In the middle of the month of May, our bloggers are also in the middle of things. Physical buildings and new visions and prayers are coming to life.
The midst of a construction project is not a fun place to be, as Marguerite Sheehan writes in from there to here and more to go, but this project will fulfill a vision of affordable housing near where she lives. It started this way: “with a need and a vision. The need expressed to us by many single people in our town who are being edged out of the housing market. Apartment rentals are not as available or affordable for folks on a fixed income. Some people who live in town can no longer stay here. Our hearts were breaking and in that heartbreak a vision was seeded; something small and doable. An apartment house just around the corner from the parsonage became available.” She updates us on the progress with intriguing pictures and a measure of awe.
The church is under construction, too, doing the messy work of creating a new way of being in the world. Musing on her mother’s gift for cultivating roses, Rachael Keefe reminds us to Plant What Will Grow. Realizing that her mother’s favorite rose would not grow in the climate where she lives makes her think about trying to grow the church of the past, in places where it won’t grow either. “I used to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to cultivate church so it would re-grow into its former glory…” But that version of church won’t grow in today’s soil. “Yet, we keep trying to re-grow the old without paying attention to climate. What we cultivate or transplant, might be okay for a while, but a close look might reveal new growth too fragile to withstand the rigors of the seasons. Maybe it’s time to stop pretending that the old growth was always pruned well and remains as healthy and vital as ever.”
In the middle of winding up one big role, and starting another one, Jan Edmiston has Power Tools on her mind. Power isn’t just about running the coffee maker, she notes. “spiritual communities also require the kind of power that makes transformation happen. Community organizers teach us that the power to change things comes when we: Organize people towards a common focus. And: Organize money towards a common mission. Many wonderful organizations haven’t yet learned that Power Is A Good Thing, and we get more of it when we organize people and money.”
We should be right in the middle of things, advocating deeply for one another, Trybal Pastor urges, recalling the witness of Dr. James Cone and calling us back to our baptism. “This is important, because how can we remember our Baptism, the commitment we are supposed to have in community, and not fight for one another, not see one another’s humanity? Dr. James Cone professed, “Any message that is not related to the liberation of the poor in a society is not Christ’s message. Any theology that is indifferent to the theme of liberation is not Christian theology.” So then,” she asks, “If Baptism Is a part of the theological, spiritual ritual actions that we do as Christians, if Baptism means, a new beginning, a new covenant, if we say we have been baptized, along with Jesus Christ, why then, are we so apathetic?”
In the middle of all that happens, Deirdre Rouse Whitfield is finding solace in the truth that God is always seeking to communicate with us. God, she is sure, will Seek Me Out. She reminds us, “When I find myself so overwhelmed, resistant, and unable to ask for help, I take solace in the fact that through Christ, somewhere in all my relationships God will seek me out – a letter or a phone call. No matter how far I feel lost or separated from God, my burdens only have the power that I give them. I know that God is greater than them all.”
In her Friday Prayer, Arianne Braithwaite Lehn is in a place where many of us have been. She says to God:
“I’m here on your potter’s wheel / where you’re shaping my essence into
something new with your / guiding, loving hands.
But this messy middle time…it’s painful, and scary, and hard.
The wheel spins and my world swirls / and all I want is to
see the end result.”
What do you find yourself in the middle of, in your own life? We would love to hear, in the comments section below.
Rev. Mary Austin is the pastor of Westminster Church of Detroit, a diverse Presbyterian church. She is in the middle of learning how to be middle-aged. She blogs from time to time at Stained Glass in the City. The photo above is from Wikimedia Commons. Source.
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