pastoral ramblings

pastoral ramblings

by dwight friesen

(published by aLife as “Green Hair and the Gospel”)

 

A twenty-four woman with green hair gets up from her table in the corner of a cheesy bar on Seattle’s eastside. She makes her way to a stool in front of small group. Taking a crumpled piece of paper out of her pocket and smoothing the wrinkles she clears her throat.

“I wrote this poem about two months ago, and wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to share it with anyone, I’m still not sure. But I’m gonna try.”

She starts to read, and it’s clear that something deep has been happening in her spirit. God has been at work. Her story, her art, her person demonstrate the living power of Christ, and a small community is lead in worship.

What will worship look like? What can it look like? What honors God?


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Nobody sees a flower – really –
its so small – we haven’t time –
and to see takes time like to have a friend takes time.
– Georgia O’Keefe, painter

 

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There is little doubt that our culture is transitioning from the modern to the postmodern. Books and conferences abound trying to help individuals and churches navigate the turbulent waters of change. So many of the very things the church fought for just a quarter century ago are no longer seen as vital. It seems like every method, structure and even message of the church is being deconstructed while the invitation to the goes out for all to create “truth” for themselves.

It is precisely in this kind of context that Quest is incarnating the love of Christ. “Quest” is a relational, missional church-plant. The
Pacific Northwest has often been described as one of the least churched regions of the United States, and though that is true, it is also true that the region is very spiritual.

The question that drives my community to its knees, and has kept us on our knees, is: How would a missionary approach the development of a church in such a context?


 

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Christians are not relevant in the mundane;
How are we going to be relevant in the profound?
– Erwin McManus, pastor & author

 

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Saturday night, my wife and I were at a party being thrown by a co-worker. A few hours into the party people were feeling comfortable and having a good time. The group started making fun of some of the people who weren’t invited. They started to poke fun of my boss. One of the guys shouted, “He sure needs to get SAVED doesn’t he Dwight?” All eyes turned to me; they knew I was a pastor and had dubbed me, “Pastor-dude.” I shot back, “Hey, don’t we all.”

No sooner had the words left my mouth when my cubical partner jumped all over me. “There you go again Dwight! You’re always sticking up for losers. Why bother – the guy is a jerk.” I didn’t know what to say but replied anyway, “I’m just trying to see people the way Jesus does. Every person is of great worth, even jerks.”

Melissa was sitting right next to me. She is one of those people who are fun to be around; the party is where Melissa is. She leans over and asks, “What about me? Do you think I really matter?”

For a brief moment at a party in Seattle I was able to be Christ to a party girl named Melissa. A woman who had never been to a church building other then to witness a friend’s wedding and attend her father’s funeral.

What does a Christ-community need to be to serve the Melissa’s in your life?

 

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Reality, in fact, is always something you couldn’t have guessed.
That’s one of the reasons I believe Christianity.
It’s a religion you couldn’t have guessed.

– C. S. Lewis, professor & author

 

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In 1996 when God lead us to birth the community which now gives me life, I thought I knew what I was doing. I thought I knew what our church would look like, and it was going to be cool. But God said, “You must decrease and I will increase. Your vision must decrease for mine to increase.” These days I find myself wondering, could it be that the clearer my vision is, the less likely it is from God. God seems to lead me and my community not to clarity but trust him. Not to obvious action items but to a deeper relationship with the person of Christ.

You may have guessed already, that the Open Mic gathering in that cheesy Seattle bar is one of the gatherings of my church. Yes, we meet in a bar. And we meet in homes. We party together and share art and stories. We break bread and drink from the cup passed to us from our gracious Savior. We love and serve; we watch movies and drink coffee; we talk and do life together.

This is church. Nothing fancy; but the real stuff rarely is.

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