When we finally began to wrap our minds around the fact that the church IS the living, breathing, heartbeat of God’s people, we stopped trying to do it perfectly. Instead of waiting until we had enough, or the right or even the most talented, we chose to gather on a Sunday night in a living room with a guitar and Bible. We had prayer, we had stillness and we had each other.
Within weeks, we needed more space for worship so a family that was journeying with us approached their karate instructor about the possibility of using their space. One of my favorite acts of worship was transforming the padded walls and sparing gear with fabric and candles. Somehow making a gym into a sanctuary was an offering. As we planned each week, we looked to people in our community that were speaking words of hope and truth all around. We listened for unique voices that were responding in real and radical ways to the call of Jesus in their midst. We invited friends, new friends and even strangers to share music and messages with us as we navigated the road of birthing a community on mission for Jesus.
There were two non-negotiables from the beginning. We believed that the church could change the world if we sacrificially gave of our time, talents and resources. We also knew that being the hands and feet of Christ meant being willing to get messy. To us, that meant that staying in our churchy space and inviting people into our thing was not enough. We were committed from day 1 that mission and ministry meant listening and engaging and responding to the needs of the world.
One of the first ways that we did this was through helping a neighbor. After meeting a family that had little to no financial resources, we became aware of a gap. The need for personal care items (shampoo, soap, toothbrushes) is real. Food stamps cannot help, and many items used for grooming and hygiene are the first on this list of “wants” for those struggling to make ends meet. So we started buying and setting up giveaways for these items. We would talk with families, see what they needed and help meet a need in a parking lot of the poorest zip code in our county. And we made new friends and learned of new challenges. Like the need for fresh produce. Again this is one of the more expensive items on a grocery list, so they are often cut. More than 10 years ago, from this raggamuffin gang came a vision for a monthly produce distribution that still takes place more than 120 months later. Just last Saturday, my husband and oldest daughter were passing out fresh food. And that has been a normal rhythm of faith life for my girls for more than a decade.
This image doesn’t look like much after a decade of wear and tear, but every time I look at my ankle, I see a permanent reminder of a season that changed me. This water drop represents the many ways that a dedicated group of Jesus followers changed my life forever. The ripples in the water of my life continue to make rings of inclusion and grace and forgiveness and friendship.
2006 was the year that showed me that Church was everything and yet it was nothing that I would have asked for. I didn’t want to start a church. Matter of fact, I did almost everything to get out of it. But when you begin to live out your faith l like a responsive reflex rather than a forced exercise, you make a shift. And when you see life from a posture of humility and dependency in the face of inadequacy, God begins to gift and grace you with all you need. And what I enjoyed most in this season was a community that required me to listen and fear and drink and praise. So this became our song of hope. Thanks, David Crowder, for speaking truth and light for us At The Water’s Edge.
Come and listen, come to the water’s edge, all you who know and fear the Lord.
Come and listen, come to the water’s edge all you who are thirsty, come.
Let me tell you what He has done for me.
He has done for you,
He has done for us.
Praise our God for He is good.