Dear Friends,

The world we live in can be a terribly loud place; louder by the moment, it seems, in our current socio-political climate. Fear, hurt, frustration ( the three essential, underlying building blocks of Anger ) abound more and more. We're afraid and we're hurt, or we're frustrated that OTHER people are afraid and hurt. All these "others" in the world; personalities, forces, independent actors that exist so often beyond our comprehension, and certainly beyond our control! These people who we so often cannot seem to understand, with whom we may significantly and substantively disagree, coexisting in a context where it seems we have lost all sense of common ground; not merely in terms of instances of agreement, but even in terms of basic, healthy models for conversation and interaction.

It's exhausting, frankly. And when we are exhausted, we are far too quick to lose the will to summon grace for one another. In such a state as we are, we seem daily reduced to shouting, aggressively or passive-aggressively, in the general direction of the "other", concerned only that our own voice has had the chance to echo loudly enough within the fray. Frustrated, divided, confused, hurt, tired and afraid, these echoing shouts are all it seems most of us have left to offer, in what strength we possess, to answer that sense of responsibility we bear to engage with the weighty "conversations" of our day. While I cannot speak for the culture at large the Church, at the very least, must learn to do better; to draw our resources - for engagement, for conversation, for appropriate resistance, and even for mourning - from a deeper well. 

Gratefully, we have had just such a well and source freely offered to us, in the Person and by the Spirit, of our Lord Jesus. HIS grace, on offer where we are tempted to gracelessness. HIS strength offered where, in exhaustion, all we can perceive is our own weakness. HIS eternal hope given, where the world would drive us to despair. His redeeming, holy love, freely poured into and through us, when and where we find that we have no natural love of our own to offer our brother, friend, or enemy. But such resources, freely given though they may be, are of no use to us as the people of Jesus if we do not actually seek and avail ourselves of the gift. This seeking; the empowering and forming of our hearts in the grace and image of Christ for the sake of his purposes in the world, takes shape in the heart of a follower of Jesus in the form of a life of PRAYER, in a posture of abiding trust and WORSHIP.

Driven by this conviction, The Commons is going to attempt to do something a little different with our "Gathering" time, this coming Sunday.

Because it IS a noisy, exhausting, soul-violent world we find ourselves in today, so full of words and angry echoes - devoid of meaningful quiet and actively conspiring against peace and prayer - we want to take time on Sunday to PAUSE together; to pray, to seek, to listen and to sing. Specifically, the plan is to carve out a space for us as a church family to spend some 'slow' time in worship within the Lord's prayer and in light of the 'Beatitudes' of Jesus. This week will be light on formal teaching, devoting more time to musical worship, and to space for testimony and prayers from the community. At this time, intentionally setting aside spaces such as this seems particularly, profoundly needful for the soul of the Church. I feel that the Lord has something meaningful, and powerful, in store for us in this, and I am looking forward to plumbing these deeper depths along with you all this coming Sunday.  

By His Grace Alone,
Pastor Chris

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