I read this letter to the church in the service on May 2, 2020.  I wanted to re-share here.  


Dear Left Hand,

To all of you that were in the pews in January 2018 for the church’s first test service -- walking through dark grey skies to enter and find a place of hope;

To all of you that have attended campouts and retreats, suffering through enneagram workshops and joyfully singing “Closer to Fine” at the top of our lungs convinced that you were in some way touching heaven and earth;

To all of you that found us on Facebook for the first time last week and thought “what kind of church holds it service on a Saturday night?!;

To those of you that have stood in long lines at  community dinners, with Jan standing guard at the front of the line, and then trying to find a way to eat gracefully while crammed into a small corner of the Jepsen family’s living room;

To those that complained to me about the lack of a permanent sign at 402 Kimbark Street (you know who you are);

To those that have cried over a health diagnosis with us, to those that have contributed to Kitchen Starter Kits, to those that have made masks for our front line workers;

To the queer and the straight;

To the young and the old;

To the Broncos fans and even to infidel Raiders fans;

To all of you however you find yourself, with whatever background you bring to this community –

May God’s peace find us all on this day.
 

 
There is nowhere else to start but with a thank you.

Ideas can be powerful.  They can be dazzling, and mysterious, and can strike at any moment.  Jen talks about how the idea for a church took hold of her and wouldn’t let her go.  She had an idea of a new kind of church that was fearless in comforting those that have been rejected from the church in the past, that affirmed God’s love for all peoples. 
A church that confronted the injustices and systems of oppression that lurk around every corner, yet maintain the hope of following the narrow path to LIFE as spoken into existence by Jesus.  As Rob Bell says, one of the most powerful thing we can do is build a church that moves beyond boring categories of conservative and liberal because we --- we’ve experienced resurrection, which includes and affirms anything and everything that brings liberating, new life wherever it's found irrespective of whatever labels and categories it's been given because of an abiding conviction that the tomb is, after all, empty.

We -- This Community.  Were.  An. Idea.

So thank you Jen, and Aaron, and Paula.  This church, this community, was born of a dazzling idea that has manifested itself in you, me, all of us finding a place to search for LIFE, a place of love, a place of community.   A church that understands that Jesus is doing something in the world, bringing water to the thirsty, food to the hungry, peace to the restless, presence to the lonely and that all people should be invited to join his movement. 

Thank you Jen for that spark, that idea, that belief, and for serving this community so well. 
 
 

Next, I want to acknowledge how difficult change can be.  Any change is always a form of loss, and loss needs to be grieved.  That’s the only way it works.  I personally know this too well --- if I stuff down and ignore my feelings --- they will always lurk right behind me.   So we will not ignore this feeling of grief.   Grief is a sign of health.  It demonstrates an awareness of our heart space and a desire and courage to face what’s going on inside each of us.  So I too grieve with all of you over this change. 

This reminds me of a story that Jen and Paula have discussed before.  It’s the story of Jacob wrestling an angel.  They say that Jacob walked with a limp afterward.  But at least he experienced God.  I know many of you have been walking with a limp for a long time.  We’ve talked about it and prayed about it.   For others, maybe this change causes us to walk with a limp.   I promise you that this last week has caused me to limp.  I didn’t imagine that this would happen when I joined the pastoral staff here.  I know for all of you watching, this probably has caused you to limp too.  But as I’ve sat and prayed this past week, I’ve realized that the power of a limp is not necessarily found in the pain and injury, but rather in the choice that all of us have to get up off the ground and start forward again.   And I also realized that Jesus is here with us right now, in the mess, in this moment, no matter how difficult this is and I, for one, am grateful of that. 
 

 
There is a natural human emotion to assign blame for our loss.  To turn this into an us vs. them battle.  To demonize the other.  That’s the path that, when you’re returning from the airport after a long, long, long trip, drops you off in Aurora because you’ve missed the narrow turn off to 470.  “For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  Demonizing others, turning this into an us vs. them matter, that path does NOT LEAD TO LIFE.   That’s the path that our politicians use to turn us against ourselves, that’s the path that too many evangelical churches use to play up a culture war and refuse to affirm Jesus’ love for all,  that’s the path that DOES NOT LEAD TO LIFE.  Please, people, let’s take the harder path that leads to life. 

And how do we do that?  By following the same words that Jen, Aaron and Paula have all taught us over the last 2+ years --- by  loving God, loving our neighbors, and loving ourselves.  By loving each other.  By acknowledging that we’re all flawed -- God and my wife know how flawed I am -- but by loving each other.  And what’s one way that we do that?  By assuming best intentions. It’s easy to assume our own best intentions.  Even I can do that one.  It’s a lot harder to assume the best intentions of the other.  And so let’s try to assume the best intentions of everyone in this difficult time.   
 
 

There is a question hanging in the air.  It’s the 20,000 pound elephant that needs to be addressed….with this change, what happens to Left Hand Church?  Well, first, we all need to remember that the church is not a thing.  It’s not separate from us.  WE ARE ALL LEFT HAND CHURCH.  Left Hand Church is the people that sit and break bread together, cry together, and follow Jesus together. 
So when people say what is going to happen to Left Hand?  They’re asking what is going to happen to you?  What are you going to do, how are you going to respond?  You are the answer.  Because you are the church. 

Left Hand Church is not a product.  It is a community of people that have our ethos in our DNA, that believe that the idea that Jen, and Aaron, and Paula had is worth continuing, is worth fighting for, is worth nurturing, is worth continuing along the narrow path to find. 
You are Left Hand Church. 

Remember that scene in Toy Story when Woody yells at Buzz “You are a toy!”   I’m Woody, yelling at you – YOU ARE THE CHURCH.   

You are the answer to what will happen at Left Hand Church.  And we have a Leadership Council that will help guide us, and Heatherlyn to help inspire us and to continue to make a beautiful noise for us, and Jason to make sure that you can see us and hear us every week, and Paula to help teach us.  And I want to tell you that we are so lucky to have Kristie Sykes to help unite us.  She is a rock star, and loves people, and loves community, and we are so lucky to have her here to help lead us.  We are so lucky to have her here to lead us.   And we have Kimberly to help teach our kids, and Brittany to help lead our youth, and all of you who contribute in so many ways to the yoga classes, the happy hours, the book studies, the branches groups, the likes and shares on Facebook, the criticisms about a lack of a permanent sign outside 402 Kimbark Street.  So I ask of you – please -- let’s answer this call together.  We can whisper love to all we come in contact with.  We can still join in community.  We can still walk that narrow path to LIFE.  There is still hope in who we are as a church.  Let’s bring our friends to church.  Let’s give money.  Let’s get more involved.  Believe.  Love.  Find the LIFE. 

Now things may change a little bit here and there, and we need your grace.  Left Hand will be in new territory, trying new things, experimenting, working together in community to find where the LIFE is.  And that can be scary and hard.  And we --- I --  will need your grace on this going forward.  We’re not perfect, we’re doing the best we can.  And I’m sure at some point Kristie or Paula or I will say something stupid (ok, I’ll say something stupid), and I’ll need your forgiveness and your understanding that we are all just doing the best we can.  We all need your prayers. 

This church has its own unique path.  This church has its own DNA that was borne out of an idea that Jen and Aaron and Paula had years ago.  It’s an idea that manifests itself today in caring, discovering, resisting, forgiving, loving, affirming, embracing, cuddle couching, doing whatever we do for the least of these.  And we will never lose sight of that.

Last, I want us all to go forward with some hope.  We have all leaned over and looked into the tomb, and breathlessly run as fast as we could to our friends, exclaiming “he isn’t in there!” and in that moment we are all seized by hope.  My prayer is that we take that hope and cling to that hope and protect that hope.  I, for one, believe the church’s best days are ahead of us.  And that maybe someday we’ll even get a permanent church sign.