Sabbatical’s work in progress

September 2022

It was so good to be back in church last Sunday with the choir in full form.  Old friends and new singing along with them praising our Creator, joining our hearts together as followers of Jesus.

They say that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” and that’s how I was feeling.

What a luxury to have a Sabbatical spread over these last two summers, combined with holydays it really provided Lynn and I with an opportunity to rest, re-connect with family, and reflect on how Spirit has led us to this place in our lives.

We’d taken on the task of writing the founding story for Bedford House Community Ministry. It took us back seven years to when we’d first bought the house on Aylmer Street. And it took us back seven years before that when Lynn and I first met in Bobcaygeon, became friends, then colleagues, then a couple with a shared passion for learning, playing, expressing,..

We dug through journals and blogs and proposals and emails and financial statements. There are so many relationships intertwined with our story. So many stories. Trying to capture how our relationship with Spirit was central – while leaving behind all of the trappings and language of church culture – continues to be very challenging. This writing project that began as a summer’s pastime, has grown into a much bigger “work in progress”.

Our relationship with the newly amalgamated Greenwood church was central to the 2015 start-up of this experiment in community that has evolved into Bridging Teams and the Bridges Peterborough project. For me, it is so good to be rooted in the Greenwood church culture while we venture out into “being the church” beyond. A recent Facebook post expresses it like this…

I believe churches are meant for praising God -and so are 2am car rides, showers, coffee shops, conversations with friends and strangers, etc.

We will never change the world if we confine our faith within a building; only going to church.

We need to be the church.

What is so very cool has been this summer’s story of unchurched Bridging Team leaders visiting congregations – including Greenwood – to talk about what they’ve discovered in the midst of a safe, non-judgemental, circle of strangers who become friends and “neighbours”.

I wonder – if we stripped away all the hymns and symbols and hidden rules of the sub-culture we call Greenwood – what would be left?  At our “naked” best, we are a community bound by stories. Trusting in our own deepest experience, we have found a safe place to share sorrows, laughter, joys and struggles. We journey together. We ask questions. We examine our dominant culture in the light of those pushed to its margins. We lift up our differences as paths towards deeper understanding. And we discover what’s our most precious common gift.

I look forward to another season of worship. Singing old songs and new. Celebrating with ancient ritual how history repeats itself. Telling old stories as guides to tough decisions we humbly make in the presence of ancestors, angels, and the ever-present, ever-loving, ever-changing, eternal Spirit.

Yours with Spirit,

Allan

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