Sunday, September 23, 2007

pain and this calling to us

journey imperfect faith community began in fire and storm. i was fired from a high-profile job at a famous megachurch. it was a really low moment in the life of christianity. god was not pleased. it rained and thundered and stormed, literally. it was of course one of the greatest things ever to happen to me in my career in ministry. but that's the god we listen to and the jesus we follow: meaningful sacrifice always brings resurrection. but the crucifixions are always ugly and bloody and a mirror for everyone involved.
a bunch of people had been opening themselves spiritually and emotionally to what was happening in my ministry, in their own lives, in what they wanted for themselves. other people were looking for an alternative to the kind of religion that was empty for them, or didn't speak their language. other people weren't churchy at all - they were just spiritually open and hungry. that group of people got together in the midst of this storm and felt god calling to them. they became committed to something: a community of people gathered around a simple principle:
  • what if a group of people helped each other go out and love the world.
  • what if a group of people gathered every week to remember that their lives had meaning.
  • what if a group of people shared their resources and gave to the poor - not only in money, but in making sandwiches and loving their neighbors and giving out clothes and hope.
  • what if a group of people helped raise each other's kids.
  • what if a group of people cared about each other more than about having a "successful" church organization/institution.
and so that's what journey has become. we started three years ago.
along the way some people left. they were looking for something else. other people came, attracted to what they were experiencing and invited into.
there's been more and more to learn. we had to learn about trusting god in many scary ways - about money, about having a fluid structure, about not having a building and then having a building, about continuing to give our money and resources away. and we have learned. and we continue to learn.
we have not arrived. there is no arriving - there's only the path.
that's good.
the energy in the fire and the storm didn't go away; the energy was transformed, and became spirit and power.

we've been in the warehouse god gave us as our tent for about nine months. we've been growing in numbers and in depth. we've learned a huge amount about what is important to us in following jesus and learning to love.

and i started wondering, a few months ago, So ... now what?
"okay, god, we're in the warehouse," i said. "we're reaching out to more and more people. we're loving each other, loving our neighbors, giving our resources away, giving the warehouse away. we're reaching out. we're learning to help more and more people in need - people in poverty, people in slavery. is there something else?
what is it, god?" i asked. god said, "just keep doing what i tell all of you."
i keep saying, "what's next?" god says, "just keep doing what i tell all of you."
i have wondered, "is there something you want us to be about that we're not yet?" and god has said, "just keep doing what i tell all of you."
i realized something. it's not something different, it's just something even more beautiful, scarier, bigger, more earth-changing.

there is a world in pain. pain. pain. human beings are in pain.
some of them have plenty of money; some of them have none.
some of them have plenty of loved ones; some of them have none.
some of them are journeyers; some of them are not.
some of them are in austin; some of them are not.
some of them are sick; some of them are well.
some of them see that they are in pain; some of them don't see their own pain.
some of them are sober; some of them are not.
some of them are ready to be healed; some of them are not.

all of them are the beloved of god.
human beings will always be in pain. that's part of the human experience. it teaches us. it grows us. there is healing and power in what we do with our pain.
but that's the point: what will we do with our pain and the pain of the world around us? we are being healed; how can we heal? jesus was a healer. journey is not a club; it's a mission, an outreach, a tool. it exists to heal. to transform pain with god's love, god's power, god's courage.
we journeyers have been in the process of learning to be wounded healers. we have been practicing. we have been learning. we have been gathering our tools - recovery, women's work, men's work, small groups, youth and children's ministry, a spacious place, spiritgift, missions and outreach, warrior work, therapy, and on and on and on.

we are ready.
i'm almost afraid to say that. it will not be easy; it's not easy already.
but we love, love, love god. we love, love, love each other. we are even learning to love, love, love ourselves as god loves us, and to give that love to others.

i feel it, deep down. i want to give this healing love to everyone we can, in ways we can't imagine.
i'm scared. i'm joyful.
it's not something different.
it's exactly what god is doing, has been doing forever, will do forever until all creation is reborn.
it's exactly what we've been learning.
we are part of that work of god.

oh - and - if you're not a journeyer, what are you doing about the world that is in pain?
let's do it together.

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