I am headed back from Belfast, where I spent time with our sister church, Village. You can see several updates on the blog from throughout the trip. Here are some reflections on what I learned from my time in Belfast:
Beauty and Brokenness
In cities we see the beauty of humanity more clearly than anywhere else through art, architecture, community, and achievement. We also see the brokenness of humanity in division, poverty, opulence and indulgence. These things are certainly true in Belfast. Having read up on the Troubles and sectarian divides in Northern Ireland, I had a cognitive grasp of what had happened. However, driving through neighborhoods divided by “peace walls” brings a different level of reality to that understanding. There is currently a display at the Ulster Museum called The Art of the Troubles. As all art does, the display brought an emotional weight and reality to bear on my heart. Tremendous strides have been made, but there is a long road ahead in Belfast. The only ultimate hope is Christ’s work in renewing all things in the end. Village has the privilege of being a part of that renewal in their city, bringing beauty from the brokenness.
Foundational Necessity of Community
The DNA of Village and Redemption Hill is strikingly similar. Our cities and people have strong similarities, and the values that shape our churches are in very close alignment. Seeing a church at an earlier stage than RHC was a great reminder to me of the importance of community. It was also a reminder of the challenge we face on maintaining and even deepening that emphasis as Redemption Hill continues to grow. There is no greater witness to the beauty and reality of the gospel of Jesus Christ than the community that is His Church. Experiencing it and being welcomed into it through our brothers and sisters at Village made me grateful for what Jesus is doing in both of our churches.
Stop. Rest. Reflect.
I’m not very good at any of these three things. A funny thing happens when I’m taken out of the frenzied pace of DC and dropped in a new place among new people and no cell phone service, I had to slow down. It was so good for my soul. Lucas shepherded me through our time together while I was here, showing me the beauty of Ireland and the importance of stopping, resting, and reflecting.
Celebrate God’s Grace
For several months now my heart has been reflecting on Acts 14:27-28, “And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. And they remained no little time with the disciples.” Related to the issues above, I was struck again at the importance of slowing down enough to worship God for His work in, among, and through us. It’s too easy to excuse away a pervasive, driving, hurriedness as spiritually inspired. There’s no excuse for not slowing down enough to thank God and celebrate His work.
The beauty of connectedness in the Body of Christ.
I spent the week with people who have truly become extended family. This is just the beginning of the relationship and connection between our churches. Lord willing, we will partner together through the planting and establishment of Village and Redemption Hill and beyond into future initiatives as well. It’s incredible that the gospel transcends culture and that we are knit together in unity by the Spirit worldwide.