One of my biggest challenges as a parent is slowing down long enough to fully take in moments with my kids. Life is super full. Having a marriage and three children under ten is full in-and-of itself, but then you add on things like the choir I've been singing with, and of course the whole trying-to-start-a-church-from-scratch thing, and I've got a lot of balls in the air. It's easy to go through the day scrambling to the next thing or multi-tasking through pretty much everything.
And then there are these moments when life catches me off guard. I take a break from church or house work to jump with my kids on the trampoline, and as we bounce and laugh and dance, with Taylor Swift blaring from my phone, I realize, this is pretty freakin' special. These kids are fun. The fact that they want to jump with me is pretty beautiful. And it won't be like this forever. This is a moment.
Haven had one of those kind of moments this past Sunday. We put on our first Sunday service in a facility outside my home. We were looking at it as a kind of trial-run. There are a lot of details involved in putting on a service, and without ever having done it, it's hard to predict what all the challenges might be. I wanted us to have a chance to work out any kinks before we invited the masses to join us. And so it was just our crew, 29 of our Havenites, descending on Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School to turn it into a place of worship for 75 minutes on a Sunday morning. The crazy thing was, amidst the flurry of activity and the mind-numbing amount of details I've been knee-deep in for weeks, it actually worked.
There was a palpable energy in the room that all of us could feel. It wasn't that what we were doing before wasn't legitimate; of course it was. But all of a sudden this now really felt like church. The coffee was brewing, the bagels were laid out, the band's practicing was on point. (And we had lush three-part harmony! I can't tell you how much that alone made the day for me). And then, after I grabbed a quick bite of bagel and said a quick, "Be with us, Jesus," we were starting.
It'll take a bit of time for me to get used to the rhythm of this particular service at this time and space. While I was preaching, I kept feeling like I was running behind. I was worried I'd need to cut a song from the responsive musical worship after the message. While we sang, I was trying to calculate what to cut, when I looked at the clock and realized we were more than fine. We had space still and could take our time. And that's when I felt an inner pull to slow down. Take a breath. Notice the room. This is a moment.
What I saw when I stopped long enough to notice couldn't have been more beautiful to me. I saw the faces of my Haven friends and partners, all of whom had pitched in to make the day happen. These are the people who've gone from being total strangers to being completely dear to me over the last fifteen months. Some of them were smiling with joy and gratitude. Some of their cheeks were stained with tears. Some of them were just trying, like me, to be present. I saw the candle lighting station in the back, filled with lit candles, each one representing a prayer that had been prayed by someone that morning. I sensed the power of those prayers mingling with the power of God's Spirit, filling the space with peace and warmth and hope. And I sensed the significance of this season we are embarking on; a feeling like new life is being unleashed in our midst that is going to leave all of us changed for the better.
When Junia was born six years ago, it was a flurry of activity. Her's was the crazy birth that almost happened in the car. She was delivered 18 minutes after we raced into the hospital parking lot; 12 minutes after they put me on the fetal monitor. And though it was a total whirlwind, I can remember kinesthetically almost each beat of the hour she was born in. I was alive to it; it is written in my body and six years later I don't have to work too hard to recall the sights, sounds, and sensory experiences of that day.
I have a sense that last Sunday will be the same way. Before the last song, I invited everyone else there to notice it, too. Haven is now bigger than me; it's bigger than the Martens family. It has already become something beyond us; it has its own life and that life is made up of all twenty-nine people who were a part of the space that day. It's made up of the people across the country cheering us on and praying for us and giving money to help us get off the ground. It's made up of the room itself; that space that, in that moment, I sensed was the room that God foresaw before Jason and I even moved to Berkeley. It's made up of all the folks who've yet to even be aware we exist, but who are also going to play an important part of the making of Haven's story.
So Sunday was a moment. And like moments do, it passed, and quickly we were on to the next thing. But I write these words as an act of remembrance; a way to say out loud that this day mattered. And like jumping on the trampoline with a couple of rascals, these moments we're living at Haven right now are pretty freakin' special.
Haven's next preview service will be held at 10:30 am at Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkeley on Sunday, February 28th, and all are welcome to join us. We will officially launch weekly services there beginning Easter Sunday, March 27th, 2016.