As we have been actively listening, praying and leaning into our next step as a community to create a place of hospitality in the neighborhood, we have seen the doors fling wide open. And so I am thrilled to announce that we will begin meeting on Sundays at One Cup Coffee, as soon as March 31st! This has been a decision that we as a community have been prayerfully discerning for several months now. And we are amazed at God's provision to us through the generosity of Bethany Community Church North to be able to have a welcoming and visible presence in the neighborhood! Surely the Spirit of God is at work!
This week also marks the beginning of the season of Lent, which is the 40 days before Easter that the church sets aside for repentance, generosity to the poor, and prayer. And I can't think of a more perfect time to begin to pray the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, "Let your kingdom come, here and now, on earth as it is in heaven," as we move into our new gathering space.
For much more than a move from one space to another, we are literally moving as a community on this transformational journey into the heart of our neighborhood. We are opening up wider and we are rooting down deeper.
And as we do this, we will journey through Lent around Jesus' teachings of the Sermon on the Mount. And as I was ruminating on this with Carrie Cates, she sent me the following thoughts:
[I see the Sermon on the Mount] fundamentally about the weaving together of heaven and earth. Lent is this quiet season of repentance, prayer, fasting - rooting down into the essence of what it means to be a follower of Christ. The Sermon on the Mount calls us to such practices, practices of bodies and of systems, which change our posture in this world. At the same time, it calls us to change the posture of our hearts and minds, to invoke the blessings and hopes of heaven. I don't necessarily see that Jesus says that you must focus more on heaven or more on earth. The implication seems more to be that there is a ceaseless flow between earth and heaven; that our hearts, bodies, and actions can be a part of bringing heaven to earth; and heaven (the shalom, the wholeness, justice and perfection of God) is at least in part manifested in us. I think of Rilke's poem that talks about returning to first things, about learning to fall so that you can fly:
"If we surrendered
to earth's intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees."
The more deeply you root into earth, the higher you reach into heaven.
And so we will begin the transformational journey of Lent by praying, practicing, and manifesting heaven on earth. We will join together to participate in God's dream for us and for our neighborhoods, as we wrestle with the challenging teachings of Jesus to orient the whole of our lives around this revolutionary way of love. We will repent from scarcity, white supremacy, individualism and consumerism and we will stand in solidarity with those who suffer. And we will make space in our hearts for God to come and to dwell in us, meeting the deepest longings of our soul and awakening us to the abundant life we were created for.
by Jessica Ketola