JANUARY 09 NEWSLETTER
“It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us. No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything. This is what we are about. We plant seeds that will one day grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own. Amen.”
~Archbishop Oscar Romero
This prayer is one I spent some time reflecting on today, and I think it really articulates how we as the church are to posture ourselves as we live and work alongside the Master Builder. The kingdom Romero is talking about is the kingdom Jesus describes throughout the gospels. Jesus gives some pretty tangible things for us to enact as the church in order to live into the new reality that exists because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. The church in Acts is good evidence of a community whose lives were wholly transformed by the life of Jesus and the kingdom he preached was “at hand.” These people were marked by a few different characteristics, but the one I want to focus in on is how they were incredibly generous, making sure there were no needy persons among them.
This is a principle we practice at Cherith Brook. If we have two coats, we give one away. We are always looking for ways to deepen our commitment to one another and one way we are doing so is through the practice of Jubilee, or the redistribution of resources. Our community shares all things in common. Meaning, if we make money, it is not our own but the community’s. As a community we share so that no one is needy among us. Whether it be giving out winter coats or offering our many guests places to stay so they don’t have to battle the cold, we do so because our God is a God of enough. There is a great quote by Ghandi, and it goes like this: “There is enough for everyone’s need, not everyone’s greed.” This rings so true when you can look around and see houses with extra rooms while people are sleeping on the streets. When you can see restaurants throwing out unused food while people are starving. This is a great injustice, and it is incredible and humbling to know that God chooses to use us hurt and broken people as we offer what little we have by welcoming the hurt and broken into our lives and homes. What is crazy is that when we do these things and let our lives become intertwined with others, we realize just how much we need and learn from them.
At Cherith Brook many people come in battling addictions (i.e. safety/security, drugs, money, alcohol) but all of us leave feeling a little more dignified, encouraged, and whole. All our friends from the streets as well as we who live at the Cherith Brook house are ALL learning what it looks like to live like the family God calls his church to be—a sanctuary, a place of peace, a light in the darkness, a community that does not look away when someone is in need. We share and look to one another as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of our common Father—God.
Already in 2 months I’ve seen people come and go out of rehab, some still hanging on while others have fallen. I’ve experienced frustration and sadness when people want help and then use the gifts we offer to further their addictions. But then I think of the addictions I battle and realize that I am no different. And this is the beautiful thing. I am being liberated from my own addictions while our guests are experiencing the same.
This family—although flawed and dysfunctional at times—really allows people to come, rest, and leave changed. Seeds are being planted in us and our friends, and I am becoming increasingly amazed at the enormous effect a community devoted to living out God’s Way has on people who encounter it. This place truly is a place where, as one of the founders of the Catholic Worker movement said, “it is easier for people to be good.”
Hopefully this will be the last time I need to write about all of this financial mumbo jumbo.
If you wish to give to our little community at Cherith Brook, there are two ways that can happen. First, by check. Simply make the checks payable to Nick Pickrell and mail to the address below:
3308 E 12th St
Kansas City, MO 64127
Second, if you prefer online giving, then simply visit my blog at www.nickinaction.com. Next, click on the big donate button located on the right side of the page. From there, enter in the amount you wish to give for this month and either sign in using your paypal account info or just click the “continue” link to finish the transaction.
If you have any questions about this, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to walk you through this if you would like. Have a merry Christmas!
To learn more about Cherith Brook, go to: http://cherithbrookkc.blogspot.com