The Junk Cross

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War Stories

As I've gotten to know the stories of those in our congregation over the past year, one of the things that stands out to me is how so many of us entered the doors of our building for the first time deciding to give God one last try.

We may have entered in the aftermath of trauma— religious, relational, financial or otherwise, and we hoped that we’d finally find a place where we could heal and explore the vast idea that is God at our own pace.

Me too.

Each week I find myself leaving our gatherings feeling seen and loved in spite of all the junk I'm (still) carrying.

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Remodeling

As a majority of the artistic upgrades to our nave were being done by various contractors and tradespeople, I desperately wanted to add my own artistic contribution to the mix.

I thought for months about what to contribute, but nothing came to mind. One evening after an intense cleaning of my entryway closet, I noticed that I had a bunch of spare parts from some lamps and various other items that I'd purchased months before, just sitting, haphazard, gathering dust.

As I bundled an armful of the junk together and began heading to the garbage chute down the hall, the idea finally came to me. So I took the junk back into my apartment and laid it out to see what I could create from it. Come to find out, I had the perfect mix of materials to design and assemble a cross.

It took me a few weeks, but I worked on it a little each day and finally finished it in October. I had built a cross out of junk— random pieces of leftover detritus from my life.

As I thought about that while working on the piece, I realized that it represented something unique to our mission as a church. The junk of my life had been assembled into something beautiful.

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Restoration

That is what I hope we do for all who enter our doors. It's what Brennan Manning was trying to get across when he wrote about a Gospel for “the bedraggled, beat-up, and burnt out."

It's my prayer that as you see the cross each week in the apse of our nave that you, too will be reminded of how God restores the years that have been stolen (Joel 2) and that you are never too far gone to be surprised and embraced by unconditional love.


 
 Ryan Phipps is the Senior Minister at Church In Bethesda.  Raised in the church, becoming a pastor was the one thing Ryan vowed he would never do. After spending many years away from faith, he found that for all of its flaws, the church can still occupy a unique place of good in the world if it is willing to evolve with reason and empathy.  Ryan has a special place in his heart for those who have been damaged or disillusioned by the church, and longs to lead those within it toward a more just and generous expression of itself.  Ryan is an  INTJ  on the MBTI and a  5w4  on the Enneagram

Ryan Phipps is the Senior Minister at Church In Bethesda.

Raised in the church, becoming a pastor was the one thing Ryan vowed he would never do. After spending many years away from faith, he found that for all of its flaws, the church can still occupy a unique place of good in the world if it is willing to evolve with reason and empathy.

Ryan has a special place in his heart for those who have been damaged or disillusioned by the church, and longs to lead those within it toward a more just and generous expression of itself.

Ryan is an INTJ on the MBTI and a 5w4 on the Enneagram

Ryan Phipps