Unexpected Blessings

Kindred in Christ,

I have come to experience God in my life primarily through two modes—through the unexpected, and through other people. While planning predictable outcomes on my own can be helpful and needed, there is something about having to walk into the unknown and depend on others, which opens me up to new encounters with the Holy Spirit and holy community.

This season, after abruptly finding ourselves no longer able to host Sunday gatherings in the Masonic Lodge, we had to give up church as we know it for Lent. We were forced to walk into an unexpected wilderness. Yet, it is turning out to be a journey of greater creativity and community as we gather in people’s homes across the city for Brunch Church. As one of our members posted in our U Gathering Facebook Group this week, “I wanted to say I really enjoyed the ability to get to know people on a deeper level during the brunch church on Sunday! It was really nice having a meal and time to have longer conversations. I feel like this sudden space shake up has really been a blessing! I look forward to the next few weeks!” ~Jillian Pyle.

The Lenten season should never be about sacrifice—we are not asked to “sacrifice” something we like (coffee, social media, certain foods, etc.), so that our egos can feel superior. Rather, we are called to examine what might be getting in the way of true community and explore how we might find new ways to connect with God and others. As Jesus tells the Pharisees, while quoting the prophet Hosea, “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” – Matthew 9:13.

This week we, as we gather again for Brunch Church, we will not only rely on the mercy and care of one another’s hospitality and cooking, but we will also create Sweet Cases for children who are part of Northwest Refugee Foster Care (more info below). In all of this, may we encounter and practice greater mercy, love, and community in the unexpected journey ahead.

Alongside you,

Rev. Paul Ortiz