You have not heard from us for months and months because it's been all we could do just to keep heads above water. I know this is a pathetic excuse for silence, as we have needed as much prayer as possible. In this regard I have been a slow learner.
We spent last year planning a new site, which effectively took one church plant (The Table) and turned it into two – Table North and Table South. Think of it as a planned pregnancy with fraternal TWINS as the result. They launched in the fall.
We also had an unplanned adoption when a smaller congregation up island voted to dissolve and become part of The Table. We summoned back one of our former apprentices – Jonathan Ellis (since ordained) – to lead this new group, which we've dubbed Table Peninsula. This started in the fall.
Both the Wiltons and the Withrows were forced to relocate from their rentals. This lead to a massive rental renovation for the Withrows and great distress for the Wiltons who were already dealing with severe health issues. The Ellis family was trying to buy a home after a sudden transition back to the island. This happened in the fall.
One of our honorary associate clergy suddenly died. On top of personal grief, Kevin was managing a great deal of administration for us. Surprise! This happened in the fall.
As a result of all this, I was unable to fundraise as planned and our financial needs in December were alarmingly high. After all the hits, it sort of felt like this was the end. (I should note that this emotional response was more the case with me than with Andy.)
In personal disorder, God still moves.
As usual, God was faithful and continued to work and move in, with, around, behind, and in front of us. It doesn't take away from the difficulty but does remind us: this is God's master narrative and we are bit players. He is larger than our stories and the central actor. Personally and communally, Christ must be the focus more than our transitory discomfort. He is the one who holds the keys to life, to death, and to our immediate existence as a community.
I'm comforted by the words of Jesus to the church in Philadelphia (Rev 3:8) – "you have little power." TRUE. Yet "you have kept my word and have not denied my name." Yes, as we are able! And in 3:9: "I have loved you." RELIEF. He calls us all to patient endurance and to "hold fast to what you have" (3:11), which is a new name (through baptism), a new love (from God), and new words (from Christ).
Here's a massive praise to God for survival. This may seem like a minimalist sort of praise, but during certain seasons survival can be cause for robust and hearty celebration. (A let's-throw-a-party sort of jubilation!) God moved, tilled (disturbed!), planted, watered, and grew while we were on our heals.
Please do continue to pray for us as we are still playing catchup from all the disorder of the fall. [Note: does this also describe humanity's larger theological narrative?] In the striving and the struggle God exposed some of our weaknesses and has proven His adequacy. Pray that we can address the soft spots with prayer, discernment, and a more determined call to Christ and His Gospel.
Thank you, oh Christ, for your mercy on us! And your patience with us! You are good and great and glorious and gracious. Your love never ends!
Psa. 50:15 and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.
Psa. 116:1 I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.
May the Lord build on this soil that has been disturbed, turned up, and replanted – to glory of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.