Join us for a conversation with Christian Coon, pastor of Urban Village Church and author of “Failing Boldly: How Falling Down in Ministry Can Lead to Rising Up.” Hear him share about the spiritual experience of failure, demystifying the church success story, and how remain grounded through the ups and downs of spiritual experimentation
Join us for a conversation with Carl Gladstone: musician, podcaster, and campus minister in Detroit, MI as he shares with us about what it means for creative people to “take all that is around you, boil it down, and offer it back to the world.” Carl shares about the shape of creative spirituality, the natural common ground between artists and the church, and how living in Detroit has changed his music.
“Christianity is a shocking religion, although many of its adherents have managed to protect themselves from its terrible impact. Tears, an awareness of one’s psychic fragility, and a deep sense of peace and joy are not the most obvious marks of believers today. Yet the shock of Christianity remains: the shock of its materialism in its particularity; the shock of its calling us to a messy and untidy intimacy. It claims that the flesh matters. It insists that history (the particularity of time and place) matters. Above all it claims that, in the end, nothing else but love matters.”
Much of the discipline of the desert is concerned with keeping the shock and promise of love alive. Without the occasional abrasive brush with the unexpected, human life soon becomes a mere matter of routine; and, before we know where we are, a casual indifference and even brutality takes over and we begin to die inside.”The shock breaks open the deadly ‘everydayness’ that ensnares us and brings us something awesome and terrifying to our reluctant attention: the believer’s name for that ‘something’ is God.
God ceases to be a subject for philosophical debate, still less the object of our part-time and casual allegiance. This God is no hobby. God is felt in places too deep for words; in depths beyond ideas and concepts. God is felt in pain, sorrow, and contradiction. This, in itself, comes as shock, since we tend to make religion only of our better moments. Our worst moments tend to be repressed and denied. When that happens, we begin to lie to ourselves, and when we do, the very fabric of our life begins to fall apart.”
– Alan Jones, Soul Making: The Way of Desert Spirituality
I preached this at Pleasant Street United Methodist Church in Waterville, ME this past Sunday. It was particularly wonderful to have a bunch of alumni from my home church in the pews to cheer me on, including two of my former Sunday School teachers. (I told the congregation to blame both of them for any offensive or theologically incorrect statements that I would make over the course of worship.)
For those of you who have not met me before (which I think would be most of you), my name is Ben Yosua-Davis; proud alumni of that school that’s up the road about a mile from here. [Colby College] In fact, in what I I think now qualifies as ancient history, I did a Jan-Plan internship at this church back in 2002; the most memorable piece, of course, not being when I preached, but when I led the Sunday School in a very enthusiastic dance that included a lot of stomping , a dance that was interrupted by a harried usher who very nicely informed me that “You need to be quiet, we’re worshipping down here!”
And speaking of worship, our next scripture passage from the first worship-book of the church, the Psalms; which shares with us about how we should approach God when we gather together as a community:
Now, as you might imagine, a lot has happened since I’ve last worshipped with you all. I now live now in a Norma Rockwell painting of a 1950’s small town; Chebeague Island, ME, with my wife Melissa, also a Colby alumn and the pastor of the only church on the island; and my 16 month old son, who is, in my perfectly objective opinion, the most beautiful boy in the world.
But today, I’d like to tell you a story from a previous chapter of my life, one where my wife and I went on a spiritual adventure in Haverhill,MA; one where we planted a new type of church: one that did not have a building or weekly worship, but instead met in homes, and in coffee shops, one that went onto the streets and made friends, and picked up trash, and threw block parties and community board game nights; and tried to love with open hands all the people that our society says are unlovable, a faith community that we called the Vine.
Our story begins on one cold evening in February, as Rob and I were leading Bible study, when I leaned over to him and said, “I need to tell you something.”
“I’m going to drop the F-bomb tonight.”