I don't remember my dreams. Some do... and I'm happy for them but I don't. At least USUALLY I don't.
On the morning of April 28th out of a dead sleep I bolted up with a newspaper ad, clear as day in my mind. My day job being in advertising/marketing, it wouldn't seem on the surface to be much more than an active subconscious but this felt deeper. I raced to work and sat down at my computer to rough out this image and message burning a hole through my insides. My heart was pounding and fleshing it out felt like giving birth to divine script.
Here's what I saw:
It's is darn near word for word what I saw in my dream and it's going to be in print as a full page ad for Freedom House in a number of print publications in Brantford this month. Let me explain the subtext.
In casual conversation with more than a few friends in town who are intrigued by us but not accustomed to going to church; they had asked a question that left me with nagging issues.
Would I be welcome to come to Freedom House?
On the inside I was shaking my head back and forth making that cartoony cheek flapping around sound effect. I wanted to respond with a "Well DUH" but I didn't because it's one of those leftover 80's phrases that I still have squirreled away that dates me when I say it aloud.
Truth is, Freedom House is far from the church that many are used to and they don't QUITE know how to label us. Some are convinced that we're more social agency or advocacy group than church. Like the Moose Lodge. And if I wanted to join the Moose Lodge, I'd likely have to know a member or meet some kind of qualification or standard. Combine that with the fact that "Church" has made people feel like they don't measure up for many years, and I began to understand the question better. But the more I chewed on this... the more 'pit of my stomach' sick it made me feel about how people see God.
Freedom House has been accused of being too "poor" focused and too "rich" focused too! I'll take both of those accusations because BOTH have access to the same God and so our call is to share the very source of life with BOTH! And if we're showing "too much love" to either then we're doing our job. Both are JUST as welcome.
Everyone LOVES "the arts". It's hip and trendy and we WELCOME those with an artistic passion and commit to seeing the artistic individual released & networked with others to be able to create a vital ministry! Conversely... we also welcome those who would prefer to rationally strategize with money and business and might appreciate a painting but certainly wouldn't spend their day pontificating over it. We welcome BOTH and when they both understand each other... the larger BODY of Christ gets to come alive because we're EACH using our gifts for the benefit of each other!
This ad also speaks to the many in our culture saddled with labels that making them feel disqualified somehow. I used the word "fat" in the ad as an example because it's a word and attached emotion that I've wrestled with most of my life. I've been an out of control eater, an anorexic, a balanced-healthy guy and then on the fat side of life again! I've run the gambit and remember watching people without bellies frolicking and flirting as a kid... feeling like I was disqualified. Of course it wasn't true that I was disqualified, but often "imperfections" make mankind feel this way. And something must be done about that. We're called to "Get free, live free and free others."
It's like that with God too. Years of street ministry has taught me that many feel that because of one of the labels on the ad, (and many others too) that they are disqualified from being a part of God's Church... but much worse... his love and Fatherly affection. The truth is that God's grace, love, forgiveness and passionate redemptive desire trumps it ALL. And this is a WELCOME attempt at breaking down these walls.
Why a FREE Baptism?
Isn't it ALWAYS free?
Facebook event here
Isn't it ALWAYS free?
Facebook event here
"Well duh" I again say inside my head. But MANY don't know this. Believe me. And MANY are walking around the streets of Brantford with a fear that they are going to go to hell if they don't get baptized. You and I know that baptism is an outward sign of an inward choice. But believe it or not... most people don't spend much spare time digesting theology... so we must make it come alive.
On July 15th in Harmony Square at 3pm, we are going to set up a number of pools which we'll use as baptismal tanks. We are going to share the message of how Jesus Christ died for ALL of OUR sins so that we can ALL live free. We are going to share the good news Jesus spoke and Matthew recorded that:
"My yoke is easy and my burden is light"
Ironically, Big Baptism Sunday is not really JUST about baptism. It's about sharing freedom and making declarations publicly. Why right away? Because nothing stands in the way of baptism when we respond with a YES to the Holy Spirit that is drawing people to God. There is a wonderful story in Acts 8 of how the disciple Phillip was out for a stroll and came across an Ethiopian eunuch reading a section of the old prophetic book of Isaiah... trying to figure it all out. Check out this amazing interaction:
The eunuch said, "Tell me, who is the prophet talking about: himself or some other?" Philip grabbed his chance. Using this passage as his text, he preached Jesus to him. As they continued down the road, they came to a stream of water. The eunuch said, "Here's water. Why can't I be baptized?" He ordered the chariot to stop. They both went down to the water, and Philip baptized him on the spot. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of God suddenly took Philip off, and that was the last the eunuch saw of him. But he didn't mind. He had what he'd come for and went on down the road as happy as he could be.
Acts 8:34-39 The Message
I believe many are walking around MY town as metaphorical "Ethiopian Eunuchs" with deep spiritual questions, longings, that can sometimes translate into guilt if not satisfied... waiting for someone to welcome them into the answer.
- If you've never been baptized but would like to be... just show up in Harmony Square July 15th with an open mind and we'll help you with the rest from there.
- If you've never felt welcomed in church before... Freedom House welcomes YOU
All this from a little ole dream.
Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. —Howard Thurman