Christ's Church, Better Together

Christ's Church, Better Together

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Sitting in the Holy Space

Last week, I had the opportunity to worship with the Old Town House Church in Fort Collins, which is a part of the Mustard Seed House Churches in the Northern Colorado Area. If I’m being completely honest, I had no clue what a House Church looked like, who was in them, what you did at a House Church; I was completely ignorant.

However, despite my complete lack of knowledge, I was welcomed into the house church with open arms. There was an intimate setting of people, eight people including Pastor Andy and myself, and the age range varied greatly! There were people ranging from a young man who I would guess was in his early twenties all the way to people that were old enough to be his grandparents (one man even was on the same floor of a dorm at CSU as my great uncle in 1964, so small world!). And yet, there was no disparity in the community because of the age gap. We sat together as peers, fully engaged and listening to one another.

Once everybody had gathered, we all made our plates. One of the members made the main courses (and yes, there were options) while other members brought side dishes. When we sat at the table, Pastor Andy opened the meal with the communion, but only the first half...

Andy explained that at Mustard Seed, they view their entire meal as a holy space of communion with each other, so before we started eating our dinner, we served each other gluten free bread (so all can eat) and proclaimed to each other “Christ’s Body, given for you.” Then, we ate together, laughed together, and discussed an article that multiple members of the larger House Church community had given to Pastor Andy called, “Christian: You Are Upset About the Wrong Things,” as well as the Beatitudes from the book of Luke.

There wasn’t a liturgy to the House Church, but there was genuine, organic, and authentic community. These people were delving into relationships with one another and into Christ’s works and words together. We sat together in the Holy Space of communion that hadn’t yet closed, and we experienced Christ through our conversation and through one another.

Our conversation and our meal came to an end, and Andy closed our time together by finishing communion. He blessed the wine and grape juice, and we poured for each other. Once everybody had their wine or grape juice, we together proclaimed and remembered, “The Blood of Christ, Shed for You.”

The meal was over, and people cleaned up and chatted and dispersed the way everybody does after a church service. As I drove home, I kept reflecting on the profound and special way that Mustard Seed does church. We sat in the Holy Space of communion, the meal that transcends all time and space to bring all of the saints together. We sat in that cosmic space together, and experienced Christ, and it was beautiful. Thank you, Mustard Seed, for our beautiful time together.

- Kaari the Intern

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Young Adults in Global Mission- Michelle Moyer

The Rocky Mountain Synod is blessed to be sending four Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) abroad this August to engage in an intentional year of service around the world. I reached out to them in hopes that I could share their stories and the amazing ministry that they’re about to start with the rest of the Synod.

Michelle Moyer is one of the Young Adults leaving in August; she will be spending a year in Central Europe. Read her story below:

My name is Michelle Moyer! I am a lifelong Lutheran -- I grew up attending Advent Lutheran Church in Westminster, CO. I just graduated with a B.S. in Zoology from Colorado State University, where I actively attended and participated in Lutheran Campus Ministry (LuMin). In my free time, I watch Rockies baseball, study birds, and sing.

I was first introduced to the YAGM program the summer of 2013, before I started college, when I was lucky enough to be a part of the team visiting the Rocky Mountain Synod's companion synods in Madagascar. For three weeks, we traveled around the incredible island, meeting as many people as we could to develop a more genuine and productive relationship between our churches. One of these meetings was with the YAGM country coordinators (at the time) and one of the current YAGM volunteers of the Madagascar program. As they spoke to our group, describing the basics of the program and some of the amazing experiences they'd had as a result, a little voice in the back of my head piped up.

"This will be you someday," the voice insisted. "You're going to be a YAGM."

Flash forward 4 years, and I have accepted a call to serve in Central Europe as a YAGM volunteer! I don't know my exact placement yet, but I am excited to learn a new language and culture and way of life. I have felt disconnected from my faith lately, and this new journey is my way of intentionally rediscovering that vital part of who I am. I want to allow myself to feel vulnerable, and force myself to rely more fully on God's love and grace. I want to be challenged, and to discover who I am without the labels I have so carefully constructed for myself in Western society. I want to stare my privilege in the face, and try to use my gifts for the benefit of others in new and unfamiliar situations.

By making faith an inescapable and intentional part of my daily life, I am seeking to actively strengthen that connection with God. This mission will challenge me deeply, and push me farther outside of my comfort zone than I have ever been. But I am also hopefully that it will remind me of how much I need my faith, and how much God loves me. I will see God's love in the faces of those who support me when I cannot speak the language, those who frustrate me when I struggle to understand their culture, those who show me new lives and ways of living them. I will learn, and I will grow, and I will, hopefully, find my true faith again.

If you want to follow Michelle's year of service in Central Europe, you can subscribe to her blog here!
Michelle also needs to fundraise $5000 of the approximately $15000 it takes for her to go to Central Europe. For a donation of $20 or above, you can choose a day of the year, and Michelle will send you a postcard from that day describing what she did, and what life is like in Central Europe for that day. If you’d like to support her financially (and receive a personal postcard!), the link to her personal page is below!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Lives of Leadership and Service

Spirituality. Simplicity. Intentional Community. Service. These are the four tenets that Urban Servant Corps volunteers live by each day. Their mission statement reads that Urban Servant Corps is a faith-based, intentional community of full-time volunteers who seek to live simply while serving and accompanying those most in need at non-profit partner agencies in the heart of Denver. Volunteers come to Denver, live in the Urban Servant Corp house, and spend the year as a full time volunteer working with one of the non-profits in the Denver area.

I had the opportunity to meet with Krista and Sarah (the Executive Director and Community Life Coordinator for Urban Servant Corps) at the SAME Cafe on Colfax, which is a restaurant that allows people to pay what they can for a meal, as well as work a half hour for a meal. Their slogan states, “So all can eat.” It will be a service site for one of the volunteers starting in August. At lunch, Krista and Sarah explained how these tenets are lived out by the volunteers.

Urban Servant Corp is an ELCA program offered through the Rocky Mountain Synod where volunteers delve into their faith during their year of service. They have worship and the opportunity to share a spiritual practice with the other volunteers as well. Volunteers also have the opportunity to be paired with a spiritual director for personal spiritual growth.

Urban Servant Corp practices simplicity during the volunteers’ year of service. The volunteers are given a house to stay in and a grocery budget for the house. After that, they are given a small personal stipend of $75 for the month. With such a small budget, there is not enough money for volunteers to live excessively, or with a consumeristic mindset.

Intentional Community.
All of the volunteers in the Urban Servant Corp live in the USC house. They live together, eat together, and practice intentional community during their year of service. During our lunch, Sarah remarked on her year of service. She recalled her housemates and the community being formed as one of the most remarkable experiences for her. One of the interesting things about Urban Servant Corp is that there is no age cap for volunteering. So, when Sarah was a volunteer, she was living with a woman who could be her grandmother. But, they were peers on the same social level. Learning how to be in community, and learning how to live and learn from people who are so different is one of the beautiful parts of Urban Servant Corps.

Each volunteer is paired with an organization in the community that relates to homelessness, women’s empowerment, environmental sustainability, violence and abuse, or refugees, and they spend the year serving at that organization full time.

But, why do these tenets matter? Do they affect people after their year of service? Yes, they do. Although volunteers only spend a year with Urban Servant Corps, they spend the rest of their lives practicing leadership and service. Krista emphasised that USC prepares the volunteers to be leaders for the rest of their lives, and usually their leadership finds a home in service practices. For example, half of the service site coordinators that USC partners with are Alum of USC. So, they finished their year of service, and found a leadership position in Non-Profits where they could continue serving. As one Alum wrote, “The lessons also apply in my new work community as I continue in non-profit with United Way of Weld County.  And finally, the lessons apply to my now living in a more rural and demographically different community than what I was used to in Denver.  Ironic - I started in Denver as an “outsider from a small community who doesn’t understand the city”; and am now the “outsider from that big city who doesn’t understand the needs of the small town.” Good thing I’ve had some experience with integrating into a new community: Urban Servant Corps- the lessons that last a lifetime.”

Urban Servant Corps enables servant leaders to own their power and continue on to lives of leadership and service. These volunteers are truly blessings to their community. Learn more about Urban Servant Corp here!

- Kaari the Intern