(My sweet friend who is a great photographer, Shelly Mackerell, sent me a few pictures from yesterday to celebrate the fourth Sunday of Advent. There will be more coming, but I thought I would share what I have with you as I share the story.)
Advent . . . is the arrival . . . of more.
There was more yesterday . . . a Christmas miracle . . . to be remembered.
Our new faith community, RDC (The Red Door Community Church), is practicing the time-worn tradition of Advent along with Christ followers around the world. We focused on the advent of love in our historical sanctuary, where it had been celebrated for almost hundred years. It’s awesome to think of people coming together decade after decade, knowing their community of faith had a place to gather, to share life, to encourage, to support, to comfort, to serve, and to love.
I grew up in a large church (Salem First Christian Church) and served on staff with two large churches (Salem First Church of the Nazarene and Church on the Hill), each with a recorded century of history. These churches prepared me for where I am today. The thing is . . . along the way, I learned church is to be a faith community, which requires effort to be formed . . . and is ultimately the work of God.
I now understand, more than ever, that to be a faith community is about unity. It doesn’t mean we agree on everything; however, we agree to be in unity with God and one another.
People argue about the definition of a miracle. Because human beings are human beings, I believe when two or more are in unity with God and one another, a miracle has occurred.
Planting a church has made me more aware that while my work is needed, it’s nothing without the work of God as well as people committed to unity. I knew last Christmas when RDC was only three months old, we were a group meeting together in faith. It was clear we needed something more to become a community of faith.
When a pastor knows something radical needs to happen, it’s often challenging to our personal faith. I have had to be more intentional than ever in my own faith experience; this was especially true when I knew for RDC to make a lasting impact, we needed to become a community of faith.
Our year together has not been easy. We faced difficult challenges, some of which held the potential of ending what had only just begun.
With God’s grace and favor, we continued on.
I finally began to see something new occurring on Easter Sunday. I can’t tell you exactly what happened; I do know the right people were in place for who we were to become, each wanting RDC to become more, uniting together in belief that God was at work. It’s clear to me that the things which were hard became stepping stones to bring us to God’s good.
RDC has seen Romans 8:28 in action: We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.
The becoming of a community was not forced but rather a pathway that we began to follow together. Individuals began investing more in their relationship with God and one another. Many of us recognized the fresh wind of the Spirit of God upon us as we received a new determination to intentionally live the best story as a community. Along with this came a renewed refusal to be disruptive and divisive. I believe this is key in an one-one relationship as well as for a family and a community who want more.
AND, THEN . . .
We had a Christmas miracle. Actually, it’s one of many miracles that we’ve seen in this adventure of church planting.
We focused on the advent of love in yesterday’s service. And, I saw it like I never have before. God’s love has united us, making us into a community of faith. We are no longer a group coming together because of faith.
We really do love each other.
Love is more than a word to us now. Love is who we are. Love is what we offer to everyone and anyone who comes through the door.
At the end of the service, we stood together as planned, committing to be partners in our community of faith.
THERE WAS MORE THAN WHAT WE PLANNED . . .
Love was strong, wrapping itself around each of us as a cord of three strands.
When love comes, entering into the good as well as the hard of life, there’s something formed so strong that it can only be described and defined as miracle.
Love is the miracle that came. May you have a new and fresh miracle of love this Christmas week–Kerrie
AND . . .
At the end of the day . . . a church is not to be a building . . . a church is to be a community of faith.
Photos by Shelly Mackerell Photography © 2016 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Written by Kerrie Carlisle Palmer © 2016 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
1219 3rd St Salem 97304
PO Box 5985 Salem, Oregon 97304