The Promise of Christmas

He looked across the table at me and said, “I’m afraid for my kids and the world they’ll grow up in.”

“Yeah,” I empathized, “twenty sixteen hasn’t been the year some of us had hoped for.”

“It’s sad and bigger than that: I think I’ve lost all faith in humanity.”

Nodding my head, I put my hand on his shoulder, “It’s okay to feel that way today, but tomorrow, let’s wake up and at least believe in one another. I’ll believe in you, and you believe me. And remember, I’m a Jesus guy, so that means I believe that God hasn’t left us to ourselves.”

“Okay, Kevin. I’ll let you be optimistic tomorrow, then. But today, I just want to lament a little.”

---

Perhaps you’re like my friend. Perhaps 2016 was full of days where you just wanted to lament a little. And that’s okay. You’re justified in your lament. This year left many weary—weary from politics, war, injustice, personal loss, and adversity.

Shoot, I’ll join the lament.

I lost my dad to Parkinson’s this year.
My back failed me this year.
I needed surgery and extended bed rest this year.
I did more funerals in 2016 than in all my years of ministry before it.

And then, there’s the election. It’s affected all of us. It prompted the above conversation, and with every new tweet from our president-elect, I question the future of our country.

However, at the end of a year like this one, let’s not let our lament interfere with our hope. (Reread that last sentence).

As we talked about on Sunday, the promise of Christmas is Immanuel: God with us. The story of the Christ-child freshly born among us is ulti­mately a story about God’s desire to be born within all of us, in the midst of our pain and struggle. It’s a story of hope emerging from circumstances of lament. It’s the per­fect promise for a weary world looking for renewal.

Remember, Jesus wasn’t born into a happy situation. He was born in a barn. His parents were refugees. They had to flee their home to save their child’s life. Jesus’ mother was to be outcast or worse, given the circumstances of her pregnancy. It’s fair to say Jesus’ family had more reason to lament than we have today. But they didn’t. They had the courage to hope. The promise made to them is the same promise made to us: “And God will give you a sign, the virgin shall give birth to a son, and he shall be called Immanuel, which means God with us.”

As one theologian puts it, “Jesus was born in a barn and not in a palace because the Kingdom enters into our crap and not into our competence.”

If you find yourself lamenting 2016, then Christmas couldn’t come soon enough. Lament, but let that lament open up space in your heart to hope. As the Scriptures say, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” Perhaps God is waiting there for you, waiting in your lament, inviting you to hope. Perhaps it’s in the cracks of your broken year where God is most present, where the promise of Christmas is most true.

God with us.

Here.
Now.

May we have the courage to hope this Christmas season. May we never forget that God is with us.

-Kevin Knox

2016 Reflections

As we settle into Advent, it occurs to me 2016 is quickly coming to an end. Let’s take a moment and remember/look forward to what God is doing through Mosaic. I love our church and am so blessed to be part of a community that lives out its core values. Let’s remember together how we are being Mosiac through these core values.

 

Renewal

Joining God in the Renewal of All Things. There are many ways that God has brought renewal, but my favorite memory of renewal this year has been all the baptisms we have done. We have had 7 people display their devotion to live in the Way of Jesus through the act of baptism; Hudson Howard, Alex Millard, Jami Edgell, Charlotte Passat, Jason Isendorf, Sophia Fedorova, and Lydia Howard. I smile looking at this list and am reminded of their testimonies and willingness to share their spiritual journey with us.

 

Community

This year we continued to build community through our MCs; Mens, Womens, Family, Service, Adults and Couples, and Band. This space was filled with great discussions, laughter, tears, stories, sharing in each other’s burdens, and celebrating in life’s joys. Another community experience was Mosaic’s Play and Pray retreat. We are blessed to be in a community where we can take a weekend away from our daily routines and spend it living, eating, playing and praying together.

 

Dependence

I love being part of church that is “flexible” to God’s leading and direction. We are never so beholden to a set of rules and structure that we can’t try new things. I think this year, especially in the latter part of the year, we’ve had to rely on God a lot. As Kevin has been out several Sundays, many within our community began stepping up to share the message God laid on their heart’s. God is faithful to continue speaking, leading, and guiding us through the voices of so many.

 

Story

We believe that we are all Mosaic, and your story is what makes us Mosaic. This year we lifted up this core value by having many share their Mosaic story in the Sunday morning gathering and by contributing to the blog. I’ve enjoyed hearing others’ stories because it is in the sharing that we get to hear and see where God is working.

 

Creativity

This is my favorite core value, spirituality results in creativity. We are made up of so many unique and gifted people. Everyone sharing in those gifts, whether it be on the worship team, or those who bake delicious food for hospitality, to those who interact with the children in Kid’s Mosaic, to those who share in ideas for service projects; are evidence of God working through each one of us. The more we share in our unique passions and gifting, the more beautiful we portray God.

 

As I sit and write this, I realize how blessed we are to be part of this movement, community, church. Thank you for being Mosaic with me.

-Jeanne Wong

A Matter Of Perspective

I live in a trailer.  Not like a trailer park trailer, like a recreational vehicle trailer.  Four wheels and a hitch.

The majority of my dinners consist of food that my husband has taken from an over supply of meals at work.  

I can rarely spend more than $10 on an item of clothing.

The crib I used for both my daughters came from a curb alert on Craigslist.

I haven’t travelled to see family at Thanksgiving for over 10 years.

 

From the outside looking in my life isn’t great.  It would seem I don’t have much to be thankful for, especially this time of year, especially this year in light of recent political events.  In this past week I’ve witnessed more pain through the eyes of my friends than anyone should ever be allowed to go through.  From physical ailments to emotional hurts to death of loved ones.  It’s hard to have words.  But there’s something else I’ve done this past week: see things from a different perspective.  The old glass half full analogy, see what you have, not what you’re missing.  I know it’s hard when the glass is half full of crap.  I’ve had those times in my life and those times should be grieved.  But when the world seems to be crumbling around us, those are the most important times to take out that gratitude journal and think about things from the other side.

 

I live in a trailer… behind a house where two amazing families live.  My girls get to grow up with the kids in those houses.  I get to live next to my sister and walk up the stairs just to get a hug if that’s what I need. It only takes me an hour to clean my house from top to bottom (as long as my daughters aren’t around).  And this trailer… has enough room for my recycled clothes.

 

My dinners are scavenged from my husbands work… where they have an AMAZING chef, restaurant quality food from organic and local sources, and desserts that would be too expensive for me anywhere else.  Some people still think we’re crazy for eating so many “leftovers”, but it takes way less time for me to cook and I could never make chicken taste that good.

 

I haven’t travelled at Thanksgiving in over ten years… Honestly, this is a hard one.  My mother passed away the day before Thanksgiving 2005.  Eleven years ago, the year before my life started, before I met my husband, before I had a career, before I had babies.  I grieve that my husband and girls will never get to meet her this side of heaven.  I still cry.  I’m crying right now.  So yeah, how can I be thankful for that?  I’m not.  What I am thankful for is what she gave me before she did go.  She gave me my creativity, my independence, my will, the curls in my daughters hair, and my smile.  I can be thankful for all that and tell my girls every story I can remember so that Nonna is real to them.  So that Wesleigh knows if you put Nonna’s baby picture next to hers, it looks like the same kid.  I can be thankful for all that and still shed the tears.

 

So this thanksgiving season, flip life on its head and look at it from the other side.  Shed every tear you need to and be thankful.

-DeAndra Stone

Loved As I Am

Kevin and I sat down at the café in Albany. I felt relieved to see him. I had this annoying itch that I knew only Kevin could scratch and I was determined to get relief. The itch – “BAPTISM.”

The word had been eating at me since Dorynda casually stuck it up on her power point during a typical pre-sermon announcement one Sunday morning. I was half out of my seat as usual – jazzed by Kevin’s talk – but already lost in thoughts of my day. Kevin’s circle of faith – the one we are to aspire to – seemed like Micronesia on the map of the world – a far off exotic unreachable dot.  “BAPTISM” – the word whispered from somewhere within. “BAPTISM” I heard it over and over again in my head. Here it was – the sign I hoped to ignore – the decision I hoped to evade…possibly forever. For a while now I had been having these strange punctuating visions of being dunked and pulled out from a river by a man dressed in white robes. The scene seemed biblical, although I must admit I had never used a bible for anything other than to hold a martini in a hotel room. The visions were in slow motion and seemed visceral. I kept putting them out of my mind; however, when Dorynda put that word on the screen, I got triggered. My mind engaged in an almost schizophrenic conversation. I became flooded with emotions. Could I really be baptized? What the hell is a baptism? My self-deprecating inner voice, smelling a threat to my deeply rooted cynicism and skepticism about anything smelling of religion, took over. I could not ignore it though. An e-mail later and there I was sitting across from Kevin, telling him all the reasons why I should not be baptized.

    “Kevin, man, I grew up Jewish.” Kevin’s face didn’t change. “Kevin, I think Jesus was an amazing guy but I can't call him my lord – I don’t even know what that means.” Again, Kevin’s face doesn’t move. “Kevin, while I am a generally a good person, I am often cynical, judgmental, and skeptical. I may never call myself a Christian.” This time, Kevin’s face changes a bit and an inquisitive eyebrow rises.

He asks me, “Why do you want to be baptized?”

“Because,” I say, “I don’t want to be these things anymore. I want renewal. I want to be different, more, faithful, full of love and the desire to serve. I want to reach my full potential, whether it be as a father, romantic partner, professional, or whatever else I am in this life. I want to lift off the weight of all this baggage I’ve been carrying around from my past and be reborn – get a second chance.”

Kevin looks at me with a mischievous glint in his eye. I figured I’ve got him. He is going to tell me he’d sooner baptize a mole rat. Instead, he puts his arm around me, and with the enthusiasm, which I have learned authentically is true Kevin, says something like, “Dude, you are the ideal candidate for a baptism.”

    “Jesus f-ing Christ.” I exclaim to myself.  See, I told you I shouldn’t be baptized. “Kevin, I hope the water doesn’t boil when I step into it.” He chuckled and I left wondering what I had just done, what I would have to do, and how to get out of it.

    Two weeks and 5 unsent e-mails of cancellations to Kevin and Jeanne later, this Jew from Florida, with all his mess, and his hopes, and his big heart, and his desires for a connection with G-D put aside the guilt, the shame, the pain, the self-deprecation, and the trauma of growing up, among other things, the rootless child of children of the holocaust, and stood before this amazing community to be baptized.  I was scared, but I was determined, as I am now, to know the truth – that I am loved just as I am and that within me contains the spark that moved all the great prophets of this universe. When Kevin dunked me in the water and said his prayer, I did not come out free of my Pandora’s box – like Houdini escaping from his chains. However, I am no longer the same person that went into that water. I am changed…how…that remains to be seen. To be continued….

-Jason Insdorf

Hard to be Thankful

I write this blog several days before Election Day. I have my mail-in voter packet ready to fill (and drop-off) for November 8. While preparing this blog, I persevered through much distraction and kept finding myself drifting off, digressing on a multitude of topics. So, I buckled down during my “copious” spare time. I collated all my brain-dumps in my journal and began writing.

I wrote down the almost obligatory list of “Things I’m Thankful For.” (And after getting past the distraction of that sentence ending in a preposition) I began writing out a list––family, friends, health, meals, a home, this country, being able to vote….and, there...right there....I drifted off again, distracted.

Thankful? This year’s election has definitely left me more frustrated than ever. “Thankful” does not enter my mind as I consider voting.

 

“You’re welcome”

 

“No...no...no..” As my younger child learns language and manner, “Thank you” ranks as a top priority; yet, my younger child keeps saying “You’re welcome” instead. The interaction goes something like this: I give him a banana and he replies with a smile, no eye contact, and snatching the fruit out of my hands, “You’re welcome.”

“No..no...no. You say, ‘Thank you.’” I reply smiling.

“You’re welcome,” he says with a smile and takes a huge bite. As if I have the privilege of serving him a banana. Oh, boy…two-year olds.

 

    I sort of feel that way thinking of the presidential candidates this year. They have their public servitude reversed. To me, they seem to act (and have acted) in a way that expresses “You’re welcome. You’re welcome that I’m not the other candidate who did this and that.” Or, “You’re welcome that I’m going to save this country.” Instead, I wish for humbler appreciation of servanthood for all citizens and residents.

 

November 8

 

    And here it comes, Election Day 2016. I try to be thankful in this season. In a few days, this country will vote. And come the morning of November 9,this country’s citizens will not suddenly become united, compassionate, and encouraging. Instead, I expect further regression of our democratic process, higher walls built between disagreements, blame and not repentance, an increase in egregious statements, and lies...more lies. Sadly, I also expect an increase in hate crimes and segregation no matter which color takes an oath in January.

Be thankful? This country has yet to pay the cultural consequences of this election. Despair has entered into more people’s conversations. Disgust, too.

 

ARGHHH!

 

    As the feelings of disgust sweeps my mind and I cry out, “ARGHHH! What is the answer?! What has to happen?!!!?” I review my “Things I’m Thankful For” list in hopes of finding hope...family, friends, health, meals, a home, this country... And then, my answer comes. I got so distracted, I had forgotten the answer. The answer did not even make it to my list. I am really familiar with the answer. I posted, tweeted, and said it countless times in the past.

    Here it is. The answer. The government is not my savior. It’s not yours, nor mine. I worship a god of justice and love. An all-powerful god who created all. A humble god. A god who allows us to freely love in response. A god who wants us to love all, especially those normally unlovable. And love those who refuse to love in return. A god, whose loving kindness, wants us to trust no matter the outcome of worldly politics. A god who no longer expects me to repay for all my bad behavior...I couldn’t do it anyways...and instead, loved us first and paid the price of my wrong with His love. The God. Father GOD. God of Jesus Christ. No matter the outcome of this election, the government is not our savior. This fact does not change. I’m once again reminded of what I must be most thankful.

    Thank you, Jesus.

 

 

–Darren is a husband and father of two young children. He has worked in technology startups, ministry, and non-profits. Currently, he raises the kids (homemaker) and awaits the next “burning bush” for God’s assignment. He and his family are a part of the Mosaic Bay community for years and an organic church planter for a couple years longer. He has a heart for the homeless and desires to be a “dream releaser” of everyone he meets. 

Honest, Thankful, and Grumpy

 

I was really excited to write this blog. I planned it two months ago. Did I write it two months ago? Nope, not even close. I was giving myself time to really get into the moment, to really ‘feel’ the thankful vibes. And not that I wasn’t thankful, but nothing was resonating with me. I didn’t have an ‘ah ha’ moment where the words just magically jumped on the page.

Until this morning.

You see, I’ve been working on this list for the last 4 years. FOUR YEARS! I started a list of 1000 gifts in September of 2012 and I just finished it this morning. I found 1000 things to be thankful for. Things, people, moments, feelings...1000 of them. Surely there are more floating around out there that I have yet to experience. I’m certain of that, but this has definitely been a journey.

I started the list with my partner and kids, writing down features of them that I want to carry with me forever. The list changes as the months and seasons change. You can look at my words and actually see Christmas. You can feel fall and recognize struggle. It’s all there.

And I’m thankful for it.

For some people, I think living in thankfulness comes easy. I can think of a few friends who are just plain positive 99.9% of the time. That used to really bug me, but now I find it encouraging and fascinating.

It’s hard to live in thankfulness. When you’re fighting with your partner, trying to teach your children and they’re just not getting it, struggling to make a payment or buy groceries; who wants to be thankful? When someone you love has left this earth, a priceless friendship that has oddly taken a turn and become a relationship of forced intention rather than natural...I do not find thanksgiving in that.

But I have found, over the years, that when I take the time, when I sit down and really think about being thankful, the slump somehow, doesn’t seem as big. I have been able to ‘thank’ my way out of grumpiness. Am I successful 100% of the time? Ha ha, no. Do I remember to do this 100% of the time? Laughable. Intentional thankfulness is something I have to work at, and when I do, I find joy in the little things.

-Leaves as big as faces

-Frost on the window means it’s a little colder in Oakland than it should be

-Sharing oreos and stories

-A sink full of dirty dishes means we are well nourished

-Good night, I love you, see you in the morning

These are just a few, but even now, retyping these words makes me smile, my heart warms,all the feels.

This month on the blog we are highlighting different stories and different perspectives of Thanksgiving. I invite you to join us in living ‘in the thankful’. Find the goodness and share it. Be intentional and thank your way out of despair.

As long as thanks is possible, joy is always possible. Ann Voskamp, 1000 Gifts

-Dorynda Venable

The Politics of Jesus

(Kevin’s message prep)

Friends,

This Sunday, I return to the ‘Way of Life’ series with the first of two messages about Jesus & politics. Like you, I’ve grown weary of this political season. The tone and the length of political campaigning these days leave much to be desired. As followers of Jesus, though, we mustn’t turn a deaf ear to our neighborhoods, our cities, and the country we call home. Participating in the political process can be an important medium for us Joining God in the Renewal of All Things.

To help you navigate your way this political season, here are some resources I’ve used to inform my messages the next two weeks.

7 Books

Beauty Will Save The World by Brian Zahnd

Jesus For President by Chris Haw & Shane Claiborne

Reading Revelation Responsibly by Michael Gorman

The Myth Of A Christian Nation by Greg Boyd

The Politics Of Jesus by John Howard Yoder

The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann

The Secret Message Of Jesus by Brian McLaren

 

7 Blogs & Essays

Jesus & Politics by Greg Boyd

The Jesus Revolution by Brian Zahnd (as well as just about everything he writes on this blog)

Paul and Caesar by NT Wright

Pro Life And Voting For Clinton by Rachel Held Evans

Faith, Politics, & Voting by Brian McLaren

Trump, Black Lives Matter, Gay Marriage, & More by Jen Hatmaker

Reasoning With America by Tim Keller

 

7 Podcasts & Videos

Jesus Nation Sermon Series by Bruxy Cavey

Making The World A Better Place by NT Wright

The Politics Of Jesus by Richard Rohr

We Need To Talk About Politics  by Rob Bell

On Faith & Politics by Tim Keller

Arguing About Politics by Tim Keller

Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann

 

Voters Guide for Bay Area Residents

http://votersedge.org/ca

http://voterguide.sfelections.org/en

East Bay Voters Guide

California Propositions Explained

 

Grace & Peace,

Kevin

Give Courage Away

by Kevin Knox

(An excerpt from Kevin’s forthcoming book, No Matter What)

 

 

I’m convinced we remember only two kinds of conversations: the ones that discourage us and the ones that lift us up. Everything else is just talk.

 

About two years ago, I believe God spoke to me inviting me to write. In one of those inaudible but undeniable moments, I sensed God saying, “I have something to say through you; now go say it.”

So, what did I do? I wrote. No, I didn’t write a book or start a blog or anything like that. Instead, I decided the best way for me to begin writing was to encourage people in and around my life with hand-written notes. In fact, I set a goal on Jan 1, 2014 to write one note a day for the whole year to anyone I believed needed encouragement that day. Now, I didn’t actually realize my goal, but that year I did write over 200 hand-written notes to encourage people. The response I got was overwhelming.

 

Not one person said they’d wished I hadn’t written them.

 

I encouraged couples on their wedding day. I encouraged new parents on the day of their child’s birth. I encouraged at least a dozen people the week after they lost a job. I wrote one difficult, but encouraging letter to a family grieving the loss of their 26-year-old daughter.

 

I wrote notes to several people struggling through depression and sadness. I wrote at least 100 notes to various people just telling them something I admired about them. I wrote notes to friends and family. I wrote notes to strangers. And although I didn’t write everyday, every day I did write, the note was always well received.

 

One unique thing I did during this project was I chose to write people I didn’t really know but knew of. If I decided they needed encouragement, I’d just write.

 

On one such occasion, I wrote a note of encouragement to an influential community leader who’d recently lost her job in an unfortunate, public fashion. I’d met her only a handful of times, and we didn’t know one another well. I’m not sure she even knew my name. That said, the week she lost her job, I sat down and wrote her a two-page note telling her everything she’d done well.

 

In my letter, I wrote and told her that from my perspective, she’d added great value to the whole Bay Area by the work that she’d done. I thanked her for her creativity and her leadership. The day I dropped the letter off with her secretary, I figured that was the end of it. We didn’t know one another well. We did have mutual friends, and I’d given her my number in the letter, but I never expected to hear anything else about it.

 

And then, in a conversation with a mutual friend some months later, I found out the recipient of my letter had been carrying the note around in her purse. For weeks, when certain people would ask her how she was doing, she’d respond by pulling out my letter and say she was doing okay, at least in part, because of the letter in her hand.

 

I was blown away. All I did was take about 15-20 minutes and jot down some thoughts I had on her situation. Little did I know it was going to actually have an impact on her life. I had no clue she’d carry my letter around with her like that.

 

That’s when it hit me.

When you encourage other people, you give courage away.

 

Courage is difficult for many of us to muster up ourselves. But when we take the time to encourage others, it’s like we’re giving courage away for free. In the case of this woman, she was carrying my note around in her purse because, for her, it was like carrying courage in her pocket.

 

Words shape life. Be picky about what we say. Don’t waste your words on just talking. Use them to give courage away. Lift up those around you. Your words have tremendous power.

 

Who can you encourage with words today?

Who needs help? Have you reached out?

 

Words have power; use them to lift the people around you. Give courage away.

Lessons My Father Taught Me

It goes without saying that my father played a huge role in my life. I speak of him often at Mosaic, and his impact is ongoing. Last week, at his memorial service, my brother shared something he wrote for Dad. It was true. It was beautiful. – Kevin

“A boy needs a father to show him how to be in the world. He needs to be given swagger, taught how to read a map so that he can recognize the roads that lead to life and the paths that lead to death, how to know what love requires, and where to find steel in the heart when life makes demands on us that are greater than we think we can endure. 

 Ian Cron

SLOW IS FAST

Farmers are patient men. They have to be. Men who work the land know that you cannot make a seed grow or rush the rain. Farmers are at the mercy of the seasons and the soil, the heat and the cold. They are a persevering and faithful lot. Sowing and reaping. Keeping in step with the rhythm of the calendar, living in balance with creation. My father’s father was a farmer, just like his father’s father.

STORY MATTERS

My father grew up on a slice of rich brown earth surrounded by trees in eastern North Carolina. He was born when summer turns to fall. My grandfather had just gotten back from walking through farm fields on a different continent at the end of the Second World War. He got married, bought a piece of land and planted tobacco. They named my dad after his mother’s brother who did not make it back from those foreign farms on the other side of the world. My brother carries that name between his first and last. Hoke is a family name. It fits my father.

BE WHO YOU ARE

My father understood the value of a hard days work and that you reap what you sow. His actions were always louder than his words. His mind was bent toward organizing and clarifying and so he pursued a career as an engineer. But, not before he followed in his own fathers footsteps to defend democracy abroad. He came back from those foreign fields, fell in love and began to sink roots in the rich brown earth of his childhood.

SMALL THINGS ARE THE BIG THINGS

My father raised four children in fear and reverence. Family meals and shared responsibility marked us deeper than our hearts could know. Tough and tender, disciplined and humorous we grew up neither needing nor wanting for anything. He chose to invest in family, embody simplicity and work tirelessly to protect and provide like his father before him. We were not rich in the ways of the world, yet we were beyond wealthy in ways that could not be measured.

JOY IS A CHOICE

My father is in a different season of life now. He has lost his battle in the fields of an incurable disease. He may have left the farm, but the lessons of the farm never left him. He was a patient man. He had to be. He never rushed the rain or made a seed grow. The roots of his disease ran deep, but his joy ran even deeper. It was a seed planted a long time ago.”

-Steve Knox

[email protected]

Breakfast Optional

by Reze Wong

At the beginning of the year, we were challenged to identify commitments for the year both personal and collectively as a community. For me, part of that meant joining a Mosaic Community or MC, which for all intents and purposes is a small group, but they are each unique in their own way yet collectively form our Mosaic.

My first exposure to a small group came during my first year of college when I joined a Thursday night gathering called Men’s Time (literal nomenclature will show up later). As these stories tend to go, it was within this group that I found a deep and unprecedented appreciation for community, brotherhood, encouragement and growth. I had just started my faith journey, but this group played an important role in forming a spiritual foundation for later life. Shortly after, I was asked to lead the group, so we met every Thursday night for dinner to share stories, contemplate tough questions and just have a good time.

After graduation, many of my close friends moved away and I no longer had a structured place to gather to unwind, talk about faith, ask questions and kind of just put everything on the table. While there were plenty of places to find community in my own life and Mosaic, for the next several years, I longed for that familiar place during the week.

This brings us to Men’s Breakfast (told you it would happen again). It’s exactly what it sounds like – breakfast optional. Every Friday morning, a group of guys meet for coffee to catch up on life, shoot the breeze and, importantly, answer a question. The premise is simple: someone brings a question, and anyone can answer if they feel so compelled. Sometimes all it takes is one thought-provoking question or an insightful response to kick off a Friday at 6:30 am.

It turns out, it was exactly what I was looking for. Friday mornings quickly became the best way to start the day. We talk about work, kids, partners, and the list goes on, but the conversation is always honest. We’re all going through something (and it’s usually a lot more than we let on), and this is a setting where I felt comfortable bringing my highs and lows, in part because of the willingness of everyone else in the group to share.

A few months ago, our fearless leader Mike, moved north and thus unable to make the trek to Berkeley every week. He asked me to take over as the Lead Question Bringer (business cards and LinkedIn update coming soon…), which admittedly I was somewhat reluctant to do. Making the commitment earlier in the year was one thing, but this was skin in the game and it meant I had to show. That said, it instilled a sense of ownership and commitment to the time and space, similar to how Kelsey described the Wednesday night MC (shouts out to the Wednesday night crew) in last week’s post. It’s amazing how an expectation can almost force commitment, which is what I think God has been doing this year. I’m inclined to believe it was never about the commitment itself, but rather the opportunities it created.

Joining the Men’s Breakfast crew has easily become a highlight of the year. There are only so many places you can have honest, God fearing conversation, and I feel so fortunate to be part of this group of guys. My hope is that Friday mornings live on, and will always be a place to find comfort, encouragement and a few laughs, no matter who brings the question.

Invaluable Space

by Kelsey Miller

Being a part of a missional community has been such an enriching experience for me and is one of the reasons my husband, Martin, and I decided to continue to attend Mosaic. We started attending the church right around the time that missional communities began and was a pivotal moment for us. We had just moved to the area and barely knew anyone. We were desperate for deeper relationships and a rich community. Our MC is one of the ways that I feel God intervened in our lives at that time to provide exactly what we needed.

The vision and framework of our MC is to explore and understand the role of faith and christianity in a modern society. We spend a lot of our time discussing relevant topics through a christian lens. When we first began meeting two years ago, we laid the groundwork for what our community would look like. We decided then that we would rotate the responsibility of leading discussion and hosting meetings which has resulted in a strong feeling of ownership in the group. By having someone different lead each week, it also provides insight into what each person is learning about and struggling with.

Creating this space in my life has been invaluable. We have been meeting for over two years now and Wednesday nights are something that I have carved out of my week and dedicated to this group. It has become so important to me to put time aside each week to have meaningful conversations with people I deeply care about. I don’t get to have real, raw and honest conversations very often in my day-to-day life, and having that space to talk with people I care for, about things that I care about, is something that I have come to cherish. It has been very powerful getting to share this space with people that are dedicated to understanding themselves and their faith more.

 

It Takes Two

We asked Caitlin Smith a few questions about being involved in Mosaic Communities: How she decided on the MC, her favorite activities within the MC, what's it done for you in your personal life, growth etc, how does the MC support Mosaic's vision and values? Here's what Caitlin had to share.

I have chosen to be involved in two MCs within Mosaic and both have been great and have served different but important purposes in my life.

The first MC that I am a part of is the women’s group, or “Sisterhood” as we call it. When I attended school at Cal, I swam on the swim team and had an amazing and genuine bond with twenty other women. We experienced so much joy, sorrow, and vulnerability together. I did not think it was possible to have that same feeling again after I finished college swimming but this women’s group has once again given me that sense of authenticity and vulnerability. I think I am the youngest in the group, and one of the few without children, but I love to hear the everyday stories and struggles that other women are going through because it gives me immense perspective on my own life. I am able to gain wisdom and growth in my own life and relationships from these women. I feel welcome, seen, and heard when I walk into that room on Thursday evenings.

My husband and I together are a part of the service MC. The main goal of this group is to find ways to serve the community around us. We have put on community events, served food or goods to the homeless, done school supply or clothing drives, cleaned up houses and community centers, and much more. It’s constantly fluctuating and evolving as we come up with more effective ways to serve our community. Collin and I also live in Berkeley and feel like this MC allows us to further connect and feel a part of the Berkeley/ Albany community; we feel we help to grow and serve the community in small ways instead of just simply living in it. This MC aligns directly with Mosaic’s values to “join God in the renewal of all things.” We get to see tangible results of renewal when we do things like give food and goods to the homeless; we’ve seen the excitement on their faces when they receive a new pair of socks or the joy in their voice when we stay to have authentic conversation with them.

-Caitlin Smith

Community Among Us

We’ve just returned from the Pray and Play retreat where we experienced an awesome weekend of community. Peter Block writes in Community - The Structure of Belonging, “that community is about the experience of belonging. To belong to community is to act as creator and co-owner of that community.” Thank you for creating with us a beautiful space of belonging this weekend! This Fall, we want to continue to build a place of belonging with our Mosaic Communities.  

Mosaic Communities are small expressions of Mosaic committed to renewal. Participating in an MC will encourage you to trust God, to love people, and to join God in creating a better world. If you haven’t had opportunity to participate in one yet I encourage you to take time this fall and connect with one of the MCs. If you have further questions you can contact me [email protected] or the host of the MC.

New to Mosaic | Sundays 9:30a | Hosts: Rod & Laura Howard, @ 1130 Delaware St., Berkeley

This space is for new people within Mosaic looking to connect and learn more about the Mosaic story.

[email protected][email protected]

 

Youth | Sundays 9:30a | Host: Jeanne Wong, @ 1221 Marin

This space if for 6th through 12th grade students. We will spend time sharing, learning, and laughing.

[email protected]

 

Band | Mondays 8:30p | Host: Brandon Venable, @ Mosaic 1221 Marin

We will come together, practice songs for Sunday, collaborate and hopefully some writing will be done as well.  If you'd like to be a part of the worship team and start rotating on Sundays, please join us on Monday nights.[email protected]

 

Adults and couples| Wednesdays 7:30-9:30p | Hosts: Dave & Sarah Gerber, Location Varies

We watch and discuss films, we attend community events, we serve with organizations we believe in, and we grow in our faith through study, reflection, and practice. We have a blast learning and serving together in community.[email protected]

 

Women | Thursdays 7:00p | Host: Dorynda Venable, @ Mosaic, 1221 Marin

This fall,we’re going to have different topics of discussion each week. We’ll come together to play games, share dinner and lift each other up with prayer and encouragement. Take some time for yourself, a couple of hours each week, recharge and build community.  [email protected]

 

Men’s Breakfast | Fridays 6:30a | Host: Reze Wong, Philz Coffee, Gilman St. in Berkeley

The men of Mosaic share life together by gathering for coffee once a week. It’s a space of connection where questions are asked, stories are told, and men are challenged to live life fully.

[email protected]

 

Service | Sunday 12:30p | Host: Tim & Melany Swift, @ Mosaic, 1221 Marin

This MC has such a huge heart for serving others. If you want to be a part of serving people in the community, join with this group of Mosaic families and serve alongside them.

[email protected][email protected]

 

Family | Sundays 5:00p | Hosts: Jen and Zubair, @ family’s homes

Raising a family is tough, busy, and chaotic. But, it’s also an awesome and wonderful blessing! This is a gathering of Mosaic families journeying through life together, sharing stories and encouraging one another in the ways of Jesus.[email protected]