For last several years, there has been more and more momentum in the western world today toward a spirituality of the present. We spend too much time in regret about the past and anxiety about the future. We spend too little time embracing and enjoying what is, now, here. We spend so much time looking forward and looking back that we forget to be mindful of what is right under our feet.
Personally, I think this spirituality of the present is crucial to a thriving spirit, and it taps into something fundamental about being human. This is part of the deep wisdom undergirding the ancient Jewish and Christian practice of Sabbath, and one of the reasons that in our Sabbath gatherings we take a Moment of Presence.
In practicing Sabbath, a ceasing from our daily labor, we are gently pulled away from the work of the week, unable to make up for what we have left undone, unable to prepare for what is yet to be done. All we can do is be.
And yet paradoxically, it is on that Sabbath day, the day of ultimate presence, that we are called to remember and hope. Christian worship is filled with reminders of what God has done for us and through us, and invites us to hope for what he will do. It's in the lens of Sabbath presence that past and future tilt into focus with the greatest clarity. It's when the guilt and regret of the past and the anxiety and fear about the future are washed away in the overwhelming reality of God's ever-present Love that we can find true gratitude in the past and steady hope for the future in ways that are helpful here and now.
So in that Sabbath spirit, I want to take a look back and a look forward at our life in this community--in gratitude and in hope. Giving our gratitude to God for what he has done for us and through us in 2016, our small community has:
- Practiced Sabbath in community for over 70 hours
- Hosted Neighbor's Table meals 11 times
- Formed the Ceasefire Collective, going on 14 Night Walks in East Oakland and hosting 13 Community Meals.
- Registered nearly 100% of our community to vote.
- Given thousands of God's dollars away to local and global families, organizations, and causes.
- Supported each other through grief, joblessness, homelessness, and trauma.
- Marched for justice in Oakland's public safety system.
I share that not for us to take pride in these things, but to remind us of how good God has truly been to us in these ways.
And I have hope that as our community grows this year--moving to a more public worship space, changing our name to something more permanent, growing in partnership and unity with The Way Church, multiplying into more action collectives that can stand with the vulnerable in our communities--that He will work through us in even greater ways.
Perhaps this week as you take some moments to be present, to rest in God's ever-present Love, you can release the pain of 2016 and the anxiety of 2017 just long enough to also find joy...in gratitude and in hope.