I have been reading quite a bit lately. One book I have been reading is by the planter of a New Monastic Community in Winnipeg. Jamie Arpin-Ricci writes about the Sermon on the Mount and his inner-city community “Little Flower”. I am intrigued to read about this community that seeks to radically follow Jesus and take his teaching seriously. I found much that he has to say very helpful. The most helpful bit, for me, was his explanation of how people, who are leading very messy lives, are a part of the community. I sometimes struggle with this issue. People who still have obvious sinful habits are still seeking God and true spiritual life, and have found their way to Up Town and are currently part of our nascent community ‘Street Hope’. While I have niggling concerns about this I am often asked by ‘mature’ Christians “How can you have ….as a part of your team?” Arpin-Ricci reminds me that our task as a community is to create ‘good soil’ conditions. We are not seed inspectors, after tending soil we look for fruit. It is by their fruit that we will know the validity of our friends’ journey and fruit takes time to produce. So my friends with their obvious struggles are welcome which provides great consolation for me as I bring my less obvious struggles with me. Together we wrestle with what it means for us to radically follow Jesus. I had some friends ask me this week, “Can you be a Christian and still smoke weed?” This was not a theoretical question but one with which they had been painfully wrestling. We spoke about how even asking the question showed that they knew it was not compatible with the radical call of Jesus and I went on to speak about God’s grace and the process of ‘sanctification’. Most former crack addicts consider that they are clean if they only smoke weed and these people were questioning that wisdom. I felt humbled to be in their presence. The soil is good.
I am encouraged about future ministry. This week I had coffee with a friend who leads an inner-city ministry which feeds many people. This ministry is actively seeking a building. My friend offered me a place in it to do any programing in the future. I said I wasn’t really looking for a building. He said that even so “If I wanted a home I would always have one.” Now, I feel a bit kicked around lately and this offer was a balm to my soul. I have also been encouraged by new friends and old, giving financial support. There are a group of recovered addicts who pray for and with me and are ready to stand with me in a new ministry. I went to the ministerial today and was able to tell some friends and peers, there, just how I am doing. I was glad for the response from one particular guy who immediately made a date to meet for coffee.
I am blessed! I am hopeful! I think I’m getting ready to be a radical follower once more.