Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Advent Community Meals

We are going to be more intentional in our community meals through December to communicate what motivates us. The idea is to facilitate (simple)workshops during/after the meal to discover a deeper understanding of Christmas. Thus far we have meals scheduled at 5:30 on Nov 30, Dec 7, and Dec 14.

One of the growth groups from Good Shepherd that has been supporting us in ministry put together a flier that we can hand out to those who attend. The text is as follows:

Discovering the Christmas Story
During the Christmas season, it can be hard to discovery what the holiday is all about. There is a combination of messages. On the one hand we have a celebration of full shopping malls and bright decorations. On the other hand we have a celebration of the birth of Jesus, which took place 2,000 years ago. How do these stories go together? Do they go together at all?
Even though Christmas sometimes seems to be about presents, trees, and eggnog, it is originally the story of God coming into the word to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). Jesus came to be God-with-us (Matthew 1:23). The New Testament says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” This is the true Christmas story. It is about God leaving behind comfort and riches, in order to sacrifice Himself for needy people.

Reflecting the Christmas Story
Every Christmas can be an opportunity to choose which Christmas story we will celebrate. While there is nothing bad about presents, trees, and lights, these things are not important for the real Christmas story. Instead of focusing on these, we can ask ourselves how we can reflect the true Christmas story by seeking to give ourselves away so that others might benefit.
First of all, God invites all people everywhere to come to Him and to experience forgiveness for sins and peace with Him through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This Christmas can be a time of celebration in worshiping God and thanking Him for all His goodness and grace.
Secondly, Christmas can be a time of not simply giving gifts to our loved ones, but also in following Jesus’ example by giving away our time and energy and attention. Instead of simply giving gifts to one another, we can spend time together, whether that means making cookies or taking a trip to Pioneer Square to eat a sack lunch.
Thirdly, Christmas can be a time to follow Jesus’ example by showing kindness to those who are in need. This may mean anything from providing a meal for someone who could benefit from it, to spending less on presents and giving some money to a charity.

Entering the Christmas Story at Barberry Village
The story about Jesus giving Himself away in order to benefit others is the story that is behind the weekly meals that have taken place at Barberry Village. The purpose is not only to provide a free meal for anyone who would benefit from this, but also to give an opportunity for people in the apartment complex to get to know one another and to experience community, just as Jesus Christ left behind the comforts of heaven in order to be with people who He deeply loved.
The story of Christmas, however, is not just a story for the month of December, but for the entire year. Please join us for these community meals, as they will continue after Christmas. And may God richly bless you during this Christmas season.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Blessings from Trader Joe's!

We loaded a moutain of free fresh fruits and vegetables into Elena's car tonight! Their official sell by date was today and all had to go! Their other charity connections were not avaliable for a pick up; we gladly stepped up to the challenge. We are planning on unloading it all tomorrow at the apartments, inviting everyone we can, and handing out invitations to community meals that we have planned for the next three Sundays.
Praise God!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Season of Change

As we are getting into the hang of things, developing relationships and building strong connections, a tough reality slapped me across the face not too long ago. We found out that one of the families we have grown close to will be moving within a matter of a month. They will still be in the city, but they will no longer be at the apartments. This forces the question -- to what extent are we building these relationships? Will they be constricted to the residents of Barberry, or are we going to love, care, and be there for those beyond the gates? It is definitely a difficult thing to grasp and fully process. I cannot imagine these people vanishing from my life so soon, just as the relationship is just developing, but I know it will take extra intentional effort to continue that relationship. Hopefully we will be able to bond with the new residents, but that doesn't mean we will forget the previous ones. It seems like this may become the trend. Wow. This takes intentional living to a new level. Hard questions, hard ponderings, but important.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Rabbi's Wisdom

I recently wrote an email to my mentor, who I call my Rabbi. I was seeking advice on what to do about the seemingly crisis of not having enough church's lined up to do meals every sunday of this month. His advice has really encouraged me and David asked me to share it on the blog, so I cut an excert from his email responce that you may be likewise encouraged.

"If you need to do the meals bimonthly for now or once a month right now,
don't feel like that's a failure. In fact it would make the people
appreciate it more. When it becomes consistant people start to think that
it's easy and when it's easy they don't appreciate the sacrifice that goes
into it. Let them see that it's a sacrifice, the vulnerability will help
them appreciate you right now.
Remember that you are an incarnational community, not a program, but
people. THE danger of doing something consistantly is that you guys will
become the reinforcement of a program instead of the program reinforcing
your presence. When you feel that you NEED local churches to reinforce the
program, you nibble the bait that could drag you into being mere
programmers or vendors of religious goods and services. Above all, the
answer isn't food or even local churches, the answer is YOU and the other
is helpful in showcasing your love for them.
I would encourage you to pour your energy into something different because
this is a definitive time for your community. What is the number one thing
that you're offering them? Yourselves. So this isn't a setback in the
least. All you can do is give them what you've got and that is no small
thing old friend. Your PRESENCE, your COMPASSION and your HOPE shouldn't be
marginalized by missing a meal"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A change in seasons!

As the days grow darker and the nights colder and longer a new challenge and opportunity poses itself for the guys at Barberry. Last Sunday an incredible group from Clear Creek Community Church came and blessed the neighbors at Barberry Village Apartments. This was a new experience once again as the changes in time caused dark to enclose the Village at a very early time. With darkness in full swing we where unable to be outside for any portion of time really, which unfortunately meant very few kiddo's were able to come. :( I can not express how strange it was with out 20+ kids running around. The bright side of the early darkness is, more chance to converse with the adults that came to the meal. Honestly, it seemed that there where as many adults at this meal as we have seen in the past. Praise God for that! It was real neat to see people all over the room in deep conversation really trying to get to no each other in a Christ caring way. i had the chance to talk to a group of boys that did come, and it was neat to listen and watch as they loosened up and began to open and talk. They are a tough looking group to an extent. There is one guy who is the team leader it would appear and he kinda directs the mood of the rest of the boys. I am praying that God will continue to allow us to reach out to these boys and see them come into a relationship with the King of kings! Please be praying as we seek new ways to draw people together for meals and love!

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Barberrian Halloween

We had an interesting start to the day. A serious of events led Josh, Sean, and I to the MAX stop in front of our apartments just after midnight the morning of Halloween. An ordeal occurred among a group of individuals that led to a woman being hit by the MAX train. The three of us instinctively split up roles. I was by the woman calling 911 while Sean and Josh kept the rest of the parties present on the scene. As far as we know the woman was in stable condition and will recover from the incident.

Josh and I woke up a few hours later to do shopping for a Halloween event the management had given us some cash to put on for all the kids at the apartment complex. Then Elena and a couple guys from Clear Creek Community Church dropped in to help run the party. Just another opportunity to build relationships and community!

We tried to make it as educational (crafts: skeleton cut outs), interactive (games: ring toss and constructing a dirt cake.), and meaningful (not just loading the kids up with a bunch of candy) as possible. The 30+ kids that stopped by didn't even miss the candy (though there was the obligatory small bag of candy...with fruit and nuts!). Plus each one went home with 10+ cans of food for their family. All the kids had a blast. A group of the older boys stuck around afterwards and helped us clean everything up.

We are all greatly anticipating our next community meal coming up on the 9th! The last one put on by a growth group from Good Shepherd was awesome! The feedback from the residents just keeps getting better and better.

In the pictures below you will see Josh being a stud and running the ring toss (this is how they won the $100 worth of canned food), crafts, a couple guys from Clear Creek Community Church who stopped in to help (couldn't have done it without them!!!), plenty of smiles, one of the boys unintentionally getting into character and looking like a zombie, and a brain we had on display (a hit with everyone!):