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Knowledge & News
Thought provoking topics and series, necessary news and information.
This week has been an absolute gift. Not easy. Beautiful and tragic, in fact. But a gift.
As we’ve prepared for, and gotten into the pledge drive, I’ve been asking for, listening to, and curating stories from people about why Collective matters to them, what it means to them, and why they are willing to support it financially.
Lemme say, I’m a fan of serendipity. And it could be one of those things like, “When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”, or “What you seek you will find.” But I have a sense that there’s more going on here. I think there’s something in the air. There is a life and energy in what we’re doing that is bigger than us. We are caught up in something, of which Collective is a particular, local, and incredibly important expression.
In addition to the stories I’ve been seeking out, this week provided an onslaught of stories that moved me in extraordinary ways. A few of these stories are connected to people who give to Collective, but most of them aren’t. These stories reminded me how important this work is.
In the middle of the night on Tuesday I received an email alert on my phone, which normally doesn’t wake me up. For some reason this woke me from a deep sleep (read, raging-snore-coma). I opened the message and found this:
So, we do everything in the spirit of love and grace." Wow. Beautiful. We are in such dire need of this kind of faith community in the world. Wish I was closer to Florida! Sending love and support to you . . . - Hornby Island, BC, Canada”
Later that morning I received Hayro’s message that he’d written for the Pledge Drive email and blog. If you haven’t, please take the time to read it, a part of which reads: “"This year, Collective has given me a hundred reasons why it is worth continuing to call myself a Christian, and to continue to pursue this beautiful journey of faith."
About an hour later, I got a random call from an unknown number. The Google Voice prompt said, “You’ve got a call from Matthew”. I answered.
Matthew proceeded to say, “Hey this is Matthew. I’m calling from San Diego… Why am I calling you? [Long Pause] Just to say thanks for existing!” Matthew went on to explain how he and his wife and some friends had started something like Collective in their living room in San Diego, how they’d found so much inspiration from what we’re doing, and had so many questions as they moved forward.
About an hour after this, a knock on my office door turned into a two-hour deep conversation. Through questions, tears, and lots of stories, this new friend shared that their recent visit to Collective was the first time they’ve felt at home in a church in 35 years.
What had I done to deserve this day of affirmation?
And then of course… Life.
A few hours later, a new friend, new to Collective as well, contacted me to seek some support during a tough time. “The unforeseen hospitalization that lead to the loss of the job, compounded the health issues due to lack of resources for care and healing, the partner just left, and it’s snowballing… and the cancer is back. Chemo starts tomorrow.” We talked. No easy answers. No snake oil promises. Just the commitment to be here. No one should suffer alone. Let us help get you to your treatments. Let us help get you some meals that work with your strict dietary needs.
One more call. A close friend calls to share that a close mutual friend has just been disowned by their family, and told there’s a good chance they’re going to hell, due to their same-sex relationship. They could use a call.
Now, obviously, this isn’t a typical day. But what a concentrated experience of the beautiful and tragic world in which we live, the beautiful and tragic experiences being lived by those all around us, and the the beautiful and tragic reminder that the world needs us, needs you and me, needs Collective, now more than ever.
We all have stories that fall on either side of the beauty and tragedy spectrum. We all need community that can hold the fullness of this spectrum, speak to the entirety of life, and find us shoulder to shoulder with the love and support that can help us make a life of meaning, right here in the middle of the beauty and tragedy.
We are a misfit faith community that gathers in DeLand on Sundays at 5pm. Come as you are.
We value highly the metaphor of journey. We’re different people from different places and backgrounds, representing an intergenerational community, and we’ve traveled different paths. So, we agree not to make assumptions about the person across from us, next to us, or in conversation with us. We challenge ourselves to be sensitive, knowing this community includes a diverse group of people from life-long followers of Jesus, to people who are just now open to the idea that God might exist. We strive to avoid offense, ask good questions, articulate and explain our responses. We don’t assume fluency in bible, spirituality, or Church language, because we believe the message of Jesus is not for Christianity, but for humanity. So, we do everything in the spirit of love and grace.