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Resources for your "Love One Another" Summer Series Learning Community

May 29 2016
May 29 2016

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We hope that you will prayerfully consider entering into a "Love One Another" Learning Community this summer. We are hoping that several of our parishes will host such communities, albeit as microgroups, community groups, or ad hoc groups that get started for the express purpose of conversation and growth around this topic.

We hope that you will leverage these resources along the way:

1) Summer Series "Love One Another" Overview Document.

2) Gerald Sittser's Love One Another.

3) Our very own Dr. Brian Kay's podcast entitled "The Shot Put" found on the iTunes store.

4) Our weekly sermons in this series.

For inspiration, here is a story told by Bart in the first sermon entitled "As I have loved you." We will not love one another as well until we are captured by God's love for us...

"He has been running on the track team since 10th grade. He runs the 1600 meters or, the 1-mile—four times around the track. He’s a senior now and he usually runs anywhere between a 9:00 minute to 15:00 mile.

You may be thinking, “Well, that’s not very fast.” And you are correct in your assumption. One of his teammates has broken 4:40! But Matthew is a teenager who has Down’s syndrome.

This past week was the Oakland City Meet, the last meet of the season, and Matthew’s very last track meet.

Matthew, alongside the other high school runners, took off when the gun sounded. But Matthew, unlike the other runners, is often distracted during races. This is why he runs anywhere from 9:00 to 15:00 minutes. Sometimes he stops. Sometimes he walks. Occasionally he leaves the track before he is done. In the first meet of this season, Matthew finished his fourth and final lap and just kept running—he ran a fifth lap and along the way, could not be persuaded by the many voices urging him to stop.

In the race this past Wednesday night, Matthew was easily distracted—there were a lot of fans in the stands and a lot of runners in the midfield. As was customary, three or four of Matthew’s teammates ran alongside him inside the track as he ran in lane one. They were able to keep him going, generally speaking, in the right direction. But still, by the time he began his fourth and final lap, everyone else had finished the race.

Matthew made the first turn, then the second turn, then ran the back straightaway, eventually making it to the fourth turn. I happened to be sitting in the stands above this fourth and final turn. And from my vantage point, I saw his 3 or 4 teammates urging him on, and I also saw Matthew bobbing his head and turning it every which way, looking nowhere, anywhere, and everywhere. I had the thought: “Oh no, he might not even finish his last race.”

Then all of a sudden, Matthew hit the final straightaway, stopped looking around, became focused, and started running in a straight line toward the tape. I looked further down the track to see what had happened. There, standing three feet beyond the finish line, was Matthew’s dad, with his arms wide open calling him home. I was sitting with my wife and some friends, and tried to say, “Oh, it’s because his dad is waiting for him…” but I couldn’t even get the words fully formed and out of my mouth. The lump in my throat was too large. It was a picture I will probably never forget.

I read a book one time that described people with down’s syndrome as angels sent by God to remind us of the simple yet profound joys of just being human—here to demonstrate, not a perpetual childishness, but a childlike awe & wonder that may serve to keep all of us running toward the embrace of the father.

For me, and for many of us, this has been one h*%# of a year, a year of pain, loss, grief, death, despair—a year of distraction and utter disorientation. In a meeting involving my job description just two weeks ago I told two people on our staff, “Right now I feel like every morning I get up and I open the front door and I walk out into the world just knowing that today I’m going to disappoint everyone out there.”

But of late, the constant and consistent prayer that I keep offering before every meeting, every appointment, every task, every conversation has been from the Song of Songs: “I am my beloved’s and he is mine.” It is a persistent reminder to me that God’s arms are outstretched for me. Is this a mere therapeutic coping mechanism? No, though it is very therapeutic. Is the ultimate goal of prayer my own, personal cathartic release and cleansing? No, though it is very cathartic. More profoundly, I experience this prayer as the reminder of the bedrock truth that grounds and orders the entire cosmos, and in it, each of our lives as well: 'As I have loved you…'"