- Proverbs 29.18 (The Message)
This is what God says, “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
- Isaiah 43.14a, 18-19 (The Message)
When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them. There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck. They couldn’t for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, “Aren’t these all Galileans? How come we’re hearing them talk in our various mother tongues? Their heads were spinning; they couldn’t make head or tail of any of it. They talked back and forth, confused: “What’s going on here?” That’s when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency: “Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight. These people aren’t drunk as some of you suspect. They haven’t had time to get drunk—it’s only nine o’clock in the morning. This is what the prophet Joel announced would happen: “In the Last Days,” God says, “I will pour out my Spirit on every kind of people: Your sons will prophesy, also your daughters; Your young men will see visions, your old men dream dreams. And whoever calls out for help to me, God, will be saved.”
- Acts 2.1-21 (Selections; The Message)
To hear Isaiah report God’s intention to do something brand-new, you’d think God would be the source for the old saying “Out with the old and in with the new.” Somehow, I doubt this. It doesn’t sound like God’s style of expression. And besides, God never throws anything out; not babies with bath water, not old-stuff to make room for the new, and certainly not you or me. God doesn’t discard and replace things… God re-creates them. Paul understood this, and was able to pronounce with confidence that in Christ, all things have become new.
This is important to remember as our faith community concludes and affirms its discernment of God’s vision of what OPCC can and should be; God’s mission for us that will not be impossible if we choose to accept it. God is waiting and yearning to re-create our faith community, to re-invent our vision, illumine our understanding, and in so doing show us the WAY from here (of course, taking the babies with us!).
Our vision discernment retreats have been wonderful experiences in which the movement of Spirit has been obvious. This group, which included some 50 folk at one meeting or another, began by discerning the core values that guide, inspire, and empower our faith community; values that can and should be identified and intentionally woven into our walk in faith. From this foundation, the groups attempted to envision what a faith community based on these values would look like in the future; to discern what our faith community would look like when re-created from the insideOUT! The results of these retreats have provisionally issued in a Future Story; a fictive narrative that recounts the growth of our faith community. The story has two chapters. The first recounts the ways we will reach out into the larger community to assist folk in need, partner with others of good will to work for the common good, and stand for issues of justice and fairness. Chapter two recounts the attention we will give to our spiritual nurture and development, our efforts to be an intentionally welcoming community, and thus, to successfully welcome new folk into a dynamic faith journey with Christ, and the fellowship of our faith community.
This Future Story will be distributed to those in worship on Pentecost Sunday, and will be available as well on the web site and in the reception office on campus. We will read, pray, clarify, question, discuss, and revise if necessary the vision that inspires this story of a church that reinvents itself. As we discern consensus around the vision; as each of us recognizes the willingness to embrace this vision, we will celebrate it as the road map to the future. We will express it in summary form as a statement of vision and mission, and begin work on a strategic plan to prioritize goals, and give arms and legs to the vision. I have been amazed at the quality of the discernment process to this point (and the great work of our visioning team), and am excited to expand this discernment and prepare for something brand-new that is even now bursting out among us.