Where were you last Wednesday at 12:30 pm? Were you eating lunch, picking up kids from school, at an appointment, working? Most weeks if you were to ask me where I was on Wednesdays at lunch, I honestly don’t think I could tell you even if you were to ask me the next day. The last few weeks, however, have been different. On Wednesdays at 12:30 I have found myself at Oak Park worshiping with friends.
If you know a little about the history of our church you know that our office currently resides at Oak Park Independent Living. We renovated an apartment up on the 5th floor that serves as the hub for our staff and members throughout the week. This relationship our church has with Oak Park has shown up in many ways such as Christmas Caroling, playing games on Saturday with our kids, Christmas Parties, and lunches with friends we have met. Earlier this year our staff began to talk with Oak Park management about the possibility of our church office staying in its current location. Through a series of conversations it became evident that one connection our church could make with the residents is through a time of worship -providing a spiritual touchpoint for them. Thus our Wednesday 12:30 Oak Park/Embrace worship service was born.
I personally have loved this new part to my week and recently sat down with Jon and Josh before one of our mid-week gatherings to chat about what this Wednesday worship looks like, where we sense God might be leading us, and why we show up each week. Here is a summary of our conversation.
What does a Wednesday at Oak Park look like each week?
Worship at Oak Park on Wednesdays is another expression of Embrace Church. In our values we believe that church is who we are not a place we go and so we are choosing to express who we are as a church in a more tangible way to this group of residents that we have gotten to know. Practically speaking it is a half hour gathering of singing, proclaiming of God’s word, and prayer with space before and after to get to know one another. We gather right outside the cafeteria each week in the Friendship Lounge and if you come early you can even opt to each lunch with people beforehand. The $6 Fried Chicken lunch is delicious.
What is the hope for this gathering?
We have currently been engaging in this new practice of Wednesday gatherings that helps show who we are as a church and invites others who are living at Oak Park to be a part of this expression. We want God to show us how this weekly practice and other interactions between our church and Oak Park will continue to be a visible picture of his kingdom here on earth. We are taking steps to proceed in a way that will be sustainable and healthy for the long term. We want to have this as a place that is not lead by one person and one voice but rather captures and bears witness to where God is at work in this community in many people and ways. We also love that it is beginning to foster dialogue, learning, and influence between generations. For our church, which is made up of mostly young families, the wisdom, discernment, and love from our friends at Oak Park is a beautiful gift and for us to be able to offer back community, love, and support to them is a true picture of God’s kingdom here and now. We are all together under Christ to value, love, support, each other as we walk out our days.
Why show up on Wednesdays?
There are many reasons: to make new friends; engage others in a personal tangible way; find worship and space in the middle of a busy week, to be blessed and encouraged by those around you, to appreciate the bigger picture of the church and where God is at work in the world. It is a place to see others and to be seen for whom you truly are. Together, we see Jesus as he shows up in people gathered around us.
So this is your personal invitation. Come join us on Wednesday at 12:30 pm and see what God is doing.