Settling Down and Growing – Micah’s Ministry Newsletter #51

Dear friends in Truth,

The daylight hours are getting longer, and I am beginning to feel hopeful that spring is on its way. Though the days are still mostly very cold, I feel a sense of hopeful expectation as the earth begins to wake up. This pairs nicely with the joy and hopefulness that I feel in the rhythms of my own life and in our community here in the DC area. As the weeks pass and the days grow steadily brighter, my experience of work, ministry and life in community are all deepening and becoming more vibrant.

New life is already blooming at Capitol Hill Friends. This Sunday, we gathered for the 5th session of our 6-week small group series. We have averaged about 14 participants at our meetings, out of 17 individuals who have been regularly involved. Pretty good for a small group that envisions itself as being a community of 6-12!

The spiritual depth and sincere seeking we have experienced together has been life-giving. We are learning how to pray together and read the Bible in ways that speak directly to our lives as residents of one of the world’s most powerful and high-pressure cities. We are learning to laugh together, to let down our guard and really see one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. As one who is sometimes overly serious, this ability to laugh and be silly together has been very powerful for me.

Serving as small group leader for this first six-week series has been a rich experience. I have grown so much through working with my apprentice each week to prepare for the meeting, and my prayer life has deepened as I have become more intentional about lifting up each person in our community. With each week that passes, I feel more knit into the new community that is forming here, and I am heartened to see signs that others are feeling similarly drawn into this new life.

More than ever, I am feeling called to stability and rootedness in place. In previous years, I traveled extensively and got involved in events and communities around the country, and even beyond. Though in recent years I have felt a growing longing to settle down and focus in my home region, I have continually felt called elsewhere Рwhether to activities in the Ohio Yearly Meeting community, other ministerial travels or visits to family and friends in Ohio and Kansas. Whether I liked it or not, for many years I felt compelled to be away from home much of the time.

This year feels different. In the last two months, I have only left the DC area a couple of times, and both of these trips were to visit friends in Virginia. No grand mission, just nurturing relationships.

As I look ahead, I feel called to stay put. There are places I would like to go and people I long to see. There is so much important work to be done out in the wider world. But now, more than ever, I am feeling like a shepherd, or a gardener, tending this little flock, this little garden. I need to be here, with my people. I need to get to know my city better, to care for my friends, to make myself ever more available to my neighbors in a city where busyness is a status symbol and a spacious life is almost unheard of.

Ironically, as I seek to promote this spaciousness in the life of my community, I am probably busier than I have ever been. There is so much to be done, and I am increasingly aware of the limits of my energy. But this, too, I see as part of God’s revelation to me. Christ is teaching me to recognize those things that are most essential, and he is calling me to release everything else. I must let go of anything that is not central to God’s purpose for me, no matter how worthy and beneficial it may seem. It is so easy to drown in good things.

The call is becoming increasingly clear and simple: Care for the community, nurture and equip new leaders, pray for my brothers and sisters, seek justice and the well-being of my city. It is not complicated at all, but I have never felt so challenged.

Thank you for your prayers for me and for the work we are engaged in here in DC. All of the love and prayer that you are directing towards us is having a big impact. In the month ahead, please pray that our community here will continue to be built up – in numbers, in spiritual depth, and in healthy community that empowers us to be God’s people in the midst of Empire.

Your friend in Truth,

Micah Bales