The Prayer of Examen

This past Sunday, we practiced the prayer of examen together.

The examen is an ancient prayer that sparks awareness and reflection on how God is at work in your life today. 

There are five steps or movement in the prayer of examen. 

Step 1: Become Aware of God's Presence
Step 2: Review the Week with Gratitude
Step 3: Survey Your Feelings from this Week
Step 4: Go Deeper with a Few of these Feelings
Step 5: Look Toward the Week Ahead

This week, take some time to enter into the examen as an invitation to dwell with God and live into the wisdom and insight of God's spirit.

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Join a Team; Lend a Hand! (Open Door volunteer opportunities)

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If you have any interest in serving, leading, or hearing more about any of the opportunities to serve and lead below, email dave@opendooreastbay.com

Open Door Kids TRU Team (4 people needed)

Serve monthly as a teacher or assistant for our Tru environment (kids age 3-6 years old). (Background check process required)

Alternative option: if you can't commit to serve monthly, join our substitute/backup list to give regular volunteers a break as needed or during the summer Sabbath volunteer rhythm. 

Sound & Tech Team (2-4 people needed)

Serve monthly running sound or media for our Open Door Gathering. No prior technical skills/knowledge is needed and training will be provided!

Gathering Hospitality (2-4 people needed)

Serve once or twice a month to help our Gathering Space feel warm, welcoming, and hospitable each week! This team may occasionally be asked to help with bigger events (concerts, potlucks, etc.)

Open Door Kids THRIVE Team (2-5 people needed)

As our kids get older, we're creating new environments for our Thrive (7+) Kids to learn and practice life in the way of Jesus. This team will balance between Sunday learning environments and mid-week/weekend evening opportunities to connect with Thrive Kids + Families. 

Prayer Team (2-4 people needed)

The prayer team serves in our Gathering and/or "on call" praying for our community's needs and requests. You can join the rotation of people who pray on Sunday evenings during our Gathering or join a team of people who receive requests throughout the week and faithfully pray for them.

School Investment Champions (1-3 people needed)

As part of our 2018 Horizon, we want to help everyone at Open Door invest and contend for local schools. A School Investment Champion will help Open Door make connections, deepen relationships, and take on ramps to investment in local schools. 

Meal Coordinators (1-2 people needed)

Open Door loves bringing meals to people! Whether in celebration, sickness, crisis, or just because, meal coordinators help provide hospitality and presence to those connected to Open Door. 

Everyday Stories Team (1-2 people needed)

We are a community of Storytellers and deeply believe in the power of shared stories—painful, joyful, questioning, pondering, tied up neatly, and messily unfinished. The Everyday Story Team collects, curates, and champions our storytelling rhythms. 

Responding to the Crisis of Immigration & Family Separation

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We held our first Samaritan Response Team meeting this last weekend on Saturday night and Sunday morning in order to try to creatively focus on what is happening at the border. Ryan led us through several exercises in which we researched the issues and the many people and organizations who are responding, brainstormed different ways to join in and make an impact, and articulate tangible practices to start right away.

One of the themes we all latched onto was wanting to be part of changing the narrative from a fabric of fear and violence to a fabric of care and welcome. We realized that we want to start working now to make it very easy to say “YES” to whatever is asked of us in the future. For example, we talked about the huge impact we could make in the future if—as a whole community—we learned Spanish and became certified foster parents.

One immediate action we’ve taken is a t-shirt campaign to raise funds to aid those detained. The campaign is called ‘Love > Lines’ and you can buy the shirts here. The shirts are $30 and the campaign will run through July 17th, so if you’re interested we encourage you to act soon and share it out on your social networks.

We will be meeting again this Friday and continuing this conversation and planning - join us!!

Dave has summarized a lot of the information we covered during our time:

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History & Context

Though we gathered to talk specifically about the crisis of family separation on the border, we quickly dove into some of the historical context around immigration. The US has a long and often tragic history around immigration, borders, detention, and the movement (forced or voluntary) of people. The current crisis is not a unique event but rather another instance of our historied difficulty in navigating a much longer crisis of the politics and economics of immigration and borders.

Current Realities & Changing Policies

In the last weeks, 2,342 children have been separated from their parents at the border. While the official policy is that only families who were found crossing between ports of entry would be detained and separated, there have been reports that families following the procedural steps for requesting asylum (turning oneself in at a port of entry, passing a credible threat test, etc.) have also experienced separation.

Family separation happened because of the so called “zero tolerance policy” enacted by the Trump Administration which heightened the ramification of crossing the border without documentation (while technically a misdemeanor, the zero tolerance policy has lumped it in with more serious felony charges). Because children can not be held in federal jails, they are separated from their parents and shuffled between federal agencies (ICE, Refugee Resettlement, Health and Human Services. 

While the most recent executive order signed by President Trump stops the separation of families at the border and a court order required these families to be reunited within 30 days, there remains a crisis of immigration, the question of how we got to the point where we were separating children from their parents, and what we can do about it.

Local Impact

 This issue hits particularly close to home for those of us in the East Bay. A plan to relocate and detain upwards of 47,000 immigrants at the Concord Naval Weapons Station has been circulating. In Pleasant Hill, a local shelter houses unaccompanied minors, including two young girls who were separated from their families because of the recent policy changes.

Even if this current crisis of separated families is resolved, it is clear there is much work to be done in order to care well for the dignity, health, and wholeness of individuals and families who have immigrated to the United States. 

If you’re wanting to jump in right now and join some organizations that are making a huge impact, we’ve added a list below!

Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity - Nueva Esparanza (http://www.im4humanintegrity.org/new/northern-california/)

Working locally in the Bay Area, the Nueva Esparanza program forms accompaniment teams to walk alongside recently immigrated individuals and families as they adjust to and navigate life locally in the East Bay. 

Monument Impact (http://monumentimpact.org/en/home/)

Monument Impact provides all kinds of services - including job resources, language and computer classes, community engagement, etc. - for the low-income immigrant community in the Concord area of the East Bay. Their Day Labor Program provides clear and respectful ways for many immigrants to find work at fair prices by working with contractors and individuals who need skilled labor for a variety of jobs.

Change.org (https://www.change.org/p/president-trump-children-don-t-belong-in-cages)

To sign a petition focused on ending long-term, indefinite detention of immigrant children:

The Youth Center (https://www.theyoungcenter.org/)

The Young Center is a champion for the rights and best interests of unaccompanied immigrant children, making sure that wherever they land, whether here in the U.S. or in their home country, they are safe. To learn more or donate:

RAICES (https://www.raicestexas.org/about)

Raices is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees in Texas. They need donations, volunteers for events and immigration accompaniment volunteers:  

Safe Passage Project (https://www.safepassageproject.org/)

Safe Passage Project was created to address the unmet legal needs of indigent immigrant youth living in New York by providing these indigent youth with basic advice and assistance. We work with volunteer attorneys to provide representation for unaccompanied minors in immigration court. Safe Passage provides training, resources, and mentoring to volunteer attorneys regarding Special Immigrant Juvenile (“SIJ”) status as well as other possible immigration alternatives for children. 

KIND: Kids In Need of Defense (https://supportkind.org/)

KIND’s vision is to create a world in which children’s rights and well-being are protected as they migrate alone in search of safety. They work to achieve this vision by ensuring that no child appears in immigration court without high quality legal representation; advancing laws, policies, and practices that ensure children’s protection and uphold their right to due process and fundamental fairness; and promoting in countries of origin, transit, and destination durable solutions to child migration that are grounded in the best interests of the child and ensure that no child is forced to involuntarily migrate.

Why We're Mixing Up our Summer Rhythm

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If you've peeked at our calendar or popped in to a Gathering this summer, you've noticed that we're mixing up our rhythm this summer! From Memorial Day to Labor Day, we're experimenting with three different types of Gathering: Eucharist, Collective, and PLAY.

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EUCHARIST Gatherings are filled with songs, scripture, teaching, prayer, and Eucharist. These nights will feel like our regular rhythm of Gathering throughout the year.

COLLECTIVE Gatherings take the same general shape as our Eucharist Gatherings (~75 minutes at St. Paul's in the Sanctuary) but the evenings are each designed to bring us together in different ways - through intentional conversation, dreaming and brainstorming, praying together, wine and hors d'oeuvres, etc. 

PLAY Gatherings take us out of our normal space and invite us to enjoy the relational life we share together. Whether at a backyard BBQ or a Beach Day, PLAY Gatherings invite us to celebrate the Jesus-following family of Open Door through laughter, play, hospitality, and adventure. 

Open Door Kids is happening each week throughout the summer except for our PLAY Gatherings.

We've got this rhythm mapped out on our calendar so you always know what to expect (though, as always, there's almost always a few surprises any time Open Door gathers together!). 

We've had a few questions about the summer rhythm, so here are some answers!

Why are we doing this?

Several reasons. Summer at Open Door is always a bit "liquid" - people travel, kids are out of school, and everyone's rhythm and schedule of life shifts a bit. We wanted to provide consistency in the midst of summer while also adapting to the realities of summer's inconsistencies. So we've scheduled PLAY gatherings on long/holiday weekends and are experimenting to see how the balance between Collective and Eucharist Gatherings push us into faithful presence in new ways  (and with different size crowds Gathering Sunday to Sunday). 

Another big reason is our spring learning journey around Sabbath. We committed early this year, as part of our Horizon, to rhythms of formation that are shaped by rest and Sabbath rather than busyness and noise. Rotating between Eucharist, Collective, and PLAY Gatherings gives all of our volunteer teams (kids, tech, music, etc.) some extra breathing room and a season of Sabbath during the summer months.

A third reason would be the hope that experimenting with our Gatherings would allow us to faithfully move in sync with God's invitation on our community. We don't simply Gather as a break from our regular routine or as another segment of a compartmentalized life; we Gather because God is inviting us on mission for the sake of the East Bay and our Summer Gatherings will press in to that invitation. 

Is this a permanent thing or just for summer?

We'll resume our rhythm of weekly Eucharist Gatherings after Labor Day (though we'll likely continue to experiment with Collective and PLAY Gatherings at strategic times throughout the year). 

What about Open Door Kids?

While we're switching up the rhythm for adults, we wanted to ensure a consistent learning environment for our Open Door Kids. Developmentally and holistically, we believe a stable rhythm and consistent presence is critical for the faith formation of the kids in our community.

The only exception is our PLAY Gatherings where we invite the entire family of Open Door - kids, adults, and families alike - to play together!

We're a worshipping community; how are Collective and PLAY Gatherings worshipful? 

Worship is the fullness of our lives lived in response to God's extravagant love made real in Jesus. Singing and teaching are certainly a part of what it means to be a worshipping community, but we also find intentional conversation, shared meals, serving, and dreaming together to be a beautiful and necessary expression of worship. 

We don't want to just be great worshippers through music but through our relationships, our insights, and our everyday lives lived both when we're scattered around the East Bay and when we gather together.

Any other questions? Please let us know!

Everyday Story, Ben Sanders

Sabbath is hard.

We generally really enjoy family adventures on the weekends, but if you've ever been in a family, then you might know that adventures aren't always restful. They're usually filling in some way, but often times we adventure and move around so much that it leaves us exhausted rather than rested. By Sunday evening we're depleted and I find myself looking forward to diving back into my normal rhythm of work to get my energy back.

No joke: I look forward to work to get my rest.

I don't think that's how it was supposed to be. So we filled out our Sabbath sheet and....!

Failed miserably.

Sabbath is hard.
Intentional rest is hard with kids.

So this past weekend when Vanessa asked me where I wanted to go, I said "here." The kids were in the backyard playing together in the sunlight and the house was calm; it seemed like a bit of shalom had broken through at the Sanders home and I didn't want to break it.

We did a few things that might not fully qualify as Sabbath in some books, like when I mowed the lawn, but for me, it was rejuvenating to "tend the earth" if you will. It's not something I ever do at "work" and it was life-giving. So I did it.

We're still figuring out how to Sabbath. It's not our natural rhythm, but I'm hopeful that we'll continue finding a rhythm that restores us.

Everyday Story, Kate Schwass

As we left a favorite neighborhood restaurant lately, the couple at the table next to us commented "this is like your Cheers!"  It was true, it is one of the several nearby spots where "everyone knows [our] names."  One of our great joys over the last few years has been settling into our neighborhood and developing deep relationships with both neighbors and local businesses.  What made me pause about this couple's comments was two things: 1. That restaurant is not the only one where we know the names of the staff and get hugs when we arrive and leave, and 2. Actually knowing the names of the business owners and staff was a crucial piece of developing these relationships.  

About 8 months ago, Chris asked the servers at another restaurant, Sushi Park, what their names were - and quite suddenly, it unlocked such a special relationship.  We went from becoming customers and servers to friends.  Before that, we were friendly, but the relationships did not feel personal.  The same thing has happened at many of our local spots - partially because we prioritize shopping and eating out as locally as possible... but mostly due to Chris' consistent practice of introducing us and asking for the names of the people we meet.  The act of knowing and using someone's name is incredibly powerful.  We know this from the Bible, of course - God consistently uses the act of naming to cement his relationships with his people.  And while we aren't giving anyone their names, the act of inquiring about the names of others, remembering their names and sharing our own has become a important practice for us.  We now know and use the names of most of our neighbors and the staff of several restaurants, the grocery store, the dry cleaners, the nail salon and my favorite crossing guard.  Moving through our neighborhood has become a true joy - filled with interactions with people who know us and who we know.  We feel deeply connected to this place - and it all started with asking "What's your name?" 

Invitation: Take the first step this week and introduce yourself to someone in your local context - could be the janitor of your building, the barista at the coffee shop or neighbor down the street.  I can't promise it won't feel awkward (actually, I bet it probably will!) but I do promise that over time, it will be totally worth it!