John 14: 25-27 (Inclusive Version)
This much have I said to you while still with you; but the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit whom Abba God will send in my name, will instruct you in everything and she will remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; but the kind of peace I give you is not like the world’s peace.
Don’t let your hearts be distressed; don’t be fearful.
“Together, at the pantry, we really were turning into a people. We were dying, sort of – Homer to his drug addiction, Steve to his idea of a successful career, me to my fantasies of independence and control. We were dying to our individual selves and becoming a body.
It has sore places and unhealed scars;
it wasn’t perfect, but it was beautiful.
It was Christ’s body or, as we said in church, a church.”
(Take This Bread, by Sara Miles p. 170)
So some of us gathered on Monday for a tour of the Southwood United Methodist Church to see if we might be interested in moving in there and becoming a cooperative parish or sharing space in some other way. (Southwood is a gay-friendly (indeed mostly gay) small congregation in Oak Cliff that hosts a community garden and is looking for ways to share their facility with other like-minded folks so we were invited to check it out.)
It has been a really interesting and provocative week to meditate on Sara’s words reminding us that the church is the body of Christ, wounded yet strong. And also on Jesus’ words from the Gospel of John, which leave us with peace and assurance that our hearts need not be troubled.
Any change, even good change, or just even conversation regarding potential change, is destabilizing. This left me wondering, where is the mystery of Christ in that sense of being off balance? Or in disrupting the norm?
I have had multiple conversations this week with folks from our community who represent a whole range of perspectives regarding this invitation from Southwood. Some say, ‘I am so ready to have more and permanent space, especially for hospitality and for our kids.’ Or, ‘I think it is such a sweet church, I love all the green space and I’m ready to move in tomorrow!’ Or ‘I’m so tempted to buy labyrinth books and start planning one in the meadow…’
And other folks in our community feel a dark cloud pass over their heart at the prospect of leaving Kidd Springs, of leaving this fresh and open and exposed and beautiful community space. They express sentiments like ‘I’m not sure the space would ever really feel like ours’ or ‘It is too far south’ or ‘I fear another collaboration that turns sour.’
But do you know what has come up in all of the conversations? Some version of “but of course, if that is what the church consensus is… then of course I will go and be there (or stay). That is clear.”
This sentiment is an expression of the love we talked about on Sunday. It is also an awareness that this little community has cultivated over all of its moves of the past decade – a deep sense that the church is a body, not a building. Indeed the church is our body: and our bodies have different temperaments and response systems to change.
There will always be those who revel in ‘trying on’ new situations, imagining possibilities, shaking the dust of what has been off their feet and diving head first into the new. And there are those who ground the community, who are the anchors, who keep us from moving too fast. These thoughtful people ask hard and deep questions, and require us to move with intentionality.
Both ends of spectrum (and all those people in between) are a gift to the church. Indeed the conversation between the two ends is itself a kind of holy ground, a rare gift in a dominant culture that values loud opinions and polarized points of view.
I don’t think a sign, a building, or even a location will ever define this church. If anything, the image of the wildflower labyrinth speaks to me about the soul of this community: beautiful and flourishing in one season, at other times cut down and composted and replanted until it grows anew. But always pointing a pathway into the center, the very heart of God. And always inviting people to rest there for a moment, and then to travel back out and take that sense of Divine intimacy into the world.
Everyone is invited to come and check out Southwood and to join in the conversation about where we see our church being church in the coming months and years. (3601 South Ravinia Drive Dallas, TX 75233-3238). We have a couple of opportunities to try out the space: next Wednesday, May 12th, we will host our community gathering at Southwood (which will give us a chance to check out their kitchen!) and then on Pentecost, May 23rd, the Citc Board is organizing an all church meeting and potluck at Southwood after worship.
In the mean time let us pray, listen deeply to each others’ wisdom, and for the sweet wind of the Spirit to direct us.
I trust that wherever we are, and wherever we go, the body of Christ is awake and alive within our midst: a powerful resurrection message to celebrate in this Easter season.
Peace and All Good Things,
Join us tonight as we engage chapters 16-20 of Take this Break and enjoy a Cinco de Mayo-flavored meal, 6:30pm at Casa Semrad, 108 S. Rosemont. 214 233-4605. Desserts welcome!
LOVING THE WORLD BACK TO LIFE
One of the joys of pastoring a church such as Church in the Cliff is how engaged this community is in social investment of various forms. We give money, we organize, we volunteer, we enter into relationship with the poor, locally and globally, and we help and love each other.
Church in the Cliff is planning our first Mission Trip. Inspired by Chloe, a powerful 13 year old who has grown up in our community, we are headed to New Orleans to work with kiddos. Join us in a trip to the lower 9th ward as we partner with an Episcopal parish/community center that hosts a summer camp and music program. Current Dates: wed July 7- sun July 11th.
Come to an all church meeting this Monday at Beckley Brewhouse, 7:30pm. (1111 N. Beckley Ave.)Bring your questions and ideas. We will also discuss a possible date change to later in July to accommodate some members who want to go.
Also, a note from Stephanie about another justice opportunity and an available discount!
Dear Church in the Cliff,
Are you looking for an opportunity for some time away this summer that provides spiritual renewal and helps connect you to the wider world we live in?
The Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America’s summer conference is this kind of opportunity.
This year’s theme is Light to Live In: The Biblical Call to Peace Rooted in Justice. It will take place July 12-17 at Keuka College, Keuka Park, New York.
I have attend the BPFNA’s summer conference twice before and can tell you that the people who come to this meeting every year are like-minded folk who desire a spiritual connection, crave a different kind of religious community, care about justice, who want to think deeply, and who will make you laugh. Meeting people from this group began to open my mind about the wide variety of Baptist expressions that exist and helped me find a new place of welcome in the church tradition of my birth.
Children’s programming and family accommodations are available. The BPFNA includes people of a variety of ages and places in life, including a vibrant group of young singles.
We have several vouchers for a $200 discount for those who are attending for the first time. Contact Stephanie Wyatt email@example.com for more information. Also check out BPFNA’s website: http://www.bpfna.org.