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What’s next? > a renewed heaven and earth

July 25, 2011

I wrote the “Norwood Manifesto” over 3 year’s ago as the conclusion to an Easter service I was leading for our community. When I think of “What’s next?” I can’t help but think its going to be more of the same but deeper and wider expressions. Sure there will be new dreams, new projects but really this represents for me a lot of what is currently happening and at the same time its also a prayer for more and a declaration of hope. I remember I was reading N.T. Wright’s book Surprised by Hope – a book I can wholeheartedly recommend – and I was trying to reconcile our small efforts in our local community with a desire to do so much more locally all the while connecting those efforts to God’s grand purposes of restoration and creation of a renewed heaven and renewed earth. This is the best I could do at the time and it serves as another pointer of what’s next…

The Norwood Manifesto
Easter 2008

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, the 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 whtever-o-holic inside us all. We’re all getting free of 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 part of that future but it’s not just for the by and by. It’s for the here.
The now. Together we can enact elements of this future now. We can post signs that point to God’s
bright future. We can become signs of that 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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