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Parting Words

Parting letterThis past weekend I was commissioned out of Mosaic (the community of faith I’ve been leading the past four years) and had the opportunity to share a parting message.

Last words are often said too late, or in haste, so I thought I’d do something I’ve never done in my years of speaking, I actually scripted it out.

I wrote it out in letter-form to hopefully be concise without forgetting anything, although I doubt parting words can ever be complete.

Here it is below, or you can also download it as a pdf

To my brothers and sisters, friends, fellow seekers and sojourners

What a fascinating journey we have been on together! Who would have seen the twists and the turns, the lives that have intersected, and the new life and visions that have emerged?

It’s no secret,
I’ve been a constant advocate of the church moving far beyond these gatherings.

Of inverting the church

Of encouraging every one of you to be ministers of hope – being the voice of Christ, the hands and feet of Christ, and the presence of Christ wherever you go

I’ve continuously asked that you leave your safety nets, risk much, as you prayerfully follow Jesus

To get off your knees and make the world the altar on which you sacrifice

And after much debate, as extraordinary as it has been, we need to heed our own advice and longings and the time has come for our family to do the same.

As many of you know, all good things…

must be acknowledged

It’s an astounding thing that our good God would have the genesis of Mosaic begin, not with a strategic plan, but with a dream.

A dream that was acted on, a journey many of you embarked upon

This community that surrounds us is the result of a dream, and of sacrifice, and of divine arrangements

And dreams are a good thing.

I recall when Yvonne and I were a far younger couple with the only newborn in our midst – we wondered how we would connect with anyone in our stage of life – and then you responded by popping out children left, right, and centre – thank you (you didn’t have to go that far)

We’ve walked through miles of life together.

We’ve gathered

In hotels, homes, bread shops, and schools

In silence and meditation

With open mic’s and heated exchanges

We’ve explored art, and ants, and the awesomeness of God

We’ve seen baptisms and brokenness and brand new beginnings

New businesses, new ventures, new vocations, and new birth

Through song, and paint, and drama, and stories, and dance

Through film, and music, and sketchbooks, and crafts

Through the Spirit and the Scriptures

Even that long year in Nehemiah

Over games and meals

Over potatoes, and salsa, and weekly baked goods

We’ve tackled being r.e.a.l. and taken on summer projects

We’ve poured over issues of justice and grace,

creativity and sacrifice,

heaven and hell,

and the seasons of life

I think we’ve even seen each other mature.

Mature in conflicts, in casualties, and in crisis, but ultimately in Christ

We’ve walked the road less traveled together, it has not been smooth, but it has been profound.

All good things ought to be remembered.

On a more personal level,

Thank you, Mosaic.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to join you on this journey.

Thank you for affirming my passion and calling

Thank you for taking me under your wing, and yet letting me fly.

Thank you for allowing me to take the floor and having the honor to express to the best of my ability the glorious beauty of the Gospel from the Ancient Scriptures.

Thank you for the confidence you placed in me to lead.

Thank you for your confidences and the stories you’ve placed within me.

Thank you for sharing your longings and disappointments.

Thank you for inviting me into even those darker corners of your hearts.

Thank you for sharing your moments of unfiltered ecstatic joy.

Thank you for your steadfast commitment.

Thank you for supporting our family in prayer and in the most tangible of ways.

Thank you for your many kind words and quiet affirmations

Thank you for your engaging questions

Thank you for the hopes you placed in me. Even the one’s I couldn’t deliver. Thank you for hoping.

Thank you for creating a shelter of healing for many, while trusting in God enough to release many back into the world.

Thank you that it’s here that I would have the opportunity to pastor the person who once pastored me.

Thank for creating a space where people can freely walk into each other’s lives and leave prints upon our hearts.

It’s likely hard for you to see this while you’re in the midst of it, but Mosaic, you are distinct.

Thank you for being as you are, and grappling to become the church God has laid upon your hearts.

Thank you being a church that embraces the tensions between questions and convictions

Thank you for being a church that is a refuge for the world, without being a refuge away from the world.

Thank you for being a church where the oddities are normal – Your fringe personalities, your wacky ideas, your impromptu change of plans, and your unyielding grace.

Thank you for being a church.

I really don’t know if I’ll ever come across a church like this again

I’m not sure if it was one of those rare convergences in space and time that made all this possible, but thank you so much for showing and proving that it is possible.

It’s possible.

It’s possible to be the church anywhere we go

It’s possible to leave the ninety-nine and to seek after the one – that one friend, neighbor, family member, or coworker

It’s possible to be a church whose vision is to see the visions of others flourish.

It’s possible to be a church that is more about the King and His Kingdom than itself.

It’s possible.

Just to know that, and to tasted it and seen it in practice, I am deeply grateful. I hope you feel the same.

Speaking with one of you recently, you mentioned that if you had to sum up everything I’ve been teaching – it would be God’s desire for us to see His divine beauty in all things, and His great love for all humanity.

I think I’ve taught more than that, but it’s pretty close.

As we’ve been exploring Jesus and prayer, the truth is just about everybody prays. Just about every world religion advocates prayer. Almost everyone makes wish lists and tosses them up to the heavens in hopes of it all coming true.

What’s different is that Jesus intimately knew who he was praying with, and prayed in anticipation of responding.

For Jesus it was an ongoing living response to God the Father. As the Apostle Paul encourages us to ‘pray unceasingly’, Jesus’ whole life was a prayer.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell because his prayer life was so deeply rooted in both the sacred and beautiful divine and our everyday gritty earthy humanity.

For Jesus prayer was not only lip service or a quiet meditation to the mystical holy of holies, but his prayers seeped into concrete ways in this life, as an ongoing living response to God the Father

In the life of Christ we see

A time for eating, drinking, enjoying, and indulging

A time for growing in wisdom and stature and favour

A time for being ordinary, for work and hard labor

A time for weeping and for laughing

A time for facing temptations, mockery, and ridicule

A time for questioning and provoking

A time for breaking bread and a time for going hungry

And times for blood sweating sacrifice,
and the giving of life

All of this, all of life, are the prayers of Christ.

Jesus had an acute understanding that his time on earth was short and limited so his prayers were lived more than said.

There’s an old Keith Green song whose title has never left me, ‘Make my life a prayer to you’.

God, Make my life a prayer to you.

Mosaic, what would it look like for us to make our lives, the entirety of our lives, a prayer to Him?

All that we do – a living, visceral, tangible, response to the living God? Not only in thought, and in word, but in decisions and deeds and actions?

What would that life look like for you today? Or tomorrow? How might your life’s story play out as a prayer to the living God of faith, love, and hope?

Mosaic, make your life a prayer to Him by holding nothing back from Him.

You could say my time with you has been short, but our time on earth isn’t all that much longer.

Time waits for no one. Things change. People change. One day you and I will pass. We will all reach that point where we take one last breath, take one last glimpse at this beautiful world, and exhale all that we’ve taken in.

Clocks eventually strike midnight.

I was at the Da Vinci workshop exhibit last week and it blew my mind away (it made me want to cry) all that he accomplished in such a short life. It was as if everything he did in his life actually mattered. It brought home for me, really just how short life is, but also the good news of how wide, and broad, and rich life can be.

We all have the same number of hours per day. The same laws of physics bind us all. And yet we are incredibly free. God has given you your unique and sacred life to fearlessly live out. Rebel against your own indifference. Trust that God is both good and sovereign. Risk greatly. Make difficult and courageous decisions. Time is short. Do the good you know you ought to do.

Throw all you have to Him in this life with reverence and you will not go wrong.

Mosaic, make your life a prayer to him by resting in his unending ocean of grace. Sink yourself in it.

For those of you who have risked greatly and lost,

Hoped for life and remained barren

Sacrificed much in the name of Christ and came up short

you are immeasurable loved.

The person within your skin is here right now for sacred and holy reasons. As the prophet Isaiah says, the whole earth is truly filled with His Glory. Practice seeing this. You can find His grace and love glimmering in all of creation from the majestic to the ordinary.

Being a father and experiencing my children grow and spread life, words really cannot adequately describe my love for them. I can feel my heart expand in my chest when they are around. They fascinate me and leave me at a loss for air at times. And the crazy thing is I know I have more love within me then they are capable of receiving right now. There is this tide of love, and passion, and life that wells up within me that I long to pour out into them.

And I imagine it to be the same way with God.

Join with all of creation knowing that you are loved.

You are loved in your weariness and times of emptiness.

You are loved in your pride.

You are loved with your brokenness inside.

You are loved in your stubbornness.

You are loved in your indifference and your violence.

You are loved even as you flee from Him.

Our lives are far too short to go without such a love piercing our souls. Find ways to remind yourself of that love and let that truth shape your prayers.

Mosaic, make your life a prayer to him by responding to Him when He whispers.
He may be asking you to say a word you’ve never said before, or to simply rest and speak of nothing at all.

But you’ll be at a loss at when to give your all or when to receive His all when you cannot hear his promptings.

Cultivate a life of responding to the living God. He lives. The God who breathed life into all of humanity, still breathes.

He aids our every breath right now.

He is not an idea, or a set of words on dusty pages, He lives and dwells right here amongst us.
But my fear is that each time we turn from Him, and dismiss him, our hearts can harden and our ears can dull to the loving whispers of the Savior.

Take hold of those tiny promptings of the Spirit. Follow where it leads. Let God disturb you. Let God enchant you. Christ is the author of life and there’s more of that where it came from.
As we part I hope that you take heart and know that Christ has overcome the world (that includes your fears, and doubts, anxieties, and losses)

You will be greatly missed.

I’ve come to know many of you. You have stories, and passions, and creativity, and insights, and talents that the world is waiting to be shaped by. Please don’t hold back.

Change is never easy. It’s often awkward. It’s typically filled with uncertainty

But it’s also brimming with possibility

While it’s often hard to see, ends are often beginnings.

The arc of the Scriptures declares of life springing from death

We worship the God of new mercies every morning

Of clean slates

Of new wine and fresh dew and manna from heaven

Of redemption

Of resurrection

And until then, He is not done with you yet.

Embrace the fullness of life Jesus offers each of you and may you find Him embracing you ever more.

Every single week we’ve gathered we’ve rooted ourselves in a meal reminding ourselves that the holy and divine can be embodied.

Upon the cross our rebellion and His grace meets. And grace overcomes.

Upon the cross, with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, we see where the prayer life of Christ led.

It was raw and earthy, gritty and visceral, and it led to gut-wrenching and bloody sacrifice so that we might have life in all its glory.

When we eat the bread we remember that how his body broke for us so that we might have life.

When we drink from the cup we remember how he shed his blood for us so that we might have life.

Mosaic, may God – The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit fill you with life for the journey ahead. May mercy and grace follow you all of your days. And as you make your life a prayer to Him, May he bless you with courage and humility and hope everlasting.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Grace Poon February 16, 2012, 12:16 pm

    Beautiful. Thanks for your prayerful passion. Go.

    • Lon February 27, 2012, 3:53 pm

      Thanks Grace, likewise!

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