Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Can We Do This? Are We Allowed?
Here's the deal. Kim and Kara are two young Veritasian ladies who've been tracking with us quite a while. They are finding themselves in a transitional time in their lives calling into the fore issues of vocation, calling, economy, ministry, location and the Kingdom of God. They've waded through the decision to remain in Oxford- here in our community- foregoing other options and opportunities to go elsewhere and be and do other things. That says quite a bit there.

This is coinciding with a phase in the life of Veritas that many of us are encountering on many different levels. We have people who are staying put and taking root here. Jobs are being secured here. We're buying houses in the same neighborhood and really only beginning to ask what that means. We know it's significant.

The major point is that we are revisiting what our community is all about. Why are we here? What are we to do? Who are we to be? We're feeling the need to solidify our community around some vows pertinent to our place and people. And yes, we've been influenced by many friends and communities in what could defined as the new monasticism but not because we read a book or two. Perhaps that's a dog to chase a bit later.

For the Dana house, we are embracing the fact that in many ways we are a training house and a "retreat" for leaders in training. And we're also just a simple, warm and inviting cabin in the woods for some wayfarers. Our calling is to be navigators in this terrain we've been given. We've toyed with that, but it's time for us to go full force into that placement. And God is giving us people with whom to verify this calling.

We've always had people living with us since we've been in Oxford. Well....not ALWAYS as in 24/7/365...but many people have been with us, living under this roof, for multitudes of reasons. There is definitely a "thing" of hospitality that we are seeing God enact by just opening our home. God just does things with this. We're only just now seeing how being intentional with it makes Kingdom possibilities become realities. We've done "intentional" things with people in the past (such as community leadership internships), but this is an occasion of not only exploring this dimension of community and what it means for us as a church, but also in the creation of another intentional community.

Suffice it to say, God is making a move of some sort that seems rather pointed and concerted amongst more than a few of his people here in Oxford in our own little abandoned place of Empire....the Oxford trailer park. In some pretty supernatural ways, he's laying this area of town (I call the College Corner Corridor, or C3.....I know, I know) on our hearts and we're discovering a common vision for the C3.

So Kim and Kara are finding an inner urgency to "be" there...in the trailer park, as residents- even buying a trailer and essentially becoming one with the people in the neighborhood, serving them and doing their part to love them into the Kingdom. Nobody, especially not I, had ever suggested to them to do such a thing to my knowledge. And from what I am gathering, they are not loners "out there." There are pioneers who've laid a path. And if it is that Kim and Kara are to go there, there will be others to follow if they are faithful. They won't be the only ones.

Still yet, there are quite a few unknowns and uncertainties in making this move, if it indeed happens. And having lived together the last year and just recently coming to the end of their lease, Kim and Kara are finding that the decision to move is forced upon them. But this time, in ascertaining where to go, they are submitting it to the scrutiny of what this particular move can mean in context with what God is doing in us and them. A move with this kind of Kingdom-minded intentionality is somewhat of a precedent for our faith community.

So this is what the Dana house is offering and has indeed morphed into.......we have invited Kim and Kara in to live with us in a structured, intentional community as we delve into and decipher just what it is that God is doing in them as well as in us. There are no real preconceived notions and token naivetes in the formation of this community here at 1361. We are laying a bed of disciplined routines and a structure to our common life together for as long as we are together (until God says to move). Through common prayer, meals, conversations and routines borrowed from the rich history of the Church, the new monastic ideals evident in other local communities and through careful support of the wisdom of brothers and sisters in Christ, we are basically seeking out a way of life that is indeed sustainable and reproducible and faithful to the (hopefully) prophetic witness of the KOG here in the intellectual capital of Butler County, Ohio.

Sure, it may be prototypical and exploratory, but what we have formed is real. We are even in a suburb, but not the kind of suburb you might think if you've never been here. We are one of a few single family residences on our street where the rest are duplexes, some mainly run down. People are in and out of these places like the seasons, and most of these people are in lower income situations, or at least, transitional income circumstances, if you will.

But here we are, and we're going for it- or something, whatever "it" will be. We know that we are fashioning a disciplined bed where the seeds of the possibilities of God are going to be nurtured and grasped in due time. For a split second, I've thought, "can we do this in this kind of neighborhood?" Does the place we are in "guarantee" a legitimacy or not? Are we trying to be "new monastics" and therefore up our stock on the hip guage? No, not really. This kind of life we are choosing at 1361 Dana just makes the most sense. And mainly, we need discipline and depth because we think we are on the cusp of some pretty inspiring things here in Oxford and we need depth if we're to be an incubator for what God wants to entrust to us.