Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Open letter to Ordinary Community Church

Hey OCC family,

Man, our weather was a lot to overcome yesterday at the park for the baby dedication and I just wanted to pass on a few thoughts I wanted to share a bit more but couldn't really communicate as my pages were ripping through the wind.

First, thanks all for coming (and for those who couldn't share in this gathering, you were thought of and missed). Its so incredibly important that we make time for each other and to be in community to one another. We are literally spread out all over the Cincinnati metro area, including northern kentucky, and its a real legistic challenge to come together, especially with
these gas prices. But community is not an option for us, its a calling and our spiritual lives can't live without it. As you journey in your individual house churches, I want to encourage you to practice the spiritual discipline of presence to one another. There are many things that creep in and steal our time from being together, guard your house church times fiercely. Put up boundary lines around that time, budget it in as a non-negotiable and then reap the benefits of a loving, spiritual, Christ-filled, Spirit-Driven community that deeply loves you and is committed to you. When it all comes down, this is all we have that is eternal. Invest in such things. (Matthew 6:33)

Secondly, the vows we made to each other and the parents to their children are a really big deal and also eternal. We are a subversive community living out the values of the Kingdom of God, not the values of the culture and empire we live in. Pay attention to your children, cherish them, love on them, make them your vocation, bless them, discipline them gently, learn from them, show them appropriate touch, give away encouraging words, be their protector, be their provider, show them the ways of the Kingdom of God. In doing so, you will knit within them a healthy sexuality, a sense of wholeness, intimacy and communion with God and one another. Our world and ourselves cannot give this, it comes from parents and a community that lives by a different set of rules, ones submitted to the heart of the Father.

One of the things I wanted to do but scrapped in lieu of the weather was to take communion together before we prayed over the families. We need to emphatically state that we can't do this on our own. It is only because of Christ and his
Kingdom that we can share in this life. Everytime we can celebrate the table of God in communion or a shared meal, we are participating in part of something we will do forever. Christ invites us to his table of blessing, one overflowing with the life of God. Eat of it daily, drink from it deeply and don't forget to give it away to the hungry and thirsty around you and in your neighborhood.

I am reminded tonight of the ancient vows of the early church who committed themselves to:
1) Simplicity - not participating in the wealth of this world. Making decisions to deny self in order to be freed to love our neighbors. In a sure or an unsure economy, simplicity is the model of Jesus who had no place to lay his head. Its not about having wealth, its about not desiring it and being content with daily bread. Contentment is the language of the free in Christ.

2) Availability - not participating in the pace of this world. Making decisions to be quiet, seek solitude and budgeting time to be available to God and to one another. Loving our neighbor does not come naturally, it comes from an inner commitment to be available to them first.

3) Vulnerability - the admission that we are yet broken. Being broken before God and our brothers and sisters we trust to allow the healing of the Cross to continue to wash over us. It is in our honesty and openness that we make our wounds accessible to God, and whatever He can touch, He can heal.

My love and affection for each of you is sure and forever. I choose to belong to you as my spiritual family, my Church on earth. I don't know exactly what God has in mind for our future, but I believe He is not done adding to our number. Be open to giving the Kingdom away.

King Jesus is on the move amongst us, let's submit ourselves once again to follow Him. As we do the curtain to heaven becomes just a thin veil and His life will pour out all over us more and more the deeper we go. Let's not give up now, we're just getting started. Can't wait to see y'all at the finish line someday.

May the love and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the power of His Resurrection be upon you and your home this night,

Chris

66 comments:

Pat said...

Great stuff, Chris - and I especially love your thoughts on the vows of the early church. That's where my head's at these days.

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