Day 9: The Church

13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8

Today, our last full day spent in the Dominican Republic (we fly out at 7am tomorrow, 4am Pacific time), was a glorious time of friendship, rest, eating, and conversation. 

Stupid-early this morning a few of us got up in the dark to jog with Tom, DCC's leader with us, out to the beach to catch the sunset and some quick perspective shifts towards hope. He reminded us that the fact the sun rises each day, alone, is enough to give us hope! If the sun keeps rising, then God is continually offering grace and mercy and miraculous redemption for the day. He is not done - therefore neither are we!

It was a great framing for a day at the beach with the Vision Celestial leadership. We had a day of, not "goodbyes", but, rather, "see you laters". We are not done with our friendships here. God is not done with them. We are not done with our shaping of vision and dreaming. God is not done shaping them. We are not done looking, seeing, and hearing the Spirit for our own community. God is not done transforming it. We have much of the story to live into, and we ought to turn the pages excitedly as if we were reading the best book ever. 

The time at the beach hosted naps, virgin pina coladas, and swimming in the luminescent ocean. Everyone had a blast. More stories were shared; blessings were given; and future plans to see each other were conspired. 

This evening, Matt, brought to mind another consistent strand between all of the radical ministries we have gotten to take part in: LOVE! Not only do these wonderful people carry a vision of actively cultivating a holistic Gospel expression in the local communities, they root it in their love for the local communities. It's this love that makes the fruit so sweet and rich. The ministries here are not merely good ideas executed out to make a good name for the ministries in of themselves. Rather, small groups of Jesus-lovers had a stirring of love and decided to respond. None of it's perfect; their stories are riddled with challenges and stumbling blocks of their own kind - but love moved them forward. Moving forward in love often means pushing through muck of un-love, but onward towards great passionate fruit! 

God speaks, but he also loves! The way of Jesus is not just method, strategy, communication, etc. It is a simple but aggressive love that seeks reconciliation of all creation to its Creator. 

What will he continue to stir in us? These trips are not moments of euphoria - they are moments of challenge and preparation for a greater euphoria in places where the unimaginable is being wrought. 

Abba Father, love us so that we might more wholly love. If we only drew so close to you, so close to your heart beat, so close to your throne which sits in glorious victory, we'd maybe love our neighbor and community more. Strategies, plans, images, and structures will come, but without your love it is nothing. Fill us with abundant love. Fill us with abundant joy. Wrap your sweet fragrant life around us. Make us infectious with your love. Give us eyes like yours. Give us hearts like yours. Be with us in flying, in sleeping, and in packing. Prepare us for tomorrow's sunrises, graces, and mercies. Amen