Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Coffee Houses and Folk Art

The River would like to invite you to join us for a Community Coffeehouse this Friday (October 29th) from 6-9pm at 317 South West Street (The white house across from Culpeper Baptist Church).

It’s an opportunity for people to relax and enjoy an evening of art, music, and poetry.

There will be free coffee (including espresso and Cuban Coffee!) and pastries served. We'll also have a canvas and paint available for people who wish to express themselves through art. There will also be music and poetry readings for those who wish to participate through the open mic.

We invite the Culpeper community to grab a cup of coffee while they enjoy an evening of live music and new friends.


Visiones Del Pueblo (Visions of the Community)
The work study portion of my financial aid package had me working at the University Art Museum several hours each week during my freshman year. I learned several skills during my time there including how to plug nail holes, paint walls white, use a computer (starting with a Mac Classic, then graduating to the Museum’s PowerBook) and the secret formula for F.I.U. Art Museum punch used solely for exhibition openings.

This was in the early Nineties, well before the Art Museum moved to its new digs on the perimeter of the University Park Campus. The Art Museum back then was simply located on a corner of the ground floor of Primera Casa, the first building on campus.

Part of my duties included sitting at the front desk and welcoming visitors. I spent so much time in the museum itself that I really got to know the space well. The museum was always filled with amazing pieces of art; modern, abstract, photography, sculpture, metalwork, etc.

However, my favorite exhibit by far was “Visiones del Pueblo: The Folk Art of Latin America”, which ran from January 21 through March 19, 1994.

Latin America Folk Art serves many different purposes, but shares a common trait.

A breathtaking variety of bright and bold colors.

So, instead of repainting the walls the usual off-white, we were instructed to paint large portions of the walls with very bright colors. Many cases (which matched the pigmented walls) were brought in to hold the more than 250 objects. And what a variety of objects. Big pieces, tiny pieces, simple ones as well as unthinkably elaborate. The museum was bursting from top to bottom with creativity and color.

Much love had gone into the creation of all of these objects.

At night when we’d turn off the lights and lock the doors, the museum seemed to let out a deep breath and settle down for the night.

Those moments were always special to me. Time seemed to slow down as I looked at the (by now) very familiar pieces of art partially cloaked in darkness.

It was kind of like experiencing twilight.

The bright colors would fade to shades of gray but I knew they’d be back tomorrow with the sun and a new day.

And such it is with life.

As the seasons change, we sometimes lament missed opportunities or mistakes we’ve made. We sit in the gloom and consider ourselves nothing more than gray vapors.

We forget how colorful we have been made.

Just as folk art is lovingly created and is best enjoyed in the full light of day, we too must remember that the night will end and a new day will dawn.
A day filled with new life and new possibilities.

Jesus told us that He came to give us true life. Life that is richer than we can imagine. A life that is energized through His Spirit. A life that boldly loves those who are difficult. A life filled with joy and a life that overflows with the peace that He promises He’ll give us.

Jesus said “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27 NLTse)

Jesus wants us to remember how special we are to Him. Special enough that He gave up His life to take away the sin that stains us all.

Look at the people God has placed around you and marvel at His amazing creativity.

If you feel faded today, where have your colors gone? What would it take for you to shine once more?


Related Verses
John 10:1-21

“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”

Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.

“The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”

When he said these things, the people were again divided in their opinions about him. Some said, “He’s demon possessed and out of his mind. Why listen to a man like that?” Others said, “This doesn’t sound like a man possessed by a demon! Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

Lamentations 3:18-26
I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the LORD is lost!” The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.

Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The LORD is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the LORD.


Friday, October 22, 2010

My Alter Egos

I’m a packrat. I like to hold on to stuff that remind me of the various seasons of my life. Movie ticket stubs, old credit cards, matchbooks from restaurants, and even spent ammunition from a variety of firearms that I’ve used at shooting ranges (as well as not-so-legal places to shoot).

The statute of limitations has expired for (most of) these transgressions, but I digress…

I was searching for my Miami-Dade Library Card in a plastic yellow Erector Set case (which serves as a sort of personal time capsule) when I came across a medium-sized object wrapped in cheap black fabric.

I didn’t need to unveil it to know what lay inside.

Three golden letters.


One summer in the mid-nineties, I was a middle-school counselor at a youth camp in central Florida. At this camp, each grade level was assigned a color for the week.

The 8th graders were the brown team.

There’s not much flashy about the color brown…

We raised points through a variety of means, but needless to say, the brown team was left behind in the mud. These were middle school kids competing against high schoolers.

At the end of the week, we had to do a skit. As we sat down to discuss a strategy to get more points, we rolled different ideas around. What do you do with brown?

It was then that I was blinded by a flashback from the past.

I had always been fascinated by superheroes.

My cousin Orlando fed this obsession with stacks of comic books for my brother and me. Orlando even helped me with training to be a superhero.

I was running through his apartment one day, a towel fluttering across my shoulders, when he asked me if I wanted to learn to fly.

I don’t remember agreeing.

Actually, truth be told, I don’t remember ANY of this. It has been handed down as Boronat folklore over the years.

The story goes that he “got hold” of me and shared that he was going to teach me to fly to the couch (which was across the living room) a few feet away.

“One … two … three!”

I didn’t quite make it to the couch.

My older sister Patti remembers seeing my head smack the floor, which prompted her to yell,


My super-powers (a hard head is a Boronat trademark) protected me that day, but I had to begin to come to terms with the fact that I was not meant for the superhero lifestyle.

And yet, the fire still burned to be super at something…

What if for the skit, I became a brown superhero? Brown Man? NO! BIBLEMAN!

We hastily drew up the skit (which had me using Bible verses to help various people with their problems) and I made the Bibleman costume out of some old brown t-shirts, a web belt, and a brown towel. I even cut out the initials to be emblazoned on my chest.

Needless to say, the skit was a hit, and everyone wanted us to do an encore when we got back to the church for our Sunday Evening camp reflections service.

I donned the suit again, and waited outside the doors of the sanctuary for my cue in the skit (the Super theme song). I entered in all my chocolate splendor and we proceeded to bring down the house.

It was later on that evening that one of the ministers came up to me with a big grin.

He pointed to the initials “B.M.” on my chest.

“Hey Joe, I know it stands for Bibleman, but when I was a kid, BM was short for “Bowel Movement.”

I can still hear the resounding laughter around me as I was brought into the joke.

And that’s why future Bibleman outfits had a golden chest plate that read “NIV”…

Who are we trying to be? As we grow from season to season, we get ideas regarding what life should be like. What type of car do I drive? How big a house do I get? What career will give me the most money, prestige, satisfaction or joy? Some of us find contentment only in dreaming about “when my ship comes in”.

What if THIS is your ship?

If you are reading this on a computer, congratulations! You’re among the 3-5% of the world’s population that has access to the internet. You’re rich!

Being wealthy gives you opportunities that many in our world lack.

What do we do with our talents?

What do we do with our gifts?


Sometimes we look so far forward or so far back that we miss the life we were meant to live today. Is there any wonder why Jesus commanded us not to worry about tomorrow?

Next week we’ll discuss ways we can live out the life that God has for us.

You have been given a talent. What are you doing with it?

What kind of superhero are you anyways?


Related Verses
Matthew 25:14-28

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.

“The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.

“After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’

“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

“The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’

“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

“Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’

“But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’

“Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Matthew 6:24-34
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.


The River Community Church. A Community of Connections!

Friday, October 15, 2010

As the Seasons Change

A few weekends ago, Kathy and I visited a little known inn situated in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Friends of ours raved about their inexpensive patio menu as well as the soothing pastoral setting, so we decided to try it.

We arrived a little before sunset. To tell the truth, I was in a bit of a hurry; I didn’t want to show up late and find the place was full. My concerns, however, were quickly laid to rest as we walked through the graceful courtyard and made our way around the back.

Words cannot describe the locale adequately.

The sun was just peeping over the mountains, giving a final wave farewell as it settled down in the west. A herd of horses appeared across a small pond and just as quickly vanished in the waning heat of the day.

Summer had officially ended the previous week, but a deliciously mild breeze refreshed us as we sat down at our table to order.

Oh, what to order.

I ordered a cheeseburger, and Kathy picked out a BLT.

My eyes were drawn to the buzz of activity beside us. There was a small bush in full flower and large bees made quick work of gathering pollen. I normally am skittish around flying stingers, but I actually found their droning to be soothing; heightening the experience of eating out in the open.

At first, I hesitated talking about how beautiful everything was (as if doing so would somehow break the spell), but eventually we couldn’t help but share all the delights that met our senses as the sky began to darken and we entered twilight.

By the time our food arrived, the bees had clocked out for the evening. In their place, tiny moths ushered in the night shift.

I had never witnessed such a marvel firsthand.

Our food in hand, we relished the explosions of flavor that danced across our palates. This was just about the freshest food we had ever eaten. We even exchanged bites of food to show what the other was missing. The hamburger, perfectly cooked and sitting on a slab of aged cheddar (which somehow matched perfectly with the beef) was one of the very best I’ve EVER eaten.


Kathy, happily munching away at her BLT with apple wood smoked bacon, concurred.

Dessert was a hard decision, but we decided on an Apple and Pear Crisp with Spiced Moroccan Ice Cream.

It’s even better than it sounds like.

One by one, the lights on the patio winked on and by the time we left, stars had begun to fill the indigo skies.

A cool breeze greeted us as we took our leave and walked to our car.

We were amazed we could enjoy such a meal for what we typically spend at a chain restaurant.

Change was in the air.

Now, I’m a creature of habit, and I enjoy my routines, but one thing I love about living in Virginia is watching the seasons turn.

Seasons come and go for all of us. Childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, marriage, parenthood, on and on until we pass on through the waters to the next life.

Change happens in our neighborhoods and workplaces.

Change even happens in churches as well. New groups form as some others fade. People move in and out of our lives. New challenges also sometimes crop up to try to make us forget hard-fought victories.

Through it all, we try to keep our eyes wide open.

“What is God changing right now?”

“What lives is He touching as we move on this journey?”

As I was writing this piece, I pulled up the website for the amazing inn to reacquaint myself with the menu. I was stricken with grief to see that their new fall menu doesn’t have burgers.

But you know what? That fresh tomato and mozzarella sandwich looks pretty good!

Change is in the air!

Stay tuned…

P.S. If you want to know the name of the inn, just drop me an email at

Related Verses
Psalm 104

Let all that I am praise the LORD. O LORD my God, how great you are! You are robed with honor and majesty. You are dressed in a robe of light. You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens; you lay out the rafters of your home in the rain clouds. You make the clouds your chariot; you ride upon the wings of the wind. The winds are your messengers; flames of fire are your servants.

You placed the world on its foundation so it would never be moved. You clothed the earth with floods of water, water that covered even the mountains. At your command, the water fled; at the sound of your thunder, it hurried away. Mountains rose and valleys sank to the levels you decreed. Then you set a firm boundary for the seas, so they would never again cover the earth. You make springs pour water into the ravines, so streams gush down from the mountains.

They provide water for all the animals, and the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds nest beside the streams and sing among the branches of the trees. You send rain on the mountains from your heavenly home, and you fill the earth with the fruit of your labor.
You cause grass to grow for the livestock and plants for people to use. You allow them to produce food from the earth— wine to make them glad, olive oil to soothe their skin, and bread to give them strength. The trees of the LORD are well cared for— the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. There the birds make their nests, and the storks make their homes in the cypresses. High in the mountains live the wild goats, and the rocks form a refuge for the hyraxes.

You made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to set. You send the darkness, and it becomes night, when all the forest animals prowl about. Then the young lions roar for their prey, stalking the food provided by God. At dawn they slink back into their dens to rest. Then people go off to their work, where they labor until evening.

O LORD, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures. Here is the ocean, vast and wide, teeming with life of every kind, both large and small. See the ships sailing along, and Leviathan, which you made to play in the sea.

They all depend on you to give them food as they need it. When you supply it, they gather it. You open your hand to feed them, and they are richly satisfied. But if you turn away from them, they panic. When you take away their breath, they die and turn again to dust.

When you give them your breath, life is created, and you renew the face of the earth. May the glory of the LORD continue forever! The LORD takes pleasure in all he has made! The earth trembles at his glance; the mountains smoke at his touch. I will sing to the LORD as long as I live. I will praise my God to my last breath!

May all my thoughts be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD. Let all sinners vanish from the face of the earth; let the wicked disappear forever. Let all that I am praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!


Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Wart on My Sole

Sometime during one of my three Junior years in college (hey, I was on the six-year plan!), I got a plantar wart. I probably got it at the university gym’s locker room because I always showered barefoot. To this day, a twinge of apprehension greets me every time my bare feet hit the tile floor at my current gym.

But I digress…

I tried EVERYTHING to get rid of the wart. Home remedies, pumice stones and over the counter stuff. Eventually, I had the campus health clinic attempt to freeze it off.

All to no avail.

I limped along with a cushioned donut bandage stuck to my sole for months until my mother suggested that I go see my old doctor, Dr. M. He had a practice in Westchester, a suburb a little northeast from our home. He was a pediatrician who has served multiple generations of Boronats with great skill.

So, I swallowed my pride and went in to see a doctor who specializes in childhood ailments.

Entering the waiting room was like stepping back in time. I sat on a chair and marveled at all the memories that place held for me.

The chief memory being that I HATE SHOTS.

It’s a pity that more doctors don’t see their patients when they (the patients that it) are feeling fine. I hear that dentists have higher rates of depression than other professions. Think about it, who WANTS to go to the dentist? For many of us, it’s like pulling teeth just to get us in for our yearly checkups.

It turns out that I was to be seen by another Dr. M. His son had joined the family practice.

We went through my recent trials with the wart, and he decided that the best course of action was to perform a curettage and desiccation.

The procedure is simple enough, they inject a local anesthetic, they destroy the wart by burning it, and then they cut it out.

We set an appointment for the surgery, and I returned a few days later for the procedure.

I was led back to my old examination room (where I received all those dreaded shots in years past). The nurse brought out a tray of sterile instruments, and I was “made comfortable”. After two injections, my sole became numb and he got to work.

It turns out my sole wasn’t numb enough.

To my great surprise, I had no qualms ASKING for ANOTHER injection.

The last one did the trick, and I comfortably waited as he finished barbecuing the bottom of my foot.

Being a youth intern at the time, and wanting something to gross out my teens, I requested to keep the filet of sole in a bottle of solution.

Dr. M graciously complied.

Before I limped out of the office, I was given a painkiller to take when I got home.

It’s totally numb, no problem, I thought.

Half way home (my mother driving at her normal rapid clip) the local anesthetic began to wear off. Problem. It felt as if someone was holding a lighter to the bottom of my foot.

We didn’t have water in the car, so I had to endure the rest of the trip home in serious pain.

As soon as we got home, I stumbled out of the car and quickly hobbled over to the sink. Downing the bitter pill, limped to my bed, and was OUT COLD in moments.

The wart never came back.

I am grateful for modern medicine and the ways it can heal the body. Surgery nowadays is much safer and effective than in the past for one simple, yet vital procedure.

Sterilization of instruments.

A clean scalpel can do wonderful things in the hands of a skilled surgeon. Give a dirty scalpel to that same doctor and he’ll become a minister of death.

Even the smallest traces of bacteria can result in a life-threatening infection.

The apostle Paul, writing to his protégé Timothy, warned him using a household analogy. He said that there were two different types of instruments in a house; the common and the special. The common were just that; common. The special were different because they were pure. The special would be used by God for “every good work”.

Paul impressed on Timothy the importance of keeping himself pure before God. It wasn’t about trying to be better than other people, it was about holding himself, his motives and his actions to God’s standard.

Being pure has NOTHING to do with comparing ourselves to others. NOTHING.

Being pure is asking God to remove anything in our lives that prevents us from being the people He has created us to be.

To cut out our warts.

If you want to be common, keep judging others and ranking yourself depending on what they do or don’t do. Keeping count of other people’s warts only make ours grow worse.

However, if you want to be of special use, look to God and He will guide you towards purity. And the Master Physician will not only remove your warts, He’ll use you for every good work.


Related Verses
Mark 2:13-17

Then Jesus went out to the lakeshore again and taught the crowds that were coming to him. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Levi got up and followed him.

Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?”

When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

2 Timothy 2:15-26
Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. This kind of talk spreads like cancer, as in the case of Hymenaeus and Philetus. They have left the path of truth, claiming that the resurrection of the dead has already occurred; in this way, they have turned some people away from the faith.

But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The LORD knows those who are his,” and “All who belong to the LORD must turn away from evil.”

In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.

Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.

Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Beef Stew at Church?

“What is a church supposed to look like?”

This question was posed by Duane Eatmon, a friend of mine who’s the pastor of Mosaic Church here in Culpeper. Kathy and I were in attendance that Saturday evening.

Everybody kinda looked around. Most of us were sitting around the tables, but a few got to stretch out on some couches.

Very comfy.

We had just finished eating a potluck dinner at Kay and Anthony’s and the tantalizing aroma of beef stew, pizza, and baked ziti (not to mention Kay’s homemade bread – WOW!) continued to play with our noses. We had all eaten our fill and were letting things settle before we tackled dessert.

Duane led us through a few questions regarding our thoughts on church. Why do churches look different? What similar things do churches do? What do churches focus on? What are things that we get caught up in that really aren’t all that important?

As we shared throughout that evening, we got a glimpse into each other’s lives: the joys, the struggles, the successes and the pain. There was plenty of encouragement and support to go around.

God’s name was praised often. Not in songs or hymns, but in truth. The stories of what God was doing in and around us. God was there.

You see, this is what churches do.

Church is not about buildings, style of worship, or a premeditated format on how God’s going to show up.

God’s already in the house.

Church is about the people of God getting together (whether 2 or 3 in a home, or ten thousand at a stadium) to praise who God is, and to share what we’ve seen Him doing around us. It’s a time of refreshment and encouragement. Refreshment for those who are weary of the journey, and encouragement for all to continue serving those around us with the bold love of Jesus.

This is described in part six of The River’s Vision:

Gathering to Honor
Once a week, all these groups gather together. Why? So we can honor God as a community of faith. We have had gatherings of the church in warehouses, garages, train stations, and houses. During these gatherings we take time to worship God through music, art, scripture, reflection and questions. We believe in a life that wrestles with questions. It’s how we grow as individuals as well as a community. These gatherings are not about numbers. It’s not about getting a crowd to sit in our seats; it’s about helping people find out how they fit in God’s story. A story about a kingdom unlike any other in human history. A kingdom not based on political might or brute force but rather the power of reconnection and restoration that can only be found in the love of God.

How can we all live like this in our wonderfully varied communities of faith?


Related Verses
Acts 2:42-47

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity — all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

John 4:19-24
“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?”

Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”