Local Engage

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.

Everyday Story: A Sweet Journey (Brook Dalrymple)

It has been a sweet journey and a highlight of our 4 month marriage so far joining Open Door. I really feel that the journey God has us on during this season aligns with what the Open Door community is about. everyday_storiesIt was a week before our wedding in July and we had just started moving boxes into our new place in Pleasant Hill. I emailed a family friend who lives in Martinez about what churches Justin and I should check out. She told me that I had to check out Open Door. So we went! We were warmly welcomed and had several people come up to us asking if we were new. However, what stood out the most for me though was right before Jer started teaching, he was expressing the grief he had in his heart over what was going on around the world at the time...the airplane that was mistakenly shot down that was caring the top AIDS researchers in the world, and Syria and Gaza were erupting...and we all prayed together for God's mercy. I turned to Justin and said, "is this for real?"

Both Justin and I have spent a lot of time overseas in Asia and the Middle East and God has really cultivated in us a heart for the world yet we came from a church that was nervous about making mention to anything outside the church walls. It was thrilling to have someone mention from the pulpit realities of what was going on in the world and then responding in prayer for God's mercy.

The one comical piece to this was that during this particular service, the sermon was more of a time of story and application from a previous series and we just so happened to not have opened the Bible. And so, I remember telling Justin that if they just open the Bible, I'm totally in. We have to go back. So, about month later, now married and settled into our place, we came back and we're welcomed again and people remembered us. And then... we opened our Bibles and I took this sigh of relief and said to Justin, "ok, I'm good." During that same service, we heard about the Orientation to ODC circle and agreed that this was are best next step in this process because we still knew very little about Open Door and wanted to get plugged in as soon as we could.

Taking a step back, a theme of the last 4-5 years of my life, and Justin's as well, has been understanding the Gospel in a deeper capacity that goes beyond my individual salvation. The greater picture has been the greater story of God restoring and redeeming creation and Jesus bringing the Kingdom of God on earth. So right now, we are in process of that restoration. I am being renewed and made more like-Christ, but so is the rest of the world. And I must be attentive to how God is allowing me to be apart of bringing that renewal to the world. So, what solidified things for Justin and I in the Orientation Circle was that Open Door is SO about this....this bigger picture of heaven being ushered in on earth. To us, that was extremely refreshing and authentic to here and matched what God has been sanctifying in us. This is a church that is attune to where there is brokenness happening and aware of posturing themselves to how God is restoring and building his Kingdom here on earth. The Orientation Circle also gave us an opportunity to get to know Jer and Dave better. When we were first looking at churches in the area, Justin kept saying that whoever the pastor is, he has to be someone that he would want to follow in how he imitates Christ...which is discipleship in it's simplest form. What's so cool is that already, we have literally followed Jer and Dave and walked alongside them, learning with them and practicing being peacemakers.

We are now finishing up the Black/White Race divide Circle. It's really difficult to try and formulate how meaningful and transformative this Circle has been and I am (and will continue to be) in process with it for a very long time. And it's pretty insane to think about how timely this Circle is to what is going on in America currently. And what's crazy, yet again, is how the Circle is aligned with understanding the position that the Gospel is about God's story of redeeming the world and slowly restoring creation, which is made possible through Jesus. If I am viewing the Gospel in this way, then racial divide in the East Bay matters. Ferguson matters. Eric Garner matters. Hearing the pain of people among the black community matters. One of the pastors who spoke in our circle said that we have to be about addressing the broken systems that are breaking people. I've learned to a greater degree about walking humbly...listening to pain that I won't ever fully understand, and asking hard, awkward, tense, uncomfortable questions that force me to confront how I look at the world around me. And not coming up with answers or rebuttals or defensiveness, but just humbly listening. And being in situations were I feel unsafe. And I realize how little I cared about justice before, because I never experienced injustice in the way I personally looked at the world. But God is a just God and so his restoration of the world involves justice...making the world right.

That's why on hard days, or really any day you read or watch the news, you sense this tension. The tension of what is and what should be. And that's where we are. Envisioning and moving toward what should be amongst what is. There are still so many other thoughts that are still being formulated, but I am very grateful to be processing all of this within a community of people who love Jesus and are learning with me about how we actually mourn and weep and bring peace in a way that is reflection of who Jesus is.

Teaching Recap: Our life AND (or) IN the Way of Jesus?

In last Sunday's teaching we listened to Paul exhort the Philippian Jesus Community (1) to imitate him, (2) to be careful of the "enemies of the Cross," and (3) to live as citizens of heaven. Let's consider what Paul is saying here and allow our lives to be examined with five critical questions. "Imitate me" :: Rather than saying: "do life like me because I've arrived!", Paul offered an invitation to follow Jesus like he followed Jesus.  How did Paul follow Jesus?  He submitted his life, daily, to the authority of King Jesus.  His posture and practice of submission caused the Spirit of Jesus to rise up in him and empowered him to live the Way of the Cross (postured below and prioritizing the flourishing of everyone) in mutually interdependent relationships with others.

"Enemies of the Cross" :: Here, Paul isn't referring generically to the inhabitants of Philippi, but instead, is identifying those who a believed that they could be reconciled to God through the blood of Jesus and continue to live an appetite-driven, me-focused existence that places the highest priority on my immediate personal satisfaction at significant cost to others. "Enemies of the Cross" are people who have converted to Jesus but who continue to live their lives submitted to the authority of no one or nothing other than themselves and their own appetites.  These are men and women who choose to the live out the following myth: I can have my life AND the Way of Jesus.  The great surprise is that this myth leads us in the WRONG direction and causes us to become contributors to the very pain, darkness, death, and destruction that God is seeking to eradicate.

What does it look like today to be "Enemies of the Cross"?

  • Consumerism & accumulation in the presence of family members who have little to nothing.
  • Consumerism & accumulation with very little concern for the social impact among the majority world.
  • The highest percentage of our time & money invested in stuff for ourselves rather than in the flourishing of others.
  • Attempting to satisfy an inner restlessness in isolation with the next purchase or the next fix or the next glance or the next drink, thinking “Jesus forgives me, so what difference does it make?”
  • Extending hospitality until our own need for belonging is satisfied and then turning it off.

"Citizens of Heaven" :: N.T. Wright neatly defines heaven's citizens as "people who are steeped in a way of life from another place while living in this one."

What does it look like today to be "Citizens of Heaven"?

At Home

  • Posture yourself below & prioritize flourishing
  • Don’t run from conflict, run to it & seek reconciliation (experience grace, forgiveness, hope)

In Neighborhood / Vocational Space

  • Cultivating belonging through shared tables & front yard presence
  • Pay attention to what’s beautiful & broken (Immerse/Contend)

Within Region / Nation

Among the World

5 Critical Reflection Questions:

  1. How does my stuff (my abundance, accumulation, consumerism) and the percentage of my investment on the temporary impact my understanding of where my home really is?
  2. To what / to whom am I looking to satisfy my restlessness?
  3. What is beautiful & broken in the spaces where I live/work/play?
  4. With whom am I weaving heaven & earth together again?
  5. What needs to shift in my life so that I can receive and then live out of the empowerment of the Spirit?

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