The dark places

The more we read, study, and mediate on the life of Jesus the more we are convinced that the contrast between heaven and earth was extreme.

As God, He knew. As man, He felt.

He experienced the contrast for our sake, for the sake of those who were in many extreme ways unlike Himself. The deeper we delve into the beauty and mystery of the incarnation the more our hearts can be carried away by the extreme cost of His rescue mission. Then the commission, to make disciples; to proclaim the message that points to Him; to respond as His co-laborers…to leave, love furiously, struggle to see differently, and to enter the dark places.

This weekend the Nelson Vineyard Church is hosting Chelsea Nisbett, a worship leader, recording artist, and songwriter from the Maritimes. It’s not a church concert, as we would traditionally define it. Chelsea will be performing, food will be sold, door prizes will be distributed, and people from the community gathered. We have done everything we can to make sure that this event does not gather Christians from other churches.

Chelsea Nisbett

We went so far as to ask a few pastors that this not be promoted in their churches.

Many believers we talked to about the concert didn’t get it. “Why don’t we know anything about this concert?” one friend retorted. We navigated through all possible responses until something like a “Well, it’s not for you” was muttered. They didn’t get it.

Dark places were unfamiliar to them. Dark places are unfamiliar to many of us.

It’s a unique concert. A few of our new believers and pre-Christians, part of our core group here in the Nelson Vineyard, have labored to pull this event off. For the very first time they are participating in an incarnational activity designed to purposely love the people of Nelson in Jesus name. This is a rich time; a rich experience for many of us. People who were in dark places are seeing a marvelous light and are being led by love to love others without knowing the full power of their actions. “Let Your Kingdom come”!

“I was wondering if you/your business would be interested in making a cash donation to partner with us in this concert”?

I knew exactly where I was and to whom I was speaking when I said this. I was surrounded by shelves upon shelves of drug paraphernalia, nude photos and indecent jokes plastered on corny bumper stickers; racks of vinyl records, rude humored t-shirts, and oh, did I mention the drug paraphernalia?

“You do know what kind of store I run here, Dan”?,  Ernie replied rather cautiously. “I am concerned that I might get some flack from the other churches if I do this”.

“Listen, Ernie, you are my friend and I want your money”, I said with a chuckle. “And besides, I am the pastor of this church and in this case I call the shots. I would appreciate your partnership”.

It took him courage to step into the light, perhaps as much as it took for me to step into this dark place.

“Do you want it (the money) now or later”?, he said.

We know Ernie. We hang out with him on his turf, we are learning his language, and we are becoming friends. Together with several other businesses Ernie is partnering with a church. So it’s more than just a concert. It’s a rescue mission. We labor to serve and love extravagantly those who are trapped and held captive in dark places.

I recall the story of Jonah.

Called to Israel’s archenemy, Assyria, we find this prophet reeling at God’s instruction to proclaim a message of mercy. Many see this story as being consistent with God’s overarching theme of His call for Israel to be a light to the nations. As it happened, Jonah ran, thought he could escape from God, got thrown overboard from a ship in a miserable storm, was devoured by a large fish of some sorts, got puked up on a beach, and then ended up accepting his call albeit reluctantly.

He went to a dark place.

One can only assume by reading this story in it’s proper context that Jonah suffered from a little ethnocentrism. Perhaps he was scared as well.

We have tasted this.

Admittingly, this journey has brought out the Jonah in us. Dark places are unappealing and at most times seem daunting. Often, we feel like we are in a place full of people who are very much unlike ourselves; a place where the church is not simply marginalized but despised.

What keeps us going is the insatiable love of God in Jesus; a love that pushes back darkness.  As we step into the dark places and see His image bearer’s, the darkness no longer seems as dark.

We invite you to partner with us this weekend. Pray for a mighty breakthrough of His kingdom during and following the concert on Saturday night.

Please intercede for Chelsea as she steps into this dark place, and for Todd Rutkowski and Chad Block as they teach and minister to our DTS group on Sunday.

Daniel  Snell

~ by blueporch on June 23, 2011.

One Response to “The dark places”

  1. Daniel,

    I’m so excited to be with you all this weekend. It came quick, but I really feel God’s hand in the timing/opportunity. The nature of this ‘event’ is stirring me, and I’ll be praying as we head into the weekend together.

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