I’ve never belonged to a group of people before – at least I’ve never felt like it. Except family, of course. But other than that, I’ve never felt quite connected to a group of (non-online) people or their mission enough to even desire belonging . . . until I got to Cedar Ridge, that is.
My affair with CR has been fairly long, I suppose. I was just cleaning up my apartment last night, and came across the gift bag from my first “Cedar Ridge in 7 Minutes” (the short intro to the church they do for visitors every week) . . . it was August of ’03. I remember not really being impressed with the church. It didn’t quite meet my expectations considering I came based upon Brian’s “A New Kind of Christian” series, and the ideas expressed in the books were quite novel, but the church seemed so . . . typical Yet, it drew me back into its grip a year and a half later. After hopping to several churches, I found myself visiting CR occasionally. When I finally settled down a bit at Trinity, I frequently felt like I needed a “vacation” from it, and I would take my leave at CR. Then, back in May, I decided I needed a more permanent sabbatical . . . so I figured I’d go to CR until I could find a church to call home. And it was on that Sunday that I felt quite . . . different.
You see, the thing that kept me from joining CR before, was that I never felt the presence of God there. I’m not saying I don’t think He was there . . . but I just never felt Him with ME. The first Sunday I went to Trinity, I felt God saying “this is where you should be”. So there I stayed.
But that Sunday in early June, I found myself in CR feeling God’s presence quite strongly. So I went back the next week. And He was still there, much to my amazement. I felt He was saying to me “this is your home”. I was taken aback, because there was such a permanence to that sentiment. It didn’t feel like a “stay here for awhile” kinda thing, like I’ve felt at all the other churches I’ve taken residence in during the last few years. I think I decided then that I wanted to be a part of this church.
But I was afraid. Afraid of being burned, afraid of being rejected, afraid of being marginalized. Yet, I couldn’t shake this awareness of safety, and acceptance. So I kept coming back, and kept falling more and more in love with the place. And eventually, I started to open up, and get plugged into things. I found a small group (or actually, I should say the small group landed on me). I went to the young adult retreat. I started interacting with our pastor, and with older members of the congregation . . . and the love cemented in my heart.
I’ve made a lot of decisions lately . . . those kind of “responsible adult” decisions . . . like finding a job, finding a place to live, buying a car, etc. . . yet none of them seems so significant as the commitment I made today to my new “family”. Honestly, I’m quite the commitment-phobe . . . but I cannot even begin to describe how easy it was for me to make this “for better or worse” pledge to Cedar Ridge.
I’m now a full-fledged member. Wow. I’ve only been a member of one other church in my life. So this is BIG for me. As I took communion in my new community today, I bawled my eyes out. This isn’t abnormal, really . . . I cry pretty much every week at communion, because I’m so thankful for all He’s done for me (not the least of which was giving me a safe home) . . . but today I was all the more cognizant and indebted for such a great gift.
I’m quite honored to have joined the same day as our new pastor as well. We had quite an open, vulnerable talk last week, and I’m sure this is the start of a really great friendship with Matthew. I’m so excited for how God will use this community to sharpen me and change me.
In other news, it’s been a pretty difficult week for me emotionally. But i’m surviving quite well, and trying to figure out where Jesus is in all of this.
I had a pretty awesome weekend. Friday nite, Pat drove me, Audricus, and J-man up to Lancaster – where we met up w/ Joe and Angela – to see a FREE (yes, I said FREE! ) Shawn McDonald concert – which was AWESOME! We had a great time! We all bonded over some good music on the way up and back . . . you guys are great! Thanks for an awesome time!
Last night, my friend Jodi invited me over to her place where she had an impromptu “benefit concert” (essentially, she came home for the weekend from Portland to surprise her best friend on her birthday, and needed to recoup losses from her plane ticket!) She and a couple of her friends whipped up a really great dinner, and then she played her little heart out. It was awesome! She gets better and better every time I hear her. She’s gotten a lot more control in her voice, and she sounds quite beautiful. I’m hoping to see big things from her in the future!
Last thing . . . I’ve had a couple of friends ask me about the poem “Journey as an Enantiomer“, and as I told my friend Lonnie, I typically don’t like to explicate my own poetry, simply because I like to give life to my words, and let those words take on life of their own. I personally love to hear back about how others interpret the poem, b/c I often see much more wonderful life from the complex interaction of my words with their heart, than I ever intended. However, it’s meaning is a bit complex and is an interesting melding of scientific principles with raw emotion, so you’ll be seeing a CTP explication soon, I suppose.
P.S. I haven’t bought a whole lotta Gospel in the last couple of years, b/c the Gospel world has been putting out some really suckass albums lately! But MaryMary’s newest is AWESOME! Such a nice mix of contemporary R&B and Gospel, with some old school gospel, and some older school 70’s influence, and some even older school Harlem Renaissance touches too! I highly recommend it!