I could use a bit of Sanctuary

I was very pleased last night to find, right here in Cuyahoga Falls, a new "emerging" church plant called Sanctuary.  As I wrote in my email to the pastor of this congregation after discovering their website:
"Since being here (in NE Ohio) I’ve looked long and hard for like-minded Jesus-followers with which to be the Church and build God’s kingdom. I had almost grown resigned to having to join a traditional church (especailly if I finally found employment in one, as my job search here has really been a struggle too), and then I came across your site tonight, and I find myself daring to HOPE again. After exploring your site a bit I feel a great affinity for the way you are working at "being the Church" (rather than "doing church"). In my 10 years in two emerging churches thus far, I have found God’s spirit in me saying "yes" to a few key things regarding what following Jesus is all about, and I hear echoes of those on your site. I agree that as image-bearers of God we are called to be innovative and creative in all we do- especially as we relate to those who haven’t yet embarked on the journey. Likewise, the life of faith is just that, a journey undertaken together with those who are also on the way. It’s a way of life/lifestyle. No one is "there yet." Truth-telling is vital to this way of life and includes the good, the bad, and everything in between. I love that in your values you recognize the primacy of people, of relationships, over programs and the "program-based church." I love too that like the first church, which engaged all the senses in worship, you embrace the arts and seek to synthesize past, present, and future as you do. I could go on, but you get the point.

Like you, perhaps, I’ve learned that "it"- the Christian life- is a massive, complicated struggle. Especially at House of Mercy I came to really agree that "doubt is not the enemy of faith, but its partner." It’s not that I doubt the existence of God or something like that (as this idea is too often reduced to by some Christians). Rather, I sometimes doubt God- I don’t trust Him- don’t believe that he can/will/has really "saved" me. I doubt that "it’s all going to be okay" in the end, that perfect love really casts out fear, that life conquers death, etc. Yet I find joy and reassurance in echoing the Biblical words, "I believe/ help my unbelief," and I find that living with this tension is but one of the many rich paradoxes of the Christian life. I also have embraced the notion that BECAUSE the journey is such a struggle, it can not and must not be undertaken alone. That is, when Jesus calls me to follow Him he brings me into a community of followers that is essential to the Christian life. I love that all those ‘you’s’ in the New Testament especially that tell us how to live this life are plural- they’re addressed to the community of faith. I’ve experienced cell groups to be the most effective, practical, and meaningful way to actually BE the Church we’re called to be- a church that exists for the sake of those yet to fully know God’s love."


Anyay, suffice it to say I am very pleased about the possibility for healing and a future with hope that this faith community represents.


While writing that email to the pastor above, my Dad called to tell me my 47-year-old sister, Lee, is in the hospital. She has long struggled with a variety of un- or incorrectly- diagnosed illnesses, and has struggled to manage all of this without any healthcare coverage. It has been very trying, to say the least. Finally yesterday an ER doctor began to run the necessary tests to put some of the pieces of the puzzle together, and so this is good. Still, we don’t quite have a prognosis yet, and cancer may or may not be involved; so there is more waiting yet to be done.


I’m also struggling interpersonally in a relationship with an acquaintance who is, to my view, exceedingly self-centered and either unable or unwilling to exhibit genuine empathy or understanding for anyone else. He/she has lived their life in such a way that those around this person are trained to protect their emotions at all costs, and as I see it this has resulted in severely stunted emotional growth and a lack of accountability for the impact one has on those around them. Knowing this, I recognize that I have the opportunity to still relate to them in a positive way, so long as I temper my expectations as to what they are capable of. Still, I find this challenging as it requires a good deal of emotional maturity from me…

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