Last Sunday, we talked about God's Dream. For our lives. But it's bigger than that. For our families. But it's bigger than that. For our faith community. But it's bigger than that. For our neighborhoods and communities. But it's bigger than we can imagine and includes the renewal and redemption of everything and everyone. This dream is the good news, the story of the gospel, this sweeping narrative throughout all of history where God is putting everything to right that is wrong in the world and bringing peace and healing to all of creation.
This Dream is why our community exists. As The Practicing Church, our mission is to join God in the renewal of all things by practices that ground us in the love of God. This Dream - God's shalom bursting forth for the flourishing of our community - is our WHY.
Every individual and organization has a WHY and according to Simon Senek, Start With the Why, this is the purpose, cause or belief that causes us to do what we do. My friend, Tim Soerens, co-founder of The Parish Collective and co-author of The New Parish, talks about how so often as the Western church we get it all backwards. Our WHY begins with the church. We want to build the church, strengthen the church, fix the church. And from there, our HOW is often the latest techniques or church growth models and our WHAT becomes our programs.
Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Dream was so big, so inspiring and so compelling that he gave his life for it and those who joined courageously faced death, imprisonment, beatings, threats, bombings and more. I believe this is always true of God's Dream. Jesus' Dream ignited a revolution that the world had never before seen and His followers, who were also imprisoned, beaten and stoned to death, changed the course of history as this new way of love, equity and forgiveness swept across the ancient world. You see, God's Dream is so revolutionary and so compelling that it upsets the status quo and causes us to leave behind the comfort of our own small lives to join a bigger story - to love and to serve humanity.
May God's Dream compel us, for there is much work to be done. I wish that we could celebrate the realization of Dr. King's Dream on Monday, but unfortunately, we cannot. And there is a prophetic lament that is rising up in our nation on the 50th anniversary of his death. How long, O Lord, how long? Until we see justice and equality for all. [If you are in the Seattle area, here is a list of MLK events happening this weekend.]
If our WHY is the church, then our why is anything but compelling. I've said it a hundred times and I'll say it a hundred more. I don't want to just do church for the sake of doing church. I've done it. I'm over it. [And there's a bazillion reasons why that I've blogged about previously.]
But if our WHY is God's Dream. This big, beautiful dream of a beloved community where young and old, men and women, rich and poor, black and white, gay and straight, Christian and Muslim are all valued and cherished as children of God. Where our neighborhoods are pulled into shalom, seeking justice for those without power and privilege, where everyone across difference, race and class are coming together to seek the flourishing of our communities. Where our neighbors begin to see that God is for them. Where our colleagues begin to see and hear and feel God's in-breaking on their behalf. Where the lonely are brought into community. Where the disempowered and forgotten find their voice. Where those weighed down under heavy burdens begin to experience the lightness of God's loving grace and freedom. THIS. This is something I am willing to give my life to. Because this dream compels me. It inspires me. This Dream is our WHY as The Practicing Church, and it is at the heart of all we do and why we exist.
The time is now. Come, leave your small life behind. Join in God's big, beautiful Dream!
âby Jessica Ketola