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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,

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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.

Embrace the Awkward

My life has been full of awkward moments. Good awkward and bad awkward.

Whether it was the time I got fired from Chick-fil-A, the comments about my legs in bright yellow tights when I dressed up as the bird at Red Robin, or untold stories from college (don’t worry about it…), these are the moments I remember. Awkward moments and you-had-to-be-there stories I’ll carry with me for a long, long time.

But there are good awkward moments, too. Think about the moment you met your best friend, partner, or spouse. Chances are good one of those moments was awkward. But chances are also good those awkward moments changed the course of your life forever… in a good way.

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The stories in the bible are also full of awkwardness. Jesus’ disciples — his closest friends and followers — consistently came face-to-face with their own cringe-worthy and head-scratching moments. They watched as a woman washed Jesus’ feet with her hair and her tears. They saw Jesus restore a man’s sight with a mixture of spit and mud. They saw a man raised from the dead and smelled it, too. And they heard Jesus say astounding, uncomfortable things like “Let the dead bury their dead,” and “If you want to find your life, you have to lose it.” Suuuuuuper awkward.

A life of following Jesus is an awkward life. But as the disciples came to discover, those awkward moments can change everything… in a good way.

This Thursday night, The Local Church is launching Local Tables — the heart and soul of this fledgling movement in Chatham. Our bias is this: In a world fraught with division, isolation, and hyper-partisanship, we believe that the simple act of gathering together to listen, learn, love, and serve can save our lives and change the world. Now more than ever, we need to know our neighbors. We need to live and love local.

Chances are good there will be awkward moments.
Chances are good that you can think of any number of other things to do with your Thursday night.  
But chances are also good that the awkward moments you’ll experience can change everything… in a good way.

So I hope you’ll take a risk, embrace the awkward, and be part of the first-ever Local Table — Thursday at 6 pm at the Briar Clubhouse in Briar Chapel. Dinner and childcare will be provided. Get all the details here. RSVP via Evite here or Facebook here, and if you have questions, feel free to email me.

Brent LevyComment
It's happening!
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I am so excited for our first-ever Local Table at The Local Church! These Local Tables will be the heartbeat of the community and will shape us and transform us in powerful ways. The first Local Table kicks off on Thursday, March 15 at 6 pm at the Briar Clubhouse. Click here to learn more!

Maybe you're thinking, "Do I really need one more thing to do?"

No. Of course not. None of us do. But here's the thing: my deep hope is that these Local Tables won't be just one more thing to add to your plate. One more thing to do. One more obligation. There's no life there. Instead, I hope Local Tables will be a means of Sabbath and a means of grace. In other words, I hope you'll come to make meaningful friendships, find space to breathe amidst the busyness of our regular rhythms and routines, and see the holy in the ordinary. We'll gather for a meal, talk about some good stuff, and then we'll figure out a way to serve the community. It's going to be good.

I believe that gathering is resistance and that these Local Tables can change the world and save our lives if we let it. It might be awkward at first, but the best things in life always start that way.

I'd love to see you at our Local Tables Kickoff on March 15! Click here to RSVP.

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