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Start with Why

November 5, 2012

So yesterday I wrote that what initially drove my decision to move from being a minister to an auto body shop owner was money.

But that wasn’t the whole truth.

There were other reasons as well. My business is an economic engine that allows me to care well for my family, friends in need, and to be generous. But its also a way to present, in a very public way in a neighborhood that I love. My neighborhood has had significant abandonment issues over the years. There was a time that is still talked about fondly and longingly when General Motors had a plant here. That provided a lot of jobs and opportunities and wealth for this area. When they pulled out in 1987 – the year I graduated high school in this very place – it left a gaping hole in the local economy and a real sense of loss at a collective, emotional level. Since GM was an anchor business of sorts when they left so did other businesses.

It’s my belief that history is heading is heading somewhere. Yes, I am a Christian. As a Christian I believe in the restoration all things and that God has a plan for the very world we now inhabit. God has not abandoned it. I also believe that we are all called to cooperate with God’s vision to restore the earth and work to that end even though it will only be accomplished in God’s way and in God’s timing our current labors matter to that end in ways we can’t full imagine or understand. Yet. Restoration is at the core of God’s heart for this world.

“You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again…”

“They’ll rebuild the old ruins,
raise a new city out of the wreckage.
They’ll start over on the ruined cities,
take the rubble left behind and make it new.”

(portions of Isaiah 58 & 61 from The Message bible translated by Eugene Peterson)

This is the very passage that Jesus borrows from when he launches his ministry in Luke 4: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…” is straight out of Isaiah 61.

So the vision I have for my business, for Center City Collision, is anchored in this very large story that has roots in the Jewish scriptures, the life of Jesus and the restoration of all things as God develops a renewed earth. (see Revelation 22, the final chapter in this sprawling story)

About 4 years ago I wrote a manifesto inspired by this sprawling vision of restoration and how that might begin to look and take root in our neighborhood.

+The Norwood Manifesto, by Kevin Rains
Godʼs 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.
Weʼre 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. Weʼre 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 businesses in abandoned buildings reminding ourselves that Godʼs kingdom is
a family enterprise.
We buy homes that are fixer-uppers on the ʻwrong side of the tracksʼ and beautify them,
saying to our neighbors, “Weʼre here for the long haul.”
We renovate and restore ancient ruins like St. Eʼs, our beloved old lady…
We share meals in each otherʼs homes and weʼre 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 childrenʼs children
as they learn to walk…
We throw parties to celebrate the life weʼve been given and the life yet to come…
We practice hope…
We are a people of the Resurrection…

What is your why?

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