You may recall Meghann’s letter last week about our recent Street Church experience as we focused on the transfiguration of Jesus and the “mountaintop moments” of our faith journey. We reflected on the wonder of God and the ways that we could hold on to those mountaintop moments, where we stand in awe of the splendor of God even when we are called to go down off the mountain and back into the valley.
While Ash Wednesday is traditionally one of the more somber days of our christian calendar, yesterday’s first Ashes in the Park was a true mountaintop moment for me. We have been intentionally working with our neighbors to empower them to realize their gifts and strengths that they can offer this world. Our community is rooted in the mission of neighbors serving neighbors; the broken leading the lost, so that we can fully realize the kingdom of God here on Earth. We strive to be a body of Christ where the lines between “us” and “them” no longer exist; a place where we can just be “us.”
I’ll admit, one of things I continue to work on as a mission developer and pastor to this community is focusing on God’s abundance over a scarcity mindset. When my inner critic wants to take over and I wonder if anyone will show up to one of our gatherings, God always has a way of showing up ten-fold. I am pretty sure that is a biblical response or God’s sense of humor (or both). As we prepared the last minute details for yesterday’s inaugural service, I arrived at Hurkamp Park not sure what to expect. To my relief, I encountered a host of our street leaders who were ready to go and serve their community.
Our minister of worship leadership, “Bear,” was working diligently with our volunteer leader, Rev. Carole duBois, as they put out the soups and items for lunch, directing our neighboring volunteers who showed up to help. Our friend, George, who you recently saw in a #loveyourneighborcampaign interview, took the liberty to prepare our altar and the AV equipment before I even arrived. My goal is always to empower others to lead and it felt like a moment of arrival for us as a community.
As I watched our street leadership team own this event, I simply stood back and was in awe of God; I was on a mountaintop. This is what we have been working tirelessly to achieve. To boost our street neighbor’s confidence in a way that they see themselves as the leaders and take ownership of this community. They were not on the other side of the serving line, receiving, they were the ones holding out the “hands of Jesus” to help their neighbors in need too.
Our meditation for our service was based on Psalm 51, and we drafted an original liturgy that was based on a Micah community written poem titled, “The City Through Our Eyes.” It was a moment for our community to lament over the ways that we have fallen short as a collective, to love and serve our neighbors. In this call and response liturgy, we as a body of Christ cry out to the Lord for mercy and compassion for the ways that our assumptions have prevented us from listening and seeing the pain of our neighbors. We prayed for God to give us new eyes to see and ears to hear the cries of our brothers and sisters in need.
Yesterday was a moment when our neighbors could fully own their story. We recognize that no matter our past, present, or future, God can use our valleys and ashes as a living sacrifice. Like the dry bones of Ezekiel who are being called into new life, we are in a moment of awakening as a community. We stand in awe of all the things God continues to do and we continue to ask for your prayers and support.
If your faith community or organization would like to be more involved in serving alongside our Street Church community, I welcome your creative partnership ideas as we strive to love and serve the Lord, through love of neighbor.
May this season of Lent be an opportunity for your own spiritual renewal as God draws you closer….