March 17, 2019
Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Calvary – what a Spirit-filled weekend we shared together! Thank you for showing up in such great number for what was an extraordinary worship experience on Sunday. I was moved to see our congregation step outside of our comfort zone and join hands and hearts with our sisters and brothers at New Hope Baptist.
After talking together for a year about how our churches and our collective voices could be a witness for racial reconciliation and relationship building in Denver, Pastor Downing and I brought our congregations together for fellowship and discussion in November of 2016. And this past Sunday, March 10th, 2019 – 2.5 years later…after several more joint conversations, shared cultural experiences, a new partnership developing with Stedman Elementary School, and lots of good meals – we had our first worship experience together.
It was such a joy. I don’t know about you – but I couldn’t help but feel uplifted as I left worship. And even more than how I felt, what I saw when I stood up to give the greeting was powerful. Your presence in the midst of all the New Hope members was a sign of the work of God’s Spirit in and through each and every one of us. My friend and colleague, Rev. Dr. Zina Jacque, wrote Pastor Downing and myself yesterday to share about the unique and beautiful spiritual experience she had while preaching on Sunday:
“I am almost without words as I write to say thank you for an amazing experience this past weekend. Eugene, New Hope is filled with folks whose light shines and whose passion for the Savior is evident. Anne, it is no different with Calvary! The boldness with which they are entering into this relationship makes my heart sing.
I promised I would write and tell you what I saw on Sunday as I preached. It took my breath away. We read about the Shekinah of the Lord in the Temple; but I had never seen it. As words tumbled out of my mouth, I could see a glow that seemed to be about the height of people’s knees. And in a moment, in a twinkling if an eye, as it is said, it was above their heads; shimmering with light as if someone had created a gossamer cloud of warm golden light. It was luminous and beautiful. I wish I had had the wisdom to stop and say what I saw, but I think I was frightened.
What I want you to know is that God is tabernacling with your people and shining through all of you…I promise to pray with and for you. And I promise to watch from afar all of the glorious things God is up to through you. Again my deepest gratitude for just being one in the number to witness the goodness and the glory of our Savior…” - Zina
What we felt as we worshipped on Sunday, was made visible to Zina as she preached. Such are the mysteries and blessings of God. Many thanks to Pastor Morgan and Pastor Alice for representing Calvary’s women in leadership by sitting in the pulpit with New Hope’s women.
I am proud and humbled to serve a church who is willing to put in the time and work to cultivate relationships with another congregation to be a strong witness of relationships between people of diverse and different backgrounds. In a time that so often feels full of hate and divisions, thank you Calvaryfor showing up and shouting out for love and unity. You may think it’s not a big deal. But it is. Every time we challenge ourselves to experience something new and to listen to another person’s story – we are growing, and so is the kingdom of God. At times these experiences can feel like challenges, but there is so much celebration waiting to be had if we take a risk, isn’t there?
The theme for the Women’s Day Weekend at New Hope was Standing on God’s Power. We are indeed all standing on God’s power…and that power is even more firmly rooted because we are standing together. Yet something about God’s power won’t let us stand still, will it? It’s always moving us. So just as we were blessed to be standing together in worship this past Sunday with New Hope, may we keep on walking together too…walking together as a witness for Christ in the world…walking together in God’s power and love.