The Local Church
a new community of Christ United Methodist Church

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Inclement Weather Update

Due to the winter weather (still falling!), we are canceling tonight's scheduled Governors Club Local Table. We are expecting that things will clear in time to gather on Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday this week as we finish off our 2018 season of Local Tables! (Schedule below.) We'll keep you posted if anything else changes.

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MONDAY, DECEMBER 10
Local Table Governors Club: Canceled Due to Weather!

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 12
Local Table: Pittsboro Area 1
6 pm at 555 Rocky Hills Rd. Pittsboro, NC 27312

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13
Local Table: Briar Chapel Area
6 pm at 86 Tabardry Mill Port, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

SUNDAY BRUNCH, DECEMBER 16
Local Table: Pittsboro Area 2
9:30 am at 461 Powell Place Ln. Pittsboro, NC 27312

❄️ ❄️ ❄️

Also! Don't forget about our 💧 baptisms scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 3:30 pm at 86 Tabardry Mill Port in Chapel Hill. Details here.

And one week from tonight, celebrate and sing at 🍺🎵 Beer & Carols at House of Hops benefitting CORA and the Take and Eat Food Pantry. That's next Monday, December 17 at 7:00 pm. Details here.

Stay safe, warm, and dry!

Brent LevyComment
Baptism Celebration!
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We’re so excited to celebrate our first official baptisms at The Local Church. On Sunday, December 16 at 3:30 in the afternoon, we’re baptizing Lyla Boyce and Fiona and Simon Tiegreen. And we need you there to celebrate. (Baptisms are not private affairs! They’re a celebration with and for the whole faith community!)

Join us as we claim God's promises on behalf of Lyla, Fiona, and Simon, welcome them into the family of faith, and begin the work of nurturing them to grow in love and grace. After the baptisms, we'll offer some some party snacks and celebrate our newest brother and sisters in Christ!

Come and see!

Date: Sunday, December 16 at 3:30 pm
Location: 86 Tabardry Mill Port, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

Brent LevyComment
Beer & Carols: A Very "Local" Christmas Party
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On Monday, December 17 at 7:00 pm, join us at House of Hops in Pittsboro (map link) for a night of Christmas cheer and singing to benefit CORA and the Take and Eat Food Pantry. The Triangle-area Beer & Hymns band will lead us in our revelry, House of Hops is serving up $5 drafts, and you're invited to bring a canned good or donation for the food pantries at CORA and Take and Eat. It's a Christmas party with and for the whole community, and we're grateful for the partnership of House of HopsThe Root CellarWCHL and Chapelboro.com, and Seagroves Nationwide Insurance!

Here’s the Facebook event to RSVP and invite your friends!

Brent LevyComment
That Barbara Brown Taylor Quote About Mending

At our current Local Table series, we’re talking about words. Recently, we spent time savoring the word, SALVATION. At the end of each Table that week, we heard a quotation from Episcopal priest and theologian and professor and author Barbara Brown Taylor from her book, Speaking of Sin: The Lost Language of Salvation. Here’s the quotation:

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By the grace of God, I am being mended, and God has called me to he a mender too. Since many threads are stronger than one, God has put me on a sewing team. Day by day, our job is to hunt the places where the world is ripped and bend over the damage to do what we can. Every good deed, every kind word, every act of justice and compassion tugs the torn edges closer together. The truer our aim, the smaller our stitches and the longer the patch will hold. We made plenty of the rips ourselves, and some of the worst ones show evidence of having been mended many times before, but that does not seem to discourage anyone. Mending is how we continue to be mended, and we would not trade the work for anything.

Brent LevyComment
Meet Our Planter-In-Training

Big news! The Local Church has a shiny new ministry intern for the current academic year! Meet Stephan Margeson, our Planter-In-Training. Stephan is currently a third-year student at Duke Divinity School and is discerning whether God might be calling him to plant a church sometime in the future. He’ll be around from now until April as part of the community to teach us and learn from us, help shape the future of our worship life together, and assist with the all-important “other duties as assigned.”

Stephan is from Alabama, is married to Sierra, and they just welcomed a little one, Gemma, into the world. Here’s more from Stephan, in his own words.


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Hey! My name is Stephan Margeson, an intern from Duke Divinity School. I'm in my third and final year at Duke, but this end only means the beginning of my journey in ministry. The past few years have been filled with affirmation and influence toward being a pastor in The United Methodist Church. Right now that calling is leaning towards church planting!

I'm originally from Wesanland, Maine and moved south for most of my formative years. Most recently my wife, Sierra, and I are from Alabama (but we much prefer War Eagle over Roll Tide). Our lives usually revolve around our fur babies, but our newest roommate has proved the most demanding. On Friday, September 21, we welcomed our first child into the world, Gemma Meyers. She is a beautiful, precious gift perfectly made by our loving Creator.

I'm greatly looking forward to this journey with The Local Church. I most often love where I am by learning the history of the area. I find that most rewarding when I meet with someone over a local meal or beer. I'm so excited to see the ways that The Local Church loves where they are and learn ways to love more.

 

Want to take Stephan up on that invitation for a local meal or beer? Or just say hello? You can email him here.

Brent LevyComment
Hurricane Florence Update

As Hurricane Florence draws closer to the coast, we wanted to send an update about the planned start of Local Tables next week.

With so much uncertainty around how our area will fare this weekend, our Lead Team has decided to postpone Monday’s Local Table in Governors Club until its next scheduled date on Monday, October 1.

As of now, our other Local Tables next week (Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday) are still on, though that is also subject to change. We will do our best to keep you updated.

For the timeliest updates, like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.

Finally, last night at Christ United Methodist Church, a number of us gathered to pray together ahead of the storm. Below, I offer one of the prayers we read, that it may be a comfort to you in the coming days. This prayer and other resources may be found here.

One:
In the midst of darkness, you call forth light.
In the radiance of your light, you invite us to walk into the mystery of your darkness. 

All:
You are our light in this darkness, O God.
Be our guide, that we may not be afraid to walk where no light shines.


One:
You fill your creation with hope for peace,
but you also remind us of nature's destructive power.

All:
Shelter us in the midst of storms,
that we may offer shelter to those around us.


One:
May we show forth the light of your glory
by offering ourselves in love to all who are hurting,
and all who are helping those who hurt.

All:
When all we have is taken away,
still you hold us as your very own.
Blessed are you, Lord God of the universe,
now and forever. Amen.


In every storm, God is near to us, the grace of Jesus surrounds us, and the Holy Spirit is as close as our very breath. In the days and weeks ahead, we’ll discern together as a church how we will respond with our hands, feet, heart, and voice.

If you would like to preemptively support hurricane relief and recovery, consider giving to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), the humanitarian relief and development arm of The United Methodist Church who will undoubtedly be among the first to mobilize efforts where needed. Donate here.

Join me today in prayer for all in harm’s way — for those in Florence’s direct path, for the first responders, and the most vulnerable among us. Today as you make final preparations, and through the weekend as we weather the storm and then emerge to assess damage and go about relief and recovery efforts... love where you are.

Brent LevyComment
Guest Post: Toward a Global Table
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The first time I arrived at The Local Church, I was invited into a stranger’s home to share a meal and to ask questions of one another that I wouldn’t dare ask a stranger on the bus. Consider, for example: “What is your deepest longing for yourself? For the world?” At its surface, an evening in which a community of strangers invites you in, and serves you a delightful baked potato in exchange for all of your secrets does not sound particularly fun. Upon further review, however, this is precisely what our communities need the most.

In my first visit, while breaking bread together, it became apparent that I was not the only newcomer. The community is still growing, and what it looks like week to week in each home is fluid. The Local Table is built upon a foundation of bold, radical inclusivity, rooted in a longing to share the love of Christ where we are. But what makes the Local Table so special is that this community recognizes that communities are dynamic. People come and go, constantly refreshing the shape of the entire population. The Local Church is building communities in shared spaces that are designed to be a constant within this constant reshaping, regardless of who shows up any given Monday (or Thursday. Or, this fall, Sunday and Wednesday). The foundation of bold and radical inclusivity is what remains constant. 

In my brief time within this community, those who have visited this sacred space before establish this notion that asking difficult questions—but doing so with the intent to understand one another—around this shared table matters. That each individual’s answer to the question of what we want most desperately for ourselves and for this world matters. It is a culture of recognizing one another’s voice, and it is infectious to those who are new. Our communities need this. Sure, it may only happen in one stranger’s home at a time. However, because communities are dynamic, and our presence may be transient, we who have visited the Local Table can bring this radical inclusivity into whatever new community becomes home next. 

The t-shirts and the wristbands say “Love Where You Are.” The Local Table is designed to equip each of us who attend to do just that. I started graduate school at UNC in Global Public Health just a month ago, which means I have spent many good hours getting acquainted with the buzzwords, catchphrases, and central guiding principles that define the field of “Global Public Health.” My favorite one of these preaches that “Global is Local.” Global health, in other words, begins locally. I hope to continue keeping the Local Table a constant in my life over the next few years while I am in school. It is a critical reminder to me. Ask difficult questions. Boldly include one another. And “Love Where You Are.” The hope is that one day if each of us can bring this Christ-like love with us wherever we go, the Local Table will one day be a Global Table.


Matt Paysour is a life-long pastor's kid, an appreciator of old books (partially for the words, partially for the musty library smell), and, with a future in Public Health & Nutrition, a ravenous advocator for eating food with other people. Join a Local Table beginning September 17, and you just might meet him!

Brent Levy Comment
A Prayer for Labor Day

by Walter Brueggemann from Prayers for a Privileged People

We are again at our annual moment to honor labor, 
     to remember those who do hard work, 
     to recall tales of depression poverty, to wonder at our surging economy. 
As we remember, we are aware that “labor” today
     is surrounded by hostile euphemisms ... 
          downgrading, 
          outsourcing,
     minimum wage, 
     401(k)s, 
     all strategies to cut costs, 
          with the result that laborers are put more at risk, 
          all the while we indulge in endless extravagance. 

We are mindful this day: 
     that most hard labor in our country is performed
          by people maybe not like us, 
     African Americans, Hispanics, 
     other people who lack our advanced skills and connections, 
          and who settle for being labor that is cheap, while
          food and housing continue to grow more expensive; 

     that we are here because our mothers were in labor for us, 
          loving us before we were born, 
          available for inconvenience and for pain, 
          and as we grew ... for worry in the night; 

     that there is other work to be done, what Jesus called, 
               “my Father’s work,”
          healing the sick, 
          caring for the poor, 
          casting out demons, 
          doing the hard work of justice.

We give thanks for those who do this. 

On Labor Day, with most of us so privileged
     that we do not sweat unless we
          play tennis or jog, 
give us fresh perspective on our labor, 
     that our lives consist in more
          than earning and eating, 
          in making and selling, 
     that our lives consist in the hard, urgent
          work of the neighborhood. 

Empower us as you did our mothers
     that we may birth new well-being, 
     that neighbors may live in justice, 
     that we may know the joy of compassion, 
     that overrides the drudgery of our common day. 

We pray in the name of Jesus, 
     from whom we know your own self-giving life, 
     for we gladly confess that “no man works like him.”

Amen.

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Brent LevyComment
Can We Come Over?
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If you’ve ever wondered about how this movement began or when Sunday worship will roll out or whether we’ll have a building or about our connection with Christ UMC, you’re not alone. We know you have questions, and we want to create space to respond and share the nitty gritty about The Local Church.

So we’re looking for folks willing to host a one-time gathering this fall, inviting friends and neighbors who might want to learn more about this movement. We’re calling these gatherings House Parties. If you're interested in hosting one (or learning more about what that might look like), drop us a line at hello@thelocalchurchpbo.org.

Brent LevyComment
We Can't Eat Without You

Do you enjoy preparing or planning meals? Is hospitality a gift you have? Are you culinarily creative? Let's talk...

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We’re growing our Local Tables again this fall — adding one (and hopefully two) throughout the community. We’re so excited about the opportunity to invite even more neighbors and friends to experience meaning and margin around the table, and even more excited that, by God’s grace, we have some momentum... but we need help!

Here’s the pitch: We’re forming a Food Team to help with the logistics of planning, preparing, and serving the meals at Local Tables. If you’re interested in going all in or simply want some more info, send a quick email to hello@thelocalchurchpbo.org.

Brent LevyComment
Shirts. Shirts. Shirts. Shirts. Shirts. Shirts. Everybody!
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Our new shirts are here (!!!), and we’d love to get one to you so you can boldly wear your heart on your, well, heart.

Just like The Local Church, everything about these shirts is bold — from the eye-catching purple to the big mantra and mission emblazoned across the front: "Love Where You Are." We’ll be giving them away wherever you can find us — Local Tables, mission gatherings, and community events, etc. 

The shirts are 100% free to you, but if you’re willing and able to donate to not only help offset the printing cost but also help make God’s dream a reality in Chatham County and beyond, we’d appreciate it. You can donate securely by texting 919-300-7827 (yes, it’s legit) or online right here.

Brent LevyComment
... Warts and All

At our last round of Local Tables, we leaned into the story of the Rich Young Ruler from the Gospel According to Mark. It’s the story of a young man who brings a big question to Jesus: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responds by rattling off some commandments, and the young man says, “Yes, got it. I’ve been doing these things.”

Then, the story goes, Jesus looks at the young man carefully and loves him before saying, “There’s one more thing. Go sell your stuff and give the money to the poor. Then you’ll have treasure in heaven.”

The young man walks away grieving because he had many possessions.

But before the man walks away
Before he even has a chance to respond
Before he begins to think about whether he can sell his stuff to give it away or not
Before all of that and even before that

Jesus looked at the man carefully and loved him.

As if to say: “I see you. I see the good, the not-so-good, the hopes and fears, the dreams and the disappointments. I see what you’ve done and know what you’ll do. I see all that makes you who you are — warts and all — and I love you. Period. Nothing changes that. Ever.”

Even when we walk away. Even when we’re unsure whether we can fully live into who God is calling us to be. The love of God is there. And it goes with us, meeting us in every moment.

Our new Associate Pastor at Christ United Methodist in Southern Village, the wise and faithful Kristen Hanna, recently shared a post on her Facebook page about the new Mr. Rogers documentary. I haven’t seen the film yet (anyone want to go?), but it also came highly recommended at our last Briar Chapel Local Table!

The post that Kristen shared centers on a duet between Daniel Tiger and Lady Aberlin, two characters from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Daniel Tiger is singing about his doubts and questions, lyrics that are full of his own shame and fear, inadequacies and insecurities — those thoughts that wake us up in the night. And Lady Aberlin responds not by invalidating Daniel Tiger’s feelings, but instead by describing what she sees, meeting Daniel Tiger’s words with her own of love and grace. As if to say: “I see you. I see all that makes you who you are, and I love you. Period.”

Lady Aberlin looks at Daniel Tiger carefully and loves him.

It’s a beautiful post — worth reading or saving for later. You can find it here: “Doubt, Truth, and Daniel Tiger”.

Here's the good news. This is where we begin, friends. We begin with Jesus’ gaze meeting our own — seeing all that we are, all that we’re becoming — and loving us with a love that meets us where we are but doesn’t leave us there... thanks be to God.

I'm reminded of this beautiful poem/prayer/blessing from Jan Richardson. I return to it often, needing these words to wash over me.

Beloved Is Where We Begin

If you would enter
into the wilderness,
do not begin
without a blessing.

Do not leave
without hearing
who you are:
Beloved,
named by the One
who has traveled this path
before you.

Do not go
without letting it echo
in your ears,
and if you find
it is hard
to let it into your heart,
do not despair.
That is what
this journey is for.

I cannot promise
this blessing will free you
from danger,
from fear,
from hunger
or thirst,
from the scorching
of sun
or the fall
of the night.

But I can tell you
that on this path
there will be help.

I can tell you
that on this way
there will be rest.

I can tell you
that you will know
the strange graces
that come to our aid
only on a road
such as this,
that fly to meet us
bearing comfort
and strength,
that come alongside us
for no other cause
than to lean themselves
toward our ear
and with their
curious insistence
whisper our name:

Beloved.
Beloved.
Beloved.

—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace
© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com.

 

Brent LevyComment
How To Bible Study

Tonight we're kicking off our Late Night Online Bible Study on the book of Acts! It'll run for six weeks from 8:30 to 9:45 pm.

Here's the link to access each week: https://zoom.us/j/792765961 or click the button below. Around 8:30 every week, just use your mouse cursor or thumb to hit it, and you'll be all set.

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One quick note: We're using the Zoom video conferencing platform for the Bible study. If you've never used Zoom before and want to participate on your desktop or laptop, you will be prompted to download and install a quick software package. It is safe and helps ensure that your connection is as stable and reliable as possible. You can download and install Zoom at any time before we gather tonight. You should not need to create an account to do so. If you are on the go, you can also participate through the Zoom mobile apps (iOSGoogle Play).

If you have any questions ahead of time, email brent@thelocalchurchpbo.org.

Brent LevyComment
Not all who *wonder* are lost.

What nagging questions or doubts do you have about faith?

This was the question that launched us into a new season of Local Tables last week — one in Briar Chapel and one in Pittsboro, each filled with new friendships, holy conversation, and tacos.

This summer, we’re pondering how God shows up through ordinary people in ordinary situations. At each Local Table, we’re exploring one seemingly ordinary person from the Bible who informs our own extraordinary journeys of life and faith.

Last week, we talked about the Woman at the Well. Read the story here. We explored how Jesus found himself talking to this Samaritan woman — something his disciples couldn’t believe — and how Jesus really saw the woman and knew her deeply. In the story, following their interaction, the woman goes back to the city and describes what she’s experienced in her encounter with Jesus. But at the very end of her witness, she exclaims, “He can’t really be the Messiah, can he?”

At that, those who heard the woman’s story and, in particular, her question went back to see Jesus for themselves.

There’s a widely-held notion that being a Christian is about having the right answers or that our belonging is contingent on the certainty of our faith. But I love this story because it’s not the woman’s certainty that sends people to Jesus; rather, it’s her question.

St. Anselm, an eleventh-century Christian theologian, said that ours is a “faith seeking understanding.” I love this. What if faith is not about having the right answers but instead about asking good questions? Perhaps along the way, in pursuit of understanding, we discover more questions that lead to deeper truth, find ourselves closer to the heart of God, and realize we’re not alone. 

After our Local Table last Monday in Briar Chapel, I got an email from someone who attended, telling me that our conversation reminded him of this passage from Letters to a Young Poet by poet, Rainer Maria Rilke:

I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

This is what we do at Local Tables. And this is what makes our time so special. We’re loving questions, living questions, finding common ground, and Jesus is there in it all.

Want to read more? Add this essay, "Doubt as a Sign of Faith" by Julia Baird, to your reading list. Read it here. Here's a highlight:

The Southern writer Flannery O’Connor said there was “no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe,” but for her, these torments were “the process by which faith is deepened.”

And while you read, if you want to give your questions a soundtrack, I recommend “Help Me Believe” by Strahan (Listen on Apple Music • Spotify • YouTube). Strahan is from New Zealand and describes himself as a modern-day folk psalmist. How cool is that?

Here are the dates of our next Local Tables. I'd love to see you! As always, all are welcome, and dinner and childcare are provided. Full details here.

Pittsboro Area Local Table
Thursday, July 5 at 6 pm
Facebook RSVP | Meetup RSVP
Add all dates to your calendar.

Briar Chapel Area Local Table
Monday, July 9 at 6 pm
Facebook RSVP | Meetup RSVP
Add all dates to your calendar.

Brent LevyComment
Mission Opportunity: Perry Harrison Elementary Summer Gap Program
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This summer, we are sponsoring two children for Perry Harrison Elementary’s Summer Gap program as part of their “Fuel Up” backpack food program — providing supplemental food to students who need it throughout the summer. If you are interested in helping to shop or deliver the food, click here to let us know. The total cost to The Local Church will be $300 for the summer, so if you'd like to also contribute toward this effort, you can make a donation here. Just write “Fuel Up” in the comments.

Brent LevyComment
Five Questions for the End of Every Day

Yesterday was Memorial Day, and I hope it was a meaningful one for you and your family. If you were to ask me how I spent my long weekend, chances are good I wouldn’t be able to tell you… at least at first. Do you know that feeling? Someone asks you what you did this weekend — or even today — and your mind goes completely blank.

Our lives are moving so fast with so many things clamoring for our attention, that it is increasingly difficult to find our center. It’s increasingly difficult to hit pause. To be present. To create space in amidst the interruptions and emails and never-ending to-do lists of our lives for God to break in. And that makes it all the more difficult to remember what just happened.

Or maybe that’s just me.

So one of the ways I try to counter this is through the discipline of journaling. As often as I can, at the end of every day, I open my journaling app of choice (though pen and paper work just fine, too), and I answer these five questions:

  1. Where did you experience the presence of God today?
  2. For what are you grateful?
  3. What emotions are you feeling?
  4. What are you praying for?
  5. What do you hope for tomorrow?

These are adapted from the practice of the Daily Examen developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola. The Daily Examen is a prayerful review of the day’s events, designed to help those who use it see the presence and work of God in their lives and in the world with greater clarity.

Here’s what I think about as I write:

Where did you experience the presence of God today?

I use this space to reflect on surprising moments of my day. I identify moments or interactions in which I felt peace or moments in which someone said or did something that was encouraging or challenging or meaningful. There’s really no right or wrong way to respond. It’s all about noticing.

For what are you grateful?

As someone with a critical eye, quick to pick things apart and see what can be better, I often fall into patterns of grumpiness or cynicism, unable to see gifts in and of my own life. This question is an important reminder that I am loved and have much to be thankful for. It reframes my reality and moves me to a posture of gratitude.

What emotions are you feeling?

John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Movement, would regularly ask his small group “class meetings” (a lot like our Local Tables!) the question: “How is it with your soul?” This question is similar. It is an invitation to take stock of my emotions — permission to feel all the things. Am I exhausted? Anxious? Hopeful? At peace? I fill this space with brutal honesty and a lot of vulnerability, aware that I am not alone in any of it.

What are you praying for?

This question turns my focus and attention outward. I consider the people I encountered, the stories I’ve heard, and the things that have been weighing heavy on my heart. I also reflect on the events of the day’s news, too. Who in my community and around the world do I need to be praying for?

What do you hope for tomorrow?

Finally, I take time to look ahead, turning my time of prayer, reflection, and journaling toward hope. I think about the next day and what I hope to accomplish or how I can live more faithfully. Is there something I’m looking forward to or a hope for tomorrow rooted in today’s sorrow? Again, no wrong answers here.


Some days, I’m tired and want to go to bed, so I spend as little as ten minutes on this. Other days, if I have the energy or if there was something worth putting more words to, I go deeper.

What I love about these questions is that if I know I’m going to answer them at the end of each day, I’ll spend my waking and working hours thinking about what I might write. For instance, if I know I’m going to reflect on ways I experienced the presence of God during the day, my antennae will be up, asking myself often, “Is this one of those moments?”

Is this new to you? Do you practice something similar? I’d love to hear from you! Reach out at brent@thelocalchurchpbo.org or leave a comment!

Brent LevyComment
If you're feeling lonely, you're not alone.
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It’s been one of those can’t-keep-my-head-above-water, will-probably-never-catch-up, always-behind, to-do-list-keeps-getting-longer kind of weeks. I wasn’t sure I’d get this email out before tonight. I had a conversation with a friend yesterday about how busy this season is. There’s a sense, I think, that summer’s coming, so we need to cram as much in as possible right now. There’s no sign of slowing down. Maybe you can relate.

And yet, I ran across this article yesterday that didslow me down. It stopped me in my tracks in fact. It’s an article about how truly lonely we’ve become as a people, and the stats are staggering. The health insurance company, Cigna, surveyed 20,000 adults in the United States. This is what they found:

More than half of survey respondents — 54 percent — said they always or sometimes feel that no one knows them well. Fifty-six percent reported they sometimes or always felt like the people around them "are not necessarily withthem." And 2 in 5 felt like "they lack companionship," that their "relationships aren't meaningful" and that they "are isolated from others."

In short, the survey found that half of all Americans feel lonely. I know I've been there. Ironically, I'm glad to know I'm not alone. Here’s the full article.

This is why Local Tables matter... because we were not created to be alone. We were created for community. Around a table, we realize we’re not and never have been alone. We discover that as we draw closer to one another, we draw closer to the heart of God. In a world fraught with division, isolation, and loneliness, the simple act of gathering together to listen, learn, love, and serve can save our lives and change the world.

So be bold, take a risk, and join us tonight at 6 pm at the Briar Clubhouse in Briar Chapel for our next Local Table. We’ll share a meal, have some casual conversation, and explore the idea of living life on the edge. It may not blow you away, but there's a good chance you’ll find the beginnings of companionship, spark meaningful relationships, and discover that you’re not alone. As always, all are welcome… and everyone means everyone. (RSVP via FacebookMeetup RSVP)


CAN WE COME OVER?

We are looking to expand our Local Table offerings for the summer and fall. If you even have the slightest interest in opening your home twice each month for these gatherings or want to learn more about what's entailed, simply reply to this email and let me know. Fine print: You get to pick the day/time that works best for you and your family, and it’s not a permanent commitment. We're in particular need of a home in North Chatham (Briar Chapel area) for the summer. Give it some thought, some silence, and some prayer. If you think this is you, hit reply and let's set up a time to get together. The coffee's on me. Curious? More details here.

ON THE HORIZON

Good things take time, and we've got some really cool things on the horizon — like a podcast, a virtual bible study, and a lot more. I'm always willing to grab a cup of coffee and share about our God-sized dreams, our future plans, and how this whole Local Church thing came to be. But more than that, I'd love to know you more and discover how your gifts and passions might enrich the life of this movement. So can we get together? Just click here, and I'll be in touch to set up a time.


I hope to see you tonight, y'all, because we're better together. If you don't already follow us on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram, do it! And if there's someone you know who needs to know they're not alone, forward this email to them.

Brent LevyComment
On Holy Week
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Grace and peace to you, friends.

It is Holy Week in the church calendar, the week leading to Easter and the culmination of our Lenten journeys. This week, we experience heartache — in the betrayal and bewilderment of Maundy Thursday, the agony of the crucifixion on Good Friday, and the seeming abandonment in the silence of Holy Saturday. But we also experience the hope and joy of the resurrection on Easter Sunday.

For the forty days of Lent, followers of Jesus are intentional about reordering and reprioritizing, about praying and fasting, and about making space again (or perhaps for the first time) for God to speak and move in the midst of relentless rhythms and routines.

This holy work — this making space — enables us to more fully experience all that this roller coaster of a week has in store. We can more fully enter into the story. We feel all the things — the death, yes. But also the resurrection.

When I think about people who are doing this well and teaching me a thing or two, I think about Jack. Even when it’s difficult, Jack has been intentional about carving out space to write and reflect daily. It helps him pray, revives his soul, and it’s a faithful way to use the gifts God has given him. Check out his story below.

Not everyone is born a writer, but Jack’s story leads me to consider the ways I’m being called to use what I’ve been given for a richer, more vibrant connection with God and one another.

Here's what else is going on...


EXPERIENCE HOLY WEEK

If you are seeking ways to experience Holy Week in all its fullness, I would love to see you at “the mothership” — Christ United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill. Our Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services will each be at 7 pm, and we’ll celebrate Easter Sunday with services at 6:30 am (sunrise!), 8:30 am, 9:45 am, and 11 am.

THE NEXT LOCAL TABLE

Our next Local Table is Thursday, April 5 at 6:00 pm at the Briar Clubhouse in Briar Chapel. Learn more about Local Tables here. Come share a meal, journey together, and become a part of what God is doing in our corner of creation. All are welcome, and bring a friend if you don’t want to come alone! Dinner and childcare provided. RSVP via Facebook here or Evite here.

LOVE GOES LOCAL

Our first mission opportunity is Saturday, April 7 with Rebuilding Together of the Triangle. We’ll be building a wheelchair ramp and working on exterior repairs for a home in Chatham County. More details are coming very soon, but we know that we'll need at least 5 to 10 people to commit. If you might be one of them, reply to this email and let me know.

"EVERY RIVEN THING" BY CHRISTIAN WIMAN

And finally, a poem for you for Holy Week. It's one of my favorites: “Every Riven Thing” by Christian Wiman from his collection of the same name (Amazonpublic library). You can also hear Christian recite it here and offer a little background, too. I pray that this poem lingers a bit and leads you into a deeper, more meaningful Holy Week.
 

God goes, belonging to every riven thing he's made
sing his being simply by being
the thing it is:
stone and tree and sky,
man who sees and sings and wonders why

God goes. Belonging, to every riven thing he's made,
means a storm of peace.
Think of the atoms inside the stone.
Think of the man who sits alone
trying to will himself into a stillness where

God goes belonging. To every riven thing he's made
there is given one shade
shaped exactly to the thing itself:
under the tree a darker tree;
under the man the only man to see

God goes belonging to every riven thing. He's made
the things that bring him near,
made the mind that makes him go.
A part of what man knows,
apart from what man knows,

God goes belonging to every riven thing he's made.

Brent LevyComment
Expanding the Table
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Dear friends,

Wow. Last Thursday night, we launched our first Local Table — a gathering of friends, family, neighbors, and people-who-used-to-be-strangers. If you showed up, thank you. It. Was. Amazing. There was holy conversation and laughter and love… and a whole lot of tacos. Since it was our first gathering, it was, like each of us, a work in progress. It was beautiful and messy. Sacred and silly. By the grace of God, it was an amazing way to start this movement.

Each time we gather, our conversation will center on a theme. Last week our theme was “making space” — creating room in our busy lives for what’s most important. Below, I’ll offer three ways to do that, but if you weren’t there, here’s what you missed:

We talked about parts of our lives as a “junk drawer” — full of things that don’t feed our spirit, things that leave us lifeless and empty. And we explored the need to carve out space amidst the busyness and the relentless hustle to simply be still and listen — to let go of some life-draining things and make space for life-giving things. In so doing, little by little, we'll become more aware of God’s presence in our midst and notice Jesus at work in our every day.

This was the task we were sent with:

Take five (or even ten) minutes each day to be still. Find a quiet place with few distractions. Maybe you want to linger on a bible verse like Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.” Or maybe you just want to, like Elijah, simply listen for a “still small voice.” If your mind wanders and it’s filled with your own junk drawer of thoughts, that’s okay. What’s important is that you’re showing up and making space.

⏰ Try this in the morning:

Perhaps morning is the best time for you to find some stillness. Rather than reaching for your phone first thing, offer a quick prayer. You can do this before your feet even hit the floor. Find a short one you can memorize. I like this one:

New every morning is your love, Great God of light,
and all day long you are working for good in the world.
Stir up in us desire to serve you,
to live peacefully with our neighbors,
and to devote each day to your Son,
our Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.


📖 Try this during the day:

When you’re in the waiting room at the doctor’s office or in between meetings or while you’re waiting to pick up your kids from school or in line to check out at Harris Teeter, instead of pulling out your phone to refresh Twitter or check your email or see how your bracket is faring (thanks, UMBC 🙄), take a moment to simply breathe — knowing that in every breath, the Spirit of God is witnessing to your spirit that you are beloved, God’s own, fearfully and wonderfully made. And it’s that same Spirit you exhale into the world.

🌝 Try this at night:

At the end of a long day, before settling in to plow through your Netflix queue, take five to sit and reflect on your day — praying for the people you encountered, confessing the ways you weren’t at your best, remembering the grace of Jesus, and giving thanks for small, sacred moments of beauty and delight.

  "Known" by  Scott Erickson

"Known" by Scott Erickson


The more we incorporate these practices into our regular rhythms, the more aware we’ll become of the moments and movements of grace every day. The more attuned we'll be to the voice of God. There’s more to come next week that I’m excited to share. But in the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. Reply to this email and let me know how you’re trying to make space. Is it easy? Difficult? What are your biggest obstacles? Y’all, I’m with you. It’s really hard. But I hope you’re finding some peace along the way — however fleeting it may be.

I am with you and for you,

brent signature.png

 



P.S. Before you go, be sure to mark your calendars for our next Local Table on Thursday, April 5 at 6:00 pm in the Briar Clubhouse in Briar Chapel (bring a friend!) and our first mission opportunity on Saturday, April 7 with Rebuilding Together of the Triangle (bring a friend to this, too!). We'll be building a wheelchair ramp and doing exterior repairs on a home in Chatham County.