I suspect that everyone reading this letter has some painful story from their past; many of which (if unresolved) are still sorrowful to recount. Often these painful stories revolve around broken relationships with family members: the one who just seemed to go missing from the family photos one year, but we all know that broken relationships go far deeper than family photos.
Cross of Hope church-family members (who’ve been around for the last decade) have their own shared sorrowful story, and an incomplete family picture to remind them of the loss. I suspect that new members in the last 4+ years since I have been serving here likely don’t even know about it, but Cross of Hope went through an ugly lawsuit after a building project went awry. It’s not that anyone has intentionally hidden this story from new members, but rather, it is still painful to acknowledge. Most don’t talk about it out of a simple desire to move-on, but I sincerely doubt that we are capable of truly moving on until we reclaim not who, but what we have taken out of our family photo.
Members who were here throughout the most recent building project are well aware of the large unfinished space/wing behind the office. When I took the call here 4 and a half years ago, I saw that space as an amazing potential to dream about the mission of the church to meet the needs of the community. However, over the last 4 and a half years I have watched the amazing potential of this space slowly become filled with more and more stored items (junk). I believe that the experience of going through this lawsuit not only drained us of our ability to dream about the great potential God is planning to use that space for, but worse yet, has turned this exciting potential into a depressing burden because dwelling in the unfulfilled dreams that this unfinished spacing represents is still just too sorrowful.
It’s time to end the cycle of avoiding the painful stories of unfulfilled dreams and reclaim that space/put it back into our family photos, junk and all. This won’t happen overnight, of course. Just like in reconnecting with an estranged family member, we need to build a new relationship with that space, dream new dreams, and most importantly, ask God to mend that broken past, and fill the cracks with hope for a mission filled purpose. As a community of faith, I believe we do that by filling this unfinished space with prayer, welcoming God’s Spirit into that space with us, in the midst of the unfinished metal studs, unwired outlets, and yes, even the junk.
On the first Sunday of Advent, I mentioned that I would begin holding simple prayer services back there every Tuesday evening. At least one person’s interpretation of that sermon was “I think Pastor wants us to finish that space”, but that’s not quite it. On the contrary, we absolutely should not finish that space, unless we have a mission rooted reason to need it finished, but I also don’t believe that we’ll ever discover God’s dream for that space if we keep pretending it’s not there. So, I invite you to join me in a simple weekly service of song, scripture, and prayer in the unfinished space every Tuesday at 6PM. Perhaps if we show up in that space, God will too. There might even be a Bible verse about that… (Matthew 18:20 – it’s a good one)
Grace and peace to you this day and always.