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Reconecting to my personal mission

November 7, 2008

First a story. I remember when I was in college leading a minstry called ‘Open Heris.’ Essentially we would go out into the streets and somewhat randomly meet people and try to engage them in conversation about Christ. What some have dubbed ‘Shark evangelism.’ I know it was old-school but it developed a lot of boldness in me and others. We gave out literature and bibles. We had spiritual conversations somewhat forced and usually very short. We occasionally took a homeless person out to McDonalds or Taco Bell. Street ministry as we called it back in the day. I was under the distinct impression that if we had enough people doing this Cincinnati would be transformed over time. That was naive of course but it pointed to a part of my vision to reach the whole city.

I remember meeting a friend of mine from highschool who asked me what I was doing and I explained it to him. He was deacon’s kid from the same youth group and we spent lots of time together lifting weights and playing ping pong through jr.high and high school. He scoffed at the idea of people changing and certainly at the idea that all of Cincinnati would somehow be different or better form these efforts. I felt belittled and stung but i don’t think the desire to transform Cincinnati ever left me. That was back in 1990. Well I’m still here and my vision has shrunk (temporarily?) to west Norwood, a small section of a small city surrounded on all sides by Cincinnati but strangely still part of Cincinnati. As I was reflecting last Easter about our mission in west Norwood I wrote this… It was inspired by Isaiah 58 and Luke 4.

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The Norwood Manifesto

God’s Spirit is on us to restore, to heal, and to beautify west Norwood. We are called to restore people, buildings, lawns, gardens, businesses, public spaces, private homes. We welcome all to join us: those who share our faith, those who do not. We welcome the tired in need of a new life, the depressed in need of a greater purpose, the child in need of a future, the elderly remembering the good old days, the broken hearted in search of a fresh start, the abused, the neglected, the rejected, the rich, the poor, the dark skinned and the light skinned and every shade in between, wrinkled skin, tattooed skin, pierced skin, the handicapped, the able-bodied, the overweight and overwhelmed, the underachiever and the underdog, the sick, the mentally ill, those grieving a deep loss, the drug addicted, alcoholics, shopoholics, the whatever-o-holic inside us all. We’re all getting free from something.

We believe the best is yet to come in Norwood. We believe that her best days are in the future, not the past. From the rich soil of a prosperous history a beautiful new tree is growing. God is creating a new heaven and a new earth. We’re all a part of that future and can enact elements of it here and now. Signs pointing to that bright future.

So, together…
We plant gardens to remind ourselves that all creation is still good and loved by God…
We start business in abandoned buildings reminding ourselves that God’s kingdom is a family enterprise.
We buy homes that are fixer-uppers on the ‘wrong side of the tracks’ and beautify them, saying to our neighbors, “We’re here for the long haul.”
We renovate and restore ancient ruins like St. E’s, our beloved old lady…
We share meals in each other’s homes and we’re reminded that we will one day share a feast; a banquet that is calling to us from the future…
We offer space for the weary and worn out, to refresh, renew, retreat…
We plant flowers for the sheer joy of it and trees that will shade our children’s children as they learn to walk…
We throw parties to celebrate the life we’ve been given and the life yet to come…
We practice hope…
We are a people of the Resurrection…

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 7, 2008 1:08 pm

    That’s beautiful. And inspiring in the most frightful way.

    Thank you for sharing..

    Live with Excellence.
    -Chase

  2. Rambo permalink
    November 13, 2008 9:34 pm

    See, this is why people love you…that God given passion and vision just flows…I’m gonna go see Jesus and say a prayer for you and Norwood…

  3. December 7, 2009 2:00 am

    Hi! Great Blog. I will bookmark.

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