A Note from Pastor Andrew
New patterns or habits take a long time to form. Studies say it takes over two months for a new behavior to become solidified. New patterns do not just take time, they take a real investment of energy and resources as well. When Jesus said “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” (Matthew 6:21) he wasn’t just reminding us that how we spend our treasures or money is a statement of our faith and values but also that if we want a heart or passion for something we must commit ourselves to that change. Notice it doesn't say "where you heart is, there your treasure will be." We cannot will ourselves into something. Instead, we must invest ourselves into new ways of discipleship.
New habits or behaviors forming in communities takes a bit longer than it does in individuals because individuals in a group all need to embody the new behavior at their own pace. I have been here at Grace House for a little over a year now, and we have been engaging in forming those new behaviors and habits as a community. For us, we started to define the patterns of our community by listening to the needs of those that pass through our space at Georgia Tech. We have heard a lot over the course of the past year and have many new behaviors forming but two specially of interest today are how we worship together and how we mourn together.
I have always had a rather simple definition of worship. For me, worship is an opportunity to experience the divine. It is broad, I know. However, by being broad, it allows us more opportunities to carve out and create different opportunities for us to experience the divine. I don’t know about you, but I feel that I have worshiped while sitting in a church pew, hiking out in God’s creation, singing alongside friends, watching my children play, in hushed conversations late at night around a kitchen table, and in the dark nights of my soul laying in bed unable to sleep (to name just a few). We have taken that understanding of worship and used it for holy imagination here at Grace House for our worship. Our worship experiences here this fall have been unique moments to experience the divine. Whether it was as we sat and read scripture together through the lens of mental health or walking a labyrinth, we worshipped. We have worshiped completely in silence and we have taken in the music of John Coltrane while listening to holy poetry. We have confessed our sins and received absolution, and we have gathered every week we around the table for Eucharist. As our community continues to grow, we will continue to re-imagine worship and we will continue to experience the divine in our midst.
Communities that worship together and share in the joys of life together also need to share in the pain and struggle of life together. Sadly, this fall, Georgia Tech lost four students here in our community (James Strock, Vamsi Konjeti, Mihn Hoang, and Dennis Jones). Grace House became a place for students to mourn as we took time to remember these four individuals. We held vigils for students to gather together and share in their grief. We (Kat specifically) have ramped up our pastoral care and suicide prevention work, and have taken an active roll in being a part of the conversation amongst students on sites like Reddit and apps like Discord. We are also exploring new partnerships on campus to continue to work as student advocates. If there is one thing that our shared theology teaches us, it’s that our discipleship draws us into a deeper relationship with the world around us, it doesn’t remove us from the realities of life.
At a ministry site that changes every semester or academic year, there is a necessity to be constantly listening and readjusting our work. However, that does not mean our mission changes. We are committed to being disciples of Jesus Christ, student advocates, and a place of rest in a chaotic world. A place of welcome instead of expectation, and a place of equipping the called. But most importantly, we are a community of God’s beloved children. I thank you for your support over the past year. Please keep an eye out for our year end giving letter and keep us in your prayers.
Soli Deo Gloria,