In our gatherings, an observer may see that the issues raised are very specific to where we’re at as a community.
In the season of Lent, for example, we cleared out significant space in our worship for confession, for relinquishment, and for lament specifically focused on our community life together. At times this was very personal and at other times led to some discomfort and tension in the room. We were trying to ask questions like “Where have we struggled and/or failed to carry God’s desires for our community?” and “What hopes have we carried for VC that seem to have died?” and “What deep lament do we carry, for God, or for ourselves?” We were primarily led every week by the words of David in Psalm 22 that Jesus invoked on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
In the season of Easter, an observer will see us specifically giving “Confessions of Hope,” short times of sharing where a VCer will speak out their hopes and desires for our community. We will focus weekly on being led by the words of the poet in Psalm 116, who celebrates that through all circumstances, God is the God who “hears us,” who identifies with us in our pain and gives hope. Easter is the season to focus on resurrection hope beyond and in spite of circumstance
In Pentecost and the season following, we will significantly shorten the “typical” worship gathering elements and focus most of our attention on the important conversations we need to have about the decisions we must make going forward. In short, we will trust the conversations as a worshipful responsibility too; one that requires a deep hearing of one another along with the courage to speak. The trust we carry is that the commitment to be with one another in the seasons of Lent and Easter will bear fruit in a deep listening, an honest sharing, and a God-centered commitment to forgive and bear one another’s burdens as we work in conversation together.
The Sunday evening gathering is meant to be a springboard for a variety of other ways to discern. House churches are continuing to meet in this time, morning prayers take place weekday mornings at 7 am at St. Elizabeth’s, other groups meet for Bible studies and regular dinners together, and periodic nights will be scheduled specifically related to be an outgrowth of what is taking place on Sunday evening.
We desire to live our lives and seek God as transparently as possible in our community. Sometimes this gives us feelings of closeness to one another, and other times this introduces tension and frustration with one another. In all emotions, we trust God is at work when we, in vulnerable trust, choose to live life oriented toward Him and toward one another.