I wrote this article for the current edition of Shalom Connections, the newsletter of Shalom Mission Communities. Posting it at Reflections on any given day seemed a right and proper way to keep you, my faithful followers, informed about what’s going on in this community where I live.
Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Prayer of Good Courage, Lutheran Book of Worship (Augsburg, 1978)
I joined Jubilee Partners to live Christ-centered, to live simply, and to live with refugees. After three years of the Jubilee life, I am happy here and grateful—for time in the retreat shack, baptisms in our pond, and prayers that pop up in the garden or the hallway. The beauty and quiet calms my soul, and I am delighted by crow of rooster and moo of cow and harvest of sweet potatoes. And oh! the blessed privilege of walking with people who have found refuge in our country—colorful clothing, joyful singing and dancing in worship, and mutual affection that unites us in diversity of race and religion and culture, rather than dividing.
Until recently, I was content as a volunteer, not knowing much about the business. Ready to engage more deeply, I became an apprentice. More involved, I had to acknowledge that “There is a weariness here that is undeniable.” But I continued to believe, also, that “Despite this [weariness], aspects of our life together are thriving. We pray, worship, support, encourage, challenge, disciple, and love one another most days!”
Those quotations are from one of many documents formulated over the last year as we explore, “To what is God calling us now?” Our Board initiated and led this process in response to long-standing conflicts and the departure of several families. At meetings and retreats, we’ve learned about and practiced healthy group dynamics for decision-making, like dynamic governance. In small groups, we consider big questions about our future, always seeking to center ourselves in Christ and respect each other with kindness.
Exciting, hopeful developments are occurring even as we navigate this challenging path. We celebrate the remarkable settlement of refugee families from Burma-Myanmar and former staff and volunteers in our town of Comer, Georgia. I myself will be moving into town in the near future so I can stay close to Jubilee and these friends.
Relationships with these new neighbors give Jubilee new life, and also raise questions about long-held policies. Who can live on this property? Can people live here and work off-site? Will we continue our longstanding two-month program with intensive English instruction and other support for newly arrived refugees? How can we welcome younger people and people of color to diversify and energize our aging leadership which comes overwhelmingly from white, educated backgrounds?
To what is God calling us? Certainly God is calling us to discernment; we are in the thick of that. Changes have been enacted and more decisions lie ahead. We cannot see the ending as we venture down new paths, but we are doing our best to go out with good courage, knowing that the great love we have seen fully revealed in our Lord, Jesus Christ, will lead and support us.