Tonight we are reading chapter 8 “Already Here” of Tim Sorens’s book, Everywhere You Look: Discovering the Church Right Where You Are.
Sorens began his book with a discussion of God’s Why in Chapter 2. For Sorens, God’s Dream is that of reconciliation and renewal of all things. p.30. As the Apostle writes: “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Cor. 5:11-21, see also, John 3:17, Acts 3:21, Rom 5:10, Eph. 2:16. Our catechism states that “The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ” and that the ministry of the laity is to “carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world.” 1979 BCP 855.
Sorens writes that the ministry of reconciliation and restoration comes out of communities learning how to collaborate with one another. p.121. Reconciliation arises out of the connections that we form with others. By definition, love can only take place and come about when someone else is involved. In Sorens’ model, we move from a Core Team to other Christians (Same Team), to all Citizens (Local Team) who are all Connected to one another.
By prioritizing Connections we are fighting back against the storm of individualism and polarization that is overtaking our society. p.121. Every good thing that we seek to do in the world, should start with these Connections. As Sorens has repeatedly written, we do not begin with a What or a How – strengthen families, fight illiteracy, feed the hungry, work for prison reform, etc. – but the Why. The Connections fulfill the Why and everything else follows.
Sorens ends his book with three vital practices to build connections.
First, he tells us to take a road trip. He writes that our Core Team should go out into the neighborhood to visit others and to ask good questions. As Sorens points out, we cannot care about our communities or work towards reconciliation and restoration in our communities without seeing and listening to our communities. His advice is simply to take a walk and invite a new friend.
Second, he tells us to invite honest feedback. To build trust we have to have honest discussions. The goal is not to invite experts to create a program for us to follow, but to invite a few friends and leaders in the neighborhood to explore with us. There is never a one-size-fits-all program.
Third, he tells us to celebrate together. We should be amazed at the ordinary. Ordinary acts of love towards our neighbor is the big stuff. We must learn to come together and join with God’s Dream in our neighborhood.
Dinner is at 6. The menu is Oktoberfest. Discussion about 6:45. Compline at 8. Hope to see you here.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.Hebrews 10:23-25