July 2008


Anyone familiar with The Gathering knows the change we have gone through the past seven months.  We have had a staff change (which is a lot for a small community to take) and moved meeting places and lost financial support.  Our Sunday morning gatherings look quite different than they did last fall, our worship has been revamped and revisited.  Even more, we decided to look at what our role is in the greater Aurora community: why we exist and what we can do to bring God’s kingdom to earth more and more.

Our leadership team has debated how we can and should be missional for some time.  But, at our last meeting we agreed that the immediate course of action is to do our best with a relationship that already exists: Cimarron Elementary School.  Last fall, we began to partner with Cimarron and offered food and clothing.  We found that this school, 1/2 a mile from The Gathering, has tremendous need: over 35% of kids are on free or reduced lunches, food and clothing go to families often the very day we bring them in, families are struggling to get by in today’s economy.  In suburban Aurora this shocked us: we did not believe there existed so much need so close.

This summer we are running a food and school supply drive, along with New Hope Community Church (where we meet and our “parent” church).  Yet, our leadership has been looking for greater ways to get involved, greater ways to impact the community.  Two leaders are working on putting together a movie night.  The idea is to get a projector and a screen and show a movie out on New Hope’s lawn, inviting the community in.  The fee will be to bring canned goods or school supplies which we can then donate to Cimarron.  

Other ideas are sprouting.  We are talking about planting a community garden next spring, with the ability to bring fresh vegetables to needy families associated with Cimarron.  We are looking for ways to advocate for Cimarron and the need in suburban Aurora — through blogs like this and word-of-mouth and whatever other venues we can find.  We may try to partner with local grocery stores to donate food so that the pantry for Cimarron is never empty.  

And who knows where this will lead us?  Our goal is to get people in The Gathering passionately involved in this work: if teaching is a passion we can find a way to tutor, if the environment is a passion we’ll have a school clean-up, if counseling is a passion we’ll make that available (actually, that’s already in the works).  We believe that the good news of the gospel is good news for everyone, including our neighbors, and that Jesus calls us to care for those around us.  We always want to uphold laws about church and state because those are good laws and there for a reason — we do not help with an agenda.  We help because Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”  We help because Jesus loves us, and we want to share that love with others.

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Abide.  It conjures images of sitting and resting.  For some reason, I think of running water and vegetation and maybe sitting in the shade of a tree.  For others, the word brings different images.  Yet, peace and serenity are surely part of all the images, as are security and safety. 

Jesus commands us, in John 15, to abide in him.  He compares us to branches coming from a vine.  We are to be people connected to the depth that without the Vine we wither and die.  Again and again he urges us.  Abide.  Remain in my love. 

In America today, we are so poor at abiding.

We are conscious of producing and we are busy and stressed.  We move from task to task.  We see our day not as a journey with Jesus but as a set of problems to be solved.  What if we became people who abided?  It would start small at first — and it has for many of us — and we would encounter moments of abiding in God’s love.  And what if these moments strung together and became hours?  How would we be changed? 

Jesus said if we obey his commands we will remain in his love.  And in verse seventeen of the fifteenth chapter of John, he gives us his command: Love each other.  He seems to propogate this idea that we must abide in God’s love to show love to others; yet we also must love others to abide in God’s love.  It is a circuit and we give and receive the more we…give and receive. 

May we, this week, be people who abide.