Here we stand on the verge of Holy Week. During this season: we rehearse, we recall, and we remember. We do this in obedience to Jesus who broke the bread and took the cup and adjured us to remember.
I used to have a good memory. It was this memory rather than hard work that got me through classroom days. To this day I maintain a stunning array of trivia and minutia but I find that I am apt to forget the ‘big things’. Ironically, I was reminded of the importance of memory this week as I spoke to a group of students at Crandall University. The topic was “Incarnation and Community”. I was invited to share as a practitioner what this looks like ‘on the ground’.
So I went with my good friend Donnie. As I shared our passion for living out the gospel together I found myself inwardly nodding with excitement. “Yes! This is why we do the things we do.” God’s greatest expression of the Good News was to take on flesh and dwell among us. God’s love found its highest expression in the sending of the Son. It is this God veiled in flesh who calls us to follow in his steps.
From amidst the thronging multitude Jesus called a small group. From that group emerged an ‘inner circle’. Christ’s plan was that this community of followers would carry the Good News forward. This concept of the incarnation is not meant to be an abstract one, but rather one we quite literally ‘put flesh on’. It describes how we live the Good News with integrity, vulnerability and respect! This is a chief value of Street Hope Saint John and so it necessarily finds expression in our community.
The Trinity is an expression of community and humankind was formed after that image. “It is not good for man to be alone.”, was not said solely about marital union but expresses God’s desire that he be glorified in a community. From the start Street Hope has had a limited mission. Ours is to form a Christian community of broken people who are finding health and serving others. There are a great number of other ‘missions’ but our distinction is this a limited, yet grand, purpose. There are lots of things we do not do. We are small while others are large. We are seemingly inconsequential in a ‘macro’ view. But we believe that God does not call us to bigness or even effectiveness but that he calls us to Christian community and incarnational service. Small seems to be Jesus’ way. He invites us to follow him. If I were to try a ‘bigger’ way I would be inviting him to follow me. I acknowledge, with regret, that I have done this in the past.
This week at our 30 Day Dare we concentrated on an “Awakening to help.” We saw this week as pivotal. This was were “the rubber meets the road”. So far we had looked at a longing for more and a burden of regret and now we were looking for the possibility of a solution. We continue to challenge people to dare to pray “God if you are real make yourself real to me…” and invited them to ask that he awaken in them a willingness to turn toward him for help. Jon Ferguson had a wonderful line in the video “Help has a name. Its name is Jesus”(the incarnation again). We avoided the temptation to coerce but continue to make our own wager on God that he will make himself real to folks.
As I said ‘grace’ we were a much smaller group this time but as food began to be served more and more folks came and in the end we had our usual crowd minus some who were sick that night. I tried a new recipe for pasta this week. I called it “Aloha Roma Pasta” it was a tomato and pineapple sauce with penne pasta. It was quite a hit! I must remember that recipe.