Read or listen in to Open Door's 2015-2016 Retrospect shared by Dave at the last Gathering.
At the end of every year, there is always some way that Facebook or Instagram or whatever your social media site of preference (Friendster? AOL IM?) allows you to see and share your highlights of the year. Whether it’s your Best 9 Instagram photos (all of mine were pictures of the kids) of the year or your most popular Facebook posts (mine was a debate about butter), we can get a snapshot of how great and wonderful and successful and popular our year was.
This is enjoyable but it’s not Retrospect. Retrospect is not about your most popular moments, or your greatest successes, but the stuff of the year that was most formative. Often times the most formative experiences we have are the most difficult. A few years back Krissy climbed Mt. Whitney and the stories she came back with were how exhilarating and exhausting, how satisfied she was and how sore she was.
Retrospect is not looking back not just for the highs but also for the lows - as we journey forward we’ll find ourselves in peeks and valleys, mountaintop vistas and trudging through deserts
We welcomed new babies and we also sat with those experiencing loss and longings for expanded families. Some had amazing years vocationally and in our careers, and others are searching for direction, unsure what their next steps are or where the next paycheck will come from. Incredible beauty and deep and heart-shattering brokenness has unfolded around us.
And God’s been forming us in the midst of it all.
Through Coin, we began a journey of formation focused on money, abundance, and our economic imagination. Arising from Coin were two circles focused on aligning our money and values, continued experiments in communal giving and radical generosity, and a little thing called Open Door Abundance, where the Open Door family redistributes our resources, skills, time, talents and possessions for the sake of others. In the last year, you all have shared everything from miniature bottles of mouth wash to a car - all for free, all in faith that we follow a God of Abundance.
This led into Lent and our journey of a seed, where we spent 7 weeks on a single verse where Jesus teaches that the only way to the abundance of true life is to allow ourselves to fall to the earth and die. We also participated together in The Lent Project where we gave away a lot of stuff, bought and watched less, BARTed more, and ate a lot of rice and beans.
In spring, we took the Immigrants’ Journey, exploring an immigrant God, immigrant gospel, and theology of movement here in our Gathering space. We asked what it looked like to welcome the stranger, and whether the language of stranger is the right language to describe those who Jesus has invited to call neighbor, brother and sister. Twenty participated in a Circle where we dug deeper into the story of US immigration policy, shared meals and conversations with immigrant neighbors who are entrepreneurs, business owners, day laborers, and moms, dads, sisters and brothers. And thirteen of us immersed into the borderlands between the US and Mexico to experience firsthand the places and people who struggle daily with the realities of our borders.
And this summer we played. We explored play not just as a pastime but as the journey Jesus invites us on as we become kids again - a journey that Jesus says is necessary if we want to enter into the world God’s creating. So we threw beachballs around, baptized rubber duckies, reflected on our childhood, and followed Jesus into the postures of wonder, creativity, learning, and messy. If we are to be part of the world God’s creating - where injustices are made just, wrong things set right, sad things made untrue, we must become kids again, and allow the kids among us to lead.
And we retreated. A couple dozen of us experienced Discover for the first time, and so many dozens of us, including all those incredible kids of ours, shared a huge house in the Marin Headlands for Selah where we ate well, played well, laughed a lot and danced like the family on Parenthood dances, which makes sense, because we’re a family.
And as a family, we experienced the complicated sadness of transition, as we sent family out into the world, following faithfully to the God who calls us to open up our hands to both send and receive. So we said goodbye for now to Elizabeth H., to the Swigarts, to Alison K., to Steven M. to the Kappesars, and to the Brandows. But remember - none leaving because of anger or hurt, but all because of a sense of calling. We get to be a family that walks with each other as we continually listen for God’s call, holding hands tight enough to love, loose enough to send, but strong enough to leave a lasting mark on each other’s lives.
So where do we go from here?
We continue living faithfully into 2016.
Starting next week we’ll continue our journey through Mark with a specific focus on the language we use to talk about what God is up to in the world around us. Jesus painted an unbelievably compelling picture of what it looks like to live in God’s kingdom, and somehow it seems the language that’s often used turns people off, the good news doesn’t sound so good. So we’re going to think about the words we use and the way we talk about what God’s up to around us.
We’re going to keep pushing into Circles as the way we make space for the Spirit’s ongoing work of formation in our lives. Circles are going to convene around three areas - (1) Circles that practice classic disciplines of life with God - scripture, prayer, fasting, (2) Circles that push us deeper into everyday practices like vocation and career, relationships, neighboring, and (3) Circles that convene around pressing issues that we need to be engaging around us - like the refugee crisis and immigration.
There’s an ongoing conversation and pressing conversation for us about what our worshipping life together looks like. We have an open staff position and I trust that in 2016 we’ll fill this staff position with someone who’s life and leadership will creatively and beautifully guide and equip us deeper into life together as a worshipping family. We don’t have a timeline for this hire, but as we took a step back from the process in 2015 I’ve seen greater clarity emerge about what our next steps will be, so I’m more confident and excited than ever to see who joins the family to lead, pastor, and guide us deeper into worship and formation.
In the meantime, we continue living faithfully, each of us continually invited into deeper relationship with each other, deeper leadership and involvement in the life of the Open Door family, and deeper commitment to living in the way of Jesus in all the places we live, work and play.
So my prayer for us as we step into 2016 is
- that God would continue the formation of Open door by expanding our dreams and increasing the imagination of this family - that we would understand in new ways what it looks like to live for the sake of the world starting here in the east bay.
- that God would continue the formation of Open Door by giving us the courage and humility to continue to learn and grow, that we might continue being shaped into a brave family of reflective practitioners, always allowing reflections and practice to feed into one another and never be content with one or the other.
- that God would continue the formation of Open Door by disrupting the status quos of busyness, individualism, materialism, and consumerism that are so prevalent everywhere we turn - that our faith in the gods of this age might falter and our faith in the God who’s making a new world in, around, and through us would deepen and grow.
- that God would continue to show himself to be the faithful one who we follow, that our intrigue, love, and reliance on Jesus would grow, and that the Spirit’s presence would be seen and heard and felt, guiding us deeper into the adventure of life in God’s kingdom.