Reimagining Church

Thriving Congregations Initiative: New Models for the 21st Century

A Song of Hope

By Jonathan Maresca

Advent is a time of waiting, expectation, and watchfulness for the God who has come, who is coming, and who is yet to come. 

It is time we are reminded that God never leaves us nor forsakes us, so much so, that God becomes a human in the most unlikely of ways. To get through our—sometimes thick—skulls and souls, that God is with us; God is deeply and immediately with us. 

It is no mistaken then that the first half of Zion’s Reimagining work has concluded at a time such as this – in Advent. 

Over the past month, I have glimpsed a renewed joy and hope in the hearts of the group. As Jane shared in her recent blog post, something has shifted in this past month. Like a baby wailing in a noisy manger, it is almost imperceptible. And, it is revelatory.

I have been graced with listening as each of the four Working Group members have shared their own personal and vulnerable stories of how they found a holy home at Zion. These stories shined a light on Zion’s soul—known by its acceptance, care, and belonging that only genuine community can offer. 

A community that not only shares joys, but suffering; a community that doesn’t coerce, but collaborates; a community that doesn’t shame, but sings.

And, let me tell you, there is a lot of singing at Zion. 

The song of these stories has been the processional anthem to make way for God in our midst. The song of these stories has been a praise-song—common at Zion—that God is with us in our lives. The song of these stories has been a hope-filled worship that God continues to surprise us with God’s presence in the work ahead.  

Together, we have stumbled upon the song of the soul of Zion. It is a song that has opened up new possibilities as seeing Zion as a place of abundance, asset, and aspiration.

As we continue join the chorus, I am eager to see where our work takes us in the new year. Knowing the melody of this song, we are now well-attuned to respond in step. To follow as those great Magi followed all those years ago, the north star of Zion’s soul, to the promise that God has in store for us. 

Image |  Sebastian Fröhlich on Unsplash