In my garden is a cherry tree. During the summer months, its foliage is a dark green and the few cherries that survive the goldfinches and squirrels are a deep unctuous red. As summer becomes autumn, the leaves turn russet, then golden before carpeting the floor beneath the tree. During the winter months, the bare branches and dark bark are unremarkable, host to a couple of wood pigeons, biding its time till the days grow longer and warmer weather beckons new growth.
And then the magic happens. Over several days, white blooms emerge from their buds and delicate flowers hang from burgundy and lime green fronds. The scent attracts a host of bees and from dawn to dusk the whole tree hums with their presence. Then, the white blossom turns a delicate halo of pink. Looking up through the branches, the sunlight renders the blossoms translucent and luminous against the blue sky and its beauty is breathtaking.
Inevitably, after a few weeks, a wind blows the petals across the garden and shoots of dark green leaves appear in their place. And the cycle begins again.
Several years back, the team at Third Space Ministries spent some time praying and reflecting on the themes and values that underpin the work we do. We agreed that the following six words would be our vision and value words – reminding us how we want to be present in third spaces.
This Easter, sitting in the garden under the cherry tree as it has morphed from its bleak wintery self into its magnificent spring form, I have reflected on transformation.
Jesus was distinctive in his time because he transformed how the people around him thought about God, about themselves, and about others. He lived as though God was real and present. He loved as though every person had value. He spoke of himself as a beloved Son of God and refused to submit by any other opinion of him.
As he spoke and lived, he reshaped ideas of who God was to make space for people to find freedom, healing, identity, love and belonging.
When he walked into a room, the atmosphere changed. When he spoke, the conversation changed.
When he lived distinctively, the culture changed.
The challenge of the transformation is threefold: we actively listen to the Holy Spirit, allowing him to teach us who God is; allowing his love to shape and reshape our identity as beloved; and then allowing him to show us how to love others.
When we are in third spaces, we believe that as we love, we ‘bring out the God colours in the world’, (Matthew 5 v 14 The Message). We believe that when we live distinctively, the conversation and the culture get transformed. We believe that God’s presence transforms that place into a sanctuary, where people can encounter his love. And that when they do, they are transformed too.
Over the coming months, different members of our team will be unpacking the impact of our vision words in our work and sharing stories from third spaces. We look forward to encouraging you with the transformation that we see.
This Easter, as we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from death to life, I hope you will notice the ways his love transforms you, your loved ones and your world.