Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Donna and Dan - 4

Trabues and Weber Owens
Originally uploaded by paynehollow
Another post in the countdown to Dan and Donna's 25th anniversary this coming June, which I began back in December. It is my plan to post a story, remembrance and/or poem once a week for 25 weeks leading to the big date, which will soon be here...

While I started at Jeff St with not much hope that it could become a church home for our family, I was won over just about immediately. The sermons were so powerful, challenging, so... CHRISTIAN that I could not help but be impressed. The music was folky and deep and sincere and Christian in a way that my old Contemporary Christian music never was, not fully. And the people, well, they were living saints of God. It was apparent from the first day.

One of the first Sundays we attended was communion Sunday. When it was time for this, the congregation gathered in a circle. Pastor Cindy had a loaf of bread (not a stack of those yucky styrofoam wafers that so many churches used!) and a cup of grape juice.

She made it clear that all were welcome there at Jeff St and invited everyone who wished to share in the cup of Life and the bread of Salvation, to please, share joyfully. And they did. The congregation, black, white, homeless, mentally ill, displaced, the children and just "regular folks" (although they are few and far between it seems) all took part.

There was a moment where I balked. "Children can't take part in the communion!" I thought to myself. "Why, why..." but it melted away, just like that.

Of course, children are invited to the communion of Christ. ALL are welcome.

Communion is not some stuffy ritual meant to separate, it is the blessed banquet to which ALL are invited. It is life-giving and real, not styrofoam and ritualistic.

And, as children danced and squirmed and imbibed in communion, I knew I had found a home. Donna, too. As we talked about Jeff St in those first few Sundays, all we could marvel at was why it had taken us so long to find such a challenging, difficult, impossible, wonderful home of such grace.

We had found a new church home, a new community.

Soon thereafter, we began meeting with yet another group interested in community - this one largely being members of Jeff St. As part of that, we were asked to write down what it was we were looking for in a community. Here's an excerpt from my answer...

I'd Like to See...

I'd like to see a row of houses,
a block in the city - two blocks, back to back
with gardens where old gray city dirt is
loved and nurtured,
mulched and composted, turned and graced
into deep black warmth.
Where mothers and neighbors, friends and children,
fathers and grandfathers
join together with God and earth and community
to raise corn, okra, potatoes and family.
Where the pride of these united individuals who
share the neighborhood
has banished all of the broken
broken glass and papers and trash.
Yet those who have broken
broken lives and no papers and trash
are received as neighbors,
loved and nurtured, turned and graced,
shared with and sharing with.
Where stories are traded and the blues and praise
ring late into the sunset
and with each passing day
the trust grows tall as sunflowers and as bright
and love roots them all to the ground.

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