This month will mark the end of my first year serving as urban missioner for the Episcopal Diocese of Florida. What an incredible gift this has been. What an amazing adventure, which admittedly at times has felt like a misadventure! This has been what my dear friend and new seminary president Kurt calls “good crazy.”
It is not possible to count or recount all of the “God moments” that we have witnessed. But for you number crunchers out there, here are some high points:
- 19,000 cups of coffee shared.
- 560 pounds of sugar sweetened the coffee.
- Thousands of prayers offered.
- 300 feet washed.
- 1 infant welcomed into the household of God.
- Healings in body, mind and spirit.
- 1 deacon officially assigned (the amazing Deacon Joe) and another informally acquired (Deacon Jerry) thanks to our faithful Lutheran brethren.
I would be remiss if I did not say this: Thank you, Bishop Samuel Johnson Howard, not only for allowing this “experiment” to proceed but for your encouragement and support through prayer, public affirmation and financial assistance. It is a joy to celebrate our Sunday worship on the grassy wedge – that breezy little tree-covered oasis nestled at the edge of the diocesan parking lot – and to tell our community that our bishop is glad we are there.
This past week, one member of our community jumped and waved his arms to get my attention as I sat in traffic downtown, and, when I rolled down the window, he shouted “God loves you and so do I.” So, I do not use the term “community” lightly or in a way that is unearned. I am grateful for all the people who have shown up in one way or another. This year, for me, has not been a leap of faith; rather it has been a leap of grace. There is no way I could venture out without the grace of God freeing me from myself. There is no way this chronically financially insecure-feeling gal would have embarked on such a venture without the gift of grace keeping her control-freak-prone self sufficiently out of the way.
And there is no way this would have been possible without the gift of community – my dear close friends who surely must have wondered What is she up to now? but who have not found it necessary to voice it. And not without the gift of brave spiritual friends who said “I’m in; I want to do that!” when I mused about the possibility of an outdoor foot-washing on Maundy Thursday.
How this will continue to develop, God only knows. But what I have seen – what God has shown me from the beginning – is this: This is a ministry of presence, of making ourselves vulnerable enough to be willing to enter into relationship with others who, at first blush, may seem radically different. When we come together, we have the chance to discover what it means to become friends in the very best sense of the word. And in that process we discover the Living Word dwelling among us, making all things possible.