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A Soundtrack for Lent: Week 5

Here’s the fifth offering in Alli’s “A Soundtrack for Lent” series — one song each week that informs and enriches our Lenten pilgrimages. Some weeks, the songs and hymns will connect directly with our Local Table conversations. Other weeks, they’ll simply invite inspiration and introspection. Below the video, Alli reflects on why she chose “I Need Love” by Enter the Worship Circle for Week 5.


FROM ALLI

For this fifth selection for the soundtrack for Lent, I’ve chosen “I Need Love” from Enter the Worship Circle. This song is based on Psalm 24:7 - Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of Glory may come in!

Psalm 24:8 calls the King of Glory “strong and mighty in battle.” I don’t think this is a battle fought with swords and shields, but I’ve been thinking about this battle that occurs when we separate ourselves from one another out of fear, when hatred and persecution push us against each other and away from the Lord. Psalm 24 tells us that the Lord is ready and will conquer our world, not as an earthly king, but will conquer each and every one of our hearts. Jesus came to conquer life and death for love, and so that we may dwell in the House of God forever.

Jesus, our King, invites us all into the Kingdom of Heaven and fills us with God’s love. All means ALL, y’all. Not just what we might think would be obvious choices, but sinners and saints alike. The Kingdom of Heaven is for widows and orphans, for the broken, and for those in need of love. 

We know we are broken, but in Christ Jesus we are made whole. Jesus came and died for us so that we may live. Is that not a reason to sing? Is that not a reason to bang our drums? Open up the gates of our hearts, let the King of Glory in, so that God may fill are hearts with love!

Brent LevyComment
A Soundtrack for Lent: Week 4

Here’s the fourth offering in Alli’s “A Soundtrack for Lent” series — one song each week that informs and enriches our Lenten pilgrimages. Some weeks, the songs and hymns will connect directly with our Local Table conversations. Other weeks, they’ll simply invite inspiration and introspection. Below the video, Alli reflects on why she chose “Come and Tear Down the Walls” by Noise Village (feat. Jenny Wahlström) for Week 4. (And shoutout to Katie Barnett who sang with her this week!)


FROM ALLI

How easy it is to put up walls! How easy it is to let fear — of the unknown, of getting hurt, of judgment — take control and allow us to close ourselves off. How challenging it can be to allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough let others in, to let God in.

What would happen if instead of closing ourselves off, though, we invited people in? What happens when these walls come down? Are we not called to go out and feed the hungry, to welcome the stranger, to visit the sick and imprisoned? God calls us to love our neighbors, and this cannot happen behind closed doors, behind walls. The love of God is “like no other;” just imagine what would happen if we let that love break down barriers, work in and through us, and create connection and community. How beautiful that would be.

Brent LevyComment
Haw-llelujah!
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We are so, so excited to announce that our first-ever Easter celebration will take place at (drumroll...) sunrise on Bynum Bridge overlooking the Haw River!

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We'll gather on Easter Sunday, April 21 at 6:30 am on the bridge to watch the sun come up over the Haw River, rejoice in hope, and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus! We can't wait to share this with you. You can expect scripture and singing, a brief sermon, and Holy Communion with friends old and new. Bring a chair or blanket for yourself and/or someone else. Important: We'll take care of the coffee. As always, all are welcome! Here's the Facebook event to RSVP and invite your friends, and you can add it to your calendar here.

The physical address of Bynum Bridge is 593 Bynum Rd. Pittsboro, NC 27312. Parking is available in a lot adjacent to the bridge or along the road nearby. There will be plenty of parking available!

 
Brent LevyComment
A Soundtrack for Lent: Week 3

Here’s the third offering in Alli’s “A Soundtrack for Lent” series — one song each week that informs and enriches our Lenten pilgrimages. Some weeks, the songs and hymns will connect directly with our Local Table conversations. Other weeks, they’ll simply invite inspiration and introspection. Below the video, Alli reflects on why she chose “You Say” by Lauren Daigle for Week 3.


FROM ALLI

What happens when my “good” isn’t good enough?

I am an Enneagram type two, often referred to as “the helper.” For those unfamiliar, the Enneagram is a basic personality test, similar to Myers-Briggs, and I am all for it. According to the Enneagram, twos have an intense desire to be loved, which motivates us to serve others. I certainly identify with this and find it validating that I have chosen the correct career path for myself (shout out to the Emergency Department at Duke Regional Hospital where I work full time as a nurse and get to serve my sick and injured neighbors). On the darker side, though, twos are also known to have a fear of being unwanted, a fear of inadequacy. And yet again, I can relate.

I found myself feeling this when recording my third “soundtrack” selection, “You Say” by Lauren Daigle. I kept getting frustrated when my voice would crack, and I was not able to quite reach all the notes. I felt so incapable every time my fingers went to “C” instead of “D” on the keys, or when I would forget the words halfway through the song. I found myself getting wrapped up in my imperfections, and I kept telling Brent, “Okay, we have to do this again.” Until finally he said, “Enough.” To me, it may never have been good enough. There will always be little imperfections that I will focus on. Lauren Daigle puts it so beautifully, and reminds me that when I find myself feeling like I’m not good enough, I can find comfort in the fact that “You have every failure, God, and You’ll have every victory.”

Sometimes I find myself getting caught in an undercurrent of negativity, with crashing waves of feeling inadequate, waves of feeling too powerless to create change, not talented enough, not experienced enough, not GOOD enough. Right now I’m working on swimming with this current; I’m working on loving where I’m at right now. I’m trusting that I am held, I am loved, and that His love is greater than any I can offer to myself or to others. I will work on acknowledging my shortcomings, but not letting them prevent me from living out the more positive side of my type two personality, to do good and help others, and love like He first loved us.

Brent LevyComment
Vacation Bible School at Christ UMC
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Registration for Vacation Bible School at Christ United Methodist (our anchor congregation) is now open! This year's theme is "Rolling River Rampage," and your kids (age 4 through rising 5th grade) are invited to "experience the ride of a lifetime with God." VBS is happening June 17 through June 21 from 9 am until noon at Christ UMC in Chapel Hill, and there will be Bible stories and crafts and mission opportunities and much, much more. Space is limited, so click below to register!

Brent LevyComment
A Soundtrack for Lent: Week 2

Here’s the second offering in Alli’s “Soundtrack for Lent” — one song each week that informs and enriches our Lenten pilgrimages. Some weeks, the songs and hymns will connect directly with our Local Table conversations. Other weeks, they’ll simply invite inspiration and introspection. Below the video, Alli reflects on why she chose “Let’s Be Still” by The Head and the Heart for Week 2.


FROM ALLI

Last week at our Local Tables, we discussed what comes to mind first when we hear “Lent.” Most people said something along the lines of “giving things up.” Others commented on how they never grew up with the season of Lent being a part of their lives. I fell somewhere in between. I grew up knowing about Lent and giving things up every year (throwback to those childhood days of giving up chewing gum and then chomping on a whole pack of Juicy Fruit during worship on Sunday mornings), but even still, I have a tendency to skip straight from pancakes on Fat Tuesday to Reese’s peanut butter eggs and Starburst jelly beans on Easter morning without stopping to appreciate this holy season fully.

It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the business of my day-to-day life, to worry too much about checking off the boxes on my to-do list, and to look ahead to future events before the current one is even over. Before I know it, like The Head and the Heart say, “the days turn into months, and the months turn into years,” and I’m left looking back, thinking, “How did I get here?” and “What just happened?”

This year for Lent, I’m asking myself, “What does it look like to be still?” What would it take for me to take one moment out of each day, whether it’s while I’m drinking my coffee, on a yoga mat, or in the car on the way to work, to just be still, to be free from distractions from my phone or my computer, to turn off the voices on the radio or TV talking about the news of the world around me, and to center myself in the present time. Psalm 46:10 reminds us to “Be still and know that I am God.” In this season of Lent, I hope to take these moments, no matter how long, to be still, to acknowledge God’s presence in my life, and to be grateful. When the world feels like it’s “spinning a little too fast,” I will come back to this Psalm, take a deep breath, and just be still.

Brent Levy Comment
A Soundtrack for Lent: Week 1

We are so excited to introduce Alli Burks as our brand new worship leader at The Local Church. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to get to know Alli in the coming days. In the meantime, we invited Alli to share a “Soundtrack for Lent” with us — one song each week that informs and enriches our Lenten pilgrimages. Some weeks, the songs and hymns will connect directly with our Local Table conversations. Other weeks, they’ll simply be meant to invite inspiration and introspection. Below the video, Alli reflects on why she chose this for Week 1.



FROM ALLI

When I think about John Wesley’s first General Rule, “do no harm,” it initially seems quite simple. I mean, I don’t go around hitting people, or slashing tires, or stealing from department stores. I don’t ever intentionally cause harm. So I’ve got this one down, right?

When I start to dig a little deeper into what I think John Wesley means here, though, it gets a little trickier. What about all of those unintentional things I do that result in harm? What about all the times I’ve allowed myself to listen in or participate in gossip at work, causing harm to coworkers and work culture? Or the times I forget my reusable grocery bags? Or all the ways I participate in a society of systemic racism?

When I think about all these unintentional ways of causing harm every single day, it can become a little overwhelming. It seems impossible to do every single thing right without ever stepping on any toes or causing any damage, intentional or not, to myself, to others, to God’s creation in the present or future. I’m not perfect. The beauty of this, though, is that I do not have to be perfect, I just have to try. I have to try to avoid doing harm in all that I do, even if I make mistakes along the way. I also know I’m not going to get there on my own, but with the help of the Lord, learning His ways, and striving to walk with Him, I can get a lot closer.

I chose this song this week because it reminds me of just this. The first line of the song reminds me of my own shortcomings, “I am weak, but THOU art strong.” It goes on to say, “Jesus keeps me from all wrong.” By walking closer with Jesus, we can continue to steer ourselves away from the harm, the hurt, the hate of the world, and instead be bearers of light, love, and justice.

Brent Levy Comment
A Response to General Conference

Click here for the official response from the pastoral team at Christ United Methodist Church. Below is a letter from Pastor Brent to friends of The Local Church.


Dear beloved of God,

As you may know by now, The Traditional Plan has passed, not only reaffirming the United Methodist stance that "homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching," but adding teeth to the penalties for clergy who perform same-sex weddings and LGBTQ+ clergy. We will find out in April what parts of this plan are deemed constitutional and which are thrown out as unconstitutional.

There's a lot I don't know about what happens next, but here's what I do know:

There are leaders gathering around the country in the coming days, weeks, and months to determine what's next for us as a people called Methodist, in particular those who seek unity and inclusion. I talked to many of them yesterday — colleagues, peers, friends... giving them all virtual neck hugs, reminding them they're not alone. Hearing the same from them. We're not alone.

I also know that our LGBTQ+ sisters and brothers are loved by God, a blessing and not a burden to the communities they're a part of, evidence of God's wonderful creativity, and will continue to find belonging at The Local Church. Everyone means everyone. Period. I am all in on that — now more than ever.

Today, for me, has an “Upper Room” feel to it (see John 20:19). You know. The disciples are disoriented and heartbroken. Jesus is dead, and all seems lost. And yet, in the wake of grief and confusion, the disciples still gathered. They did what was familiar. They spent time together... In fear, yes. But also because in one another, they remembered the One who brought them together. That's what we'll continue to do. Tonight at the Speakeasy. Tomorrow and Sunday at Local Tables. And on and on and on.

I lament the immense harm done yesterday in St. Louis, but I find hope on this side of Resurrection. We know how the story ends. We know that joy comes in the morning. We know that all is not lost. We know that Jesus is alive and God's grace is at work in ways that we cannot yet fully comprehend. We know that nothing can separate us from God’s love.

Many of you know that I keep my Bible in one hand and the U2 discography in the other. Today I’m remembering Bono's words from an interview a few years ago: "Joy is an act of defiance."

In these days ahead, I am committed to seeking justice with joy. And at The Local Church, we are committed to creating a bold, inclusive space with and for one another, our community, and the world.

Thanks be to God for you, friends. If you have any particular questions or concerns about what this means or what happens next, I welcome them. I don't have all the answers, but I'll do my best to offer what I can. You can email me here.

God is with you and for you. I am, too. Always.

Peace,
Brent

Brent Levy
Fuel Up Program Update

A Realization

At a recent round of Local Tables, we explored the idea of developing a system to provide, package, and distribute food in support of the Horton Middle School Fuel Up (Backpack) Program. After listening to your fantastic questions and ideas and feedback, we realized we were making it harder than it needs to be.

Rather than systematize a process across Local Tables, we’re taking a simpler approach.

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A Simpler Approach

We’re inviting you as an individual, as a family, or a team of families to respond to the needs of children at Horton Middle School. If you feel led to support a student in need, just let us know.

You can sign up or team up to support a youth by providing one week's supply of individual single-serve breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack items and bringing the week's supply to your Local Table. We'll take care of delivering the bags of food to Horton Middle School.  So… you buy it, you bring it, we'll deliver it!

You can sign up for just one time or from now until the end of the school year. A week's supply per child is approximately $10-15. We'll collect the food at each Local Table and deliver it that week to Horton Middle.

How To Sign Up

Please contact Colleen Sharp (cssharp39@gmail.com) if you are interested, have questions, or want to sign up.

We are looking to collect our first set of food at the next Local Tables:

Sunday Dinner, Feb 24 (Briar Chapel)
Monday, Feb 25 (Governors Club)
Thursday, Feb 28 (North. Chatham)
Sunday Brunch, Mar 3 (Powell Place)

Sign ups can be on a rolling basis. If you can't make it this time or commit this month, you can always sign up later and bring it to a future Local Table. Thanks be to God for your support and for loving local.

Brent LevyComment
50 Ways to Love Where You Are on Valentine's Day
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On our latest episode of Ten Minutes Or Less, we shared about how God’s love is there at our beginning and end, in between and beyond. It is a constant that surrounds us in every moment of our lives. Out of this love and because of this love at work in our lives (we’d call it God’s grace), we are sent then, as the hands and feet of Jesus, to be love in the world. In so doing, we recall and put flesh on the words from 1 John: “We love because God first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

At The Local Church, we capture this idea in our mantra, “Love Where You Are.” Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to remember that you are loved and then to carry that love into the world — wherever and with whom you find yourself. To help you do that, we’ve put together 50 Ways to Love Where You Are on Valentine’s Day. You can do these as an individual or as a family! And this list is by no means exhaustive. We’d love for you to add your own (in the comments below or on social media).

If this list inspires you to action, be sure to get pictures and then post them! Tag @localchurchpbo and use hashtag #lovewhereyouare!


  1. Buy the person in line behind you lunch or a cup of coffee. (This is especially fun in drive-thru situations!)

  2. Position yourself at the entrance to a business and hold the door open for everyone who walks in.

  3. Text someone you haven’t talked to in a while to reconnect.

  4. Stop and pray for the people in the place where you are.

  5. Leave an extra big tip at lunch or dinner.

  6. Meet someone new (and get their name!)

  7. Wish “Happy Valentine’s Day” to five people you don’t know.

  8. Read your Valentine’s Day card aloud instead of just handing it to someone.

  9. Pick up some trash in the parking lot on the way to your car.

  10. Donate to a local mission/charity.

  11. Sing “Happy Birthday” to someone — even if it’s not their birthday!

  12. Carry someone’s groceries to their car for them.

  13. Return shopping carts to the front of a store.

  14. Turn off your phone (or other device) to focus on the person in front of you.

  15. Bake a treat for a neighbor.

  16. Talk less. Listen more.

  17. Take some chalk to a park and leave messages (or pictures) of love and encouragement.

  18. Leave a note under the windshield complimenting someone’s parking.

  19. Pick up donuts (or cinnamon rolls) in the morning, and share them throughout the day.

  20. Learn something new about your community.

  21. Adopt a pet who needs some love.

  22. Throw a spontaneous party for your neighbors. (Or begin planning one!)

  23. Invite someone to sit with you.

  24. Learn about the zero-waste movement, and think about what you can do to join.

  25. Deliver a singing telegram to someone you don’t know. (Or someone you do.) Be sure to have someone get video!

  26. Start a book (or read a blog) written by someone who sees the world differently than you do.

  27. Forgive someone who has hurt you.

  28. Put some reusable bags in your car to use while grocery shopping.

  29. Buy a dozen roses and give them away to strangers one-by-one.

  30. Donate food to a local food pantry (like CORA or Take and Eat).

  31. Invite someone to a Local Table!

  32. Text or email someone who has recently lost a close friend or family member.

  33. Write and mail a thank you note.

  34. Take a selfie with someone you love. Share it on Instagram or Facebook!

  35. Pray for someone who is difficult for you to love.

  36. Leave a note of encouragement for someone to find (at school, work, or another public place).

  37. Buy a potted plant to give away.

  38. Go plogging. (It’s a thing.)

  39. Patronize a local business you’ve never been to.

  40. Buy a bag of Hershey’s kisses (or bake some cookies) and give them away to strangers.

  41. Get on Pinterest, and hand-make a card for somebody.

  42. Build and/or put up a bird feeder.

  43. Give someone a compliment (about something other than their appearance!)

  44. Leave a handwritten thank you note for your mail carrier or the people who pick up your garbage and recycling.

  45. Loan a book you love to a friend.

  46. Let someone ahead of you in line.

  47. Love the earth by getting your coffee “to-stay” (in a reusable mug) instead of to-go.

  48. Leave a kind note in a library book for the next person to read. (No spoilers!)

  49. Write a favorite poem or Bible verse on a card, and give it to someone.

  50. Wear your Love Where You Are shirt (and talk about it!)

Brent LevyComment
Late Night Online Bible Study Returns!

Beginning Monday, February 4, our Late Night Online Bible Study returns for six weeks of a (pants optional) deep dive into scripture — this time focusing on Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians. Led by our Duke Divinity intern/planter-in-training Stephan Margeson, the fun begins each Monday night at 8:30 pm. It’s late enough that you’ll (hopefully) have the kids to bed, but not too late that you can’t keep your eyes open. Get all the dates on your calendar now by mashing this link. Discover more here.

Brent LevyComment
Now Hiring: Worship Leader
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The Spirit’s been moving, and we’re drawing ever closer to becoming a worshipping community (in the traditional sense, anyway). The Local Church is seeking a worship leader to help dream, design, and lead our worship gatherings that will begin this summer. If you know someone who might be interested, send them our way! More details about worship will be coming soon. Until then, head here to find all the details about our opening.

Brent LevyComment
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