Dreaming Dreams

Joel 2:23-32 Six years ago, I began attending a church that worshiped on the streets of Newburg, NY, a city known for its violence, unemployment and drug use.  The church was called Ecclesia and we met on a sidewalk, with sawhorses and a wooden board as a Communion table.  People came from down the street and from outside of town and together we gathered, sang, broke bread and wrestled with the meaning of the Scriptures. At the end of the first service, while I was still a stranger, Pastor Steve walked over to me and gave me a cross necklace, just like he gives every new person, and said, “You are called by God.”  Just like that.  I looked down at the cross, which said “ecclesia”, the Greek word for church, which literally means called out. It was a bitterly cold January day and yet the circle around the sawhorses was full – there was a woman from the suburbs who showed up because she was spiritual hungry.  There were people who were homeless who showed up because they were physically hungry.  There was an inspirational man who had been sober for years and there was Ruth, Steve’s spouse, who played the flute for us even though it was cold and we were outside. There we were, all of us, called out by God, anointed by the Spirit. In the book of Joel, God says, “I will pour out my […]

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Seed-Sized Faith

Luke 17:5-10 The small chapel was packed.  People sat shoulder-to-shoulder on floors, stood by walls and filled the chairs.  Brothers John and Emile, two middle-aged, unassuming men, had flown all the way from a monastery in Taize, France to pray with those of us who had managed to travel to Boston, MA last Sunday.  As an attendee of this gathering, I found myself sitting on the floor on a brown cushion, gazing at this low marble platform before me, covered in candles.  The service began and, like smoke rising to the heavens, the room reverberated with voices as the people sang about love, longing, and life. “Let all who are thirsty, come,” they sang from their hearts, “Let all who wish, receive the water of life freely.” It struck me that just moments before the brothers – in soft-spoken voices – had invited us to attend a Taize retreat in St. Louis, Missouri, located close to the town of Ferguson. “We understand the divides in this area are very deep,” Brother John said, “When we first arrived in St. Louis, people were like, ‘Who are these French guys?’  But as we talked, they realized that we don’t have answers, we are coming in to create spaces of prayer and trust.  We understand that trusting God and others requires us to take risks, to step outside our comfort zones.” Brother Emile added, “It’s like an event one of the Taize brothers […]

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