Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Porch Stories :: A New Calendar Year!

porch stories 20 December broken and sanctified

First Porch Story of this new year 2018 for everyone! Freedom is my word for 2018; two weeks ago, again my blog wasn't ready in time for the linkup, so I claimed Kristin's advice from a previous time–write more and link up in the future. Moving away from my tendency to plan everything and instead letting myself be surprised sounds like an excellent beginning to this blogging year, a very good initial tryout for a year focused on freedom.

Late last year, Kristin told us I'm nearly sanctified; I'm nearly broken, with a narrative about her experiences with "first-ever counseling" and the value of having someone else affirm what she basically already knew. I've discovered many times I don't need to re-hash all that stuff from the long-ago past one more time or ten more times, but I seriously need another human to admit it was terrible, disappointing, discouraging, freeing, or however it happened to affect me.

I'm nearly sanctified, I'm nearly broken, I'm down the river, I'm nearly open, I'm down the river, to where I'm going comes from Needtobreathe's "More Heart, Less Attack," that's been Kristin's soundtrack for the last few years.

This week? Kristin talks about Living Rescued {by grace}.

God calls us to be broken {not whole}; God calls us to be sanctified {made holy or whole}.

Moving Godward toward sanctification in the grace-filled power of the Spirit of holiness is a major rescue from typical human over-attachment to institutions, styles, habits, and idolatries that surround us. After God led the people out of slavery to Egypt's imperial powers and into that rich agricultural land of promise, Israel had to learn to thrive in obedience to God's commandments {Walter Brueggemann styles the commandments "the working papers for life in covenantal community"}, yet surrounded by constant temptations to be like and act like everyone else. It was about learning to live in community rather than in isolation, in the kind of commonality and common-wealth that would provide support and fill each other's needs on almost every level.

Historically, the church building – the physical church structure – was a place of refuge, a place of sanctuary; you even could call it a place of rescue! Although the church's designated gathering place is almost accidental and incidental, it still serves as a location where God's people can be fed and strengthened by Word and Sacrament, where they can practice loving, merciful, compassion and kindness to one another. During worship and during other activities, we can try out breaking ourselves open in trust to each other—taking time to listen, telling parts of our story we find scary to reveal but we know well might reveal similarities with others and help them; staying a little later against our own druthers because the kitchen needs cleaning again. You can't fill a closed bottle or box or other container—to put anything into it, you need to open it up: break it open! At least a little! Same with our own lives. Risking to break open our carefully planned schedules, to re-open our tender/stubborn hearts; simply considering a different perspective... about anything. Getting rescued from the most insular, frightened parts of ourselves, experiencing the relief of being rescued by grace. Living as God's people still is about learning to live in community rather than in isolation, in the kind of commonality that provides support and fills each other's needs on almost every level.

As people of the Good Book we affirm wherever God meets the people is holy, sacred ground—sanctuary. In biblical – in covenantal – terms, God indwelling the people, God's encounters with all creation sanctifies life. That means a dedicated church structure isn't technically any more {sacred, holy} sanctuary than any other spot on planet earth, yet we can use what we receive, learn, and practice there as starting point and model for interactions elsewhere throughout the week.

With freedom! my word for this new year 2018, I expect to spend the next twelve months breaking myself open, emptying out tendencies to become too attached to styles, habits, and literal idolatries around me. Possibly twenty-first century empires of Monsanto and Bayer and Nestle aren't our greatest danger; maybe consumerism and individualism are greater concerns?

Freedom is my word for 2018. In freedom I hope to let myself be filled with the good stuff God and the people of God are waiting to provide—moving Godward beyond basically surviving to fully thriving. So what? Then what? In the paradoxical gentle power of the Holy Spirit of life, then I can be and act as a sanctuary, a place of refuge and rescue, a grace-filled holy place for people in need. A place and a person of sanctuary to help rescue, fill, and heal a broken creation, too. Me? Yes! And all of you, too!

God calls us to be broken {not whole}; God calls us to be sanctified {made holy or whole}. By grace we've started down that baptismal river to where we're going {to where God is leading us but probably won't show us this is the place until we actually reach that place}; in freedom and trust, let's live out God's baptismal call–nearly sanctified and nearly broken! Amen? Amen!

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2 comments:

Sue Donaldson said...

My friend kathy said that we are to be a sanctuary, not just attend one - happy freedom making this new year! Mine is incognito.

Tara Ulrich said...

I love this word for you friend!