I am starting to learn how slow some of the good things in life can be. The best meals take a long time to prepare and some of us best enjoy them slowly with the good wine or beer that has taken a lot of time to ferment and mature. It is these slow, holy moments where we seem to take the scenic route in life, finding that he scenic route better actually takes us where we should be going!
I think that I am seeing that some of the seeds planted in me long ago are just now starting to poke through the ground, and I’m getting a look at what just may be coming. Almost a year ago, I took a three month sabbatical. Since that time, the struggles of learning to hear God, to attend to God’s presence, and to just “be” more have had ripple effects that are just now beginning to take shape.
One of those effects is me taking a new part-time job with a non-profit. Starting this week, I will be serving as the Co-Director of Faith Community Outreach for HopeSprings.
My initial feeling of a call to helping start a church was rooted in hearing another pastor talk of his heart for the “unchurched” and “de-churched” over 10 years ago. I don’t remember his specific words, but he mentioned something about the nature of the church: it should be a hospital for the hurting, not a place for the perfect. A couple years ago, Pope Francis said it this way:
“The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds. … And you have to start from the ground up.” (From “A Big Heart Open to God,” America magazine Sept. 19, 2013.)
I continue to wonder and dream, what would it look like for the church to recover her vocation to tend to the wounded and hurting in our city in way that is meaningful and responsible? What is needed to warm the hearts of the church again to the hurting who are all around (and within…and the hurting who are our very selves?)
What gets me so excited about this new opportunity is that I will be able to work with other churches in our area toward identifying how they can continue to better love their neighbors, particularly in areas of health inequality/disparity and those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. I think that the future looks bright as the church learns how to love her literal neighbors as much as she tends to love herself. Also, what an incredible testimony it could be to our region if the Church decided that we can all partner together on the main call we have in common: to love our neighbors.
I will continue to serve in my current position as the Neighborhood Pastor of Gallery Church Patterson Park, though now as a part-time pastor. I love our church and I am excited about what opportunities are created by me shifting to part-time. I created a little FAQ for our church family here.
For those of you who are the praying type, I would love your prayers for strength, wisdom, and discernment as I make this transition. Pray that our church can rally together to focus in on our mission in our neighborhood and that God will continue to guide us and inspire us.
Who knows what will grow and bloom?
I’d love to hear from you about this? What do you see? Have you ever experienced a stirring toward a new expression of your vocation?