Sunday, July 8, 2012

I Dream of a Church that...

In my last blog post, I talked about the palpable presence of the Holy Spirit when a hundred people showed up at the Acts 8 Moment and began to speak prayerfully and passionately about their dreams for the church.  It turns out that Lauren Stanley of the Diocese of Virginia's Convention publication Center Aisle took notes and wrote down  people's responses to the phrase, "I dream of a Church that..."  (You can read her excellent article in its entirety here.)  The responses are below.  Take a moment, say a prayer, and let the Holy Spirit inspire your dreams of a Church that...

Without stating their names, 46 people, many with great passion and emotion, responded.
“I dream of a Church that …

…. has lots of opportunities to listen and share with each other.”
… where you can’t tell where the Church ends and the world begins.”
… shows love.”
… believes that the Holy Spirit will direct and is not afraid to go where it’s directed.”
… in which the spiritual life is lived intensely.”
… is not ashamed to proclaim Jesus.”
… honors its past without sacrificing its future.”
… where we are working freely and joyfully with ecumenical partners to do Christ’s work in the world.”
… actively engages in raising the dead.”
… whose members are not afraid to talk about how God has changed their lives.”
… where people can sing the song that is in their hearts and their souls.”
… is a home for the entire community.”
… has tattooed on its forehead, ‘Take a risk.’”
… is willing to take risks knowing that what God does not bless, God will redeem.”
… practices radical welcoming with joy for everyone.”
… where the answer is ‘Yes’ far more often than the answer is ‘No.’”
… where we understand that our own transformation not shared is wasted.”
… that’s at Starbucks or Panera or the Laundromat.”
… puts God first in everything it does and every decision it makes.”
… where people don’t say, ‘We always did it that way before.’”
… where the preaching is damned good every time.”
… believes it has good news worth sharing.”
… believes in missionary outposts everywhere.”
… actually acts as if the news of the reign of God is a good thing.”
… where the average age is not 62.”
… plays as well as it prays and learns from younger members how to do that.”
… where people come or don’t come, where the Church comes to them, where people expect to feel that tingle in the spine where we know the Holy Spirit is close.”
… made peace with the fact that it is not a kingdom or a corporation but is in fact a church.”
… sings the old hymns as well as the new hymns and we like them all.”
… where I’m not one of two (African Americans) in a room.”
… where we create altars in the community, where we’re even in burned-out buildings with plywood and sawhorses, a table is laid to feed the people who need to be fed.”
…. realizes the idols in front of us and don’t let them control us.”
… knows the most important thing is relationship, holy relationships that ground us and out of which we act.”
… is more worried about laying its life down for the life of the world than it is about its own self preservation.”
… puts its money where its mouth is.”
… loves and trusts Jesus enough that we can recognize, confront and confess the sins that we are engaged in, all of them.”
… removes all barriers of all people with disabilities and that they are fully included in the life and ministry of our Church.”
… in which the leadership reflects the diversity of the community in which it’s located.”
… is pregnant and expects to give birth very soon.”
… is passionate about reaching out to unchurched people, and equally passionate about reconciling post-Church people to God.”
… takes Jesus and the Gospel seriously and itself lightly.”
… is more interested in going out and doing mission than in studying it.”
… is where gatherings like this is where we make decisions.”
…. is where no one says to me, in a tone of apology, ‘I’m just a lay person, but …’”
… can involve mission using plane tickets and mission that doesn’t use plane tickets.”

To view most of the responses on video, check out episcopalmaine's youtube video.

In the comment section below, feel free to leave your own responses.  If you aren't a regular church-goer, I hope you respond, too.  The Church is meant for everyone, not just its members.

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