I finished reading a book for my internship a few weeks ago called 11 by Leonard Sweet. This prayer/poem was at the end and I had to get it written down before I gave the book back. So I hope it is a blessing and that you would read it, reread it, pray it, and struggle with it.
May the Spirit
Bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths, and
Superficial relationships so that
You will live deep in your heart.
May the Spirit
Bless you with anger
At injustice and oppression,
And exploitation of people and the earth
So that you will work for Justice, equity and peace.
May the Spirit
Bless you with tears to shed
For those who suffer
So that you will
Reach out your hand
To comfort them.
And may the Spirit
Bless you with the foolishness
To think you can make a difference
In the world,
So you will do the things
Which others say cannot be done.
Looking back, one of the most powerful and enjoyable times on the trip was during the meals. We always ate together, around a table. Not in a living room (except one night because there were so many of us!) but around a table where we passed dishes and poured each other’s drinks, a time usually only reserved for holidays in US culture. I am not saying that is Canadian culture, but Kingdom culture. I know I am not the first one to realize this, obviously Nieucommunities understands how powerful this time can be, but I think this is the first time I have deeply realized it. It reminds me of a book I read that emphasized the importance of meal sharing in the Bible. I can’t remember what book it was, but it was clear that it was the basis of acceptance and building relationships and community with each other. That is certainly what it did in our group in Vancouver. I will admit that when Amber and I arrived at the Vancouver airport we were getting grumpy and frustrated. The bus ride from Seattle had taken much longer than we expected and we did not want to be the last ones to arrive. Everyone knows that on Christian trips if you are the last one to arrive you are already out of the group. It just seems that if you miss out on those very first experiences then you will not form relationships because the cliques have already been formed and the lines drawn. So unfortunately, we were the last to arrive, but fortunately none of that junk happened!
Thinking back on it now I still can’t believe the conversations we had over a table just about every night. Whether that was at the dinner table or a coffee table we listened to each other’s stories and genuinely enjoyed each other’s company. So we are going to do that here in Spring Hill too. After small group tonight we invited all of them over for dinner on Sunday. We are going to invite others too, to build and create relationships and community here. I believe that is what God put in our hearts while we were there. To build community here, in the burbs, where we live far apart and are busy and have a million other commitments. But we need each other (and Chris if you read this, we can’t wait to have you back!).
So thank you to Becca, Jenna, Russ, Jason, Colletta, Kelsey, and Heather. It is amazing what a week can do and I am still frustrated that I cannot articulate the experience very well. But the conversations were full of life and his Holy Spirit is still with us! Thank you to all the staff there as well. You all helped Amber and I grow and hopefully will continue to do so.
“Time spent around the table with each other in time spent with God.” Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis