This week the Acts 8 Movement released an invitation to blog in response to the Presiding Bishop’s “Jesus Movement” video. It’s been played more than 17,000 times but just in case you haven’t seen it, here it is:
“Where is Galilee for you?” Acts 8 asked.
For me, Galilee is a whole lot of places.
Here are five of them:
Galilee is St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, with whom I am blessed to serve God. It has been an interesting year at St. Andrew’s, a year I haven’t told you about. The year began with a $25,000 projected deficit, an emergency budget team I was blessed to serve on, a budget refresh in February which eliminated the deficit, a revision of my position description in June to include church finance, the development of a new stewardship committee and process, the re-organization of our budget and the revision of our finance and stewardship timeline.
It all took place within the four walls of the church. But that was Galilee work. Why? Because Jesus tells us that the wise one builds a house on rock. We needed a firmer foundation in order to be able to proclaim the gospel in our community. We still have work to do, but we are further than we were a year ago.
And Galilee is our youth confirmation class. We recognized that youth were not speaking up in mixed adult and youth classes. So this fall we created a youth confirmation process which was a hybrid online and in-person experience. Youth took a defined online path through video lessons, quizzes and discussion, had a personalized service project, and wrote a letter to the bishop about the meaning of their confirmation vows.
It all took place within the four walls of the church. But it too was Galilee work. Why? Because Jesus tells us to be fishers of people. That includes people under the age of eighteen learning about the Jesus Movement and the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement, then committing their lives to Christ. New methods reach new generations.
And Galilee is the Michigan Good Food movement. Because in Michigan, there is work to make our statewide food system more healthy, green, fair and affordable. The Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan recently became the second faith-based organizational signatory of the Michigan Good Food Charter. After presenting the Good Food charter goals at our diocesan convention last week, we received more than a hundred action pledges from churches and individuals to advance the goals of the charter. This is the first faith-based initiative toward the Good Food charter goals in the state. It’s a big deal because Jesus wants to see the hungry satisfied with good things.
But church is only half my time. (Although, with the last three things, it has claimed more lately.) The other half is the thing that is really big. It’s probably more like what Presiding Bishop Curry has in mind with the video: Plainsong Farm.
I could write multiple posts about church finance, about online confirmation, about faith-based food systems worked. But I could write exponentially multiplied posts about Plainsong Farm.
And I probably will, sometime soon. But it needs a website first. (So far it only has a Facebook page.)
Plainsong Farm started as my home and a dream. That was a long time ago. That was back when I was living on ten acres, half an hour north of Grand Rapids, Michigan. When I first started thinking that a farm could communicate the gospel in a way that a church without a farm (or a garden) could not. When I first started dreaming about what that farm might look like and what it could do.
When I first sensed that God was calling me to create this farm.
There was only one problem. God did not call me to be a farmer. (For a long time I found this very confusing.)
Skip a whole bunch of years. Skip a lot of prayer. Skip a ton of work. Get to today.
Plainsong Farm is coming to life.
We’re not really exactly launched yet. You can’t call us launched when we don’t have a website. But according to the State of Michigan and the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan, we’re organized. Which is a huge milestone. And I now say things in public like “Plainsong Farm is launching in 2016.”
This is the biggest thing I haven’t been telling you, mostly because I was scared. Scared that everything would fall apart and I would look like a fool for getting excited about something that turned to ash. (Leaving aside the reality that everything but God does turn to ash.)
But now that it is really happening, I have a lot of backstory-writing to do. (So do Mike and Bethany Edwardson, our partners, who are called to farm and have done an amazing job bringing our neglected land back to life.)
I pretty much stopped writing this blog when I got back from General Convention. Now you know why: a) church finance; b) hybrid/online confirmation; c) Michigan Good Food Charter; d) Plainsong Farm.
All of these are actually things worth blogging about. But life has been so full of tasks to accomplish that I haven’t had time to blog. But without blogging, I don’t feel like I’m living my call.
Which leads me to my last Galilee: this blog. Which is for everybody choosing renewal, growing disciples and tending creation. Jesus goes ahead of us in this work. “Behold, I make all things new,” he says.
What I’ve learned following Jesus, especially over the past year, is this: when you’re following Jesus, you don’t actually know where you’re going.
Because you’re not in charge.
But that’s okay, because actually Jesus being in charge is better than me being in charge.
The atheist teenager I used to be still has a hard time publishing that sentence. But the middle aged mom I have become knows it is true.
Maybe those five Galilees are really just one: A healthy church in a healthy creation. Every single thing I am doing is pointed toward that destination.
We have a long way to go.
But there’s no journey I’d rather take.
Where might Galilee be for you?