I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Joy with ABC Leaders & Churches
In early June, we hosted a workshop for pastors & leaders in our network entitled “Tiny House Spirituality: Seeking Shalom in a Fractured World.” We shared about the ways we have felt isolated and restricted during COVID-19. Not only from the virus itself, but also from the unraveling we each experienced in our social, educational, medical, political, economical, religious, and family circles as well. We discussed how to regulate our bodies during stress and trauma. And we began to consider God’s intent of shalom for the interdependent community of God’s people. God’s shalom community is characterized by wholeness & equity. God’s shalom makes it possible to experience repair in the ruptures we so frequently experience in this fallen world. The joy of companionship and community was a hallmark of this workshop.
Then, as a result of that seminar, one of the participants invited us to lead another workshop for her church. The joy magnified as we gathered with a small, multi-cultural congregation in Northern CA. We revisited in authentic conversation the invitations and intentions of shalom community, spiritual health, and resilience. We imagined how community can be a haven for transformation as we seek to be Jesus in a fractured world.
These two workshops are examples of how we are translating our ministry with global servants into ministry connections with local churches and leaders. The development of micro communities of shalom has been God’s leading for the past three years. Those of us who serve in Global positions with IM have skills sets and resources that we love to share with our U.S. based American Baptist family! Don’t hesitate to reach out to any of the Global Consultants or Global Coordinators for their expertise.
Joy with our Colleagues
While summer is a time when regular gatherings slow down, we still met several times with our micro-communities of shalom. Joyce’s wayfinding group explored Biblical Shalom through the lens of justice. David’s epiphanies’ group explored “How to engage your story in a way that brings healing.”
Our colleagues continue to affirm that one of the main highlights of these gatherings is authentic community with people who “get them.” These small groups provide safe, sacred space where questions can be asked, fears & anxieties named & examined, vulnerabilities explored, and unconditional love received. In addition to our small groups, we continue to provide one-on-one spiritual direction and pastoral care as needed.
As many of you now know, our son Ian got married on July 3 to Anny Ning. Their ceremony was in Girdwood just outside of Anchorage, Alaska. For family who attended, it was the first time we’d all been together since the pandemic began in 2019. That was a celebratory moment! There were seven children at the wedding ranging in age from six months to 11-years-old and none of them fell apart in tears or tantrums. In fact, their energy lasted well into the evening beyond most of the grown-ups! This added to the joy! The day after the wedding about half the guests came together at Moose’s Tooth Pizzeria for a brunch and post-wedding joy.
Then a dozen of their friends went backpacking with Ian & Anny for 3 days in the Alaskan wilderness before the newlyweds left on their honeymoon. We did not trek into the wilderness with all the millennials (ha, ha!), but instead spent three joy-filled days with long-time friends in Seward, AK enjoying the marine wildlife and stunning scenery. We celebrated our 34th anniversary and rested. After 2 ½ years of so much sorrow, grief, fear, and exhaustion, it was so cathartic to lean into God’s invitation of rest, renewal, community, and celebration.
Joy for the Journey
It is monsoon season in Arizona. This is when the seasonal rains visit to quench the dry, desert ground. The desert temporarily turns green, lizards scamper everywhere, and even the birds sound happier. Water lingers in the riparian wetlands, and the bush called Mexican Paradise is vibrant with orange and yellow blossoms.
This glimpse of the desert reverberates IM’s theme verse that was highlighted at the World Mission Conference in July: See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)
Perceiving new things requires imagination, curiosity, and wonder. Did you know that every time you ask a “What if?” question a part of your brain lights up that is open to adaptive change? So, as we head into the fall, may each of us practice curiosity. What if I let go of one fear and replaced it with one thing that brings me peace? What if I leaned into something that makes me uncomfortable to see how God might refine my growing edges? What if our faith community decided to choose love over and over again so that we became known as a place of God’s shalom, a safe haven in our neighborhood? What if my spouse and I prayed together every day for one month to see how it would strengthen our marriage? What if I went on a walk with a friend instead of watching more TV so that our relationship deepened? What if I totally unplugged and really slowed down one day a week so that I truly rested? New perception is intimately tied to curiosity and wonder and imagining what might be made new.
God is waiting for us to perceive new things. To be filled to the brim until we overflow with joy!
This is our prayer for you as we head towards September. May shalom be yours in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Your companions on the Journey,
David & Joyce