Easter is the season of God’s dreams coming true, and we are dreaming with him. We are sharing our 8th Street Dreams – the dreams God has given us for the 8th Street building and our new neighborhood. Jeana first shared her 8th Streets Dreams during our service on May 28, 2017.
Hello, my name is Jeana Gering, I am a part of the Fitch parish group, and I’m here because this congregation truly strives to live the way of Jesus.
I want to share with you my dreams for the 8th Street Church, but first, because this is a place where I can be vulnerable, I have to make a confession. When we began this whole “8th Street Dreams” series, I didn’t really get it. I just don’t relish thinking in intangibles. “But Jeana, you’re an artist. You’re creative. You’ve devoted your life to abstract concepts.” No – I’ve devoted my life to representing abstract concepts through physical, visual, and auditory elements. I make something out of them, put them into context. What’s the point in just dreaming for dreaming's sake? Why state these lofty, intangible aspirations if we have no way of truly knowing if we’ll ever have the tools and means to get there? So I resolved to listen politely while the rest of you shared your 8th Street dreams.
And then Michaele called. She needed someone in a pinch to publically and vulnerably share their desires. Because she’s quite clever, she called the person who publically shares her vulnerability all the time. She knew I could do the public speaking thing in a pinch without getting overwhelmed – it’s my spiritual gift. Dadgummit, she caught me. Or rather, God went searching for his lost sheep. Not that I felt like I was lost – I was just refusing to sit down and think. Like a good millennial, I am a master at filling my head with distractions. Choosing to focus on the inconsequential trivialities of life that keep me from having to make any real personal decisions or declarations – work, Netflix, Candy Crush. But now I’m forced to start dreaming, frustrated the entire time because I feel like the exercise is frivolous. Sure, I want these grandiose ideals of community and acceptance, of inclusion and selflessness. But how does wanting these things actually affect anything? Now I really do feel like a lost sheep.
But I have to write something, and I can’t just wing it on Sunday because Michaele wants to publish this on the blog. Foiled again. Okay. What do I want 8th Street church to look like in 2022?
Well, I know Danny and I want to have kids, and I’d like that to be around 2022. What do I want the 8th Street Church to be for them? Well I know what I don’t want it to be – I don’t want it to be “safe”. Okay, I know I just rattled several of you, so let’s unpack that statement. I don’t want to use the guise of safety in order to surround my kids with people who look just like them, who come from similar backgrounds or family modules, who are in the same socioeconomic status. I don’t want them to be afraid of or uncomfortable around people who are different. When they see something they aren’t familiar with or don’t understand, I want them to run toward it rather than cowering in fear or walling themselves off. I want them to learn this from me, but I know that on my own I am going to fall short of this aspiration time and time again. I know this because I don’t have the greatest track record. While my parents did instill these values in me in theory, my human instinct for self preservation flocks to what is known, what is comfortable, what isn’t challenging. So my dream for the 8th Street Church is that it would be a safe place for people to abandon safety. A community that pushes one another to run toward what’s uncomfortable, what’s different, what we don’t understand. That we would trust in God to guide us to love His people – all His people. To embrace new, odd, unfamiliar ways of worship. To send us to places that make us uneasy. To embrace feeling uncomfortable until the sensation of uncomfortableness becomes a feeling that is simply familiar. And I hope that this example set for my children would so deeply engrain the practice in them that they would never know this mentality to be an anomaly, but a way – no – the way of life.
Dagnabbit, Michaele, your exercise worked. This is something meaningful. This is actually something I can start working on right now! What’s more, I’ve learned something in the process. This wasn’t ever about intangible concepts that make us seem lofty and enlightened. This was about defining a destination. After all, a sheep really is lost if it doesn’t know where it’s going. Therefore, to those of you who joined me as a “dream-skeptic”, I’m going to challenge you to take some time to write out your dreams. Pause Netflix, leave the dishes in the sink, put down the cell phone, open a Word document or an old-fashioned journal, and just start writing stream of consciousness. It doesn’t have to be good, or revolutionary, or even cohesive – yours isn’t going on a blog. Because I’ll be honest, even though I had several ideas floating around in my head, what I’ve shared today wasn’t truly fleshed out so that I could connect the dots until I had to start typing. Please join me in dreaming so that together we can flesh out our idea of our 8th Street Church destination. So that we know what we’re investing our time and money into and why we’re doing it. It’s a lot easier to know which path to take when we have an idea of where we’re going.
To learn more about the 8th Street Project, go here.
It takes work (& money) to make our dreams come true. Will you join us? You can give online through our parent church, Bethany First Church of the Nazarene; make sure to mark your gift for "Midtown- 8th Street Project." You can also send cash or check to PO Box 76266, Oklahoma City, OK 73147. Contact Pastor Chris Pollock at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about giving.