Have you ever felt somewhat confused when something that you barely started just took off on its own? Like a miracle, like God was-at work and in charge?
That seems to be what is happening with The WaySide.
I have been interested in intentional community for many years. I intended to move into one when I came to Portland three years ago. But most are really expensive because you have to buy into them. For me it was important that it was a Christian intentional community. Nothing came together.
This is how the process has unfolded around us.
I had shared with Linda my interest and she knew I was taking a course called Launch and Lead with Missional Wisdom. The parsonage lease came due and at the same time a congregant asked Linda if FUMC would ever consider an intentional community. Then came the final key, Laurel and Nathan told Linda that they were interested in intentional community. Bam! (That’s what I say when things come together.)
Linda brought it to the Trustee’s and Laurel, Nathan and I started to meet.
As the three of us met I heard the two of them articulate a vision so close to how Missional Wisdom works and my own vision, I was a bit stunned. How could we be so close in ideas? Then I was out to dinner with a Launch and Lead member when we ran into Erin Martin and her family (Erin is our District Superintendent). They mentioned that a number of people from Missional Wisdom nationally were in town for General Conference and invited our group, which includes Linda, to join them for dinner.
I had barely shared with the group anything about Missional Wisdom but I assumed that we would want to all know more about them. It was great to be with them and a bit overwhelming to find ourselves in the midst of the Portland planning project –for intentional Christian community houses in Portland.
The three of us have continued to meet almost weekly, sometimes with Linda and with others who might serve on our Lead Team. Together we read the book, Missional Monastic Mainline by Elaine Heath and Larry Duggins. I had met Larry before at a Launch and Lead retreat. Larry has extensive experience with intentional communities in parsonages. He tells amazing stories of how a church can become missional.
Nathan and Laurel had wondered how to find out more about what others already doing. Last week we got an email that it just so happens that Larry and a Missional Wisdom grant writer were going to be in town! Monday we invited them to the FUMC fellowship hall to join us for dinner. How did that just happen?
Coincidently, Nathan and Laurel will be visiting family this fall very close to Larry’s community in Ashville NC. They now have an invite to stop and stay the night so that they can get a full tour and see the place in person. Yep, things like that keep happening.
I don’t have an answer for you about why when we take a move of faith sometimes nothing seems to happen and other times things like this happen. Sometimes everything just falls into place. This is what I wanted for quite a few years, and it hadn’t. Then within a few short calls and emails the project is underway and support pops up out of nowhere. Maybe God was waiting for all of the parts to be ready?
I like to say that God created the world to be self-organized. Meaning that we are supposed to step up and take authority and responsibility to work with each other to co-create the kingdom of God on earth. But perhaps God is like a great parent who tells their young adult child to figure it out on their own and to do the work. Then when they do, it’s time to step in and help out.
Whatever is happening, it’s happening without us making it happen. It seems to be happening -to us-in a really great way. With nice surprises, and coincidences, and synchronicities. It’s beautiful and powerful and honestly, a bit scary.
I have had other experiences like this. I shouldn’t be so surprised, but I am, I am awed and amazed.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t still things to figure out. There will be difficulties. Hard questions. Adjustments that I don’t appreciate. I will at times probably question if it’s meant to happen or not. But I think the bible teaches a theology of risk. By which I mean that when God tells people to go do something they often end up in a desert for 40 years, and they question God as to why they were chosen and sometimes they lose everything.
Walking in faith can be both slow and fraught with horrible-very-bad things. Or like this, when the process flows along in a current that seems too fast. Both experiences seem to be normal and I know of no way to make it happen one way or the other. But I am in gratitude, and joy, and I wanted to share it so that you might be as well.
It’s very important to The WaySide to share this journey with you. We don’t believe we are doing this alone or for ourselves. We will all be exploring what might happen. I hope you too are ready to be curious and see what will happen. I am not telling you that with this falling together it means that God is going to make us successful. I don’t think any of us know what successful even looks like. Let’s find out!