My husband and I felt a clear call to leave our church positions, come out of our Egypt of isolation, and live in a neighborhood-based community. We wanted to find the place that could become our long-term home; a place where we could sink our roots deep, investing in relationships with those on the margins, discover what the Spirit was up to among our neighbors, share meals, participate in spiritual practices, and work with our neighbors to create a vibrant community. We moved into an existing intentional community in a nearby city and began our search. What we didn’t expect was that in two-and-a-half years, our call to stability and connection would lead us through six moves, one failed community attempt, and a couple of broken hearts.
At times, my husband’s and my singular focus on the end product meant we failed to recognize God’s faithfulness along the way and even lamented the loss of our previous lives of tidy isolation. We loved the glorious image of ourselves as successful leaders of new ministries so much that we forgot about our daily call to seek God and to value God’s activity in our midst. God provided us with a “fertile land” where we could “eat its fruit and rich produce,” although it took a while to recognize the bounty.
People with whom we could practice the way of being to which we felt called surrounded us, and we realized that our call was not to start a new community but to create community and to be the church. The picture of community had become our idol, and we had traded intimacy with God for it. But we give thanks to God for unending opportunities to release our idols’ grip and fill our open hands with living water.
God of abundance, help us receive the great love you have for us. May we hold it in our hearts and pour it out freely for others, wherever we are in our journeys with you. Amen.
The admonition in Hebrews 13 “to show hospitality to strangers” is vividly illustrated by Jesus’ advice to guests and hosts in Luke 14. In the topsy-turvy world of divine hospitality, everybody is family. Radical hospitality makes sense only in light of the conviction that God rules the world and therefore adequate repayment for our efforts is simply our relatedness to God and our conformity to what God intends. The texts from Jeremiah and the psalm call the people of God back to commitment to God alone, rather than to the gods of the nations and their values. God is no doubt still lamenting our failure to listen but is also, no doubt, still inviting us to take our humble place at a table that promises exaltation on a scale the world cannot even imagine.
• Read Jeremiah 2:4-13. To whom or where do you go to ll your cup with living water?
• Read Psalm 81:1, 10-16. What shape does God’s bread and honey take in your life? Where are you being invited to open your mouth and to name the gift as sacred?
• Read Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16. How do you offer hospitality to those closest to you?
• Read Luke 14:1, 7-14. When have you been blessed by a party of mis ts? How can you extend the table?
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