Winter 2019 Community Fair - Kyle Hanawalt


Welcome to a bit of a special Sunday - community fair

We often talk at Brown Line Vineyard about how we live in a pretty unique time and place in history. In pretty much every culture there ever was there were structures integrated into society that worked as a some sort of built in community. The majority of the world historically and honestly the majority of the world today, are collectivist cultures, where doing life in community is a fabric of society. One’s family and community group were interwoven into life.

Whereas here, in Chicago, in America, this is not the case. Although we live around millions of people, it can be an incredibly hard place to find real connection and community. Particularly for adults.
We live in a culture that separates out work and personal life. So where we spend most of our time is actually not set up to be the primary source of our relationship or community.

We do have lots of recreation, gym, and sports groups. There are places where we can get together and have fun with other people.
But, this is very different from the actual sharing of our lives, where we can be honest and vulnerable with each other.
Relationships where we can go to when we are struggling and need help or encouragement. And most people who do have those relationships rely heavily on connections they made when they were younger, when school helped give structure to relationships. A childhood friend, a college roommate. But once you’re out of the education system, there aren’t really any tracks laid down for you.

All to say that I have found as an adult, That connection is hard, it is just hard to develop real and deep relationships with-out help.

Inevitably, many of us can end up going through prolonged seasons of adult life feeling alone or isolated, and because there’s so little help to break us out of those states, we each silently on our own begin to think “everyone else seems to have connection; it must just be something wrong with me,” or “I guess no one can understand me.”

Jesus is a super interesting case study. He lived one of the most unique existences ever. I mean honestly, who can ever really understand or relate to what he was going through. However, he throughout his life surrounded himself with people, he throughout his life found those he could do life with, share in what was happening.

I like how the new testament book of Hebrews - chapter 10:24-25, addresses this

Hebrews 10:24-25 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another

I like how it describes the challenge, that we may be tempted to go through life alone, that left to our own devices, that without help, humans are prone to giving up on meeting together. And in turn they miss out on love, and encouragement.

I think part of the reason I like this Hebrews passage is that I can relate to it. It makes me think of a time in my life that I have talked about here before. I grew up being a part of churches. However, when I was in my early 20’s for a whole lot of reasons I got pretty fed up with Church. I was still a pretty big fan of Jesus, but I felt like what I was experiencing in Church was just a bunch of BS. I got to place where I really didn’t know what I believed any more. So, I just stopped going for years.

In this time Michelle and I decided to move to Korea to teach english. And While we were in Korea, Michelle and I were looking for a way to connect with people. We had just moved to a new city in a new country, and it wasn’t easy to make real relationships.
So, mostly at Michelle’s prompting, we decided to check out a church.
And the church we went to was honestly just the worst. I disagreed with pretty much everything said - I was actually offended by some parts I didn’t like the music, I didn’t like the feel and flow of the service. On all the objective evaluations, it was like literally the worst. However, they had a super active group of young adults. It was made up of mostly international english teachers from all over the world. And this group of young adults were actually pretty great. They had tons of things going on that were all about getting to know each other, and helping us connect and develop relationships with each other.
Actually the very first week we showed up they had a sign up table for a mini one day retreat happening that weekend. So, that first week Michelle and I signed up and although the content of the retreat was mediocre at best - in terms of connecting and have fun with other people it was awesome. While I was part of this community I had bit of a revelation. That although I wasn’t sure what I believed, and I didn’t actually agree with what the pastor was saying.
So, if you are not feeling me so much right now, don’t worry, it’s ok! What I did find in that community was far more important, I found connection. I felt more connected to other people, and more connected to God than I had been in long time.
And so when Michelle and I left Korea, I had a different mindset coming back to the states.
My mindset was that my life is better when I am living it in connection and community with others. And that I was going to do whatever I could to pursue that.
And that has been validated time and time over.
And think it is in part because more than through sermons, more than through religious rituals, God works through honest and genuine relationship.

I think to what Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 18 verse 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.

That we experience something of the very presence of God when we connect in community.

And that core to God’s heart for you and me and everyone is feeling connection with other people -- for us to not feel isolated, to not feel alone.

wax eloquent for a bit on the God whose heart for us is connection

So, today, we have one of our twice a year community fairs, to showcase the various social or interest groups and volunteer opportunities we have here at Brown Line Vineyard that can help you connect with some other people.

In a moment I’m going to invite up some of the folks in this community that are helping make these various forms of community happen, and you can hear a bit more about each option.

And then after that, I’m going to lead us in prayer so we can have a chance to each on our own interact with this God whose heart for us is connection and community. We’ll leave some space for each of us to ask “What is the right way for me to feel connection this winter?” “Can this church help or do you have another option for me?” Group Leaders ready to be interviewed: Kevin Williams - "Bible For Normal People” Podcast Group Zoé Orfanos, Nate Jones, Natalie & Rob Erickson - Every Other Thursday Drinks Keziah Brackett - “Raising White Kids” Book Study Barbie Cunningham - Women’s Groups Vince Brackett
Men’s Groups (MAYBE David Bell instead) Productivity Discussions - Online Group Volunteer opportunities: Warming center / before school tutoring Sunday Teams