8th Street Dreams-Past & Future
Back in 2015 when 8th Street Church launched, we asked Katelyn Lamb-Swanigan to envision the next five years in the life of 8th Street Church; this year, on our 5th anniversary, she again wrote a letter, but this time looking back, as well as forward. In our outdoor service on December 6, 2020, Am're Ford joined Katelyn by reading the letter to the future church.
Below, you will find both letters in their entirety, or click here to watch.
My brothers and sisters,
What a beautiful thing it is to be on this journey with you. We have become a family, sharing one goal and one heart through the love and purpose of Jesus Christ. But while we are saved and restored by Him, we yet remain hopelessly and hopefully in the process of becoming.
There will be days along this road that feel desert dry, moments when we empty our whole selves and come away broken, disappointed, rejected. There will be hours so dark, enemies so fierce, pain so deep it will seem unbearable. You may feel lonely. You may feel insufficient and afraid, unprepared, unloving, or unloved.
But know this – the darkness pushes hardest against those with the most light.
Suffering and fear have their say but in this people, they will never hold the last word. You are and will continue to become a community of courage – you will tell the truth when you have much to gain from deceit. You will practice love when reservation and selfishness are more efficient. You will be good neighbors, boldly seeking out the hearts of people around you. You will embrace compassion, valuing and taking care of others without assessing what they can do for you. You will allow yourself to be seen, to be known, and to be loved when it is far easier to hide, perform, and please. We will, through God’s power and for his glory, take on the life of Christ, living out his mission of restoration, freedom, and love.
As you go out to love this city, know that you in your entirety, your every thought, your very breath is precisely, preciously cherished by our Savior. Walk in the way we were created for – not because it is easy but because it is good and it is true. As the church, our aim must always exceed our reach as we seek to become the embodied heart of God. We continue to become even as we are becoming. For the past, this was our purpose. For the present, it is our prayer. And for the future, our prophecy..
My brothers and sisters,
Look at you. Just look at you.
Thinking back on our first five years together, much has remained and much has changed and in five more years, I imagine I will be saying the same. New faces, a new place.
You have made something old, new again.
You have restored a space where there was legacy but not life.
You have joined in the chorus of liturgy, inviting many into the new power and peace of ancient words and rituals.
You have fostered hope where there was hurt and bitterness and fear.
You have brought forth refreshment where there was weariness.
And still, you will continue to discover and cultivate resurrection. You will find more new spaces to renew, whether they are physical places, programs, words, practices, or relationships. You will plant seeds and witness their growth, you will sow and you will reap. You will be filled up by and fill up others when you are empty.
You have been in real relationships.
You have brought meals, hosted showers, blessed unions and partnerships, cried and laughed with, told the truth, heard the truth, apologized and made amends, danced and sung together, celebrated and grieved. You have looked others in the eye. You have refused to dehumanize, other, or reject. You have asked questions, been listeners and listened to. You have expanded the circle of who you care for and who cares for you ever wider. You have born the greatest risk of asking to be known, seen, and loved and then gone and met that great risk in others with a resounding YES. Yes, I know you, yes I see you, and yes I love you.
And still, you will continue to experience real relationships. You will bring yourself - your whole, imperfect, beloved self - into this community. You will hear and witness unspeakable pain and speak truth, to yourself and to those you love. You will embody care, you will do, serve, extend, nurture, give, wait, show up for and come alongside those who call on you. You will experience the holy terror of being loved and the delight and strength of loving in return.
You have been good and useful neighbors.
You have shared power, helped paint walls and clear trees, cleaned, cooked, provided shelter, warmth, food, and kindness. You have echoed the words and work of those doing justice and provided comfort and care to the often overlooked. You have learned and continue to learn and repent of the sins of racism, misogyny, violence, and all manner of injustice within yourself, your workplaces, families, and communities. You have given tangibly to our schools, our teachers, our nonprofits, our leaders, and many more.
And still, you will keep doing good for those around you. You will find needs to meet, desires and dreams to cherish and partner with. You will seek out the least of these and make much of them. You will continue to be good and generous stewards of your land, your space, your money, your talents, your time. You will lend hope, share vision and power, and follow when it would be more comfortable to lead. You will name and grieve the injustices committed against your neighbor, especially those committed by yourself, and work for their good in every possible way. You will honor the other and find the joyful intersection of your great hope and our world's great need.
You have come to know and make known the way of Jesus.
You have dared to declare the kingdome of God in the midst of war, poverty, natural destruction, terrorism, injustice, racism, recession, unemployment, mental illness, pandemic, politics, loss, sickness, and death. You have sought Jesus in the everyday and the extraordinary. You have looked to the cross when it would have been easier to attack or blame. You have proclaimed resurrection when it would have been easier to perish. You have been with God and God has surely been with you.
And still, you continue to seek Jesus and long to live out his presence in your life. You will listen and have your heart opened by ancient words, simple stories, and songs, by prayers both spoken and lived. You will feel God’s nearness, be wrapped up in the presence of Jesus as you work, worship, study, rest, teach, play, wait, speak, and dream. You will be taught and led by the Spirit, moved to compassion, conviction, and change. You will share this light, holding it for your neighbor when theirs feels dim. You will be wholly and completely loved and you will be called on to love in return.
All of this you have done, through the Spirit at work within and through you.
And still, you continue to dream. We are delighted to be dreaming alongside you.