Pruning For Growth: Homo Incurvatis In Se

Originally Posted October 7 2014

In the Okanagan Fall season, the orchards and vineyards look like someone has taken a hatchet to them. In a matter of weeks, the hills go from being lush green and heavily laden, to looking vulnerable, naked and a little forlorn.

A local grape farmer, who is a friend of mine, once showed me the extent to which they pruned back the vines. I couldn’t believe that they had done anything but kill the poor plant, as all but the basic branches had been cut off, there were no leaves in sight, and the vine had stumps where once soared beautiful limbs laden with wine-producing grapes! The farmer went on to explain that the plant was far from dead, despite its shorn appearance. This type of aggressive pruning ensured that throughout the winter and spring, the vine focused all its best efforts, the nutrients and minerals all went into a few excellent limbs, and the finest of fruit.

It feels a bit like this at Metro. Summertime is the busiest season for our community, with the arrival of hundreds of transient folks on our streets. Metro Central expanded to include the ‘Women’s Safe Centre’, which has been a startling success, and we are delighted that so many women on the streets are accessing the services there. It is truly a place where hope can be found, and lives are being restored.

As a community we have outgrown our Sunday facility (and then some), and Metro Central is bursting at the seams. The demand for assistance and help is overwhelming, and yet at the same time, there is a sense that God is always going before us. Many of you will know that a 24-storey hotel is being built on the site of Metro Central and by the spring, we are likely to be homeless. We have been planning for a long-term, stable location for our community, and it seems that God, in his provision and mercy is orchestrating a unique and special story (but more of that next time…!)

We are excited to have launched our latest social enterprise business, food carts (see back page) – giving folks in our valley a chance to work again and have the dignity of contributing back to society. This is just one expression of the Good News of Jesus that we love to proclaim through the life and rhythm of the Metro Community.

In the meantime, we are praying for a facility in the downtown that is affordable (!) and that can host the Sunday worship gatherings as well as our weekday activities that care for and engage hundreds of people every day. It seems we are being pruned back for the winter, in advance of the spring.

In a world where people are seeking fulfillment by simply following their heart, and hoping to find an ethereal fountain of joy, the way of Jesus offers another mode of fulfillment. The way of Jesus that we seek to live by at Metro goes something like this, “Seek first His Kingdom (His presence, being present with others) and His righteousness (loving others more than yourself) and all these things (the necessities of life) will be given to you.” - Matt 6:33

An early church father, Augustine (himself a pretty broken, screwed up guy) was fond of a phrase in Latin, ‘Homo incurvatis in se’. It spoke of the human problem, in that we seem obsessed with ourselves – we ‘curve’ our world towards us. Our desires, greed and passions cause us to trample over relationships and hurt those around us, all that we might find individual freedom and joy.

The way of Jesus, his announcement to the world, his Good News, is all about bending our nature the other way – curving outward. In this way, our passions and desires find purpose and clarity that come from the values and commitment within; a response to what Jesus has done for us. Now, our identity rooted in relationship gives shape to our desires. We all long for community – we want to belong - we are made, commissioned to invest in real people and relationships – a life worth living.

In the Metro Community, this is how we want to live. We would love your support to care for the material and overwhelming needs in our street community, but more importantly we would love you to come and be among us. You don’t have to do anything. Join us… an unlikely community of people from all walks of life, as we learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

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