Bits & Pieces of Signs of Life

As I mentioned in the recent update about our efforts to plant New Community Covenant in Bronzeville, time has become a luxury commodity this summer.  Typically the summer months lend themselves to a slower pace for me, one that allows time for reflection and evaluation.  But, as my church planter friends have affirmed, the early months and years of a church leave little time for these things.  Even so, there have been signs of life, bits and pieces at least, that I’ve enjoyed recently and offer here in brief.  As always, I’m interested in what items you’ve experienced lately that would make your signs of life list.

The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime has become my standard book of prayer each summer.  It’s been particularly helpful this year to have an aide for prayer and meditation to counter the ever-present list of tasks hovering in my head.  If you’re unfamiliar with fixed hour prayer, this is a great volume to begin with.

I’ve been savoring- and that’s the best word- Eugene Peterson’s Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ for the past couple of months.  In some ways a commentary on Ephesians, Peterson is giving me language to describe the discipleship process.  In this regard both Peterson and Dallas Willard are some of the secondary sources influencing our current sermon series through the Gospel of Matthew about transformation in Christ.

My sister and brother-in-law gave me a subscription to The Believer, a beautiful publication that describes itself as,

A monthly magazine where length is no object.  There are book reviews that are not necessarily timely, and that are very often very long.  There are interviews that are also very long.  We will focus on writers and books we like.  We will give people and books the benefit of the doubt.  The working title of this magazine was The Optimist.

The first article in the current issues is remarkable essay is about Nina Simone (whose music I was only recently introduced to by Michael Washington) from her recently discovered 1960’s journal.  Anyone else read The Believer?  I’m only a third of the way through and already looking forward to the next issue.

I’ve seen two thoroughly enjoyable films recently, Exit Through the Gift Shop and Cyrus.  Attempting a description of either would be confusing, but I laughed during each and Maggie and I talked for 30 minutes after Exit about what we had, or hadn’t, just seen.  Unless you’re lucky enough to have an indie theater in your town you may have to wait for each of these to be released on DVD.  (Not that I’m recommending you watch them.  I don’t recommend films unless you and I know each other very well.  And even then…)

Those are a few of my signs of life these days.  How about you?

Flowers and Trash

One of the things our new church- New Community Covenant Church in Bronzeville– has said repeatedly is that we will exist for the good of our neighbors and neighborhoods.  In other words, our times of gathering together for worship are meant to align our minds and heart towards God so that we may be sent to participate in God’s mission in our city.

So it was no small thing for us to spend last Saturday, less than two months since our weekly services began, picking up litter and planting flowers at Drake Elementary where we hold our Sunday services.

While we got a lot of flowers planted and litter picked up, I’d be lying if I said we didn’t have a lot of fun as well.  Because we’re a new church it’s helpful to have chances like this to spend time getting to know each other, even while we take very small step in mission together.

The Future of Hope…

…is what we’re calling our very first sermon series at New Community Bronzeville.  It’s hard to believe that we’re less than 24 hours away from beginning weekly services.  Any chance you can join us tomorrow?

There are so many things I’m looking forward to about this new church, and one of them is the chance to share the preaching responsibilities with two very qualified friends, Michael Washington and Michelle Dodson.  Here we talk about why we’ll be spending our first six weeks as a church looking closely at the resurrection of Jesus.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

We are the church.

It’s been over a week since our first preview service as New Community Covenant Church in Bronzeville and I can’t think of a better photo to capture the essence of that service.  (You should know that there were 15 more kids in this room!)

Since I wasn’t preaching, I had the ability to see almost everything that happened in the time before, during and after the service.  “We are the church” isn’t just a nice-sounding theme for our children’s ministry; it has been the reality of our church thus far.  I got to watch our team set up the elementary school auditorium, prepare the kids classroom, get ready to welcome our many (!) visitors, and gather to pray together before the service began.  During the service I watched our worship team to a wonderful job leading this eclectic collection of people in worship.  It was a privileged to listen as Michelle preached about the cause of Jesus; Michelle was a part of the team that launched New Community in Logan Square a number of years ago.  And after the service I got to eavesdrop as visitors were greeted and members of the team expressed gratitude and amazement at what God is doing.

Our next preview service is coming up on Sunday, February 28 at 11:30.  You can find more information and directions on our new website.