Tuesday, December 18, 2018
This Sunday, I participated in my first Sunday gathering with the Lillie family as part of my downtown experience with LoopNaz.
Reuben greeted me decked out in a pink checkered shirt and a Green Bay Packer’s jersey. This moment itself should probably qualify as a cross-cultural moment, given the proximity of a die-hard Packer’s fan originally from Pennsylvania living in Chicago—blocks from Soldier Field—who is also married to a die-hard Bear’s fan. (For those of you who don’t know, I am fulfilling this field experience with LoopNaz, specifically for a cross-cultural ministry course.)
In regards to the actual Sunday gathering, we began with prayer and readings from the Revised Common Lectionary. If you don’t follow the lectionary, these readings were: Zephaniah 3:14–20, Isaiah 12:2–6, Philippians 4:4–7, and Luke 3:7–18
Both the passages from Zephaniah and Isaiah speak of rejoicing in the Lord and the knowledge that we have in God as our hope. Not only do both these passages speak of this joy that we should consciously live in, but they also both reflect how God’s removal of fear works in tandem with that joy. We have authentic joy in God’s presence, provision, and strength! We should not be resting in fear.
I’d like to say that this is a lot easier said than done. Even in times that I have felt joy, that hasn’t necessarily stopped fear from taking root. For example, in regards to spending time in the city, I’ve had discussions within my family about my personal safety when it comes to riding the train in the city at night. These fears are not uncommon or illegitimate, but they may not be the best case for avoiding these routes of transportation (or for having a cross-cultural ministry experience).
If we actually live into the joy of God’s faithfulness, we can combat these fears. In fact, God has already done the hard work for us. And I think this may have also been part of the reason that Reuben called us to share some testimonies of joy from our week. It’s a valuable practice to name more specifically the ways in which God has caused us joy. It strengthens the roots of joy. And when we find those roots strengthened, we might find the ability to let go of fear.
After we finished reflection upon these passages, we shared in the Lord’s Supper and reflected together on what it meant and continues to mean for us that Christ came and willingly gave his body to be broken and blood to be shed.
After communion, we closed our gathering in a time of prayer.
For our prayer walk, Reuben and I headed to the Clarke House Museum, the oldest building standing in Chicago, to pray throughout the surrounding park. As we’ve talked about how to pray over spaces that we have our prayer walks in, Reuben has mentioned that he often prays for the land and the geographic location itself, particularly for healing of _the land_—for its value beyond what it serves for people.
In relation to the culture of the Loop, praying for the land in this way sticks out to me as the heritage of most land and spaces in the Loop has itself gone through continual transformation (from even before the land was a part of Chicago), through processes of gentrification, the constant changing culture of neighborhoods. And it is still facing these ongoing processes.
So, considering these constant changes, I wonder what it means to seek restoration properly for this land?