jose and i just got back from portland. we went to hang out for the weekend with our friends deborah & ken loyd. oh, it was good for my soul. i was encouraged. reminded that this is work worth doing. challenged. humbled. these guys are the real deal and we left feeling more loved, less lonely, which always happens when we hang around other crazy people doing wacky ministry things that don’t make “sense.” deborah co-pastors the bridge, which feels beautifully chaotic like the refuge (only with more tattoos and louder music). they really do have the same values of equality & community; everyone has a voice, the marginalized and oppressed are valued & authentic, raw community is most important. it is so obvious–jesus, alive and well and flowing through honest, broken, hopeful people. last year ken planted a new community called home-pdx which is the real deal serving the homeless in portland.
deborah asked me to teach at their service on sunday morning. i introduced them to the flogging machine & elaine and i’s chart from come with me that helps with discerning God’s voice because things get so mucked up in our head it’s hard to hear God. (ps: i think we might have a flogging machine demolition ceremony at the refuge sometime soon.) todd and angie fadel and their team facilitated worship. it really is glorious to see that much freedom. the words of one of their newest songs are under my skin and i can’t stop humming it…my favorite line: You stick around and show yourself when we notice you. crystal, who coordinates bridge kids, read a book about martin luther king and everyone wrote dreams on stars for a grownup dream mobile, just like the one the kids made. this same kind of interactive stuff that we do at the refuge fills my heart; there’s just something so cool about everyone participating in church instead of just sitting and listening. my favorite kid dream–that boys and girls would be treated equally. the dream i wrote on my star: that the power-ful will give some of their power to the power-less.
after the bridge we went and saw the tail end of ken’s sunday gathering. wow, it was intense and as i observed this safe haven for who ken calls “his friends who live outdoors” i was struck by how hard it is to be in the trenches. the smell, the intensity, the reality, the harshness….all mixed with this incredible beauty that for 4 hours on a sunday there’s some people who care, a good meal, clean socks, and most of all friendship, love, a little hope.
afterward we got a chance to eat dinner with angie and todd & their kiddos and laugh about how similar we are, the same pressures, the same hopes & dreams. on sunday night i went out with erin and pam. i met erin online & we got to meet at off the map. i love her blog ( it’s so worth checking out her latest post “chili all over the kitchen” about breaking out of good christian woman craziness.) pam’s a great writer, too, and i left our conversation reminded that there are many cool strong passionate women who made it “out” of church bondage and inspire me to keep pressing toward freedom. no turning back…
i left with this prevailing thought–real community never comes easy or cheap & ease does not equal value.
i am clearly officially “done” with old church models, over the hump, off the cliff (in case you haven’t noticed). and i like it here. i love the honesty. i love the passion. i love the truth-telling and the sold-out-for-a-better-way-even-when-it-seems-crazy-and-stupid. i love Jesus in the flesh, not just in inspiring sermons. the bridge and the refuge are kindred spirits. we have chosen a more difficult path, there’s no doubt. giving up money, power, church growth strategies, stupid rules about who can do what because of what chromosomes they possess, and “the need to be spectacular” is harder than it looks but mainly for one reason–money. you see, all of those other things attract people with money, stability, resource. the bridge, home-pdx, the refuge, and many others are making choices that mean “steady money will not be likely”.
but i wouldn’t trade it for a million dollars. really. this kind of community, it’s glory. lives changed. being truly known and still loved. participating. seeing God heal. letting God move. Jesus with skin on. it’s good to be home.