East Bay

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. 

The Lent Project Week 6: Majority World Diet

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Week 6: The Majority World Diet

We are accustomed to eating large quantities of food often and in great variety. The simplicity and small quantity of our food choices during this week's Majority World Diet remind us of the abundance that we live in on a daily basis. During this week we encourage you to pray for those around the world who regularly eat these simple meals or don’t have sufficient access to basic food and water.

During this week, we invite you to:

(1) From Tuesday through Saturday, eat a diet of rice, beans, and oats (ingredients and instructions here: Majority World Diet 2015).

(2) Guided by the provided prayer prompts and the promptings of the Spirit, pray regularly for those around the Bay Area and around the world with insufficient access to basic nutrition.

(3) Catalog your journey using #TheLentProject hashtag.

Open Door's Holy Week Schedule

Holy Week is the last week of Lent marking Jesus' final journey toward the cross, death, burial and resurrection.

In addition to our regular Gathering on Sunday evening (where we'll celebrate resurrection!), we will also host the experiential Good Friday Passion Sojourn and an Easter Sunrise Hike.  Details below!

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Good Friday Passion Sojourn (available 5-9PM with child care from 5-7PM)

Join us for a haunting moment of remembering the Passion of Jesus. This will be a contemplative, multi-sensory sojourn intended to be experienced in solitude. The sojourn will occur in the Parish Hall at St. Paul’s and will be open between 5-9pm. The entire experience should take 45-60 minutes depending upon your pace.

Easter Sunrise Hike

Join us at the Shell Ridge trail head at 6:00am for our annual Easter sunrise hike. Rain or shine, we will take the hike and remember the wonder of resurrection together. Our sunrise hike will include some light snacks, a 30 minute moderate hike, music, and a shared Resurrection liturgy as we watch the sun rise over Mt. Diablo.

Easter Resurrection Celebration

At 5PM we will Gather to celebrate resurrection together! (Our weekly Open Door Kids experience will be up and running.)

An Update from Elizabeth

On Sunday evening I made an announcement about my next steps and, if you missed it, here is the audio as well as the written transcript.  The audio also includes an update from Steward Team member, Alison Knox. [audio mp3="http://www.abluedoor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Elizabeth-NewSeason-3-22-15.mp3"][/audio] ehunnicuttsmTonight I want to bring you up to speed on some exciting new developments in my journey.  I’m really excited about what is ahead, but it is bittersweet as it means that I will be transitioning out of my staff role at Open Door.

For the last several years, the Lord has been stirring something new in me.  He has been awakening me in a fresh way to His Spirit and His heart for His people.  A few years ago, here at Open Door we were walking through the book of Acts in a series called Seismic.  During this series we took several weeks to look at the Holy Spirit.  This was a very transformational time for many of us, and God used that series and many people at Open Door to really rock my world.  We were all challenged to both look for the ways that God was speaking to us in a moment-by-moment by way, and then take a risk in responding to His voice and invitation.  This experience with Open Door sent me on a journey of wanting to step into all that God has for me, with a renewed faith that “with God all things are possible."

The Lord has been doing a great work in me personally and as a worship leader.  I have felt challenged to step out and take risks as a worship leader, relying not just on what I’ve prepared and my own skill, but responding to what God wants to do in the moment.  As the Lord has been stirring up all these new things, I have felt a desire for further training in some areas.  I have sensed the Lord inviting me into a time of receiving - of learning more about Him and being further equipped for ministry.  I have felt God leading me on this journey, and I have decided to move to Redding and attend the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry this Fall.  It is a 9 month program focused on both personal spiritual growth and ministry training, and I’m really excited to see what God has in store during my time there.

This program begins in September, but I will be wrapping up my time at Open Door on June 7th.  This will provide me both a window of time to transition, as well as time to step into an overseas ministry opportunity. I will be spending 6 weeks in Spain serving on staff for a discipleship program for U.S. college students.  This program is part discipleship, part immersion into the community, and part Arts component.  I will be serving alongside Cari Jenkins, a dear friend of Open Door.  I am really excited to be part of this unique opportunity and see all that God does during my time there.

I know this will naturally prompt some questions, so I want to clear the air and let you to know that I’m not leaving because Jer is leaving.  Yes, Jer has been a friend of 17 years, a dear dear ministry partner, and like a brother to me.  I have utmost respect for him.  But the bottom line is that God has been stirring a lot in me for the last couple years, and it feels like He’s giving me the green light now.  I don’t always understand God’s timing, but I know that God is so much bigger than what we can wrap our minds around.

I also want you to know that I think Dave is an incredible leader and I have absolutely loved working with him for the last 9 months.  He is a fantastic human being and pastor and I’m sad that I won’t be here to see all the amazing ways that God uses him stepping into the future.  I know that Open Door is in great hands.

This community has meant the world to me over the last 6 years.  I have been shaped, cared for, and loved by all of you in extravagant ways.  Open Door has been a place of healing, restoration, equipping, and now will be a place of sending.  I am forever grateful to each and every one of you.  I am excited for Open Door and this next season.  I believe that God is birthing something new and beautiful here. I believe that the East Bay will continue to be profoundly impacted by each of you as you step into His calling on your life. And I believe that more and more of you will be raised up and sent out to do Kingdom work in other parts of the world.   I am proud to be part of this community, and part of the ongoing story that God is unfolding around us and through us.  This is not goodbye. I have two and a half more months with all of you, and I look forward to continuing to walk alongside you all as we seek God together.

If you have any thoughts or further questions about this next chapter for me then I'd love to talk with you so don't hesitate to reach out to me (elizabeth@abluedoor.com).

- Elizabeth

March 8 Steward Team Update on Staff Transition

no_photoSteward Team Update on Staff TransitionMarch 8, 2015

Out of our living room conversation on February 26 regarding Jer’s transition came a few questions and comments that we would like to address. This blog will be the first of many in the months to come to update you on the transition and upcoming hiring. Our goal is to be transparent and communicate all that we can in a timely fashion. In this first post, we would like to highlight four specific questions that arose at and after the Living Room Session:

During this transition, what will communication from Steward Team to the community look like?

  • An update from Steward Team will be posted on our blog within a week following each Steward Team meeting (twice a month). This update will focus on our current process and key information our community should know. A link to the post will be found in the Pulse.
  • Monthly up-front updates will take place in our Gathering. The audio will be captured and posted to the blog.
  • Questions or comments about our staff transition can be sent to Ben Johanson (ben@abluedoor.com). We will set aside time each meeting to discuss these, and any other, questions/comments that have been brought to our attention.

How did the decision to call Dave as Directional Leader come to pass?

  • Steward Team & Hiring Team knew Jer was considering a transition in the coming years and thus both teams considered each candidate for the Pastor of Community Formation with this in mind. During Dave’s hiring process, Jer’s eventual transition was communicated and he accepted his position with this knowledge.
  • When the timeline of Jer’s transition became clear, a discernment process for Dave and Krissy, Steward Team and staff began in which we prayed and discussed Open Door’s next directional leader. Dave’s skills, passions, embodiment of family and previous experience led to a shared conclusion that Dave’s leadership is what we are seeking in the next season of Open Door.
  • In light of this decision, Steward Team wrote a letter inviting Dave to become our next Directional Leader. The letter affirmed Dave’s call to Open Door and spoke of his leadership up until this point as well as what we see in his future.
  • A transition timeline has been discussed with Dave assuming more of the responsibilities of the Directional Leader over the coming months and a formal commissioning on June 21. Jer will be sent by the community the following week (June 28).

What are your next steps toward hiring?

  • Heidi Brandow is in conversation with Dave and Elizabeth to develop staffing options. The next steps are as follows:
    • Heidi met with Dave and Elizabeth this past week (week of March 2) to develop two or three staffing recommendations, taking into consideration our current staff’s strengths and the present and growing needs of Open Door.
    • During Steward Team’s meeting on March 16, Heidi will present the recommendations.
    • After our meeting, Heidi, Dave, and Elizabeth will meet again to discuss and refine the recommendations.

Where are we at financially?

  • Because of the community’s faithfulness we are able to have these transition conversations unconstrained by our financial situation as we have been operating in the black for the fiscal year.
  • We will be putting new avenues of communication into place to provide financial updates to the community. Our intention is for the information to be accessible both on our website and in our Gathering.

Any questions or comments can be sent to ben@abluedoor.com. Steward Team’s next meeting is on March 16. Stay tuned!

With gratitude,

Ben, Brendan, Rebecca, Alison, Tony and Heidi