This Sunday, our East Side parish will move its regular service time to 10:30am!
It’s an exciting change — one we never had the volunteers, resources, or leadership to be able to pull off before, but one that I’d been hoping and praying for since we planted the parish. So I celebrate that we’re able to do it, and I’m tremendously grateful for Matthew Watson’s leadership in walking us through this transition.
But I realized this week that from this Sunday, I’ll no longer be able to worship in both parishes — and that’s actually kind of sad. The plan is for me to be in Columbia Heights on Sunday mornings if I have preaching or worship-leading duties, but otherwise I’ll be at East Side.
For the last five years, I’ve cultivated some deep friendships in Columbia Heights parish, and for the last two years, equally good friendships in the East Side parish. For five years, I’ve ministered every Sunday alongside (and in the same location as) Aaron and Amy and Jordan and others. Even though Carolyn and I live on the East Side and call it our home parish, for the last year (since I shifted to my churchwide role), I’ve tried to be at all three services in both parishes as much as possible — primarily because of all of these relationships. And so there’s some sadness as well.
Change can be good — and I give thanks to God for that. But change — even good change, even change for the better, even prayed-for change — also means loss, which means grief; and that too I carry to God.
Anyway … what started as an announcement about East Side’s time change turned into a meditation on change. Ah well …
From my friend Adam Taylor, former Political Director at Sojourners, former White House Fellow, now Vice-President of Advocacy at World Vision:
Social and political activism needs a better public relations manager. Activism is all too often associated with derelicts, rabble-rousers, radicals and extremists. This is in part because activists often defy authority, go agains the grain and spark controversy. But they also plant seeds of change in society and surface issues that would otherwise go ignored. Almost unconsciously we celebrate a long legacy of activism. America’s founding fathers were activists against oppressive British rule. Gandhi was an activist against the imperial British occupation of India. Rosa Parks was an activist in refusing to give up her seat on numerous occasions in Montgomery, Alabama, before being arrested and kick-starting a bus boycott that ignited a movement. Harriet Tubman was an activist who guided slaves to their freedom through the Underground Railroad. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was an activist fighting to dismantle the system of apartheid. Many of our most admired American and global leaders were activists. Most importantly, Christ was an activist who turned upside down the patterns of his world, ushering in a new kingdom that often stands in direct opposition to our earthly kingdom.
It’s strange being back in the UK for the first time since I left in fall 2006.
Four years ago, I hadn’t experienced a year of integrating politics and faith with Sojourners in Washington, DC. Four years ago, I didn’t even care about politics; I’d never heard of Barack Obama, let alone volunteered for his campaign. Four years ago, God hadn’t yet broken my heart for the poor, or stirred me to anger against injustice. Four years ago, I was still figuring out what I was going to do with my life—how I was supposed to weave together the disparate passions and talents I’d been entrusted with.
And most of my friends in the UK have missed out on that part of my life. Many of them haven’t seen the last four years of growth and maturing, of heartbreak and healing, of discovering my calling and the joy that comes with that. And I wish they had.
So it’s been a little sad. Much of this past week I’ve been reflecting in a fairly resigned way how we’ve grown apart, how God has led us in different directions, how friendships that used to be so close are no longer so, how people who played such important roles in my life no longer do. I know God is doing great things in each of our lives, and I’m glad for that.
But, like Hong Kong, it seems London is destined to become (and is already becoming) just another place I spent time in—formative years, life-changing years, years when I encountered God through and among some amazing people—but home no longer.