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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Friday, March 4, 2011

Surprised

On a recent conference call with the team supporting our church planters in the city of Barrie ON, Matthew and Irena Swain, the conversation turned to how we are sometimes caught by surprise as the Holy Spirit moves in ways we did not anticipate. It was noted that, in order to be surprised in that way, we need to make ourselves available by putting ourselves “out there” where we can see what God is doing with God’s beloved in God's world. While it is theoretically possible for God to surprise us while we are sitting at home on the couch watching TV, it doesn’t generally seem to happen that way, does it?

As I reflected on this following that call, I remembered times when such surprise had happened in our little Barrie community. I recalled a time when Matthew was struggling; not sure of his direction. The new plant did not seem to be growing as fast as Matt might have liked, and he was beginning to experience some doubts. After spending some time in heart-felt prayer, Matthew went to a coffee shop where he wound up talking to a young man who is a musician. As they talked together, a connection began to form between them. They shared openly; Matthew about his dream of a new church in Barrie, and the musician about his own life and searching. Matthew went to the coffee shop discouraged, but came away uplifted and excited, confident that his new friend has a place in the dream of the new church community. Surprise!

I also remembered Matthew’s encounter with a lady at the bank who casually asked him about his work. This lady did not have a church, and clearly wasn’t looking for one, but she listened to Matthew’s vision of a church that would be a blessing to the community, touching the lives of people and making a difference for the people who live there; a church that really “did something”. When Matthew was finished talking she said, “I would like to be part of a church like that.” Not long after, while talking to a friend, this lady shared that she had found a church she wanted to be part of. Surprise!

I thought of Matthew’s volunteer work at the shelter for homeless people where he has gotten to know many of the people who come. When they first met this clean cut young man with very short hair, there was a general suspicion that he was probably a certain kind of police officer; a “narc” as they are commonly known on the street. I couldn’t help but hear the amazement in Matthew’s voice as he shared about how some of those same men have come to know him, not just as a pastor, but as their pastor! Surprise!

Interesting that none of those surprises came about by sitting in the Swain’s living room, nor did they happen while sitting in the church sanctuary. (We don’t even have a sanctuary.) No, these encounters happened out on the street, in a coffee shop, the bank, and at the homeless shelter. It all reminds me of Jesus walking the dusty streets and paths of Palestine, and the people he encountered there; a woman in a busy farmer’s market and another at a well in Samaria to cite just two examples. Surprise!

May you and I be ready to put ourselves in a position where we can be truly surprised by what God is doing on the streets of the towns where we dwell.

Posted by Carman

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