There's plenty to disagree about, God knows. Priorities, ways and means, the ever multiplying nuances of theology, service, leadership -- living in community of any size is problematic at best, and unspeakably horrific at worst.
The daily challenge is to speak the truth in love, despite deep and important differences. Can we walk and work together in our nation, our local communities and our families? Can we reach out across the many things that divide us? This grand experiment that we regularly embark on has hope and despair vying for pre-eminence; creation and destruction held in tenuous embrace. The smallest word or action can tilt the balance. Dare we hope for one nation, under God, indivisible?
Church Leaders Network
The local Church Leaders Network meets monthly, with pastors and leaders from many denominations coming together to form relationships, pray together and embark on projects that serve the community at large. Last month nearly 20 churches and organizations cleaned, gardened, painted and repaired local schools, shelters and other civic endeavors. In this way, the friendships formed among the church leaders were expanded to include people of good will throughout the county. The CLN meets for lunch on the first Wednesday of the month in various locations.
Contact Michelle at 429-1162, ext. 232, for more information.
Healing Encounter Ministries
Working together on physical, emotional and spiritual levels forges bonds that allow wisdom and knowledge to flow between congregations. Today between 10 a.m. and noon people from several churches will gather to pray for those in need. Anyone can come and request prayer. After a time of worship, trained prayer teams of two or three people will pray for whatever needs are brought before them. Requests often include healing from illness, freedom from depression and the restoration of relationships. The Healing Encounter Ministries also create a practicum for people involved in the healing ministry. Come to Aptos Christian Fellowship at 7200 Freedom Boulevard in Aptos.
For more information contact Dave Geschwend at 431-0788.
Ring the Bells
Multiple threads connect us, including small acts of kindness and joyous music. On Sunday, Dec. 9, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is offering a free Christmas concert. "A Pioneer Christmas" uses stories and journals from the westward migration of 1846 to create a musical event with the Santa Cruz Stake choir, soloists, fiddlers and a bell choir directed by Ruth Kasper.
The evening presentation will provide an opportunity to collect donations of nonperishable food for the Valley Churches United Mission Christmas Project, which has given food, presents and supplies to families in need for nearly 30 years. "A Pioneer Christmas" begins at 7 p.m. at the Santa Cruz Stake, 220 Elk St. in Santa Cruz.
For more information contact Wes Sims 706-7360.
Show up and Make Connections
I happened across photographer John Paulson at an arts fair a couple of months ago and was pulled in by his marvelous picture of a wooden door in an old Italian brick building. In the ensuing conversation I discovered that Paulson had also displayed his work at a Twin Lakes Church Fair, thereby making the connection that led to his glorious photo of Jerusalem gracing the cover of Pastor Rene Schlaepfer's new book, "The Jesus Journey."
Schlaepfer's book emerges from his experience leading a church tour to Israel. Scripture, geography, history and stories from people in all walks of life round out this accessible, uplifting account of Jesus's life and work. "The Jesus Journey: Forty Days in the Footsteps of Christ," is organized into 40 short sections that could be used individually or in a small group study. The book has already sold more than 4,000 copies. Visit JesusJourneyBook.com.
John Paulson is a master photographer who has traveled widely, bringing beautiful and stunning photos home for everyone to enjoy. You can see more of his work at JohnEricPaulson.com.
Maybe I should write a book about a wooden door ...
ENDQUOTE: "Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success." -- Henry Ford
The In the Spirit column runs monthly. Contact Alliee DeArmond through The Word Shop in Aptos at firstname.lastname@example.org.