Dave Brisbin 7.23.23
Over sixteen years at theeffect, we’ve only had to ask two people to leave a gathering. We want everyone who wants to be with us to be with us, unless they can’t maintain themselves enough to allow others to have their own experiences. Years ago a woman living on the streets would come on Sundays from time to time, usually under the influence. We and the donuts didn’t mind, until one Sunday she was acting so violently, we had to escort her out. But at the end of the gathering as we were all mingling, she came back and made a beeline for me.

I stiffened, wondering what was coming—may have actually taken a step back, but gave her direct eye contact, listening while she speed-talked about things I can’t remember. On full alert, I was ready for anything, all sensors tuned to signs of distress, but the more she talked, the more it seemed her difficult moment had passed. Then she stopped, and after a beat said, I guess I just need a hug. Didn’t see that coming, hope I had the presence of mind to smile, sure that I hesitated, but moved in for the embrace.

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You know about first hugs…head and shoulders, arms and hands. I was still thinking through it all, waited what seemed right number of seconds, then relaxed my grip to back away. She maintained pressure, not letting go. Oh, ok…I re-engaged and waited what again seemed right lapse of time, relaxed, but she still held on, saying in my ear but not necessarily to me: sometimes it’s hard to get a good hug. The human condition in eight words. And as my humanity recognized hers, all the categories in which I’d placed her, all my interior boundaries, my tension, fell to the floor. I reeled her back in and held on until I finally felt her relax.

Jesus always seems out of order. Touches a leper and calls a paralytic his son before healing them. Loves before forgiveness. For Jesus, even when our need is lowered through a hole in the roof, the touch and forgiveness of family are the healing itself. Physical healing is almost an afterthought. And for all our focus on miracles, I think Jesus is trying to redirect us. Get us to see that sometimes a good hug is hard to find.

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Everyone is recovering from something… Admitting this is the first step in spiritual life, because any unfinished business in our lives–trauma, unforgiveness, fear-based perceptions–fosters compulsive behavior and keeps us from connecting spiritually and emotionally.

Since we’re all recovering, we accept everyone right as they are—no expiration dates or deadlines. We don’t tell anyone what to believe or do. We present points of view that we hope will engage seekers in their own journey; help them unlearn limiting perceptions, beliefs, and compulsions; give opportunities to get involved in community, building the trust we all need to find real identity, meaning, and purpose. In other words, to engage the transforming Way of living life that Jesus called Kingdom…non-religiously understood from a first century Hebrew point of view.

 

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Embedded in the fun and laughter of each of our gatherings and events is the connection and accountability as well as the structure, discipline, and opportunity for service that authentic community is all about. We help create programs for physical support, emotional recovery, and spiritual formation that can meet any person’s needs. Such programs work at two levels: first to address a person’s physical and emotional stability—clinical, financial, relational,professional—anything that distracts from working on the second level: true spiritual formation centered around the contemplative way of life defined by an original Hebrew understanding of the message of Jesus.

Rather than telling people what to believe or think, we model and encourage engagement in a personal and communal spiritual journey that allows people to experience their own worthiness of connection and acceptance, to find the freedom from underlying fears that brings real meaning and purpose into focus.

 

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Seeing ourselves as a learning and recovery community that worships together, the focus isn’t on Sunday morning alone, but on every day of the week as we gather for worship, healing and support workshops, studies, 12 step meetings, counseling and mentoring sessions, referral services, and social events. We maintain a food pantry for those needing more support, a recovery worship gathering, and child care for those with little ones.

Our Sunday gathering starts at 10AM and our Recovery gathering on Tuesdays at 6:30PM. Both gatherings include worship with one of the best worship bands in the area. See our monthly calendar and our Facebook page to stay in touch with what is happening each week. You can also sign up on our elist for email enews updates.

 

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