Welcomed a new season of Project Transformation to Orchards UMC. We had increasing attendance all week. The interns performed well. I’m glad to open this sanctuary to so many different people.
M & the kids went for a visit to grandparents in Ashland, OR. Got my new running program in gear. Tried to get a new writing program in ear, too. I don’t sleep well while they’re away.
Long work days with evenings this week.
Had 47 kids at Project Transformation on Thursday. They come from all walks of life, unified mostly by economic status. They represent 15 local schools, 4+ racial groups (not sure how to count multiracial kids), multiple languages and family make-ups. At least one of the families does not have stable housing. We’ve been working really hard to find a Russian translator to help befriend a sibling group who doesn’t speak any English. NEVERTHELESS, the young boy was still getting into mischief with some peers, despite the language barrier! I love that. I was asked where these kids came from. After some research, I realized the vast majority came from within 2 miles of our church. These are our literal neighbors. And we’re no longer that white church in a diverse neighborhood. A threshold has been crossed. A remembered that I shared a goal with the DS 2 years ago that our congregation begin to look more like our neighborhood, having not a single clue as to how to do that. And here we are…God’s hand is upon us. I don’t see how we can go back.
Spent my day off alone. Even the World Cup was off Friday. So I did a lot of housecleaning preparing for my family’s return the following day. Then I drove into Portland to attend a conference held at my old congregation’s building. It was very surreal. Even driving up Belmont, I know exactly where to go, but it felt…distant. Entering the building I saw a former parishioner, a wonderful lady who was looking for her path when I crossed as her pastor 3 years ago. I did a lot of listening to the consternation in her life as she discerned God’s call. I remember being very impressed with her sincerity and her efforts to simplify and pray more. Back then she entertained an idea of actually living in a church, ancient nun-style. I was intrigued by her desire and wished I could’ve offered that space to her. That was a really good re-connection. Sitting in the sanctuary, gospel music bleeding my ears, I felt out of place. I felt MANY different feelings. I recalled that 3 years earlier, I was leading that congregation to its own death. I was faithful in navigating their struggles and desires and opportunities. I was secretly readying myself in case someone were to speak disparagingly of ol’ Sunnyside. I was leading that congregation in a season of my own grief, having lost a child before her birth and finding myself barreling toward unemployment. I gave my all to Sunnyside and employed my best pastoral judgments. I wasn’t mistake-free, but I was faithful. Of that I’m sure. I finally had to recognize the sheer blessedness of being where I am. I get to live out my calling still. I am in a run-of-the-mill congregation that happens to be spiritually curious and missionaly situated. How awesome is that!
Saturday I watched some World Cup then went to a local march protesting the government’s decision to separate immigrant children from their families. I don’t like chanting, but I do like walking. And I began to strategize how this silly little introvert can participate in the resistance. Turns out, with a little effort and creativity there are many moving parts to the ongoing struggles in our country. These parts are pressure points that need to be addressed. And it’s time to start caring. Caring little for marches, I can care QUITE big through other means.
I got home in time to finish preparing the house for my wife and kids’ return. It was so nice to see them.