Sunday, November 11, 2007

Breaking Ground

What a day. We kicked off something called "REACH: One Life At A Time" today with an energy-packed morning worship service followed by an afternoon ground-breaking on our church property. It was a stunning day - perfect weather, excited crowd, and a continuation of the vision that propels us. Challenging for our family, because David started heave-ho-ing with a stomach bug yesterday afternoon, continuing through the morning. Shannon stayed home from church with him, which was a sacrifice for her. I was leading worship; Sarah led vocals and sang a song that she and I wrote specifically for this day, and Syd played trombone in a brass trio on that same song. About 10:00 a.m., I started feeling the rumblings of the more unpleasant effects of the stomach flu myself - but managed to make it through the morning and the afternoon as well.

Our church is just five years old, an accidental birth. No long-range plans, no teams of church planters - it all happened after a fracture in an established church that led to a two-week frenzy of activity, resulting in a rag-tag group meeting in a local school. The vision caught and followed then has remained and proven solid: To reach those unaffected or untouched by traditional churches, and lead them to become fully devoted followers of Christ. We have stayed true to that vision and been privileged to see the fruits in 200+ baptisms and numerical growth, along with powerfully changed lives, renewed relationships and some deep discipleship.

So now it's time to build, not because we want a big building (we're in a state of the art high school with amazing facilities), and not because we're tired of being mobile (though we are). We are convinced that having a facility of our own will help us to better live out the vision God has set before us.

We are going to 'reach' in an effort to touch 'one life at a time' and really make a difference in our community. Today, we kicked it all off.

The weather was perfect; Daniel said that he figures God checked the calendar five years ago and made a note to give sunny skies on this day, since He knew we'd be celebrating outside. Temperatures were frigid yesterday for soccer, but couldn't have been more perfect today - especially for a day in November. Sarah took this shot as folks began to trickle into the 'hole' that will house the foundation.


This was my contribution. We played four songs and had a blast, crammed together on a flatbed trailer. Since we were down in a hole, we dubbed it the 'Red Dirt Ampitheatre'. Not exactly Red Rocks, but it'll do...


David was not feeling 100% but he did not want to miss this. He sat behind me for most of the 40 minute event, just taking it easy...


I love the diversity and welcoming atmosphere of our church. This fellow fell off a roof several years ago and was filled with bitterness and anger. He checked out our church and God has met him there, leading him into freedom and forgiveness and equipping him to minister to others in a powerful way, from his unique perspective in his chair.



Here's my Shannon, holding her flags. We handed these out at the morning service, encouraging everyone to take them home and write a name on the orange part. Later we staked the perimeter of the foundation with those flags, each one bearing the name of an individual who will be impacted by the investment we make in bricks and mortar. One of my friends wrote the name of her unborn baby, due later this year. She was overwhelmed with emotion.


This trio had their flags ready!


Eli is another individual with a unique perspective. At the age of two, this perfect, precocious little boy fell out of a window and suffered permanent brain damage. He has learned how to walk again. He can communicate verbally, with a few stops and starts. He is forever changed, but valiantly presses on toward the goal along with his parents, who are shining examples of grace and devotion to God, to one another and to their son.
He had his flag ready.

Macy is our friend and neighbor. She was PROUD of her flag!


Perfectly stuck!


Here's another shot of the crowd gathering. Josh, who is manning the video camera, has walked through his share of challenges and the consequences of his choices earlier in his young life. Now he is a commited, fearless disciple, friend, minister-in-training - and video operator. He's found a place at our church.


Our kids. Arm in arm, they sang and swayed and waved their flags. They love their church, too.


I was overwhelmed today, standing in the middle of this hole, surrounded by 700 other people who came out to stand and claim the ground for the future. On the hillside surrounding the scooped-out red dirt, little children ran and threw sticks and jumped on fallen trees. They whirled and swung and played in the November air, just like little children do. It occured to me that they didn't need stakes or prayers or songs to let them know that this was sacred ground. They just got it; they knew it was. They claimed it with their presence.

We adults went through a meaningful, ceremonial time dedicating the investment of our time and resources to an edifice that will cost several million dollars. It was powerful. For the children, it simply is as it should be: a place to play, and rejoice in the goodness of God, to be blessed and to be a blessing.

God has been so good to me, allowing me the privilege of something I've never experienced. Seeing this community of faith grow from the ground up, seeing a building rise where there once was nothing but clay - to be part of this process is an overwhelmingly precious gift. There are few words for me today, just photographs of people I have come to know and love intimately and truly, and a heart full of gratitude.

As we closed, Kevin sang this song:

What a good God you've been to me
Your goodness and your grace everyday I see
What else can I do but give thanks to you
What a good God you've been to me
What a faithful God you've been to me
You've provided far beyond everything I need
What else can I do but give thanks to you
What a good God you've been to me
What a loving God you've been to me
You shed your blood on the cross so that I could be made free
What else can I do but give thanks to you
What a loving God you've been
What a faithful God you've been
What a good God you've been...
to me
-Tommy Walker

Indeed. And amen.

3 comments:

annie said...

What a cool community to be a part of! I have to make a note to myself, I am a part of this cool community too! (Been feeling a bit out on the edge lately and really need to find someplace to go.)

Jayne said...

What a wonderfully exciting time in the life of your church. I am sure everyone was just beaming with pride and anticipation. Can't wait to watch as this building arises from the earth. Keep us posted Beth. :c)

Willy said...

What a great entry, Beth. I sense your anticipation and excitement. The pictures and story tell it all. Pat and I too started in a split that met in a school. May God bless your efforts in fulfillment of your mission.