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The Lent Project Week 5: The Commuter/Environmental Fast

If everyone on Earth lived, drove, ate, consumed, etc. like the average American, studies show it would take about four planets to sustain the world's population. How do our personal and cultural habits reflect the invitation to serve as good stewards of God's creation? 20150218_the_lent_project_banner

During this week, we invite you to:

(1) Make decisions to reduce your gasoline consumption by half (choose public transit, casual carpool, walk/bike, tele-commute, etc.).

(2) Consider what you notice about your regular commuting habits, your neighborhood's built environment, transit infrastructure, etc.

(3) Catalog your journey using #TheLentProject hashtag.

The Extras Purge and the Great Material Continuum

20150218_the_lent_project_bannerKrissy wrote this last year while living in Hollywood. It resurfaced for her this week as she's been processing through #TheLentProject Extras Purge this week with Open Door. The Great Material Continuum (Krissy Kludt)

When I was younger, I bought few clothes, and I kept them forever. I still had clothes in college that I had worn in middle school. I had a closet full of things at my parents’ house that I never wore, but kept just in case they would come back into style. Sometimes things do: in high school, Nikki and I gave my dad the hardest time about his too-tight jeans, begging him to get something looser; ten years later, jeans got skinny again. As my dad put it, delighted, “I lapped myself!”

When we moved to Hollywood, I found a new system for clothing. Trends change more quickly here, and thrift stores have an abundance of (almost) current fashions. In Wisconsin, Goodwill has mostly XXL T-shirts; in LA, it’s full of Forever 21, H&M, and Urban Outfitters. Angelenos acquire more often, and they get rid of things more often. I found myself inheriting clothes from friends all the time, many days wearing entire outfits that were cast-offs of Abby’s or Bethany’s. Rather than “keep forever, never buy,” my new motto was “hold all things loosely.” I, too, acquired things more often – at yard sales or thrift stores or from friends – and I got rid of things I stopped wearing, trusting that I wouldn’t regret it.

Dave and I have our geeky moments, and in one of them a couple of years ago, we watched a whole lot of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. If you are less geeky and therefore less familiar with Star Trek, you may not know about the Ferengi aliens and their pseudo-religious belief in economics. The closest they have to a god is their belief in the Great Material Continuum. They call it the “Great River,” believing that all places have too much of one resource and not enough of another, but that all material things flow in the “Great River,” eventually ending up where they are needed. (Ideally, of course these material things flow through the Ferengi and provide them with plenty of cash along the way.)

I have started to believe in the Great Material Continuum. I cannot tell you how many times I have needed something, asked for it (or not asked for it), and waited until it came to me. I needed clipboards for school, but not badly enough to go out and buy any. (This was in our early Fuller days when we lived and paid for Dave’s school on my new teacher’s salary, and cash did not feel particularly abundant.) One day we helped some friends move, and they were throwing out a box of clipboards. I’d wanted an old wooden chest for years, and one day one appeared at a yard sale next door to HomeState. Dave needed more pants, and one day he found a pair of H&M jeans on the sidewalk in his size. It happens to us all the time. I am starting to believe that what you need will come to you if you are willing to wait.

There is an economy in East Hollywood of which we were once completely unaware, but we began to observe it and participate in it. There is an economy beyond that of cash and credit cards, when you begin to look.

A few weeks ago there was a family sitting outside of Burger King across the street from us with several large suitcases. They had two small children with them. It is unusual to see homeless kids in our area, so I assumed they had some other story – ended up in our neighborhood off the metro, waiting for a ride from friends, something like that. It turns out they had just gotten off the Amtrak from West Virginia, and were waiting until Monday (this was Saturday) for the homeless shelters to open for intake.

I brought them diapers and a few groceries, sat on a suitcase and chatted with the mother. Their son wore the same sized diapers as Everett. My heart broke for this mother. Our instinct to take care of our children is so strong, and this family was struggling so much to do so. I prayed with them. While I sat with them, one man gave a few dollars to the little boy, a woman dropped off cereal and juice, and another man called the police for them, assuring them that the police department could probably get them into a shelter that night. These people were strangers here, and so alone, and yet their most basic needs were being met by the people walking by.

The next night we went to the Manna Room after our church gathering. The Manna Room is a food pantry that brings in and sorts almost-expired, dented and otherwise unsellable Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s food, and it opens for the church on Sunday nights. After Everett was born and I left my job, we were tighter on money than we had been in a long time, and we were grateful for this abundant provision. Some weeks we found more in the Manna Room than others; some weeks we needed more than others. On this week, we had bought groceries for several people besides ourselves. That night, the Manna Room was overflowing, full of things that were on my list for the grocery store, where I was headed afterward: pesto and goat cheese and diced tomatoes and fiber cereal for Everett. I was full to the brim with gratitude.

We live in an economy of grace. Somehow, our needs continue to be met, again and again, in the most unexpected ways. When I worry I’ve overspent our food budget for the month, the Manna Room happens to have everything we desire. Just when I think I don’t have energy left to make it another few hours until Dave gets home, Everett decides to take a three-hour nap. When my house is a disaster and I haven’t had a moment to think and Everett doesn’t seem to want to ever nap again, one of our housemates shows up and plays with him in our yard so I can do the dishes and sit down for a few minutes.

An economy of grace is an economy of abundance. When we live out of abundance, like the loaves and the fishes, what we have multiplies. We have enough time, enough food, enough money. We have more than enough love.

Am I the woman – the mother, wife, child, friend – I wish I were? Not even on my best days. But I live in an economy of grace, an economy of abundance, and in that economy, by owning my own insufficiency, I become enough. When I choose to live in the economy of grace, when I do the hard work it takes to believe in abundance, joy grows within me, sending roots down deep into gratitude. I have enough. Roots soak in nourishment from that fertile soil and send stems skyward. I have more than enough. Leaves unfold, open to the sky. By grace, I become enough. There will be space enough for growth. There will be room enough for love. There will be time enough for revelation.

One day I stopped to chat with a homeless woman named Amariah who lives in the park up the street. She told me she needed toenail clippers and a jacket, and asked if I had either to spare. She told me her story. Then she pulled me over to her pile of belongings and asked what I needed.

“I don’t need anything; I have enough,” I said.

“How about shampoo? Do you need shampoo? When I get it I pour it out into smaller bottles and give it to the other women in the park. I asked the salon over there if they needed it, but they said no. I gave it to them anyway.”

I smiled, “That’s ok, I really don’t need anything.”

She started rummaging through a suitcase. “Here,” she said. “Take these.” She handed me a pair of jean shorts.

“Really, you don’t have to. I don’t need anything.”

“Take them. They’re nice – they’re Lucky brand. If you have two, you’re supposed to give one away, so that’s what I’m doing.”

I didn’t tell her that I was walking back home from Goodwill, where I had tried on several pairs of shorts without finding any that fit.

“We’re neighbors, you know,” I said to Amariah as I hugged her goodbye.

“No,” she shook her head. “We’re sisters.”

Today's Youth Matter (TYM): An Opporutunity to Serve

I've been stunned, recently, at the caliber of the cross-spectrum difference-makers that comprise The Open Door Community.  Literally, there are men and women participating with God in fixing a broken world in unthinkable ways.  Jen and Tucker Farrar (& their 3 boys) are two of the difference-makers that I'm referring to.  They are the Program Directors of a non-profit called Today's Youth Matter (TYM) that offers hope and a future to the Bay Area's most at-risk youth.  It's an incredible organization that is intentionally posturing itself below and prioritizing the flourishing of the marginalized. I'm proud of them & their work and I'm excited that we finally get an opportunity to join them in what they're doing.  In this blog post, Tucker offers us a compelling invitation to practice what we've been learning.  He writes: Does is snow in Philippi?

As we study Philippians we consistently hear compelling invitations to “uncompromisingly contending for oneness” and to "posture ourselves below and prioritize the flourishing of others" in the Way of Jesus. I especially like the way we, in The Open Door Community, pray that God would make our community Cross-Shaped: that we would become a mutually interdependent community that lays our lives down for the flourishing of others…especially the marginalized.

We're discovering that “Walking in the way of Jesus” is action oriented. Let me invite us into action in a unique way.

Today’s Youth Matter (TYM) serves troubled and abused children and teens (ages 8-18) in our own backyard:  cities like Oakland, Richmond, San Jose, Pittsburg, Concord and Antioch.  Through intensive summer camping programs, snow trips, and year round discipleship, TYM staff and volunteers work to replace memories of unthinkable abuse and suffering with God’s redemptive plan for joy, hope and restoration.

Many TYM kids live in outrageously difficult home situations ranging from multiple foster homes, group homes and or previously abusive situations.  Kerry is a 9 year old girl who first came to camp with matted hair, dirty face and a plastic Safeway bag filled with 1 t-shirt and a toothbrush…for 5 days of summer camp! Kerry was referred to TYM through a homeless shelter in Richmond and last summer her life was changed by her experience at TYM camp; three meals day, learning to swim, sleeping in a teepee, camping for the first time ever, and being loved day and night by our staff and volunteers.  Heaven touched down and Kerry’s life was changed.

Through our study of Philippians, we’re discovering that Jesus is forming us into a mutually interdependent community that spends our life on the flourishing of others. There are thousands of kids like Kerry in the Bay Area that need people like you to invest in their lives, even if for only a weekend. Would you consider spending a weekend posturing yourself below and prioritizing the flourishing of kids like her?

Here’s how.

TYM Snow Camps are a follow up program for kids who have attended our summer camp.  We need teams of 3-5 volunteers to help our TYM staff run each of our 4 Snow Camp weekends in the coming months.

Details: The camp goes from 8:30am on Saturday until 2pm on Sunday.  Saturday is an all-day play day in the snow sledding, snowball fighting, snowman building, snow angel making, & hot chocolate drinking. For some, this will be there first every encounter with snow! Saturday night is spent at a church in Auburn where we love kids through dinner, basketball, dodge ball, popcorn, movies, and great conversations. Sunday morning, we breakfast then worship at the church we’re staying at. Each camp consists of approximately 15 kids.

2014 Dates TYM Snow Camp Volunteers Needed
Jan 25-26 Boys Snow Camp 1 (ages 8-12) 3-5
Feb 8-9 Girls Snow Camp 1 (ages 8-12) 3-5
March 1-2 Boys Snow Camp 2 (ages 8-12) 3-5
March 8-9 Girls Snow Camp 2 (ages 8-12) 1-2

Let’s follow in the Way of Jesus together (in the snow & and with kids who need you)!  Simply email me, let me know when you, your family, your friends, and/or your Circle could serve with us.

In His Grip,

Tucker Farrar, TYM Program Director

TYM on FACEBOOK

 

 

 

Details: December 22, 24, & 29

Tonight! December 22 :: Serving instead of Gathering!!!

Tonight, we will be serving together at The Bay Area Rescue Mission in place of our weekly worship gathering.

bayarealogo What will we be doing? Serving, Eating, & Cleaning up after a meal with the hungry, homeless, and recovering. When is our shift? 4-8pm How do I get there? You could either go directly to The BARM (123 McDonald St., Richmond, CA) or meet at St. Paul's Parking lot @ 3pm to carpool. What should I wear? Dress warm as we'll be serving the meal in an outdoor tent. Is this kid-friendly?  Absolutely. Contact Darrell with questions or for more information.

Christmas Eve, December 24 :: Serving @ City Team

Join an Open Door Team on Christmas Eve Day as we serve together at City Team in Oakland.

What will we be doing? Serving & Cleaning up after a meal with the hungry, homeless, and recovering. When is our shift? 12:30-2:30pm How do I get there? You could either go directly to City Team (722 Washington St. Oakland, CA) or email Heidi for carpooling options. What should I wear? Dress comfortably.  We'll be serving indoors. Is this kid-friendly? Absolutely. Contact Heidi with questions or for more information.

Sunday, December 29 :: Back @ our Gathering...

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On the 29th, Jer will be giving his annual "Retrospect" talk in which he will reflect on a year's worth of personal cultivation through relationships & experiences.  Don't miss this evening of teaching through story.

New Hire Communication & Year-End Giving

Our elders are committed to resourcing our mission of cultivating followers of Jesus in 2014.  Our next step is to expand our paid staff from 1.5 to 2.5.

  • 1.5 Staff will equip & mobilize us to become a Worshiping Family.
  • 1 Staff will equip & mobilize us to become a Family on Mission.

Click Here to listen to Brendan's 15 minute explanation. Click Here to read more details on our Blog. Click Here to email Ben Johanson from Steward Team with any questions or for more information.

Here are 3 ways to join together in funding the work that God is calling us to in 2014!

  1. Seed this next step with a year-end gift.  Year-end gifts can be given at our gathering on the 29th and online anytime before December 31.
  2. Contribute monthly to what God is doing.  Start with a set percentage of your annual income or a day or two's wages per month.  You can set up your online account here.
  3. If you are already partnering financially, would you consider increasing your monthly giving by a set percentage or by one day's wages per month?

Open Door's online account number through Dwolla is 812-632-9836

Guest Blogger :: Brooke Arnett on Prioritizing the Flourishing of Others

In the post below, Brooke offers us another look at the remarkable evening that was "The Light in the Grove" at the National AIDS Memorial Grove.  Pay special attention to her reflections on how the cost of causing the flourishing of others is trumped the experience of actually getting to participate in the adventure of human flourishing. As my fellow Open Door peers and I arrived at the AIDS Memorial Grove on Saturday night, we entered into an evening together as servants to the HIV/AIDS impacted community in San Francisco. The setting was stunning and elaborate, with no detail overlooked. I could describe all the particulars and preparation from the huge tent the event was in, the lighting set-ups, catering, floral arrangements, and so forth, but it would never convey what the night was really like.

As guests arrived at this peaceful and sacred space inside of Golden Gate Park, I witnessed a unique and loving community come together for the sake of humanity. My role that night was to serve appetizers, and as I walked around offering delicious finger foods, I watched people leave their differences at the door, and gather together to support one another and to remember loved ones that have been lost to HIV/AIDS. The night was filled with passion, it echoed their pain, but most of all, it was fueled by hope.

Many of the guests that were there have been largely affected by HIV/AIDS and have suffered more loss than some of us will ever face. Over the years, the HIV/AIDS community has been ostracized, overlooked, misunderstood and disregarded. It's hard to contemplate that a few short decades ago this pandemic wasn't even a reality in America. Since then, their community has turned a story of tragedy into a reason to hope for a better tomorrow.

I didn't say yes to volunteering that night because I thought serving small bites to strangers sounded fun. I didn't say yes so I could get a free meal, or because I had no other plans that night. Quite the opposite in fact: I turned down plans that day and even had to buy a new outfit and pair of shoes for the occasion. Not to mention that new and unknown situations give me a lot of anxiety. Does any of that matter? Certainly not.

I said yes because I want to be a the kind of person who is part of making wrong things right. I said yes because I have hope that those who have been broken will one day feel whole again. I said yes because I desire for people who have been marginalized to feel acceptance. I believe that love and kindness heal, and this world doesn't have enough of it. Being a servant is not a role I have lived into my entire life or even do very well today. But I know that every time I say yes to an opportunity to put the needs of someone else before mine, I find Jesus there.

God has been working in a big way to teach me how to count others more significant than myself as Philippians 2:3 calls us to do. Serving at the Grove was a reminder that this life is not about me. I am learning that I am equipped with everything I need because I know Jesus and that my role in life is not about serving appetizers, but His love.

Maybe saying 'yes' that night cost me financially, cut into my free time, and forced me to face some anxieties, but there is no price you can put on prioritizing the flourishing of others. When you say yes to serving others, you're allowing an opportunity for God to work in ways beyond what we can fathom.

Guest Blogger :: Steve Arnett on Saying "Yes!"

The day before World AIDS Day, The Open Door Community's tradition is to join the National AIDS Memorial Grove team in hosting 'The Light in the Grove.'  Our friendship with the AIDS Grove has been cultivating for five years as, monthly, we head back into the Grove to serve, side-by-side, with the local HIV/AIDS impacted community.  As time has gone by, we have discovered that "we" are becoming "us" and that hope, along with some of the most beautiful vegetation on the West Coast, is growing in the Grove.  In this post, Steve Arnett reflects on his experience of serving at "The Light in the Grove" and asks us what it might look like we became a community known for saying "Yes!"

Saturday afternoon a group from Open Door loaded up in vehicles and headed for Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. After a few wrong turns, we arrived at a little slice of heaven. Walking down the hill, we began to take in more of the scene. Caterers and event staff scurrying about, cargo vans and trucks unloading gear, LED lights, dancers and a stunning transparent tent. This would be our workplace for the next few hours.

We received our directions and were set into motion. I was a busser. It was my job to collect used dishes. Is bussing a glorious position? Does it require any special gifting? Absolutely not, but I gave it my everything. Did I get my hands dirty? Did I worry all night about dropping a full platter of dirty dishes? Did I love every minute of it? You betchya.

For me, saying yes to service opportunities has often been fueled by my desire for justice. Light in the Grove was no different. The AIDS community is/has been one that is misunderstood, avoided, and often looked down upon. What we forget is the family, friends, children, significant others who were left behind as someone’s LIFE was taken from them by a global pandemic. And we, as a group of people who are trying to love others as Jesus loved us, just had the opportunity to get our hands dirty and serve these people... HOW COOL IS THAT?!

After getting home, Brooke and I were processing our evening and she asked how the experience was for me. My response was, “It was no big deal.” She looked at me puzzled. I explained to her that I saw a need, said yes, and gave it my everything. It has become my normalcy to position myself in a role of service. I don't want or require recognition. I just want to love on folks like Jesus would have. God, over a long period of time, has turned my heart into one that loves to serve. Without Him, I'm certain my life would look very different.

What if we were a community of yes­sayers... humans who set aside our political/religious/personal preferences and filled the needs of others? What if serving was no big deal? What if it became our normalcy?