Thanks so much for reading this month‘s news from The Initiative, a community committed to “walking in deeper friendship with Jesus and his followers, so that the love of Christ might exceed all divisions.” We do this primarily through prayer, the sharing of our lives, and proactive work for greater unity. This update features a reflection on navigating between intentionality and uncertainty as we walk in this way of love. Plus some news about our anticipated 2023 regional gatherings
“Get dressed for service and keep your lamps burning; be like people waiting for their master to come back from the wedding celebration, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him… If he comes in the second or even the third watch of the night and finds them alert – blessed are they!” Luke 12:35-36, 38 (NET)
Formation in a way of life where love is greater than division involves a certain amount of balancing intentionality and uncertainty. We call our community “The Initiative” because we want to take action that promotes greater missional unity in Christ’s body. Yet our actions are not driven by an agenda. We’re not trying to impose our will onto God’s Church; rather we’re trying to be attentive to God’s will as we pray, share our lives, and work proactively – while trusting that those actions will also help others attend to God’s will. I think that results in a good bit of hard work on our part without being sure how (or if) any of that work will bear fruit. Intentionality and uncertainty. It’s also worth remembering that uncertainty is not the same thing as insecurity. In fact, the intentionality of our practices can help keep us from freaking out and falling into the paralysis of doing nothing out of fear that we might be doing the wrong thing. We can be confidently centered and anchored in God’s deep abiding love for us, while staying attentive to God’s voice in the ebb and flow of “taking the initiative.” I believe this is the experience of the “third watch” as it appears in part of Jesus’ parable in Luke 12. It’s that moment when we wonder if doing all these things (like building friendships across divisions) is going to do any good. Maybe we feel like we’re been working at all these important things and Jesus hasn’t shown up yet in the way that we were expecting him to. Should we keep working? Should we keep paying attention? Jesus says, “blessed are you” if you do. It is the practice of the discipline (the doing) that forms the paying of attention (the alertness). Pray daily for a radical increase of love in whole body of Christ even when you don’t see immediate results and you’ll begin to slowly attend to the Spirit’s hidden work of love everywhere. Similarly, when we gather together with folks we’re divided from (an intentional practice), we enter an uncertain space (how will I be received? how can I receive them?) which trains us to pay attention to what God is doing (in us, in them, all around us) in that moment of encounter. So when you consider your own context and your commitment to walking in deeper friendship with Jesus and his followers, what are you practicing these days that is helping you be alert and attentive to God’s voice and leading – and ready to throw open the door to God’s joyful presence?
After a good bit of prayer, conversation and reflection, the Leadership Council and I discerned that this was the right moment to move in the direction of developing some shorter regional gatherings for The Initiative. For 2023, these will take the place of our one week-long gathering in Green Lake, Wisconsin. We’re excited for the ways this allows more folks access to connect with our community and experience our way of missional love and our formational practices. As I’m writing this, plans are in the works for meetings in the Midwest (near Chicago), Northeast (near Boston) and Southern California in late summer into early fall – with the potential for a couple of other later in the year as well. As we secure locations and dates, and set up the registration system, I’ll be sharing more details on our website and in these updates. We do eventually want to establish a rhythm where every 2-3 years, we have a Green Lake type of national event that brings everyone together, alternating with a growing number of local and regional gatherings.
Thanks so much for “attending to” what I’ve shared in this update. I am incredibly blessed by your friendship, your prayers and your partnership. And I pray that God continues to use the words and the work of The Initiative to help keep the lamp of division-conquering love burning in you!
Yours in Christ’s Love, Scott Brill Executive Director