Recently, I was flipping through some photos, and noticed these gems from one year ago. These were taken in Aaron & Amy’s living room, back when the church was newborn and still meeting in the Grahams’ house. I don’t even remember whether we’d settled on The District Church as our name, at that point—my inclination is that we hadn’t yet. We were just a bunch of friends who felt called to plant a church in Columbia Heights, and were trying to figure out what that might look like, where and how God might be leading.
Here, in these pictures, you can see what I like to call “Post-It Sunday,” the day when we articulated the things that were necessary to church as well as the things that we could do without and still be church. These post-its eventually developed into some of our core values—including worship, community, and justice.
Twelve months later, we’re still trying to figure out what it looks like to be a church in our neighborhood; we’re still trying to be attentive to each other and to the movement of the Spirit—some things will never change. But much has changed: for the last nine months, we’ve been meeting in a school; we’ve grown more than tenfold from a dozen people to almost a hundred and fifty; we’ve gone from just one small group to five; we’ve gone from being a disparate group of people from around the Columbia Heights neighborhood toward a fuller expression of Christ’s love in our area—through ministering in local high schools, serving at neighborhood events, putting on kids’ festivals and educational movie screenings and more.
What a year it’s been. And, based on the testimony and evidence of the last year, what a year—indeed, what years!—we have to come. I’m simultaneously both completely clueless as to what God’s going to do in and with and through our church in the coming months and years … and so unbelievably excited.
When times are tough, when you’ve got to tighten your belt, that’s when you know what your priorities really are. This week, Congress showed where its priorities lie: the Senate passed a war funding measure worth nearly $60 billion, while the House cut billions of dollars in aid to states and health insurance subsidies for unemployed and laid-off workers.
War over people. Swords over plowshares.
Oh, for that day …
He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:4)
Jim Wallis says that budgets are moral documents, and that how we spend our money shows what our values are. Introduced today, President Obama’s $3.83 trillion budget treads a delicate balance between trying to get the economy going again and trying to bring down the massive inherited budget deficit.*
Anyway, the budget for FY 2011 is fairly pessimistic one in that it presumes a gloomier economic outlook for the near future and budgets more for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover, it actually expands the deficit in the short-term in order to bring it down in the long-term. As David Rogers at POLITICO writes,
In fact, it’s not until 2014 and 2015— when Obama hopes to be in his second term— that he has any hope of deficits approaching a sustainable level. Even then he is banking heavily on a new bipartisan fiscal commission to really finish the job.
It shouldn’t need to be said (but it clearly does) that comprehensive reform of the health care system–not just piecemeal and insubstantial legislative change–would help curb exploding costs. Tom Friedman reports from Davos that we’re making the rest of world a little nervous, due to the state of our economy, the political logjam in which we find ourselves, and notably the fact that we still can’t push through something as remedial as curative as health care reform.
And while we’re at it, reforming the financial system would help create a more stable and sound economy, less blown by the winds of bubbles and busts. Paul Volcker, chairman of the President’s Economic Advisory Board, says:
I’ve been there — as regulator, as central banker, as commercial bank official and director — for almost 60 years. I have observed how memories dim. Individuals change. Institutional and political pressures to “lay off” tough regulation will remain — most notably in the fair weather that inevitably precedes the storm.
The implication is clear. We need to face up to needed structural changes, and place them into law. To do less will simply mean ultimate failure — failure to accept responsibility for learning from the lessons of the past and anticipating the needs of the future.
* The NY Times evaluates the history of our country’s red ink, concluding that “President Obama’s agenda, ambitious as it may be, is responsible for only a sliver of the deficits, despite what many of his Republican critics are saying.”