It was great to see so many people (familiar & unfamiliar) at The Commons’ Worship Gathering last night. It was our first Sunday back inside after two months at Beasley Park and we took the time to celebrate the change in seasons with songs, stories, and verses that talked about change while peppering in sneak peaks at some of The Commons upcoming happenings. Here is some of what was shared:
I talked about how Jesus liked to gather “jerks” and “screw ups.” So many of his closest friends in the bible fall into both these camps. I find that very encouraging because I can often be considered a jerk and I am no stranger to screwing up, so I need to remember that Jesus calls us to himself all the same, flaws and all.
We announced our first Baptism Gathering that will be happening at the end of September. We are new Anabaptists and so we have yet to have a Commons Baptism. This is an exciting next step for us as a community. Baptisms are like weddings, full of joy and markers of commitment to something bigger then any one person.
We also took some time share things from the summer that we were thankful for, and things that we are looking forward to in the fall.
Some of us were thankful for:
- The simplicity of Park Gatherings.
- Having time to resting in the summer.
- Beautiful Weather.
- Seeing friends get married.
Some of us are looking forward to:
- Playing music with lots of friends.
- Having a chance to rest after all those summer weddings.
- More beautiful weather.
- Starting school.
Susan Neudorf shared some thoughts about the patterns and mathematics of change. She said that God is a scientist and a mathematician and loves to build patterns into all of life.
She talked about how life is like a Sine Wave. We have moments of Celebration, despair, and change that repeat. Susan said that she has recognized this in her own life. She used the example of when she had her first child. As she was waiting for her little girl to be born, she was happy and celebrating but after this little bundle of joy was born, Susan soon realized that she had now been robbed of all autonomy and freedom, and despair sunk in (even though she had always wanted to be a parent and loved her daughter). As the natural process of change happened, susan was able to move forward into celebration, but that cycle of Celebration followed by despair and then cycling into change keeps going. The intensity of the wave varies but the cycle is constant. Susan said that she now sees this as part of the nature of things, and that knowing the cycle of the wave has helped her trust God through the feelings of despair and disappointment. Realizing that the cycle is natural, allows us to acknowledge that our feelings are natural as well.
We took some time lighting candles in a time of prayer for people we have lost, for those struggling with depression, and as a symbol of light in dark times and a reminder that just as the flames and smoke of a candle drifts upwards, that our prayers also rise up and are heard by God.
I introduced a number of learning and peace initiatives that we are encouraging Commoners to be a part of this fall. Back in the spring a bunch of us got together to talk about what a week day small group might look like for The Commons. We haven’t always done small groups because our Sunday Gatherings informal enough that they lend themselves to discussion/participation, so we asked people what do they need in their journey right now that we can’t always do in a Gathering. People overwhelming talked about a desire to learn spiritual disciplines. The resulting initiative is The Supper Club. We will be getting together once a month for a simple healthy meal, followed by learning a spiritual discipline from our friends from GOHOP (an urban monastic movement in Hamilton). The idea is that we will then live with that Spiritual Discipline for a month, keeping each other accountable to the process through email, facebook and over coffee.
We introduced our fall teaching series: Mountaintop Questions for a Lower City Church. We will be looking at Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and applying our learnings to our local context.
We see a lot of parallels to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount call to be peacemakers and our wider Mennonite tradition of Peace. We want to continue to learn about peacemaking and will be involved in two events with our friends from Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). We want to learn strategies of non-violence and how to embody peace as a positive action from these Mennonite friends who place them selves into violent situations as agents of peace. We are encouraging people to sign up for the CPT Active Peace Workshop hosted by our friends at the Welcome Inn Community Centre.
We will also be partnering with Hamilton Mennonite Church and Eucharist Church to be part of a fundraiser for CPT called Peace Pies and Prophets. The evening will include a performance of “I’d Like to Buy and Enemy” by the very funny and profound Ted & Company, as well as a tasty Pie Auction (if you are a baker, we will be looking for pie donations). Lots of good fun for a good cause.
Looking at all this info without being at the Gathering might seem like the whole night was an info-mercial but really we were celebrating what is next for our little community and we wanted to take the time to weave these themes together as part of our learning and worship to get ready for the next portion of our community journey.