Gatherings

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!

Sabbath as the Provocative Center

From the first week of our Sabbath learning journey - listen to the podcast  here .

From the first week of our Sabbath learning journey - listen to the podcast here.

In the beginning, God created a rhythm of moving and breathing and living in the world.

God moved to this rhythm and God invited humans to do the same; to be human was to move to this divine and sacred rhythm that began with rest and wonder and awe and deep and divine community.

It was out of this rhythm that the Community of God created the universe, shaped the very first humans, and then invited them into the magnificent and creative task of making the rest of the earth look like the garden paradise they were created in.

But before the humans got to work, they were reminded of this rhythm, this provocative center of a starting place - that though there was good work to be done, they paused and entered into this rhythm, this starting place, this sabbath.

Before Sabbath was a command
Before it was a law or a practice,
Before it was something to be argued about and defined
Before it was performed or abandoned            

It was simply the rhythm of reality and divinity and humanity. 

THE FIRST HOLY THING

The very first time in all of the scriptures anything is called holy, it's not God who is called holy, but God who calls this rhythm of rest to be holy. This day, this period of time, and all that's encompassed within it, is blessed and called holy by God. A holy and provocative center for nearly everything. 

THE VERY FIRST DAY AND THE REALITY OF OUR DAYS

The first full day the first humans experience is an invitation to sit back and rest in the wonder and delight of God’s creation before taking up the God-given mantle of continuing the work of creation.

Think about this first day. What would it would have been like to be a human in this world?

Contrast that with our experience of the world.

Hectic, frenetic, chaotic, busy, constant go-go-go. We live in a "never enough" reality.

Never enough time money sex possessions iPhones books records deals trips cars shoes.

It's never enough. There can never be enough. You are not enough. You can never be enough. 

A myth of scarcity enters a story of abundance and we are completely out of sync from this rhythm that undergirds everything. 

THE SCRIPTURES AND SABBATH

Sabbath doesn't start as a command - just a reality. 

It becomes a command after the Israelites are forced to work for the furtherance of Pharoah building bricks and more bricks every day. The command of Sabbath is to remind God's people that they free from the oppression of forced labor, that they follow a God of freedom and liberation, that they are invited to TRUST that

their lives are not in their own hands
their worth is not dependent on their work
the pinnacle of their existence is not earning or production or the capital they invest
but the simple and sacred beauty of their soul at rest in God’s presence.

that they are creatures who are a delight to their creator and
filled with creativity and beauty and mystery and
an invitation themselves participate in God’s creation.

Sabbath is not a command to pull them out of their rhythm but a reminder to hang on to what is most true about them, about God, about the world.

Later in the story, when Israel is not under the thumb of an oppressive empire but at risk of becoming the empire, Sabbath becomes a prophetic and provocative reminder that God's call to justice and righteousness and rest and life and flourishing is for all people in all places (Isaiah 58). Sabbath s a subversive and countercultural call to deep justice and pervasive peace for all people and all places. 

And when Jesus arrives on the scene, Sabbath has been ritualized and littered with rules. It had become a chore on the weekly to-do list - far from its intention and purpose. So in all of the gospel accounts Jesus has these encounters with cynics about sabbath practices. Jesus says he is not beholden to sabbath but actually lord over sabbath (lord = master = knows what it's all about).

And he says humans were not made for the sabbath, but the sabbath was made for humans. 

In other words, humans aren’t invited to squeeze themselves through a sabbath-shaped hole, but recognize that the rhythm of sabbath shapes us into Human-shaped humans.

Without sabbath, we are not the humans God intended us to be.

God did not create us as robots or worker bees but
as magnificent and creative creatures of delight that
the scriptures call humans and
God calls supremely good.

In the Book of Hebrews, the writer comes close to just flat out saying that Jesus is sabbath, the very rest of God - that to understand Jesus is to cease our striving and our yearning and our constant questioning of who’s in and who’s out and whether or not we measure up.

A PEOPLE OUT OF SYNC

If our first response when we’re asked how we’re doing, is “I’m busy,”
we’re out of sync with this rhythm.

If six days we labor and toil and on the seventh we wake up and stress and worry and fret about our labor and toil until we open our computers or inboxes so that we can continue labor and toil,
we’re out of sync with this rhythm.

If we think that we’ll take a break one or two weeks a year, or that we’ll stop working once we hit 65 or 68 or 70,
we’re out of sync with this rhythm.

If we think that a set of religious practices is going to earn us space near and dear to the heart of Jesus,
we’re out of sync with this rhythm that invites us to set aside our striving and our earning. 

If we try to outsource our responsibility for others by cutting a check or casting a vote,
we’re out of sync with this rhythm that draws us together as humans. 

If our brothers and sisters of color don’t feel like their lives matter,
we’re out of sync with this rhythm that reminds us what it means to be created in the image of God.

If our rest and leisure and pleasure comes at the expense of others - their humanity, their health, their dignity -
we’re way out of sync with this rhythm built into the fabric of our world. 

The world is waiting
The sacred is humming
The invitation is there.

Will you sync up with this rhythm of reality?
Will you step into this provocative center?
Will you live as a human created in God’s image?
To rest. 
To wonder.
To enjoy.
To sabbath. 

Open Door's Next Horizon Line (and an Invitation into Next Steps)

Each autumn, our Steward Team takes a weekend away together to pray, listen, storytell, and dream about our next steps as a family of sojourners learning to walk in the way of Jesus for the good of the world.

Our time is spent creating space where we can listen to each other, the voices of our community, and the promptings of the Spirit to come to a shared sense of the direction into which we must push forward during the year ahead. 

This year, we've framed this focus as our horizon line.

The horizon is our continual guide as we press into the future. We constantly look to the horizon for guidance, clarity, and next steps. It shapes our conversations, meetings, rhythms, and pace.

We sought a horizon that neither aims too high (trying to accomplish in a year what could take a lifetime) nor too low (setting out to accomplish in a year what might take a week or a month).

A horizon line is not static but dynamic. While we believe we can reach the horizon we've defined for the coming year, once we arrive at that point, we'll seek to discern and set out toward a new horizon that comes into focus as we step into our next season of continued faithfulness in the trajectory God's set forth for us.

As we look ahead to Spring and Summer 2016, our horizon line is as follows:

To further clarify and define how we intend to move toward this horizon line, we've outlined several signposts - defining objectives - that will help move us closer to the horizon.

This horizon's signposts are:

  1. To reimagine our Gathering as a propelling/sending place.

  2. To focus creative connections and storytelling around the extending and cultivating life.

  3. To equip and activate everyday influencers.

  4. To leverage The Global Immersion Project as a continued opportunity for cultivation.

  5. To seed collaboration in neighborhood centers.

  6. To clarify our staff structure and initiate the processed to fill that structure.

We'll continue to clarify, communicate, invite, and co-create the specific next steps in each of these areas we push forward toward the horizon.

We want this to be an initiative of the Open Door family, not just Steward Team! As a first invitation into more conversation and action around our horizon, Steward Team will gather after this Sunday's Gathering at Extreme Pizza to talk more about questions or thoughts you might have about our next steps forward.

If you have any questions, please speak with a member of Steward Team or email Rebecca, our Steward Team Chair.

The Rare Gift of Being a Kid Again (An Everyday Story by Krissy Kludt)

On Sunday, Krissy Kludt shared an Everyday Story about learning to become a kid again.

Going to the cabin is like being transported back in time. My grandparents bought the little red house in 1972 and have come up every summer since.  I haven’t been here in six years, and yet everything is the same – the same games, the same 1969 rambler speed boat, the same shelf full of expired sunscreen. Even the same menu: fried fish, Cole slaw, and grandma’s cornbread casserole for dinner; root beer floats for dessert.  Walking in the door four days ago, I was transported back twenty years.
Even I am the same here. Suddenly I’m a girl again, despite my two-and-a–half-year-old son and the baby in my belly. Last night I caught five rock bass on a kiddie pole because there weren’t enough grown-up poles to go around, and this week I’m the youngest grown up. I still sit in the middle of the boat, still fish over Grandpa’s right shoulder.
But there is one difference that has hit me this week: it is a rare gift for my soul to be a kid again.

Listen to the full audio above or read the rest here at Krissy's blog!

Coin: Jesus on Money (Series Introduction)

Money is deeply-engrained in the fabric of our world. Global markets wield incredible control over our local economies and the cash in our pocket (or lack thereof) is often a primary cause of our stress and worry. Whether we have it or not, money shapes our lives, our relationships, and the environments around us. Is it a necessary evil or an opportunity for good? A tool or a vice? At Open Door we're seeking to walk in the way of Jesus and and pursue cultivation and formation of our whole self, including our finances! Jesus talks about money all the time not because it’s “good” or “bad” but because it's a window into deeper things.

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Through the beginning of Lent, we'll be engaging in a series called Coin: Jesus on Money. Throughout Coin, we'll dig into the teachings of Jesus on money, and experiment, dialogue, learn and grow together towards an integrated way forward with our money as we seek to walk in the way of Jesus together.

We'll have a few special opportunities to learn and practice together throughout the series. On January 18, Mark Scandrette from San Francisco's ReIMAGINE will be with us and in late January we'll launch two separate circles using Mark's book FREE to think about the alignment of our money and values (if you don't have a copy of Mark's book, it will be available at a discount on Jan 18 directly from Mark!).

As we begin this series, we'd love to hear your thoughts and questions below!

  • What stirs your imagination about the possibilities of following Jesus with your money?
  • What are the biggest stressors caused by money?
  • What kind of communal practices involving our finances can help us better walk in the way of Jesus?

The Arrival of The Arrival

This Sunday marks the arrival of The Arrival! The Arrival is our Advent teaching series crafted to coincide with the release of Elizabeth's Advent/Christmas album of the same name.

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In this Advent journey, we'll consider what it is that we're waiting for as we approach Christmas. What is it that Jesus brought to this world and what is our role in God's unfolding arrival?

November 09 - Tenses of Advent (+ Post-Gathering Dinner at Extreme Pizza) November 16 - Presence in Distance (Isaiah 64:1-9) November 23 - Hope in Despair (Isaiah 40:1-11) November 30 - Joy in Mourning (Isaiah 61:1-11, Psalm 126) (+ Post-Gathering Open Door Square One Orientation) December 07 - Peace in Chaos (2 Samuel 7:1-16) December 12  - Elizabeth Hunnicutt Christmas Concert (Friday night, ticketed event) December 14 - Love in Apathy (Psalm 89, Luke 1:46-55) (featuring Open Door Kids!) December 21 - East Bay Service Projects + Dinner Together (Details forthcoming) December 24 - Christmas Eve Morning Service (Wednesday at 11AM)

Copies of Elizabeth's album and tickets to her December 12 Christmas concert will be sold throughout the Advent season at Open Door.