Thursday, January 20, 2011


Recently, I’ve thought lots about houses. Some good friends purchased their first home. Tabitha and I have been trying to scratch together for an eventual down payment. We’ve had multiple houseguests in recent days (i.e. lots of cleaning, re-cleaning, redecorating!). All this reminded me that, as much I look forward to owning a home some day, buying one is only the first step. There’s yard work, snow shoveling, selecting appliances and furniture. Insurance, property taxes, repairs. Not being a home owner, there’s surely much I’ve never considered! Getting a home, it seems, is like so many other things in life- once you ‘arrive,’ the work is just beginning.

Remember the story of the Israelites escaping Egypt? The Adult Sunday School talked about this recently, and as I heard about it, something struck me for the first time. Arriving in the Promised Land was not the end of the process.

A refresher for those who haven’t read Exodus in awhile. The ancient Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, for generations, the story goes. Eventually, God hears their cries, and empowers Moses to empower the people to achieve liberation. They then wandered forty years in the wilderness, always dreaming of a land God was preparing for them, aka The Promised Land. And one day, they arrived!

But the hard work, the Bible and archeology tell us, had only just begun. Two books in the Hebrew Bible- Joshua and Judges- give competing memories for what happened next. According to Joshua (generally speaking), the Israelites attacked city after city, massacring indigenous populations and confiscating the land, all at God’s behest. According to Judges, the process was more gradual- some success, much failure- and the escaped slaves joined with local tribes to form what eventually became the Israelite nation. Judges’ story, by the way, accords more with the archeological record, and our sense that God doesn’t condone genocide (Joshua’s valuable for other reasons). Nevertheless, the point is that inhabiting the Promised Land wasn’t easy or setback free. It was an ongoing struggle- internally and externally- to capitalize on a great opportunity, overcome limitations and foibles, and ultimately, to be as faithful to God’s best dreams for the future as possible.

It seems to me that Plymouth Creek, currently, has something in common with that story. If you weren’t at the potluck last Sunday, you should know that the Board presented a new vision for the future of Plymouth Creek. We’ve been working on this for over a year now. It’s begun affecting our worship life, planning and decision-making. And after long, prayerful discernment, and much congregational feedback, we felt the vision work was complete enough to share our efforts, and solicit everyone’s support and help.

I can’t describe fully the vision, its process and implications in this letter. We’ve got months of sharing, revising and imagining together to discover that. Simply, let me state the underlying idea we’ve discerned, and ask for your reaction. We believe it is the God-sized and inspired vision, for the future of Plymouth Creek, to become a beacon of Christian openness and service in the NW suburbs.

A beacon of Christian openness and service. Hopefully, that’s specific enough to generate ideas from everyone, and challenging enough to take the years of work and creativity that a God-inspired vision deserves. I.e. there will be time enough to flesh everything out. For now, it’s enough- for us all- to feel invigorated, like we’re not wandering in the wilderness, hoping only to survive. Rather, I pray we’re inspired to believe God’s given us new directions, fresh vision; that God’s glorious hopes for our intimate, hospitable, open and service-minded church will happen. And, thus, we’ll provide our neighbors the love, joy and compassion they so desperately need, more than we now believe possible.

As the ancient Israelites teach so profoundly, once you ‘arrive’, the work isn’t over. Still, arrival is wonderful, worth celebrating for a time. So I pray you feel, like me, there’s no other place I’d rather be learning to shine a beacon of openness and service than with Christians like you. It’s a good time to be a Plymouth Creeker, my friends. Thank you for that.

Grace and Peace,

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