Rev. Michaele LaVigne
Easter is the season of God’s dreams coming true, and we are dreaming with him. Throughout the next five weeks, we are sharing our 8th Street Dreams – the dreams God has given us for the 8th Street building and our new neighborhood.
Pastor Michaele LaVigne was the first to share her dreams with us on Sunday, April 23:
Hi, my name is Michaele. I’m a part of the Day-LaVigne parish group, and I’m here because God’s been putting dreams in my heart for our city, and I think this is the way to make those dreams happen.
Some of you may have heard the story Chris tells of the first time I heard the name “8th Street Church.” I couldn’t suppress a grin, and he said, “I think you have a crush on that name!” But I think it was more than a crush.
Even before I knew God was calling me to be a part of it, I had great dreams for a Nazarene church in Midtown. I was captured by the thought of a church in the city that looked like the city – a congregation made up of people who were vastly different from one another in race, age, education, experience, and financial standing – who loved one another so well that it was evident God was among them. I imagined something a little like Sesame Street – a magical place where neighbors knew and cared well for one another, even though not a single one of them was like the other.
I realize this vision didn’t begin with Sesame Street. It’s a vision of how creation was meant to be, and it’s a vision God has been working toward since the first moment his perfect creation was disrupted. All throughout scripture we hear of God who is making all things new. The ancients understood that resurrection was the first act in the remaking of the world, and they found Jesus’ resurrection so significant that they termed it “The Eighth Day of Creation.” Something so new, so good, so different was taking place that it was actually God picking up the work of creation again – on the Eighth Day.
So when Chris said the words “The 8th Street Church” – this is why I grinned and blushed. What better place for God to do his Eighth Day work than on 8th Street? Could there be a better place to house a Sesame-Street-like community? I immediately imagined someone walking in our church and saying, “What is going on here? Something seems different.” And we could answer, “Oh, yeah, it is a bit different. That’s because we’re on the Eighth Day of Creation here.”
For as long as I’ve been dreaming about life on 8th Street, this week I found it very difficult to put my dreams into complete sentences with appropriate grammar and syntax. So I stopped trying and wrote a poem. I hope these words allow you to share in the dreams I have been given for the 8th Street Church:
I dream of a building that radiates beauty
Not because it is beautiful,
But because it is filled with people
Who embody Love.
I imagine the Love of God shining out
Through the smiles and laughter and hugs,
Through the tears and prayers and celebrations
Of the people inside –
As if the sunlight came from the inside
And the colors and texture of the stained glass
Colored the space outside, not just the space within.
I dream of a little plot of ground,
7,500 square feet and some landscaping,
In which things actually happen the way
God wants them to happen --
So that the captives find freedom,
The blind can see, the deaf can hear,
The lonely are called by name,
The rich can do the impossible and give their belongings to the poor,
Children are valued and nurtured,
And the poor can lead.
I dream of a Church who provides shelter,
Like a mother hen for her chicks:
The homeless man who comes in from the rain
To find warmth and coffee, but mostly conversation;
The frazzled executive who comes in from the noise
To find silence, solitude, and beauty;
The unemployable woman who comes in from the shame
To find encouragement, eye contact, and opportunity;
The Doubting Thomas who comes in from disillusionment
To find if anything might convince him of what his heart wants to believe.
I dream of walls, windows and doors
Marinated for a hundred years in the sounds of
Baby dedications, laments, weddings, funerals, sermons and singing
Adding their own rich tenor
To the sounds of worship again.
I dream of an abandoned building,
Once beautiful but now rather shabby,
Needing so much time and effort and money to make it good again
That some would doubt whether it was possible –
I dream of this building telling the Good News of her restoration
To men and women long-abandoned,
Broken down souls who may have been beautiful once,
That if a building is worth it –
Aren’t their lives worthy of investing in?
Might they also be found by the One who makes old things new again?
Oh Lord, may it be so!
Are you dreaming with us? Share your 8th Street Dreams by posting to Facebook or Instagram using #8thStreetDreams, or email Pastor Michaele at email@example.com or Pastor Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While we are dreaming, we are also getting to work. The $1.7 million dollar project will begin mid-June, and our congregation members will be making their faith commitment to the project by the end of May. Our goal is to do this project debt-free, so that we can truly give this building as a gift to our city. We have already received $830,000 toward the project, and have a goal of $170,000 to come from the faith commitments of the congregation. The remainder will be raised from outside sources.
If you would like to give to the 8th Street Project, email Pastor Chris Pollock at email@example.com.