Hello, friends! It's been too long since I've posted. We've had a full few weeks of both good things and difficult things - and after a week and a half or so of sickness and injuries in our family, I'm finally getting back on track. So, hello again! I haven't forgotten about you. :)
Today, I wanted to share something I've been thinking and praying a lot about - and beginning to share with others - regarding this new community of faith that's beginning to be planted in North Oshawa.
Imagine, if you will, your heartbeat.
Our hearts are amazing things. These powerful muscles that we depend on completely for us to have life. That steady pulse that allows us to live and work and play. The very heart that is pumping life in your body right now - that’s what I want this new church in North Oshawa to be.
The heart is the muscle that gives life to all parts of our body. It’s the place where our very literal life is gathered and sent. In the heart, the cells that give us life are gathered - at least for a moment. And there they receive oxygen and are renewed and refreshed and made useful again.
And then the heart contracts. It beats. When the heart has the most power and puts out the most energy - that’s when it beats. It sends out those life-giving cells - after their moment of rest and refreshment and renewal - to go out throughout the whole body, to the head and the toes and the fingers and everywhere in between.
This is the image that resonates within me as I think and pray and dream about the new community of faith that God is building in North Oshawa. I want this new church to be a living, beating thing, bringing life into all parts of our neighbourhood - all the way from head to toe and everything in between.
I want us to live into that regular rhythm of Life, with a capital L. I want all of us in this community of faith to come together and be re-oxygenated with the hope of the Gospel. I want us to gather and worship and glorify our Creator, to be reenergized and renewed and empowered to live our salvation. And then, I want us to see the power and energy of that sending heart beat. I want our church to be a place that sends us out into all the arteries and vessels and capillaries of North Oshawa. To all the places we live, work, and play - to go out and share the Life that we experience when we gather, to invite others to experience that Life with Christ, too. To bring Life and life abundantly into all our spheres of influence.
In the last few months, I’ve spent most of my days meeting incredible people, who find themselves all over the spiritual spectrum - so to speak. Many see their everyday lives and work with incredible significance. Some of them understand themselves as missionaries in their workplaces or neighbourhoods. Some of them aren’t quite sold on the truth of Jesus, but they recognize that something bigger is happening when they go to work at the university in North Oshawa, or commute to work in Toronto, or schedule morning playdates for their kids.
But one thing many of these people God is putting in my path hold in common is that they don’t feel that the church understands them. They see this everyday life that’s full of meaning and significance and worth as completely separate, or misunderstood, or even disliked, among God’s people. They look at the church and just don’t find a place where they might fit. My heart aches to invite each and every one of these men and women to walk with me and have a voice in creating a church body that connects our worship with our lives. Even more - that recognizes our sovereign God at work in our lives, even outside of our Sunday gatherings. That serves as that powerful heartbeat of life - gathering and scattering us around our city to bring Life.
I want us to come together in worship and be reoriented to the One who gives us life. To be reinvigorated and refreshed and empowered to live into our callings. And then I want us to go and reinvigorate and refresh and empower all of North Oshawa to know and love and serve our great God. And keep repeating the cycle.
I want us to be a church that seeks the peace of the city, as it says in Jeremiah 29. A church that shines a light in the darkness, like it says in John 1. And that carries Christ’s abundant life with us as we preach and share and act out the gospel in our places. We want our presence in North Oshawa to make North Oshawa better - in both the sacred and the secular. I pray that our church becomes such life-giving presence in the neighbourhoods of North Oshawa that all those who live, work, and play in here will recognize a different kind of life stemming from our church - even if they don’t yet understand or believe the Gospel. I want the life we experience as God’s people to permeate all the places and spaces of Oshawa - because, as Abraham Kuyper said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!"
But the other piece I love about this image of our heartbeats is that it’s a constant presence. A constant gathering and scattering - a constant giving of life. Our hearts don't just beat once and wait a week or a day or an hour to beat again - it’s always beating. So, while we highly value that element of gathering for worship, as my family and I dream of what this church will look like, one thing that has always stood out for North Oshawa is the need for a place throughout the week where we can gather and be scattered, again and again. I love the idea of some kind of community space - like a coffee shop or study or work space or play space for kids, or some combination of those things - where friends and neighbours can come and connect in a unique way with one another, and, ultimately, with Christ. Where folks who might never step foot into a Sunday morning worship service can come and experience a taste of the community of grace that is the church - where they can belong, even, potentially, before they believe. A place that can be that steady pulse of this heartbeat for Oshawa, in between the times we gather together for worship and refreshment.
This is what we’re dreaming about for this new community of faith God is building in North Oshawa. My family and I are still in this season of listening and learning, getting to know the people and places and spaces of Oshawa - but as we listen, we feel these constant themes coming through. I think that's one way that God speaks. As always, I'd love your continued prayers as Jeremy, Norah, and I walk through this adventure. Pray for the right people to come at the right time and join us on the journey. Pray for clarity in what God has for this new community.
And, if you'd like to get further involved - don't hesitate to send me an email or leave a comment here on the blog! If you're local, I'd love to connect over lunch or coffee. Or, another way to partner with us is through financial support. You can donate online here using the "Donate" tab at the top of this website - just don't forget to designate your gift to the North Oshawa Church Plant. Or you can send a cheque to our calling church, Zion Christian Reformed Church (409 Adelaide Ave E, Oshawa, ON L1G 2A2) - again, with a note to designate the gift to the North Oshawa Church Plant.
Thanks for reading, and for your love and encouragement along the way!