I often marvel that a confirmed introvert like myself should find himself so drawn to community. I find superficial relationships exhausting and even the more meaningful ones feel like ‘work’. I love my own company and I often need alone time to recharge. Sometimes I think I’d make a good hermit (if not a hermit crab) but like all humans I am created with a longing to belong to a community. I suspect for many of us this yearning goes mostly unfulfilled. I feel extremely blessed to belong to a community that satisfactorily scratches this itch. I do sometimes get weary and need to re-charge but I know I have a community that loves me. I have a place to be useful and responsible! This place, for me, is Street Hope.
I got to see my community through fresh eyes, recently. My friend Tim Chesterton came to visit me and the Street Hope community. Tim is the pastor of St. Margaret’s Anglican Church in Edmonton. He and his church have been supportive of our little community from its inception. He was in town for some meetings with Threshold and stayed for a few days. His hope was to get a feel for Street Hope, in order to report back to his church family.
He joined us for a community supper. Another long-time friend, Keith Osbourne, the pastor of Christ Church Anglican in Penfield, brought roughly 20 people from his church to provide the ham supper and a music team that blended the secular and spiritual. Myriads of connecting conversations took place that night and the hall rang with song and laughter.
The next morning Tim joined us for our Fellowship Breakfast. We had pancakes made from scratch. The sausages we bought to do otherwise would have been offal! (Insert groan here) The Rev. Dr. John Paul Westin the rector of Stone and Trinity Churches brought a very compelling and down to earth message about how we can live in relationship with Jesus. During the meal and while some of our guys were getting ‘fresh air’ (a smoke break), Tim got to have conversations with folks who know Street Hope as their spiritual community.
Sunday night we had our worship night and Tim led in music and gave the teaching. He shared some practical ways that we could be led by the Spirit in our day to day Christian lives. We got to practise some of them right away in the prayer time as people sensed the ‘nudge’ of the Spirit to pray aloud for someone or something and trusted God to empower them to do so. The prayers were not examples of eloquence but they were powerful and moving. To tell the truth I had become used to the way we pray together and it was good for me to appreciate how beautiful this was through Tim’s eyes.
Monday morning before he flew out Tim joined us for our Study and Prayer time. Seven of gathered around the table drinking coffee as we explored the first verses of Romans 8. “There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…” Condemnation is a big issue for many of at Street Hope. We have felt the sting of it powerfully in our pasts. After a bit of teaching and some banter back and forth we prayed. My friend Big D. is so grateful to Tim for taking the time and for Threshold Ministries for all they do to support us. He poured all this out in a prayer that moved us and I am sure God’s heart as well.
Even when I am in the midst of something extraordinary I have this amazing capacity to take it for granted. I am grateful for my friend’s visit, so I could be reminded. Let me invite any readers who can to drop by and encourage us and let me see our community through fresh eyes, so that with renewed vision I can ‘do the work’ of fostering and belonging to community.