Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New Beginnings and the Seeds that were Sown . . . by Heidi Jakoby and Kari Henkelmann Keyl

Seeds of possibilities!
The past four weeks by the way has been celebrating four years of walking together as an ever-changing community of faith. Feel free to scroll down past this post, to find some of btw’s bloggers reflecting on how God’s grace has been flowing through by the way. This blog posting marks our official point of closure, but the blog will remain online as an ongoing resource for you and others who may be stopping by.

As we close this blog we are reminded of the many seeds that have been sown, those known and unknown. We’ve heard many of your stories of seeds planted, eyes opened wide, walls crumbling down, God’s growth happening in so many ways. The two of us also have grown greatly through this ministry and we have all of you to thank: All 1000 plus of you! We are so grateful for all of you who have taken the time to read what we have written, those who’ve come to chat and/or worship in person, those who skyped with us, those who supported us financially, and those who prayed faithfully for the btw community. Thank you!

It’s been quite a trip to see by the way morphing into different shapes, according to the way we all felt the Spirit leading us. We have the sense of what it is like to be “transfigured”, re-shaped and re-energized for God’s mission to reach out to those needing faith community.

This Sunday is known by many around the world as “Transfiguration Sunday,” and the story told in Matthew 17:1-9  will be the primary focus. Take a look at that story to see a group of disciples invited to go with Jesus to a high mountain top where Jesus was then transfigured before their eyes.

Transfiguration is a marked change in form or appearance, a metamorphosis that reveals something BIG. Can you imagine witnessing something like this? What would a modern day transfiguration look like? How would being present for such an event change your life? Have you ever had a “mountain top experience” an experience that was so profound it forever changed you… as the experience with Jesus changed the disciples with him?

We have had a number of “mountain top experiences” throughout the journey of by the way. Here’s a peek at a few of our peaks:
  • whenever we tried out a new public location, and there was a “moment” when this new space truly felt like God’s “sanctuary”
  • whenever we met together to hash out our seemingly insurmountable challenges and ended up transformed by a surprising new insight and direction
  • each time we gathered for Bread for Your Journey and found that a unique group of individuals was being shaped by God into a community where meaningful encounter was exhilarating
  • the first time we had over a thousand hits on our blog
  • when we changed from meeting in-person to meeting on audio-skype, and we realized that God could open us up to each other in new ways through this medium
  • the times that our ministries led to someone being baptized
You may have noticed that as Jesus and his followers were coming down off the mountain Jesus asked them not to tell anyone until after he had risen. They were asked to wait until the appointed time, when the glory-story would make sense. We, too, need to listen carefully as God guides us to know when to speak and when to be silent. Today we are clear that this is the time to share our ending and our thankfulness.

Telling a story well is like blowing the seeds of a wild-flower into the air, not knowing where they will go or how they will take root. Today we let go of by the way and we pray for the many seedlings we trust God is still tending, that they may grow to help people know the love of God.

We hope that the ways we have shared God’s love has touched you in some way and that you will continue to feel God’s embrace. Please feel free to let us all know how what’s on your mind at this time of closure. And if you have any blogs or websites that have provided faith community for you, please share them in our comments below.

You are most welcome to stop by by the way’s last audio-skype conversation this Thursday (March 3) at 7pmEST, when we’ll be journeying into Jesus’ transfiguration story and praying together for the world God so loves. You need to have downloaded the program from skype.com and have a microphone with your computer (as most laptops do). Notice that you don't need a webcam, since it's not a visual call. Add "bythewaycommunity" to your contacts list on skype, and call in on Thursday.

We’ll close with these words of spirited poetry:

Finish then thy new creation, pure and spotless let us be;
 let us see thy great salvation perfectly restored in thee:
 Changed from glory into glory, till in heaven we take our place,
 till we cast our crowns before thee, lost in wonder, love and praise!
 ~ from Love Divine, All Loves Excelling  by Charles Wesley  

Walking with you in the way of Jesus,

Heidi and Kari

(One of btw's bloggers wrote this this amazing piece on the importance of by the way's insights for the whole Church.  Don't miss it!)

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Tracy said...

Thanks for facilitating God's work in the "by the way" ministry. I am sure God will be tending all the "seeds" you have planted and nurtured and loved. Tracy J

Marjo said...

Kari and Heidi,
Although I'm not confident enough in my technological skills to actually get involved in 'btw' I am sure this is at least a part of the future of the church. Thank you for trying something new, for reaching out to people who live comfortably in cyberspace, for thinking outside physical reality, for your passion and energy and enthusiasm. You planted the seeds, others will water, and God, I am sure, will bring about growth. And the two of you will be called to ever more exciting and fulfilling ministries! God bless.

Kari said...

Tracy, thanks for your comment. It's been such a pleasure to get to know you via skype. I'm grateful for you and the ways you helped shape by the way!

Kari said...

Thanks, Marjo, for your comment here and for your encouragement and prayers. So appreciated!

listening and exploring faith together