First Sunday in Lent

Bloom,

Some of the staff sat together yesterday discussing what we see the Spirit doing among the community. It was a fascinating discussion on where Bloom has been in the past, conversations we've had with so many of you over the past weeks and months, and what God has shaped us into now. We all love this community and feel humbled to be a part of getting behind you, praying for you, playing our part in equipping you to live out who God has made you to be in your house churches, your vocations, and the world at large. 

I was led from that conversation to reflect on my own relationship with Bloom over the years; and I have to tell you that I am so thankful to be a part of a community such as this. Honestly, it doesn't really make sense that I find myself here being tasked with this call to this community. I didn't ask for it. If you had told me years ago I'd be here, doing this -- I would have laughed at you. It doesn't make sense beyond the grace and kindness of God and this weird, still difficult for me to understand, ridiculous amount of belief Dave, Andrew, and the leadership team has in me.

I have preached two Sundays now and it has been, much like we talked about this past weekend, a wilderness experience for me. You all were kind, gracious, and encouraging to me a couple of weeks ago after teaching through the Beatitudes. Then, let's just call it what it was, I missed it on Sunday morning. I came off a really difficult week, filled with a lot of personal struggles, and I landed in the preaching space, and I just missed it. It was a humbling and disorienting experience. That afternoon I was having all of these crazy thoughts: Maybe I should just quit. Well, you might not have to quit because they might just fire you. Maybe I could just never show my face at Bloom again, I'll just walk away and end up in some other community and they'll wonder what happened to me and I'll just get a job in some other state and Bloom will be better off and...

I couldn't do that. God has been too kind, and He has made you a people too gracious for that. So I put my head down and went back to work. A couple of you checked in on me, I kept reworking the message, and at 4:50pm I ran down the stairs at Hope into the basement knowing I had to confront the fear and insecurity I felt and swing again -- maybe I would miss and maybe I wouldn't. The evening service and the sermon went a lot better. Not perfect, and I still have so much to learn and grow in, but it went better.

This is a community of authenticity and wild belief in people. Whether it's a task like preaching or singing, or it's showing up to a house church with a couple of cans of black beans and a story to tell from the week, we show up. We tell our stories. We look each other in the eyes and we say things like, "I'm sorry that happened, but that's not who you are. You're better than that. You are loved and God is for you; now get back out there." And all over the place, we're seeing people rise to their strength, confront insecurity and fear and mishaps, and continuously be gloriously transformed into the image of Christ. It doesn't make a lot of sense, but it is who we are. I can't thank you enough for having the patience and love to continue to let me learn and grow. But more so, I hope you know too that this is the kind of community to which you belong.

There's a place for you to be you, where sometimes you are soaring to life and other times you are stumbling around and bumping into things, but regardless... we are for each other because we truly believe Christ is for us. There is space to be vulnerable or afraid and to confess our embarrassing moments to one another, and then there is space to go back out there and keep working at it all. We hold each other before God and demand that he does something with us, and he IS. He is doing it right now. So keep at it Bloom. Keep wanting more of the Spirit. Keep wanting more from each other. Keep showing up, keep swinging. Keep kicking each other out the door with wild belief and love in their sails, so that their good may be made known and the Kingdom may arise.

- Melissa