Many Streams Make One River – Bob and Gracie Ekblad coming to Hamilton

In just over a week, from January 25-30, GOHOP will be hosting Bob and Gracie Ekblad. Bob and Gracie will spend their time building up the GOHOP community. They will be visiting with with Mission Services, The Living Rock, Barnabas Prophetic group as well as meeting with a number different leaders in the Hamilton community.

Who are they? Bob is bridge-builder. As a pastor, practitioner and theologian, he weaves together different streams of the Church: the charismatic, contemplative, academic and social justice. He and his wife, Gracie, have given their lives to bring “the good news of God’s love and liberation in Jesus to the poor and outcasts.” His work includes, prison and gang outreach, teaching graduate students, running New Earth Refuge retreat centre, preaching, running a recovery house, leading English and Spanish services and running a family support centre. He is also the founder and director of The People’s Seminary and Tierra Nueva, a multi-faceted ministry in Honduras and Burlington, Washington. Having experienced work of the Holy Spirit in life-changing ways, Bob and Gracie’s work is profoundly infused and empowered the by the Holy Spirit. They seek healing, deliverance and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit wherever they minister. Bob also teaches internationally on hearing God’s voice, reading the bible with people on the margins and on advocacy. He lives with his wife and three children in Burlington, Washington. For more information about Bob, visit www.bobekblad/about/.com.

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Come to Spaghetti Tuesday on the 28th and have dinner with Bob and Gracie, and stay tuned to hear where and when you can meet them over the course of the week.

Come, Lord Jesus

In the ancient Christian practice of centering prayer, one chooses a word or phrase and uses it to bring focus to the mind and heart. The monastics called these “breathing prayers” and are meant to span a breath. We sit quietly, breathe our prayer, and attune ourselves to the presence of Jesus within and around us.

I’ve used different breathing prayers in my practice. “Abba, I am Yours alone” is a favorite. “I am my beloved’s and He is mine” is another.

In this advent season, “Come, Lord Jesus” seems fitting.

I find it a very useful prayer to deal with mental distractions.

Worried about the day?

Come, Lord Jesus

Concerned about a friend?

Come, Lord Jesus

Today in the quietness my heart is reaching beyond the walls of our little community house.

To the working girls, shivering on street corners on Barton,

Come, Lord Jesus

To seniors trapped in powerless and heat less high rises in the GTA,

Come, Lord Jesus

To folks stuck in airports in the Maritimes, facing the prospect of Christmas without loved ones,

Come, Lord Jesus

For friends of mine who lost children this year and for whom grief threatens to swallow holiday joy,

Come, Lord Jesus

To those caught in the crossfire in South Sudan,

Come, Lord Jesus

To an earth full of groaning, awaiting His coming,

Amen, Come Lord Jesus!

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The View From Here

Today I gathered a group of a Hamilton leaders for a working lunch where we discussed where we saw God at work in the city. It’s the first of a series of lunches we are calling “the view from here”. Each person got five minutes to share their perspective, after which the rest of us could ask questions.

As we munched on Indian Dahl and naan bread, several themes began to emerge. Here are some highlights.

– the key role of coffee shops as third spaces in the city, where relational connections amongst the body, and beyond the body, could occur. Freeway Cafe, Mulberry, Homegrown, the emergence of 541.

– people feeling the call of God to move to the city.

– a recognizance of the foundation laid by present and active collaborations, which makes it a fertile ground for new ministries and church plants to establish. A hospitable and supportive atmosphere.

– an increased practice of mission and prayer fused together.

– Christians actively involved in Neighbourhood hubs, being agents of shalom in their neighbourhoods.

– a proliferation of intentional community houses, and intentionality in community in tight knit neighbourhood groupings.

– a strong cohort of 20-30 something’s actively engaging in bringing shalom to the city, both Christian and not yet believers.

– greater awareness, prayer, and now increasingly collaborative action around the issues of trafficking and street level prostitution.

– a greater openness and hunger for different streams of the church to flow into one another and learn from one another.

– the appointment of Pope Francis bringing hope, life and vitality to the Catholic Church, and bringing hope and inspiration to Protestants.

There was lots more as well. It was so encouraging to get the view from different perspectives! We’re going to do it again in January with another cohort, and maybe Middle eastern food this time….

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Weber Christmas Newsletter

Just in case you’re not on our email list for our quarterly missionary newsletter, here it is in blog form!
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Everything Old is new Again
Our trip to the British Isles was a valuable time of researching old and new monastic communities in England, Scotland and Ireland. The Celtic monastic model has much to inform the modern prayer movement. Unlike the remote and cloistered Roman monasteries, the Celts situated their lives of prayer in the centre of their communities. Celtic monasteries became hubs of prayer, hospitality, learning and creativity, and launching pads for justice and missions. This is particularly relevant to GOHOP in this season, as in the heart of Hamilton, we are exploring these expressions with an ever widening group of friends from churches across the city.
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On the Home Front at the Community House
Worship Jams.
Daily Evening Prayer.
Lively conversations around the dinner table with our varied and many guests.
Spiritual Direction in the “Upper Room”.
New friends crashing overnight on couches.
And of course, Spaghetti Tuesday!
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The Blog
They say that storytellers create culture. Although I (Jill) have been blogging for a few years already, we sensed that in this season, storytelling was going to become more strategic in shaping the prayer movement locally and beyond. Consequently, I have upped my blogging to five days a week, and through my writing am exploring the themes of New Monasticism. You can click on the link below, see the blog, and even subscribe so that you can receive it daily.
www.gohopchick.wordpress.com
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Kirk & Bert Web Designs
Kirk has been feeling for some time that he wanted to pick up some work to supplement our income. He’s researched and taught himself web design and this month he completed his first commercial web site for a client! He’s been enjoying the creative aspects of the work, and loving working from home where Bert can supervise him. In addition, the work gives Kirk the flexibility he needs to pastor our Community House, run and host Spaghetti Tuesday, work with the Salvation Army Soup Truck, and help with the Chapel at Mission Services. And of course, oversee nightwatch for our 24/7 prayer events. So if you know anyone who needs a website developed, connect them with Kirk!
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We’ve Got a Wide Bench!
We are very grateful for the group of extraordinary men and woman that God has brought to GOHOP. On our core team we have three seminarians, three ministers, and now a Doctor of Theology! We are teaching in homes, churches and ministries across the city, running our second year of the “Studies in New Monasticism” Internship, and mentoring many exciting young leaders in Hamilton. We are also helping to launch “Lectio House”, an urban retreat centre in Hamilton. I (Jill) find myself in a season of “quarterbacking” this fine team, making sure they have all the resources and support they need, developing networks and charting the course for the future.
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Of course, none of this would be possible without your partnership in prayer and financial support. If you would like to invest in the prayer movement in Hamilton or beyond, you can give online at www.canadahelps.org or email us at jill@gohop.ca. It’s been twelve years of full time prayer missions for us, and God has been unceasingly faithful to provide. Thanks so much for your part in that!

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Advent resources: Spiritual Direction and Advent Lectio Divina

With a happy sigh, I sink into the comfy chair.

“Would you like some tea? The kettle boiled,” she offers.

“No that’s ok. Thanks though.”

“Let’s take a moment of silence then, and when you are ready, begin.”

As it does every visit, my gaze scans her heavily laden bookshelves (ooooo, so many books I want to borrow,) and the various lovely art pieces around her room. My favorite is the stained glass window depicting grapes and wine, that hangs above her seat.

I settle in, close my eyes, still my soul, and breathe.

I have a Spiritual Director.

A Catholic one.

Her name is Sue, and she is a lay leader at Regina Mundi Parish.

“What is a Spiritual Director?” you ask.

Put simply, spiritual direction is when two people have a conversation about one person’s relationship with Jesus.

I meet with Sue once a month, and talk and talk and talk. And she listens and listens and listens. And asks good questions.

Really good questions.

I find it so refreshing to have somewhere outside my usual circle of concern and influence, where I can go and unburden my heart and explore new spiritual territory.

In addition to individual spiritual direction. Sue also leads groups, and one of them is starting later on this week.

Here is Sues invitation to you. She’s quite fond of us Protestants and would love for you to come!

Beginning Friday, Dec. 6, 2013 at 7:45 a.m., and continuing for the Fridays during Advent, I will be offering an opportunity for group Lectio Divina (Divine Reading), a wonderfully meditative prayer form. Each session runs for approximately one-half hour. If you are interested, please come to the glassed in porch on the Upper Paradise side of Regina Mundi church (corner of Upper Paradise and Mohawk) and ring the bell. All are welcome!

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Congregation Relocation

Today was our last official Sunday at our church, Flamborough Christian Fellowship. We’ve attended this small and feisty charismatic church in Waterdown for six years. But when Kirk and I moved into Hamilton we knew that eventually we would have to find a local church in the downtown core. It’s taken two and a half years. We’ve dragged our feet because we loooooove our pastor Bob Warriner, and we have been so lovingly cared for by the congregation. They get us. And have supported our crazy urban mission/prayer adventures.

For the last year and a half, Kirk and I have been partnering with Sue Carr as she runs a chapel on Sunday afternoons at Mission Services. Mission Services cares for those who struggle with homelessness and addiction issues, and the urban poor who live nearby. Our Sunday chapel looks like a cross between an AA meeting and a Bible study. You never know what’s going to happen any given Sunday. We’ve grown to know and love the eclectic congregation there as I’ve co-ordinated hospitality (you get to know folks real well at the coffee urn) and as Kirk has served on the worship team, playing lotsa rockabilly on his snare as he accompanies our buddy Ellis.

After much prayer and consideration, we decided that we wanted to adopt the Mission Services Chapel as our primary church family. We want to deeply invest in neighborhood relationships. We want to step away from “ministering to the poor”, which creates in our mind an artificial separation, an “us and them” mentality. Instead, we simply want to relocate ourselves and try and learn how to love our neighbours well.

Here is a photo of Kirk and I with our beloved Pastor Bob from Flamborough Christian Fellowship, and one of Kirk and Ellis rocking it out at Mission Services.

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Prayer as Mission at the Living Rock

As we prayed around the circle, my eyes were drawn to the heavily pierced teen who sat on the edge of our group, knees drawn to her chest. Her turn came, and wanting her to feel comfortable, I said, “you don’t have to pray out loud if you don’t want to.”

“I’ve never done this before, but no, I’m gonna do it!” She exclaimed. And then proceeded to share one of the most heartfelt, vulnerable, and impassioned prayers I’ve heard in a long time. A holy silence followed, as none of us felt like we could speak into the sacred space she created.

As couple years ago, we at GOHOP wanted to find some kind of Missional/service expression as part of our rhythms of breathing in (prayer), and breathing out (being part of the answers to our prayers). Because there are already many fine organizations in the city engaged in mission, it made more sense for us to partner with one of them, rather than start something on our own. So we approached the Living Rock, an organization that provides services to at risk youth in our city, and asked them, ‘how can we serve you?’

‘Prayer!’ Was their answer. We were expecting to wash dishes or stack chairs, but quickly realized that our unique contribution (prayer) was the best way we could serve alongside the Rock in mission.

Consequently, for several years now, a team from GOHOP shows up Wednesday at the Rock at 11:30. We do pre-service prayer for their weekly worship Gathering. We participate in the Gathering, sometimes leading worship or teaching. And them after the Gathering is over, we hang out with the youth and staff, and see if any of them need prayer. Then, from 2-3, we retire into their prayer room and spend an hour in worship and intercession for the Rock and youth in the city, often with Rock youth or alumni (they age out of the programs at 26) participating.

And of course, in the summer, we park the Prayer Truck behind the Rock and spend several weeks praying for and with the kids outside.

It’s my conviction that longevity in front line service to the marginalized needs to be fuelled by a rich prayer life. This last weekend the Rock celebrated 28 years of service in the city, and we are grateful for the privilege of (prayer)walking together some of those years with them.
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