Sermon from 02.15.15 - Sara Wolbrecht
So, I’ve been trying to figure out how to describe the way I feel tonight, and I have decided that I feel very much like this 6 year old girl.
VIDEO: “Platoon” by Jungle on YouTube. www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JkDzNOgO3U
Um, she’s six years old. That’s a music video for the song, “Platoon” by Jungle. It’s like we’ve the last 6 months putting on our elbow pads and knit cap and we’re ready to spin.
Ok! We’ve done 6 months of work and NOW we’re here. And you are here – yes – because you are curious about becoming an important part of Salt House. …So today we have to work through some information (which will also hopefully be inspirational, too). All with the hope of helping you listen for God and to make a decision. We’ll talk through three primary things: the mission of Salt House, what it means to be Scaffolding for Salt House (which is what you’re considering), and to lay out the journey we’ll share for the season of Lent, which we’ll begin next Sunday, to prepare ourselves and Salt House to launch on March 29th. (Salt House, Scaffolding, Lent). Ok? Elbow pads on? Let’s spin!
First: Salt House. You may have heard some of this before, but it’s always good for us to be on the same page. And I want to be clear about what we’re trying to do with Salt House, because if you’re signing up to support the mission of Salt House, you need to know what that is at this point. And I do mean “at this point.” We are starting out with our best guess – this is all – Salt House – a great experiment and adventure with God. And we will do our best to let what we do here evolve in response to how the Holy Spirit teaches us, and how the young adults of the Eastside shape it, too. But MAN! We are going to have fun with this adventure! Ok! So here’s what we’ve got so far.
As most of you know we are here because of the incredible generosity of God as expressed by the people of Trinity Lutheran Church who donated this place to Holy Spirit Lutheran Church across town. And after much prayerful discernment about what to do with this incredible gift – because really, what do you do when someone gives you a church? The vision that emerged was that this could be a place open for all kinds of people who are emerging adults, millennials.
At Salt House we’re aspiring to be a community for emerging adults, a population that is absent from most progressive, mainline churches. My approach is to design this community to be centered in discipleship. To be a disciple means to literally be a learner of Jesus. So we’re trying to be learners of Jesus here. To put in place the relationships and structures that help facilitate this community in learning to be like Jesus. That will fuel the ministry teams we form, the way we do events, worship, the way I preach, and the way we are in the world beyond these walls. And as much as possible, I’m letting the young people of our community sculpt what that looks like. At the heart of it we’ll come back to remembering that Jesus told us that we are salt and light for the world – and so Salt House is a place where we want to figure out how to live that, together. How can we be salt in the world?
The mission statement we’ve been working with then actually captures one of the particular dynamics of Jesus’ life (one of the ways we’re trying to learn from Jesus). How he balanced the three primary relationships of his life – witnessed in how he spent his time. You can picture it like the three points of an equilateral triangle. We see Jesus spending time UP with God (he was alone on the mountainside to pray), and also time IN with his disciples, his close friends, the ones he shared life with. And then also the way Jesus engaged OUT in the world with people who were in great need. He taught, he healed the sick, he fed the hungry, he stood up for the oppressed. Up, In, Out. Jesus needed all three of these relationships.
And for us who want to embody the life of Jesus, this is such a great pattern for us to follow – to consider – Ok, in this season of my life, how am I connecting with God (am I making time for reading, for prayer, for being in worship, or hiking?). And how am I making time with my close friends and family. We need time with people who love us, accept us, and know us, and can call us out. And how are we also engaging with people in need – living beyond ourselves. Maybe caring for someone who is sick. Volunteering in a school or non-profit. Helping your next door neighbor. Up, In, Out – paying attention to those three relationships. This balance of relationships is something that Jesus held in tension and shows us a way for our lives.
AND a way for us at Salt House. We use the words Come, Thrive, Go to give verbs, action, in how we embody those three dynamic relationships like Jesus did. And so you’ll see printed there on your bulletin, our mission statement:
The mission of Salt House is to engage emerging adults in living like Jesus through relationship with God (Come), each other (Thrive), and the needs of our world (Go).
COME // Receive God's love, grace, & challenge.
THRIVE // Belong, play, & grow with others.
GO // Engage, serve, & impact our world.
These three words capture what most people hunger for (including millennials): connection with God, with community, with impacting our world.
With some of the young adults we’re talking about the THRIVE events we want to do in the next few months – host a cooking class here, brewing beer, going hiking, video game tournaments – these are all primarily THRIVE events, right? They are about belonging and playing. Which is part of the THRIVE.
We’ll continue to pay attention to balancing those areas, finding ways for young people to Come, Thrive, AND Go. …So—Does that vision make sense? That’s where we’re at now with the mission for Salt House.
I want to say a little bit more about the GO component how a church community can live like Jesus.
So GO is about engaging in the needs of the world. Serving, working for justice, impacting the neighborhood and the wider world. There is a movement underway in faith communities around the world that gives a particular shape and form to how we go about the GO.
It is called a missional community. Or using our Salt House language, we can call it a GO-Community. A Go-Community is a group of 20-50 (or more) people whose focus is defined by their mission reach a particular population of people. Like, the foster kids on the eastside. The homeless community of Pioneer Square. The young families who live in the low-income housing just down the street from here. The teachers and staff of LWHS. By example. And so they find ways to build relationships with and engage in the needs of this population. But there are other dynamics that mark the way they function together. It’s not just a group of anonymous volunteers who show up, serve, go home. But there is a life to be shared with one another. …It’s an organic thing, but, here is a bullet point description of it…
Go-Communities (Missional Communities)
A group of 20 to 50+ people
The group’s focus is defined by a mission vision to a specific neighborhood or network of relationships
The group does a healthy mixture of Up, In and Out
Up = Creative worship + Sharing stories
In = Eating + Expressing care (“Oneanothering”)
Out = Demonstrating the works of Jesus + Declaring the words of Jesus
You’ll notice that this is different than just signing up to be a volunteer. It is a community of people who are united around a shared desire to serve particular people. People will be involved in various capacities, but as they serve they spend intentional time together with each other and God even as they serve.
Soon, I think Go-Communities will bubble up out of the young adults of Salt House. There are tremendous opportunities just outside our door – to support the schools in our neighborhood, to develop a community garden, to wheel out a coffee cart for the LWHS students who hang out in our parking lot. A Friday morning pancake feed for students who can’t afford breakfast. I’ve intentionally waited to not start something until the young adults actually run with something THEY are passionate about. But that will happen soon.
But there is one Go-Community that we have designed. And it is the Scaffolding community of Salt House.
Salt House needs a community of people, scaffolding, around it if we are going to make it as a community for young adults. We need a Go-Community.
This Go-Community’s focus is to support the mission of Salt House, to create a place for emerging adults to engage with God, each other, and the world. It is a mission to serve a population that is left-out and overlooked by the way we usually do church. So the people of Salt House scaffolding are saying: we’re want to roll up our sleeves and work with God to make this new community a reality. A place where worship is done in a fresh way. Where we share in meals together. A place where all people are welcomed. A place that designs ministry based on the particular needs of young adults. BECAUSE: they are absent from the church and from the life of Jesus and as Jesus showed us, space should be made for all people.
So the question we are all answering tonight is whether to say YES to this mission. And I know many of you are already have. (Spoiler alert – I am definitely a YES).
Two things. First, motivation. Your motivation – your WHY for being here – may be different than someone sitting next to you – and that’s ok. And it will look different for someone who IS a young adult versus someone who is not.
Second thing: what you do and how much you are involved will vary greatly from person to person. Some will be here most Sundays, connecting relationally with young adults. Or caring for children in the nursery. Or setting up tables. Others will be here to mow the lawn periodically. Or help with administrative tasks one weekday. Or plan events at a monthly meeting. Or bake communion bread. Or replace the old toilets in the bathroom (thank you, Brett). Or build tables around the poles in the fellowship hall out of an old pew (thank you, Mark!).
Regardless of how involved you will be, my invitation for you is to commit to being a part of Sunday evenings for the season of Lent. Some scaffolding people will be here even as we launch worship. But even for those who are not – I invite you to be here for Lent.
Now our third and final thing: Lent.
As we consider becoming a new Jesus-following community, I want to draw us back to that first community of disciples who were figuring out what life looked like right after Jesus left the picture. So we’re shifting gears and looking to Scripture now. Elbow pads still on? We’re still spinning…
It’s a short passage from Acts 2. At the beginning of the chapter it is the day of Pentecost – bits of fire appear, people start speaking in other languages – the gift of the Holy Spirit is given. Crazy, freaky, awesome stuff, right? Then, Peter launches into this looong sermon of sorts – Oh don’t worry, these folks aren’t actually drunk! And he retells the story of God’s people. David, Moses…then there was this Jesus, Son of God, and you just killed him! BUT don’t worry, he is God and he’s back. Now there is still your chance to choose the life that he offers us! And then 3000 people are baptized. That’s where we jump in to the story.
These verses often have the title: “The Fellowship of the Believers,” or “The New Family.” It’s a description of what life was like – and is held up as a guiding way for us to consider what an authentic community could actually be like. It seems appropriate for us to consider this as we consider who we will be both as a Scaffolding community, and at Salt House.
As you hear this, would you try to picture it here and now. Not with dudes in robes and sandals. But like us. Or hipsters or soccer moms. What would it look like here?
(Stand and shake out your legs a little bit)
That day about three thousand took [Peter] at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They (the 3000 plus more) committed themselves (to four things) to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.
Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.
They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved - Acts 2:41-47 (The Message).
How does it feel to imagine observing this community? Hearing this passage we can almost miss the impact of what a community like this had – it was revolutionary to typical life at that time. Imagine their society that had no exposure to a “common life” built around a shared belief in Jesus. They had no sense of gathering like this around “the breaking of bread” or prayer! (We at least have a sense of some of those things, right?). But they had never even imagined it. And if you lived in such a world then suddenly found yourself swept up in this pattern of teaching, life together, bread-breaking, and prayer, you would know that new dimensions had opened up before you, and new dreams for how the world might be, had suddenly become visible. You would be awestruck. That, says Luke here, is how it was at the beginning. And that awe was only increased as the power of God was at work through the apostles, as it had been with Jesus, power to heal and transform lives. We have lost some of that awe, right?
The vision for Salt House is to reclaim some of that awe by reclaiming some of that life. To figure out what that kind of life looks like for someone who is 20 years old. Are they hungering for life together, and breaking bread. Yes! For Salt House to not just be a church building where people show up on Sundays – partly because we are reaching out to a population that is not looking for church, right? But we want Salt House to be a community where this kind of life is nurtured and explored. Talked about, prayed about. Where we gather around teaching, we share in life together, we break bread, we pray. Where the radical generosity of God – that led us to even have a building! – that generosity flows out of us. Where the power of God works in us and through us to heal and transform lives. And it will not just be about what we do here on Sundays, but will flow out into who we are beyond this place. That’s the vision of the Kingdom of God. And that’s the vision of Salt House.
And so for our Lenten journey together – if you say YES (or even maybe) to being a part of the Salt House Scaffolding community, then we’ll be together same bat time and channel, Sunday evenings. You can see on your hand out there that schedule – 5:30-7:30pm. Worship, potluck and conversation, and breaking out into ministry team meetings. For our sermons we’ll work through these four distinctions of Christian community that we just read: teaching, life together, bread-breaking, prayer. And I’ll not preach as long as I did tonight!
Also, we’ll use this worship time to try different kinds of things. We’re figuring out who we are as a worshipping community so we’ll use this season as a time to experiment.
Next week we’ll actually get to work in our ministry teams. On the back of your handout there is a general list of ministry teams that we’re working with now – this continues to evolve. Some of you have already told me specific things you want to do – please join in the team that your passion/task falls under. This handout is for you to look over this week and be ready to go next week.
So I wonder what God is saying to you in all of this? Over dinner – we’re not having any kind of official meeting tonight, but instead tonight is about the THIRVING, of just being together. But I invite you to talk about that (what’s coming up for you). What excites you? What confuses? What questions do you have? Where do you sense God inviting you to step in? And ask the folks that you meet tonight, too.
I also want to offer you a challenge. Something you can consider as a Lenten discipline if you’re someone who like to do something intentional during Lent. So – from what we read in this passage from Acts 2, for those early Christians meals were vital time for them as a community – they ate together daily. (SO we’re going to eat together every day). I want to challenge you to have three meals this week with other people. Breakfast, Lunch, or dinner. The people you live with don’t count – or maybe count for one meal. And it can also be coffee or a beer – it doesn’t have to be a meal. But the point is to make time with people at a table. Because we believe that there is something sacred in that common act of shared food. A hint: you could try to meet up with other people in this room. Right?
But I challenge you to take this on every week of Lent. Three meals a week. I meant it when I said that the way we are here at Salt House doesn’t just stay here. It isn’t about feeling good on Sunday and heading out to the week. But we actually want to live in ways that impact this world. And if the 60 people in this room each have at least three meals with others this week, that’s a lot of people eating together, and there is something good and sacred that will spread across the Eastside. Right? Jesus says we’re salt. Here’s a great way to live that saltiness. Are you willing to take that on?
Awesome. So there you have it: Salt House. Scaffolding. Lent. I am so so thankful for each of you and I thank God that we are in this adventure of Salt House together. Thanks be to God – Amen.