It seemed fitting to borrow the title of N.T. Wright’s book to introduce this report. Just as Scripture’s grand story is one of hope in a New Creation springing forth from the old and broken one, occasionally the life of our church delights us with the newness of hope-filled surprise in our life in Jesus Christ.
It seems beyond hopeful imagination for a very elderly congregation with limited mobility to have an exciting ministry take form which brings into our building more than 3 dozen local youth and adults two days a week. But just such a dream is taking shape for Rocky Ford Mennonite Church. For five years a local ministry named “By His Grace” has been teaching four genres of worship dance to eager participants 3 years of age and older. This year they will add worship hip-hop–something in which even I, an old guy with no rhythm, finds incredibly promising. Once a year a dance concert is performed on stage at our local Grand Theater as well as numerous and widely scattered church performances upon request. But the real substance of their dance-as-worship is shaped as each instruction session is centered in devotion, prayer, and Scripture. Nothing is charged to participants and affordable dance shoes are procured for those dancing ballet. What an amazing gift to our small community whose youth and adults benefit from creative and wholesome activities blended with intentional exposure to the faith made manifest in selfless and sacrificial service. How fortunate for our church to be able to provide a facility for this work of love.
By His Grace outgrew their past facility and their search with us led to an appropriate interview and inquiry. Our church council responded with immediate and resounding approval. It is a wild dream that our aged congregation might have the energy and talent to be providing such a vibrant, nurturing, and inspiring activity for youth and the young at heart, so it is extremely exciting to have such resources come knocking on our door. By His Grace encourages our congregation to be present at their sessions from 4-8 pm, two night per week, to rub shoulders with their students and their families. We also look forward to some Sunday worship performances of course.
It seems much potential good stands to be realized from extending the use of our facilities in this way and we will find other methods to lend support to this dance troupe, its faith foundations, and the uncountable ways it brings about New Creation In our midst.
Surprise, Part Two
By His Grace has stirred within me exploration of other ways in which our facility might reach out into our community. In the cold winter months it can be difficult to get my daily running done so I often will jog large figure eights through our two buildings. Upon talking to local folks I found others who miss getting out to walk or run due to the cold. Having the encouragement which group accountability brings is a direly needed benefit. In these conversations I also found a deep spiritual pain laboring upon those who long for basic fitness and healthy behaviors but falter when they are alone in their goals, will-power, and disappointments. This is a sad reality when we realize the false dichotomies firmly established from venerable but limited theological imaginations from centuries past. Spirituality has a private component but is only authentic and real when expressed socially as physical care. We are created integrally as physical, spiritual beings. It seems one way we might truly express what it is to be the church by opening our doors several days per week at scheduled times for others to run or walk and share together in the challenges of what it means to love one another.