February 06, 2019
After 21 years of God allowing us to forge our deepest friendships and serve this beloved church, we are packing our boxes and moving to Madison to join the church plant. So the title of this blog post suggests not only a good-bye but also a letter of love and gratitude. In our 30 years of married life, this is the place most beloved to us because in addition to 204 South President in Wheaton, Rez is our home and leaving home always brings a mixed bag of emotions.
Resting on a little oval shelf next to our front door is the Bible verse from Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens,” and John Wesley lends some spiritual heft to the word “season” by explaining it as, “A certain time appointed by God for its being and continuance, which no human wit or providence can alter.” The unalterable hand of God is on our move to Madison and seeing his mighty hand at work gives us strength and enthusiasm to pack up and enter this new season of ministry.
John Wesley lends some spiritual heft to the word “season” by explaining it as, “A certain time appointed by God for its being and continuance, which no human wit or providence can alter.”
While sitting in a Vestry meeting listening to Scott Cunningham lay out his vision for Madison in the winter of 2017, I felt a familiar heart tug coupled with a churning stomach, What if we went? We love Wisconsin and Charlie’s law firm recently opened a new office in Madison. Arriving home, I told Charlie about the tug and his inexplicably, quick response was, “Let’s do it.” This, from a methodical, measured man who puts his feet in the same sidewalk squares walking home from the train?
The likelihood of us actually doing so was nil. Our foster daughter attended Wheaton North for her freshman year and planned to live with us throughout high school. We met this adorable young girl as a fourth grader back in our days serving in the Parkside apartments and she’d been with us off and on ever since. But through an unexpected change of circumstances, her brothers arranged for her to live with another family in Glen Ellyn. We painfully packed up all her belongings and delivered them to her new home. The next day we received a packet from World Vision explaining that our 15-year sponsorship of Bernadette in Rwanda had ended. The headline on the packet read: “One Journey Ends and Another Begins.” Our sponsorship was over, our fostering was over…We could go to Madison!
Of course, because God opens the door, but having an infant in the house is a precious time unlike any other in the life of a family. Going to church on Sunday in Madison feels like walking into the hospital nursery and holding all the infants, not staring at one baby through the glass. We’ve been equipped through years of serving and loving people at Rez to love an entire new room of people in a cavernous, drafty gym in Edgewood High School. We can’t wait to go to church on Sunday and see who God is bringing, to sit next to G. and help her though the unfamiliar bulletin, to pray for J. and just let him cry over his new found wonder and love of the church that he’s never known before and to serve as spiritual parents to U.W. college kids who are desperately in need of some glowing, Holy Spirit light in the depth of winter. We even bought a condo across from the Gamma Phi Delta frat. house so we can live close, more than close, in the midst of the campus. Our weekend nights are pretty loud, but we invite you to come and visit us. We call it 221b Baker Street because it feels like Sherlock Holmes and Watson’s place. Thank you, God, for knowing what home we need to abide in until we come to the ultimate home you are preparing for us.
We hope to move in late May or early June and we need to sell our charming, french country cottage so if you’re in the market, please call us or contact our “Realtor to Rez,” Patrick Roach.
We will host a “closing the house” party before we go and you’re all invited to come and say goodbye. More important than these everyday details, we ask that you love Rez and give your life to Christ and his church. Plan for some hurt feelings along the way. No church is perfect and people are fallen and sinful, leaders disappoint, but Rez is a home full of grace and truth and leaders of integrity, who can admit wrong and seek God’s kingdom in all things. There is a freedom in the Holy Spirit to catalyze new ideas here and see the Lord bring them to fruition. There is a chapel daily filled with people ready to pray, who hunger to fast or learn to fast for change, for justice and righteousness. There are countless Rez Groups and ministries where your talents are needed, where people can come to the Lord and join the on-ramp to a kingdom life.
More important than these everyday details, we ask that you love Rez and give your life to Christ and his church.
If you’re looking for deep connection and life-long friendships, serve the Lord and his church. Give her your creativity and financial prowess, your heart for the poor and broken, your hands to wash communion vessels, your administrative planning skills for our next 24/7 prayer initiative, your time at Replanted, and in all of these good seasons, you will receive everything you need.
April 13, 2016
On October 18, we launched weekly services at City of Light, but 22 weeks later during our first Holy Week it felt like we experienced another launching. It is on the Cross and in the Resurrection that we truly see who God is. For us, it was also in our celebration of the Cross and Resurrection that we saw more of who we are as a church and who God wants us to be.
Several folks said to Bonnie and me, "I was wondering why you kept talking about Easter and what the big deal is. Now I get it." In a culture that tries so hard to manufacture one experience better than the last, tasting the real joy of Resurrection as we do simple things like ring bells, sing, and dance is an extraordinary thing. People who were new to this tradition and who have celebrated this way for years have all said, "This is true joy and this church is our home." Our first journey through Holy Week brought us closer to the Lord and to one another as a new church family.
Thank you for your constant prayers and generous giving that makes this work of the kingdom possible. You are such an important part of our City of Light ministry team each and every week, but a week like this reminds us afresh of the incredible partnership we have with you. Here are just a few ways we saw the fruit of your prayers:
A Holy Week Craft—We held an event at Hill Elementary that brought 60 children, 16 parents, and 8 City of Light team members together on Maundy Thursday. Three families came back on Easter Sunday to worship with us.
Invitation—We had visitors at every service of Holy Week, several of whom were unchurched or had been away from the church. 49 people joined us for an outdoor Stations of the Cross service and over one hundred people worshipped with us on Easter Sunday.
Teams—46 people served on Holy Week teams, 9 of them serving for the first time. Several new musicians and visual artists joined the team for Holy Week, creating beauty that brought us into the presence of the Lord.
Healing—We had a beautiful time of prayer at the cross at our evening service on Good Friday and a Prayer Team of 6 people praying with others for healing.
Baptism—We had our second baptism as a church on the Second Sunday of Easter and we are preparing for several more at the feast of Pentecost.
McMaken Family—We were able to enter into worship together this Holy Week more than ever before, processing on Palm Sunday, washing each other's feet on Maundy Thursday, praying at the cross together on Friday, and dancing together on Easter. Thank you for continuing to hold us and Nora and Finn up in prayer!