Quittin’ Day

17 May

Do you know the Author Bob Goff? He is a dreamer and writer who wrote, Love Does and now has a new book out called Everybody Always.

bob-goff-quote-4b-1170x1170-1

I read his first book a couple years ago while I was in the middle of life transitions and sorting out some twenty-something stuff in my own life. His writing is a collection of joyful, uplifting, and real stories that help to bring perspective to everyday life.

My favorite lesson that I picked up and continue to carry with me, is to quit something every Thursday.

That is a lot of quitting.

“Something every. single. week?” You might be asking. And YES, I say! Try for something every single week!

This is going to look different for all of us, as we are all finding ways to use our time and gifts and talents and challenges differently, but sit and think for a moment. What is something (an activity, a meeting, an assumption, a bias, a club, a piece of clothing, anything) that you could quit to free up space for more love in your life? For more joy? Can you think of one thing? Can you quit it today?

This lesson from Bob feels similar to the parable of the Vine and the Branches that Jesus tells us in John 15:1-8. Jesus is telling us that God prunes the branches to make room for new life. God prunes that which has died away, and also, God also prunes the branches that DO produce fruit. God is pruning the branches of Jesus’s vines that produce fruit so that they may produce MORE fruit.

What can be pruned in your life to produce more fruit? What had its season and now is time to be trimmed back?

I think what Goff is trying to tell us, is that we have to free up some space in our life. He follows his command to quit something by adding, “You can’t be open to new opportunities if your life is full.
So, what newness could lie ahead that you don’t currently have room for?

What can you quit today to join us in self-discovery, vocational discernment, spiritual formation, and building community during a year of service through Confluence Year? 

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Spring Cleaning

19 Mar

This past week I have spent a lot of time reflecting on the changing weather. I am a warm-weather person– I could stay out all day, shoes off and in a hammock, from sun up to sun down, if I could, when the weather warms up.

That is why I find it especially difficult to be from Ohio where you have about 2 months a year where that is feasible… and then a sprinkling of days throughout the rest of the year where you can shed your jacket and umbrella (and if you are incredibly lucky: both!!).

With the spring, in my mind, comes this transition of bringing the outside world to the inside.

In my life that looks like opening all the windows and bringing fresh air in to sweep out the winter stuffiness. At the Confluence House, that means Spring Cleaning! Back in January we started some construction and updating to make the house more comfortable for our Corps members.

Left: Rev. Reat taking a crowbar to that tile backsplash. [It didn’t even do anything to her!] Right: The “finished” before pic. Kitchen updates in full swing!

Here in March, we are wrapping up those renovations, clearing the dust as it has settled, and preparing the house for a new cohort of young adults!

Spring Cleaning gives us the opportunity to transition an old space for a new use and to see with clear eyes again. Over the cycle of the winter it is easy to settle in to life as we know it. But spring cleaning allows us to dust off our lens and find a fresh way of being in the world.

In a few short months, our Confluence House will become home to a new cohort of young, passionate, and excited adults who will come in with clear eyes. Our preparation in the meantime will help transition the space to new life.

Next month, we will bless our fresh space and we will share pictures of the new life we have created an opening for!

What parts of your life need a good spring cleaning?

How can this fresh, brisk air of an on-again-off-again springtime bring new life to you?

What is love today?

14 Feb

This year, as you’ve probably heard 100 times already, Ash Wednesday falls on St. Valentine’s Day. While these two may seem at odds, to the theological church nerd’s among us, they line up quite beautifully.

Ash Wednesday is about God bringing us in closer to God’s heart and making us new. Forgiving us and creating in us clean and beautiful hearts.

I don’t really know what Valentine’s day is about in our culture anymore, but what if we took today, instead of filling it with heart-eye emojis to those we love, but rather, thinking about the ways in which those whom we love fill our hearts? What if we took today to forgive the things we’ve held on to about our friends, loved ones, and significant others, because today God makes us clean again?

It’s a weird intersection, but it’s also kind of perfect. What if we remember to whom we belong, and pour love out of that to those we care about, and also those whom we don’t know yet.

Below there is an amazing Ash Wednesday Prayer by Shawna Bowman, a pastor in Chicago.

Prayer For Ash Wednesday
Jesus was one of those strange mystics who always seemed to know
the need of the one standing in front of him
Lost, found, hungry, fed, afraid or joyful – one look and he just knew,
like a soul-reader,
who you are and what you’re lacking, or hoarding, or harboring.
As we embark on this Lenten journey let’s tell the truth about ourselves:
Some of us have more than we need.
If we have more than we need let us release the extra and the excess back into the world trusting our fullness will be enough.
Some of us are overwhelmed.
If we’re filled up so full we’re bursting let’s stop. Stop eating or drinking. Stop moving. Stop yessing every question and request. Just stop. Rest. Pray. Repeat.
Some of us have nothing left to give and nothing left to give up.
If we’re empty then let’s get fed, but let’s choose wisely, let’s fill ourselves on something that will sustain us. Bread sure, but how about deep and abiding love? How about a giant-ass spoonful of grace?
Some of us are lost.
If we’re lost and spiraling or buried under rubble then let’s put our arms around one another and lament.
Lament the lost and the left behind,
Lament the darkness,
Lament the dead and dying,
Lament at the borders and in the borderlands.
Let’s cry out for help and human connection and for the soul-reader to find us, to see us and to feed us too.
Some of us are found.
If we are standing on solid ground,
If we know who and whose we are,
If we have glimpses the beauty of the soul-reader’s wild and redeeming grace then we also know it’s not our own doing and we didn’t get here on our own.
We know the road can be hard and long
and we know we must reach forward and back to bring one another along
To pick one another up
To become soul-readers and rehumanizers ourselves,
So when we look into one another’s eyes and paint one another’s faces with ashes we will remember that we are both
fragile and resilient,
we are living and we are dying,
And in life and in death we all,
no matter who we are,
belong to God. Amen.

NEW FULL TIME CRIS POSITIONS THROUGH CONFLUENCE

7 Jul

Confluence is proud to announce an expanded partnership with Community Refugee & Immigration Service (CRIS) and will be hiring for two Episcopal Service Corps positions which will be placed full time at CRIS. Placement includes a position with CRIS as either a Community Engagement Specialist or Pre-Arrival Intern during the Episcopal Service Corps year which runs from August 6th, 2017 – June 30th, 2018. See Below for Job Description.

Visit ABOUT to learn more about the Confluence Episcopal Service Corps Program and Apply Here Today!

Email Program Director, Emma Helms-Steimetz, with any questions at ConfluenceYear@Gmail.com or Call at 513.477.8184

CRIS Community Engagement InternCRIS Pre-Arrival Intern Description

Introducing New Confluence Program Director

30 Jun
St. John’s Columbus is proud to introduce the new Confluence Year Program Director, Emma Helms-Steinmetz. Emma and Jed Dearing will be working alongside each other during the month of July, and she will assume full responsibility for the program in August.
Below is more about Emma. We couldn’t be more excited to have her taking the lead here in Franklinton.
Emma
Emma’s passion for community building started young on meals on wheels visits in Cincinnati with her mom. As a college student at Capital University she continued to bring people together over food and good conversation and felt called toward the ministry of community. Each summer in college she worked with YouthWorks and fell in love with communities across the country, spending summers in small town PA, San Francisco , CA, and two summers in Jackson, Mississippi. She earned her B.A. in religion and cultural studies from Capital University and never expected that she’d find herself back in Columbus. After working in a number of nonprofits in recruitment, development, and youth engagement, she knew she wanted to branch back into theological studies. She attended Trinity Lutheran Seminary where she received her Master’s of Theological Studies.
Emma has a passion for working with youth and young women, leadership development, and connecting folks to resources that will help them thrive.
She loves to find all the best columbus eats, exploring unique markets, and staying up to date on her favorite shows with her husband, Cory, and their three pets, Sophie, Lola, and Cami the bulldog.

Hiring for CRIS Refugee Arrival Specialist Confluence service corps position

14 Jun

Confluence Year is hiring and placing a service corps member for 35 hours a week with Community Refugee & Immigration Services. Applications go directly through Confluence, and health benefits, stipend, and room & board are all provided through Confluence. The Confluence year runs from August 6th, 2017 – June 30th, 2018.

Confluence Year is a year-long Episcopal Service Corps residential service-learning program in the lower west side neighborhood of Franklinton, just a mile from downtown Columbus. Confluence is for college graduates from the ages of 21 — 30 who commit to a year of social justice, spiritual formation, and vocational discernment in intentional community.

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CRIS is an independent non-profit organization that serves the growing refugee and immigrant populations in Central Ohio. We have over 50 staff members that hail from more than 15 countries with many languages represented. Many of their staff persons have been refugees themselves and are integral members of the communities they serve.

Essential Job Functions:
Coordinate pre-arrival preparations for refugees, ensuring all new arrivals have furniture, food, and a welcome kit of essential material items
Receive and enter related information into Google Drive database and/or calendar
Assess needs of arriving cases according to their bio-data forms and communicating needs to caseworkers
Schedule Furniture Bank of Central Ohio (FBCO) appointments, attend the appointments, and coordinate the delivery of furniture to clients’ residence
Oversee the gathering of welcome kit items and the delivery of material items to clients’ residence
Streamline pre-arrival services to ensure compliance with the program’s cooperative agreement
Maintain proper case notes to document case preparations and services provided
Manage partnerships with donor organizations
Assist with social media outlets as needed

Work Experience and Skill Requirements:
Skilled in interpersonal and intercultural communication
Strong organizational and time management skills
Experienced working with diverse populations
Strong ability to contribute to teamwork
Highly skilled with MS Word, Excel, the internet, email and database management systems
Excellent verbal and written English language skills
Ability to maintain high performance standards with attention to detail
Willingness to travel frequently throughout Central Ohio
Ability to quickly and independently develop solutions under pressure
Willingness to undergo required background check
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The job placement with CRIS is only one part of the Episcopal Service Corps experience.

Spend a year in INTENTIONAL COMMUNITY learning to live simply and sustainably in a renovated home with four others in the impoverished lower west side neighborhood of Franklinton in Columbus, OH.

Learn to enact SOCIAL JUSTICE through volunteering 5 hours a week with neighborhood non profits like the Urban Farm run by Franklinton Gardens and Franklinton Cycleworks, a NfP bicycle co-op providing transportation options and training for the homeless and underserved.

Pursue SPIRITUAL FORMATION through contemplative spiritual practices with your housemates, and worship and service opportunities with St. John’s Episcopal Church, which serves the large homeless population of Franklinton. Confluence is open and affirming, and anyone of any faith may apply, as this program is shaped primarily by the open and inclusive Christian faith as expressed by the Episcopal Church.

Because an aspect of the program is to be a means to empower young adults to discernment and independent living, we are not considering applicants over 30 at this time. While many of our worksites do require a college degree, we are open to young adults with comparable experience. Participants receive excellent health benefits, room & board including a full share CSA, monthly stipend, COTA (bus) pass, bicycle, and internet & utilities.

Visit http://episcopalservicecorps.org/programs/confluence-year/ to apply, or contact Program Director Jed Dearing to learn more. Email ConfluenceYear@Gmail.com or call Jed at 614.221.9328 with any questions.

God in the Cloud

28 Feb

Sunday, February 26th, Confluence volunteers led Saint John’s Franklinton, their host parish, in worship. The congregation was blessed and challenged by Confluence member, Steven Simpkins, who gave the following sermon that he had developed in collaboration with the other Confluence members.

steven-preaching

“It was about a month before my dad died. I had a moment like Peter in the Gospel reading today. I wanted to make a dwelling for the space of the dazzling white I experienced. I was amazed, terrified, and overwhelmed with love all at the same time. I wanted to eternalize that so it could be revered and honored again and again. The small seizures my dad was stricken with made him blind. His Hazelnut eyes were cloudy and he listened to where a voice came from and tried to look in that general direction. He was signing his Power of Attorney over to me. When the lawyer asked my dad if he was certain that he wanted me to be the Power of Attorney, my dad with his blind eyes that would at times confuse my sister and I looked me straight in the eyes. In my eyes! and held it for a few moments before saying yes and signing his name with a large X nowhere near the line, despite the lawyer’s guiding hand. I hadn’t said a word the whole time, but somehow he found me and my eyes. I was astonished. To this day, when I think about that moment that felt like hours chills go down my spine. In three of the lessons God’s divine presence is explicitly described as a cloud. Maybe God, for that moment chose a pair of cloud-filled eyes to reveal God-self in a small subtle way.

But what does God choosing a cloud to veil God-self mean for us in our daily lives? And what wisdom can we glean from Peter planning to create three dwellings to honor Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. The vivid nature imagery in the lessons today all relate to mundane, ordinary parts of life and the natural environment. What message is related by God’s presence in every day, usual parts of the world? Why does God choose clouds near mountaintops for communication? Nicole, Caroline, and I traditionally think of clouds as large, dark forces. We imagine an unfortunate down-in-the-dumps cartoon character, like Eeyore being followed around by a rain cloud.

But God’s clouds are bright clouds that have the beaming intensity of fires capable of consuming mountains. God takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary! God is everywhere in the ordinary if we are attentive and aware. Today’s epistle serves as a warning to pay attention to our surroundings and to do so patiently and persistently. We are told to look for the majesty of God in the world as if God were a lamp shining in a dark place. It might be worrisome that encountering God’s majesty seems so inconsistent in our lives but God is here and everywhere if we pay attention. If the community welcomes what one scholar calls the transformative power of unshackled nature then God’s consistent presence in the ordinary will be undeniable.

Mountains are a place within scripture where God and the transformative power of unshackled nature meet. Mountainous terrain exists in a space that represents the in between of the Earthly world and God’s kin-dom. Mountains feel closer to God. It isn’t a coincidence that God seems to frequent such vast, awe-inspiring landscapes. Nicole, during her summers as a camp counselor in Colorado encountered the power of unshackled nature when she was leading campers up a mountain during an unexpected thunder storm. Some campers didn’t have rain coats and were terrified by the lightning strikes that seemed to send the signal that children were not welcome at the top of the mountain.

The group carried on though, they had already reached the altitude where friendly looking green plants stop existing in abundance. Amidst the uncertainty and fear they carried on, as if the mountaintop possessed the lamp shining in the dark place referenced in 2 Peter. The storm-cloud passed without injury and the children made it to the top in silence, full of awe and wonder. They giggled with soft intensity that their little bodies had the patient perseverance necessary to accomplish the feat. We could learn a lot (as we always can) from these children. In the face of doubt and uncertainty they trusted and continued on their path and were rewarded with what I imagine to be God’s overflowing presence.

When we face darkness in our lives can we cling to our faith with confidence, however uneasy, and hope like the children in the midst of the storm? But was God in those clouds? Striking fear into their hearts? The Confluence house has to believe that God would not dole out such suffering but rather suffers through it with the community. God is, paradoxically, where we expect God to be and where we least expect God to be at the same time. God’s cloud-ness is a clue for where we can find God in our daily lives.

And when we find God I think we would all react like Peter and start building a temple to commemorate the life-changing event we witnessed. Peter isn’t the misinformed character we almost always understand him to be in this instance. Peter had seen the glory and power of God and was transformed by it. Peter was at the mountaintop and saw God become like us. Peter knows it is right and good and always acceptable to worship God and Peter rightly wants to continue the ascent. What good does it do to return down the mountain if nothing has changed within you, you would be no different than anyone else and nothing would change! Christ, however, knew that Peter was ready to go into the world in love and encouraged Peter, James, and John to return to society with Christ Transfigured.

Jesus was transfigured, leaving the disciples in fear and awe, and immediately imparts shockingly simple wisdom to Peter, James, and John. Don’t stay on the mountain and build a temple to me. Jesus without saying it says “I am a living temple, a living mountaintop, follow me.” Live into the reality you have witnessed and live in a way that exemplifies God’s presence so others can have their eyes opened to the sometimes light in the dark and sometimes devouring fire of God’s presence and experience the life-giving and breath-taking beauty of God.

When we have been transformed we are to follow Jesus down the mountain and into the community! Like Peter, without a nudge from Jesus we may not know when we too have been transformed. Caroline recalls feeling an incredible connection to God following a mission trip to Guatemala. She built homes for families who needed them and felt God overflowing through her. The day after she got back from the trip she went to church, and felt the sermon. She felt like she finally got it. She felt like God was in the moment, with overflowing love. She felt how one the Guatemalan children looked, smiling from ear to ear. Embracing the moment. The starting point of love for God transformed into love of the world and all its inhabitants! The moment of the mission trip seeped into her every day life and Christ called her down from the mountain. She was Peter! She followed Christ with a full heart in her life.

Part of following Jesus is sharing the Good News. But as everyone in the Confluence house has learned, it can be hard to share the Good News when God’s presence feels less like a mountaintop moment and more like an ever so faint whisper in the depths of the sea. How do we faithfully live into the fear and uncertainty of the future? How do we follow Christ into a cloud? How do we live without building moments that prevent seeing God in unpredictable ways, especially if God feels distant? We would do well to, as 2 Peter says, to be attentive. To seek God out. Even in the darkness. To listen to the Cloud that said “This is my Son, the Beloved, with him I am well pleased, listen to him.”

To see and experience God we have to try to listen for Jesus in our hearts or feel the Holy Spirit in our bodies and however else we might experience God. How can we expect to feel God’s presence if we don’t seek God out? God is all around us, if we seek God out. God is in our neighbors. Jesus is in the face of everyone we encounter, if we pay attention. God is in our eyes. Something so ordinary and mundane is God’s dwelling. I welcome everyone to greet one another more frequently by sharing eye contact. It would help us share our common humanity in a profound way. Our clear eyes, our red, sleep-deprived eyes, our sick eyes, our addict eyes, our watery, tearful eyes, and in our cloudy near-death eyes. I have felt God in my core all the way to my extremities by looking at the last set of eyes.”