use it, or make time in your day to spend with someone who could use your gift of time and presence. Dwell in the experience of self-emptying for the sake of another.
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“OPEN ME TO RECEIVE MORE OF YOU.”

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

The closer I grow to Christ
The more I feel
A radical love
On fire within me
Aching for release

How do I explain?
It is wholeness
It is salvation
It is justice

It is fulfillment
And emptying

What might happen
If I let this radical love
Lose on the world?

Where might it lead?
What might if ask of me?
How might it change me?

The more I get to know
The One I claim to follow
The more I see how
My wholeness is linked
With the well-being of all
The more I see how
The deepest dream within me
Is Shalom

Maybe this is what Lent is for
Attention to this radical love
Which is
Christ alive deep within you
With a heart on fire for
Something new

I am beginning to understand
In that space beyond words
What it means
That I must lose my life
To find it

REMINDER: March 1, 2015 is the registration deadline for our upcoming Lenten Retreat with Presiding Evangelist, David Brock. The theme is INTO THE WILDERNESS (March 13-15). If you are seeking a deeper exploration of the season of Lent in your life and yearn to grow closer with God, we would love to share this experience with you! Email khmclaughlin@cofchrist.org if you have any questions.

Lenten Spiritual Retreat with Presiding Evangelist David Brock.  March 13-15, 2015 Click here to register!

MEET YOUR TEAM: The Innovative Ministries Team

Team Meeting @ Farmhousewritten by: The Innovative Ministries Team

What if we could engage with the wider body of the church in a way that we never thought was possible? What if we, the prophetic people, took advantage of our ability to work with the Spirit, moving forward as a people of faith into the unknown, to face the challenges of our time?

Well, we can!

The Community of Christ is in a unique place right now. Autumn and spring are happening simultaneously. As we speak, the World Church (International Headquarters) is dealing with an issue where our income is not matching our intended mission plan. Consequently, we are bunkering down to weather the storm with cuts to staffing and intentional missional work. However, at the same time, we are seeing God work in amazing ways through new and exciting opportunities. We do not feel that one needs to be fixed before the other taken care of. We believe that spring can happen (and does happen!) whilst parts of the church take care of financial matters.

Traditions, culture, our global nature and ideological differences all lead us to different places. Does this mean change should not occur? No. This just means we need to work harder to ensure we move forward together.

Innovative Ministries Team retreatOver the coming weeks and months, the Innovative Ministries Team (formally the Young Adult Ministries Team) is moving forward in spring. Moving for change. We are working hard to ensure that new and exciting endeavours are seen as ways we can accelerate growth. Growth not only in discipleship and faith, but also in providing further opportunities to give. We know that if young adults are not intentionally engaged, we will not always respond. Our lives are complex and multi-faceted. We need to prioritise more than ever before where our 24hrs in a day goes. Unfortunately, this includes our spiritual lives.

So, what does this mean for us?

We, the Innovative Ministries Team, believe that there is a way to engage the church in missional and relational change that can “move the church forward to a place of significance” (priority) in the lives of young adults. This change requires us to risk. However we believe that inaction (or being focused solely on the autumn stage) is a bigger risk to the life of the church. We want to engage with the wider body! We want to ensure that we do not leave tradition and history behind, rather using it as our platform for faithful action.

Our team has developed a purpose statement that we believe will drive us (and you) towards positive, creative action:

By providing a resource of support and creative thought, we aim to inspire new expressions of meaningful communities.

We create opportunities for positive change that move the church forward to a place of significance while acknowledging our tradition and community identity.

We advocate for young adults and for opportunities that empower their visions and passions, resulting in a broader dialogue between diverse populations and church leadership; critical to the success of the Community of Christ.

With leadership development as a core value, we will provide experiences that develop individuals to serve through skills training and personal growth opportunities.

– Innovative Ministries Team (2014)

This is who we are. This is the change we want to see. This is the spring we are experiencing and the hope for the future, the summer, we are anticipating! We hope this reflects what you want to see in your community, too. We want to do this WITH YOU.

Come with us on this journey.

Follow what we’re up to, share posts, thoughts, comments, and ideas – and most definitely contribute your own.

This is OUR initiative. This is OUR community!

Facebook.com/CofChristYoungAdults

Twitter.com/CofCYoungAdults

yaministries@cofchrist.org

 

Emily & Andrew’s Peace Corps Adventures: Every Nica Cloud has a Silver Lining

Doña Nubia, Daniel, myself, and Maria Los Angeles

by Andrew Nilsen
Re-blogged from: May We Suggest

I’ve been fortunate in my life to have opportunities to travel to many countries. Invariably I hear, and even find myself participating in, some form of this conversation:

Local: “How do you like our country?”

Tourist: “I love it! The people are so nice!”

The tourist in this instance is almost always alluding to how much nicer the people are in X country than they are in their home country. I’ve always been a bit skeptical of these conversations because not only have I heard this from U.S. citizens traveling in other countries, but also from tourists visiting the States. Is it true that people are just magically nicer in every country but our own? Or is there something in traveling that pushes us out of our cocoon of familiarity and into interaction with strangers that makes us realize that, on the whole, humans are a whole lot better than we give them credit for?

That being said, the people here in Nicaragua are super nice. So much so that I’ve developed a new favorite hobby: getting caught out in rainstorms.

Although I’m sure it wasn’t a factor in choosing which part of the year to hold training, the rainy season in Nicaragua has been great for cultural integration. I have found the barriers to interaction between strangers to be so much thinner here than in the United States. A drizzle is excuse enough to be invited into a house, or huddle together under the awning of a business, and in the shared experience of escaping from the rain conversation blossoms. This was how I came to experience the most beautiful moment of my service yet: becoming friends with Doña Nubia and her family.

Back on September 11th two of my fellow trainees (Conor & Daniel) and I were on our way to the soccer field in town to use sports as a means to integrate into the community. When we reached the field the locals were disbanding due to the ominous clouds forming in the sky that we happened to overlook on our walk over. With the rainy season in full swing, we knew that we’d better not mess around and find some cover quickly. Although the coffee shop/cyber café was only a few blocks away, the clouds moved faster. Before we knew it we were caught in the middle of a torrential downpour. We found some trees to stand under, but they weren’t doing us much good. I looked up at the nearest house to see a little grandmother waving us into her house from her patio. Daniel, Conor, and I looked at each other for a second, wondering what to do, before we climbed up the steps to the patio, not exactly sure what we were getting ourselves into.

Forty-five minutes later we had become friends with Doña Nubia, her daughter Maria Los Angeles, and her niece Johana. We shared about where we were from, why we were in Nicaragua, and of all the delicious Nica foods we had tried already. In turn they told us of other national dishes that we must still try, taught us that the best vigoron and chicharones in the country come from the markets and bus stops of Grenada, invited us to come back to chat and drink coffee whenever we wanted, and exchanged phone numbers so they could invite us over and cook us delicious Nicaraguan food! I was deeply touched by this priceless display of Nicaragua hospitality and warmth, and felt such gratitude for the opportunity to be working for an organization where this kind of genuine human connection is what we are actively encouraged cultivate.

Over the seven weeks in my training town I returned several times to Doña Nubia’s house to delight in conversation. Through chats with her and her family I learned about the history of their family, the history of Nicaragua, their view on the current political landscape (specifically regarding the Grand Canal project), and the struggles and hopes they have for their country. I introduced them to Emily, and they showered her with compliments and asked her to tell them the truth about what kind of a guy I am. They called us a “beautiful, incredible couple”, and assured us that we would have gorgeous babies. They admonished me to continue learning about the Nica culture, but that I’d better not become machista, because if I stopped treating Emily with respect they’d come after me! I learned to time my visits for when Johana & Maria Los Angeles returned from their pastry baking class, and therefore became their most enthusiastic taste-tester and supporter. Although our busy training schedules didn’t end up allowing for us to share a meal with them, when Daniel and I said goodbye to the family on Thursday evening they made us promise that we’d visit when we returned to our training town, and assured that we had a place to stay at their house if we ever visited overnight.

The month of November marks the official end of the rainy season here in Nicaragua. I may not have the excuse of a thunderstorm to push me into conversation with potential friends, but from my experiences in my training town I’ve learned that they excuses may not even be necessary in Nicaragua. The people here are just that nice 🙂

The Messiness of Oneness

Photo by: Noela Inions

Photo by: Noela Inions

(Written by Erica in October 2008)

I’ve been blessed to participate in a thriving and mission-driven Community of Christ congregation. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I began to have some doubts.

Years ago, a small group of disciples recognized a need in their community. They recognized their own giftedness and skills that could help, and they bravely explored a call to minister to their community in a new way. Church for them began to take a whole different shape. They had to rethink what church would look like in order to serve their mission. As they sought to follow God’s unfolding call, they darkened doors of opportunity and met the challenges of ministry that those opportunities held.

It was not a simple or easy process to become a community shaped by God’s call. It was not a quick process. But gradually it became the congregation that I attend today. It’s a ministry that touches lives every day. And it creates disciples.

Not too long ago, the group convened a business meeting. After a weekly worship service, we gathered with our usual casual atmosphere.  But when the meeting began we realized that the business we would be discussing was much more than “casual”.  We would be dealing with issues that hit right at the core of the congregation.

You see, over the last few years, as the congregation has followed God’s lead, little by little we have grown! Our vision was expanding. We were succeeding! Now we were discovering that if we were to continue to grow, it could require substantial change.

So in that business meeting we began to envision the future for our ministry. We were faced with some questions. They cut to the heart of who we are, our identity.

What do we call ourselves?  Why?

To whom do we choose to minister?  What does this mean for our mission?

Where do we meet to accommodate that mission?

What would we be willing to change in order to grow?  Is change really necessary?

One by one, members – long-time congregants and new participants – offered their hopes, ideas, and concerns to answer these questions. As you would imagine, these are issues with a lot of history.  Some had built this ministry with years of dedicated love and effort.  Some felt a strong responsibility for the future of the congregation. Everyone held deep love and concern for this community as it is and as it will be.

As each of us layered our perspectives on this issues…as the meeting stretched on…and a sense of urgency mounted…tension grew.  Tempers shortened.

We struggled through the process as gently as we could, but we were not approaching answers. The tension continued to rise.

Finally at one point, in the intensity of the discussion, one person accidentally misspoke. A comment was made that was received as hurtful. The tension reached its limit. We burst into a small confusion of frustration, disappointment, and bruised feelings. One person stormed out. The agenda was lost in the need to care for those who felt injured and to clean up the mess the meeting had created. We decided we would have to come together again to approach these big questions. And again. And again.

But in that moment many in the room were left feeling unsettled, unfinished, embarrassed, offended, worried.

What is this?!  This is supposed to be sacred community!

Then one long-time member who has served as a mentor for many, including me, stood. “Let’s close with a prayer.” He motioned for us to all to form a circle and link our hands. And he prayed.

He acknowledged that each of us are fragile and imperfect creatures, trying our to serve in the best way we know how. He thanked God for the blessed community we have had the joy of building. He thanked God for the deep concern and love each one has for the welfare of this ministry, and those it is called to serve – though our ideas and experiences may be different.

Above all, he thanked God for the unifying love we all share in our collective discipleship of Jesus Christ. Finally, he thanked God for the hope we have together in the God’s continued and faithful ministry through our community.

As that prayer concluded, a spirit of peace rested in the circle. The wounded emotions and frenzied concerns of the congregation were soothed. We could see again that our stumbles and disagreement were far less important than our unity and hope in Christ. God’s presence among us would heal the brokenness that would come when we stretched our community in search of our mission.  And in fact, to be faithful to God’s call into the future it would be necessary for our community to meet the messy challenge of discussion, discovery, conflict, and confusion. Even in the moments of discord God was forming us into a community that could best reflect God’s will.

Our challenge was – and is – to recognize Christ’s unifying presence in the midst of the journey. And to let Christ be guide to us all on the path.