60+ Cincinnati churches (some beyond our immediate region, with every denomination represented), & over 52,000 participants are taking part in a CITYWIDE Journey! It’s not an actual voyage to parts unknown, rather it’s facilitated six (6) week small group study that explores aspects of faith.
The material is downright fun, interactive, thoughtful, and relevant….. emphasize biblically based too. 6 to 12 people meet weekly for an hour to 90 minutes, and normally in a home (some groups meet in Schools to Cigar shops to Panera to Yoga studios….). Levels have been developed From kids to teens to grandparents, from atheist to pastors … every age and level is welcome in the journey.
This year the theme is “Kingdom Come”. Believe it or not, references to Disney do abound in the material.. yet this journey is not about reliving a fairy tale. If there is a glass slipper and freedom from a life of dreadful toil, it can be found in the inter challenges offered each week.
This is the seventh (7TH ) year for veteran faith communities, many it’s there first time-Yeah! There is still time to JOIN (individuals and/or faith communities). Active now (finish before Thanksgiving), or later (your choice or preference), some will be hosting in the Spring or next year. Check out the website www.kingdomcome.net to get ALL the details, and/or see how to get connected in your area of town, and/or the country.
If you missed the first few weeks, here is the cliff notes to get you up to speed. A huge contrast was revealed: the Kingdom of this world, and God’s Kingdom. “Fire Insurance” is not the call of the day, we are meant to bring in a taste of heaven. Pursuing God’s kingdom on earth NOW is the call to arms. We looked at how (quoting Bob Dylan) “…we have to serve someone..”. The choice is ours!
Every day we elect and/or reject:
LOVE vs. Lust
Sacrifice vs. Control & Power
Generosity vs. Greed
Compassion vs. Selfishness
Do our actions, efforts, goals, checkbook, …. Reflect which kingdom? What would others say?
A “Love Experiment” was the first week’s challenge (each drew an assignment from writing a love letter to paying for something anonomously to ….) – Participate? Were you the recipient, and not realize it might have been part of the journey? God’s agents were at work, and He must be smiling!
A few of the stories:
- A brother (tough accomplished CEO) was brought to tears after receiving a “love letter”. He knew that his sister always had his back, that it was a difficult upbringing, yet never understood how proud of him she is.
- A WWII and Vietnam War veteran (father & son) had their breakfast paid for at IHOP anonomously. The son was overwhelmed with the note attached “Thank you for your service”. He related that he had never received such appreciation. For $15.72??
- An 82 year old widow received a bevy of meals, and 1 very special night shared with a group of teenagers she barely knew. It met a need on several levels: hunger, and companionship. The teens thought they understood what it is to be lonely…
- A single mom (working, school, …), at her wit’s end, had a couple take her 1 year old son for 4 1/2 hours on a Saturday. She not only got “caught up”… she relayed how blessed she was. She exclaimed “I’ve screwed things up in the past… trying to make right choices… it’s so hard by yourself. I thought God forgot me, I didn’t deserve a break for all I’ve done…. God showed up when I needed Him most in these people…”.
- An exhausted WY high school teacher mentioned she had not slept well in a week. When prayer for peace was offered, it was done on the spot in the school hallway. 3 days later she reported that each night since, she was sleeping soundly despite no change in stress.
- A wife of a deployed Marine related “…. With 2 kids, my husband gone in Afghanistan, work… I never find time for the regular things that have to get done… arriving home to find my gutters cleaned out and leaves raked (tears)…. My month has just been made.”
- A self admitted teen bully found herself bombarded with “love”. A few brief tidbits “…that group is a joke…. I’ve seen them pray… Taking advantage of them is given… besides God doesn’t exist… I make fun of them all the time… then they turn around and do nice stuff for me? Who are they kidding? Sure, I’ll take whatever they’ve got to give… all this “goody goody” won’t last… ” Here’s praying these teens are up for the test!
- A pastor, who’s week comprised of 4 hospital visits, a funeral, 3 services, a journey study, and an intervention relayed “I went to pick up my 238,646 mile car from the shop (once again), and someone had paid my bill”. He was shocked, and overwhelmed at the grace.
- A Whiz Kid’s tutor had his student give him a cheirshed handcrafted book of “Love”. The student was part of the kid’s love experiment, and said “I thought of you first when they asked “Who loved us?” I’m not sure about God, but you are here each week. I knew I didn’t have any $$ to buy something, or take pictures, or… I can draw and my school teacher gave me paper, glue… I love you too, and I wanted you to know it!”
- A UC professor (proclaimed agnostic) found that more than 18 things had been done voluntarily by her college students over the course of the week. Some anonomously, a few not so with notes “Sharing God’s love, and lightening your load”. She is not quite sure what to make of all the hub bub… she appreciates their passion & action.
- A business owner (struggling since the 2008 economic plunge) had an employee return his paycheck this week. When bewildered at the exploit, the employee simply replied “God told me, He would supply my needs… You have been faithful to all of us, letting us keep our jobs even when rough.. “ . The rest of the story… the employee received an inheritance of $23,760 from an unknown Great Uncle 3 days after relinquishing the $$.
The world’s riches and culture pull at us all to be “Bigger and Better”. There is nothing shiny or terrific about releasing power. Trust is a commodity seldom explored. Being part of the journey has and is a privilege. THANK you, thank you, thank you … Crossroads Community Church for being the speerhead of this endeavor. May all the journey faith communities be richly blessed!
Difficult challenges for a protected people: God be honored, bring your Kingdom now, allowing your will to be done on earth as it is heaven!