New Creation: A Message From Executive Director Chris Purnell

 
Chris Purnell

Chris Purnell

 

Have you ever explored the Enneagram? If you haven’t, you really should. It’s pretty much a personality test for those who love to read terrible things about themselves. It has been a delight to watch family, friends, and coworkers take various tests, kick against their number and eventually realize that it has made some powerful and truthful statements about who they are.

I’m a “4,” which means that I “can become so attached to longing and disappointment that [I am] unable to recognize the many treasures” in my life. Not exactly the kind of guy you would want to grab a beer with—but I’m happy to if you want to talk about everything that’s wrong with me, you, and the world.

This wallowing is a little of how I’m wired. I see problems. I see brokenness. Maybe you do as well. You look inside of yourself and see profound weakness and wonder if that will ever change. You look at others and wonder how they go through life so easily. You look out and see a world marred by injustice and inequality and you lament.

Many of our clients have walked through this brokenness. Many have come from villages torn to pieces by militias; many have been persecuted because of their ethnicity or religion; many have been stuck in cycles of grinding generational poverty; many have been victimized and assaulted by those who are closest to them and have vowed to love them to the end.

But those same clients often remind our staff that not all is brokenness, not all is shattered hopes abandoned on the shoals of a harsh reality. They have faith that has been tested in the fire of adversity. They remind us of the words of Paul, who said that “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17) We can often forget that because of Christ—his life, sacrifice, and resurrection—there truly is something beautiful and new that is happening in our world. The New Creation has begun, and that is cause for rejoicing!

It is also cause for work. Right before that verse, Paul says that Christ “died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves” (2 Cor. 5:15). We rejoice that Christ has changed everything and thus we live lives of sacrifice. We pour out our lives in service to those who have been the victims of injustice, along with those mundane sacrifices on behalf of our families and friends.

May you see and be moved by the brokenness around you, living not only for yourself but for the sake of others. And may you also embrace the New Creation that Christ has begun, rejoicing in what he has done and is continuing to do by his Spirit.  

Until justice and peace embrace,

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Chris

November Verse

Remain in Him: A Message from Executive Director Chris Purnell

Chris Purnell

Chris Purnell

How are you feeling? If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably super-sleepy. A 2010 sleep survey analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that 30% of American workers are sleep-deprived. That number rockets up to 52% if you’re in the social assistance and health-care sectors.

Now, if that little trip down data-lane made you sleepy, don’t blame me. That’s your bad sleep habit rearing its ugly head.

Why are we so absurdly tired? That’s a question with a multiplicity of answers. We work the night shift. We checked a text before we went to sleep that made us antsy and perplexed. We have young kids who like to salute and then kiss the sunrise (Please, for the love of all things holy and good, go to sleep, sweet little ragamuffins.). We feel burdened at work. We watched a truly horrific-yet-beautiful episode of Game of Thrones and then entered an existential tailspin. The reasons go on.

For many of our clients at the Clinic, however, the weariness comes from being persecuted, from being dogged by very real enemies who want to destroy them. Like the two young South Sudanese men with whom I spoke last week and who now fear for their lives if they return home. They are normal eighteen-year olds. They like to play basketball, read, tell jokes—but they also have no idea where their families are, or if they’re even alive.

What struck me the most about these young men, though, was their faith. They trusted that God was walking with them each and every step of the way. They were connected to him—and they didn’t seem remotely wearied and bogged down. In fact, their delightful joi de vivre shined through with luster and vividness.

Which brings me to Jesus. In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells his friends that they need to remain in him, connected to him, just as a branch must remain connected to a vine in order to bear fruit (John 15:4). Apart from Jesus, we cannot do anything—we get lost, feel hopeless, and get knocked off center. With Jesus, life begins to make sense—our purpose returns, our weak knees are strengthened, and life regains its center.  

Try this on for size. In his book An Unhurried Leader, Alan Fadling writes that we should take our to-do lists and write “with God” next to each item. “Go grocery shopping—with God.” “Talk to Bill about how he can’t microwave his broccoli and onion casserole in the public kitchen anymore—with God.” “Listen to your friend talk about her failing marriage—with God.” “Fill out your timesheets—with God.” This is one way to stay connected to the true vine, the vine who makes all of our endeavors, however grand or quotidian, become reality.

May you, as you face burdens at home, at work, and in your relationships, stay connected to Jesus. May you, tired and weary one, find the joy and beauty of life again as you do all that you have on your list—with God.

Until justice and peace embrace,

 

Chris

Abide - July