Good Old Words
When Pastor Chris and I started working together toward the vision of a new church in Midtown, we knew we weren’t really doing anything “new.” In fact, we talked a lot about very old things and how we could reimagine them in a new place. This included “old” words that we wanted to reclaim so that they could provide language to guide a new, old church. Certain words have been twisted up, misused, and confused; but they are really important. Others have been overused and lost their meaning, but we still really need them.
So through many conversations together and with others, we settled on five “old” words that we wanted to reclaim so that their meaning could shape us. Now, almost four years later, hopefully some of these words sound familiar to those who a part of the 8th Street Church.
It’s not about being better than someone else, or looking a certain way. Holiness is really the fullness of who God is, and an invitation into becoming like Him as we walk with Jesus. This word describes God in a way that no other word can; it stands for hope, wholeness, goodness and a kind of “other-worldly-ness.”
Often we hear this word and think it’s just about escaping hell. But the whole meaning is really about restoring all things to their intended good purpose and design. It’s a holistic picture of well-being for people, including mind, body and soul. We loved this word because it tells a big story of something intended for good that has been ruined, and is now being made right again.
Usually people think of this as a super old word for church, or a Catholic church in particular. It is a really old concept, rooted in the historical practice of caring for a place, a practice we wanted to embody. We wanted to be people of a place, giving care to a specific place with clear geographic boundaries and the people within.
Many of us hear this word and get exhausted, thinking about the work it takes to entertain in a “Pinterest-worthy” style. We wanted to recapture its true meaning of making space for people and their needs, dreams, ideas and contributions they bring.
This is a hopeful word. It doesn’t just mean “end times,” or a cataclysmic end of the world. It’s about the redemption of all things, the work that will one day be completed when all of creation is healed. We wanted to bring it back because we want God’s good future to shape our lives in the present, so that we can participate with God to bring joy, safety, inclusion and healing even now.
Beginning this week in worship, we will explore the full meaning of these good, old words in the even older words of the Prophet Isaiah. In the process, we pray that we would learn to embody their full meaning more and more.
May we be people who live with God’s future, the healing of all things, in mind.
May we be people who receive Jesus’ perfect hospitality, and extend it to others.
May we experience the redemption of God in our own lives, that we may work with him toward the restoration of others in body, mind, and spirit.
May we be people of a place on 8th Street, in Midtown, in Oklahoma City, to listen and care well for our neighbors.
May we become holy as we are invited to share in the fullness, the wholeness, the holiness that is God himself.