This graphic can be applied to so many scenarios –
public or private – personal or political.
Where do we give power to others to have power over us?
Being part of a city church has its challenges. For one thing most of us come from out of town – some travelling long and expensive distances each week. Sunday is the only time many of us ever see each other – and for much of that Sunday-time we are sitting silently, so at best we may briefly connect with the persons in our immediate vicinity before or after the service and that’s it. Take away tea/coffee after the service and our time with each other is even shorter. This makes the forming of authentic community difficult. As I said, a city church has its challenges.
Since we replaced the Wednesday Jesus School with the Sunday Lenten Learning I have felt the distance between Sundays more acutely. Even though there weren’t a lot of us attending Jesus School – it was an opportunity to meet some “Sunday folk” during the week. I miss it.
I have the privilege of observing all the unique groups of people that are connected to CMM in some shape or form. My sadness is that too few others get to see this wide angle perspective into CMM’s life.
So, just as I share who we are and what we do as a Sunday community with people during the week who ask, “Do you still operate as a church?” I would like to share with you some of the things that happen in and through CMM during the week.
Jesus came to give life and as Church we are his body – so we are here to give life. This should be the measure of everything we do. One way we live out this belief is that we make this building available for any and all who are bringing life to this broken world. Especially NGOs who can’t afford a venue of this size – we share it for free – it makes a whole lot more gospel-sense than the building standing empty. So over the past few weeks:
A new social movement was launched in this sanctuary – calling for transparency in party political funding. The pews were packed with young people learning what it means to live in a democracy as active citizens.
Later the same evening we hosted 300 cyclists after the Moonlight Mass city cycle ride offering 300 free cupcakes and selling coffee and homemade lemonade. Why? Because this is our neighbourhood and we want to show support for things going on in this neighbourhood – especially that which foster community and encourage healthy greener living. We also do it to break down the stereotypes that so many people have of church today. Our hospitality disrupts the false secular and sacred divide. We don’t do it to “bait people”. We simply offer them something fun and lovely for free… sounds like the gospel doesn’t it? Can we do more to engage these people with the good news of God’s world-mending love – for sure, but not before opening our doors in generous and genuine welcome.
We made space available to Green Renaissance which is an NGO focused on making environmental movies that inspire people to respect and care for creation. Creation being the priceless artwork of our creator God. They invited speakers to share about sustainable living and inspired people to “farm their city”.
CMM is not only a place of fun and celebration – it is also a place that engages suffering and holds pain. A memorial service was held for the woman who was killed as a result of highjackers who jumped a traffic light fleeing from the police. The service was arranged for work colleagues who needed a place to collectively share their grief. They were not members in the traditional sense of the word – they were members in the far more true sense of the word – they were family members.
Then on International Women’s Day in the pouring rain this sanctuary was filled with banners and placards. From the pulpit we heard an Imam pray and a Rabbi lament. We heard the courage of a rape survivor and raised a yellow banner in solidarity.
Every Sunday evening (18:00 – 19:30) the Good Hope Metropolitan Community Church enjoys a sense of belonging and freedom in worship in this sanctuary – a gift of hospitality in a Church that is more often hostile towards gay, lesbian and transgender people. On Tuesdays during lunchtime our sister congregation meets to pray and praise. While everyday the most courageous people of all gather together to covenant with each other to walk another day dry – sober – holding the hand of their higher power.
And in between all these events – people come and go – some take photos and leave while others sit and contemplate – pray and weep. Some have business meetings sipping heavenly coffee and eating wicked cupcakes – while others come asking for a “Stop Hunger Now” food pack. While still others come just to dip their fingers in the cool waters of baptism and cross themselves –”In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.
My best is overhearing Sharon or Ken call people by their names – because in those moments I know that even though I often feel unsure of what we should be doing in this place – and question whether we are partnering God in any meaningful way – I know that at least that person knows that they are known – and in a big busy city where loneliness is an epidemic – we will never be able to measure the healing power of being called by our name.
With appreciation of the rich diversity of CMM, Alan.