Saturday, December 20, 2008

Solstice Simplicity

Tomorrow is the winter solstice and in our neighborhood all is quiet and white. Beneath the surface though, new life is germinating. A few days ago we received an eMail from the Association of Vineyard Churches officially welcoming us as a Vineyard church plant.

Rather than getting caught up in busyness and trying to somehow make things happen, now is an excellent time for us to pause. Resting quietly, we can consider our roots. Our good friend and coach Dave recently sent us a quote by Thomas Merton which served as a wonderful reminder to us of what we're here to accomplish or, better put; who we're trying to become.

Merton had aspirations to move near the Ecuadorian capital of Quito to start a new community. In a letter dated July 1958, he said
I would like to embark on a new form of monastic life, a very simple kind of life...fully integrated in the life of the region, and in the soil, yet also fully in contact with the intellectual life of the Capital.

I would not carry on any special “work” or “apostolate”* (this is where the mistake is generally made by so many). I would not have any arguments to sell to anybody: I would not try to “catch” people and make them go to confession, etc. Preferably I would not even dress as a priest or as a monk, but as an ordinary person. I would live a life of prayer, of thought, of study, with manual labor, and writing, a life not only in contact with God in contemplation but also fully in contact with all the intellectual, artistic, political movements of the time and place. But I would not intrude into the life of the place as one with a “mission” or a “message”; I would not try to sell anybody anything. My function would be (as it must be in any case) to be a man of God, a man belonging to Christ, in simplicity, to be the friend of all those who are interested in spiritual things, whether of art, or prayer, or anything valid, simply to be their friend, to be someone who could speak to them and to whom they could speak, to encourage one another, etc.

Thomas Merton: A life in Letters (p. 28)
We're settled in and watching the snow fall; resting quietly and reflecting. What a wonderful time.

~ Keith

* "apostolate" is the Catholic term for a "church plant"

Monday, December 1, 2008

What is The Orchard?

An orchard is a collection of trees, intentionally planted by The Orchard Master, as an expression of beauty, and as a source of healthy nutritious fruit.

We are a community of people trying to model ourselves in The Way of Jesus, The Master. Like trees in His orchard, we want to bear fruit in our lives which offers sustenance to others around us, and join with God in fulfilling His dreams of beauty in all we are and do.

We're friends of God, relying on Him as our source, relating to Him intimately, looking to Him continually, and honoring Him fully.

We love all those He brings our way: walking beside them, encouraging them, and championing them; sharing our life with them -- inspiring them on their journey toward God.

We endeavor to impact others with the Love of God in practical, purposeful ways so as they experience God's love through us, they come fully alive in Him and find their place in His family -- in His Orchard.

A Life Community

If you came here wondering
"What time do you meet on Sunday mornings?"
"Where is your church building located?"
then I'm sorry to disappoint you by telling you we're not that kind of church. If you are looking for that type of a Vineyard experience, there is a fantastic Vineyard church right here in Salem, and you can visit them online here.

Don't get me wrong -- we love churches that meet on Sunday mornings in a rented space or in their own building and explore together what it means to love God and love each other. We just see ourselves living a life a bit different than that. We were a part of that type of church community for many years and as you'll read in various posts here, we've felt pulled to start something a bit different. It used to be that we were so busy in church activities we were never able to rest. Now we want to live a quiet life and love God and love people in the midst of that rest
Before, it was a problem if
we had no normal life outside of church.

Now, we're actually trying to have
no church outside our normal life.
So what does church look like to us? Well, it is somewhat hard to put into words on a blog like this. Probably the best way to begin to explain it is to say this: how about you eMail us, and we can talk about it over a glass of wine and a good meal?

One day we'll have had enough meals and hung out with enough people that it will make sense to start having larger gatherings of folks where we all eat a meal together and spend time exploring Christian Spirituality. Or maybe we'll go do something to impact our local community in a positive way, and then hang out at a coffee shop together and share with one another what we saw God doing in our midst. Along the way we'll be following Jesus and loving Him, each other, and anyone else we encounter along the way.

Sound good to you?

More Reading? You Want MORE Reading?

You've read through a bunch of posts and still have questions; you still want to read more about what it is we're trying to do; who it is we're trying to become, but you're not ready to eMail us and start a conversation just yet. That's OK -- you asked for it!

Probably the best thing you could do is go to my other blog The Can Opener Boy Translations and read through the posts with the labels "church" and "following Jesus"

You can also read these four foundational posts:
  1. What is church?
  2. What is your role in receiving from the church?
  3. What is your role in giving to the church?
  4. What is your role in participating in the missional nature of the church?

Also good for you to read would be this post I did about how we view other churches and our relation to them.

Happy reading!

~ Keith