Last week we received the exciting news that our application for a matching grant from the Center for Congregations, through their Community Ministry Grant program, was approved. This grant will provide almost $7000 to further Central's efforts begun last year to connect more intentionally in and with the neighborhood around our building. It will allow us to host two art shows next year, delve further into storytelling events, host s'mores events and luncheons to connect people in our neighborhood, create opportunities for spiritual conversations with young adults, and continue developing our ministry through the labyrinth and Concerts with a Cause. In order to connect more effectively, we'll engage with some folks who can help us in our use of social media and relationship-building. All this, we hope and pray, will strengthen the fabric of our neighborhood and connect us in ways that are based on love and justice.
In the phone call that told us this good news, the project director called our application "beautiful" and "inspiring." It's easy to lose sight of those qualities when we're in the midst of the details of organizing events and putting together applications, so I was thankful to hear her perspective. It really is both beautiful and inspiring to work with all of you to build the kind of community we envision both within and beyond our congregation. It's all too rare in our world.
Many people had a hand in this grant application. I especially thank the team that worked on it directly, made up of Sandra Gourdet, Dave Miner, Robin Miner, and (until her westward departure!) Jill Cameron Michel. Good work, all!
Advent begins on Sunday, and the gospel lesson in Matthew 13 urges us repeatedly to "keep alert." As I hold this message alongside our overall Advent theme of "Be Not Afraid," the question I'm wrestling with is: How can we stay alert but not be afraid? Hope to see you in worship on Sunday as we worship God through the music, art, and message of Advent.