I’ve been around Blanchard Alliance Church for a long time now. At 38, God has been weaving the thread of my life back and forth through Blanchard’s tapestry since I was a Popeye-adoring four-year-old.
1975-76. 1980-1981. 1985-86. 1989-1997. 2006-?
And the people of Blanchard have been hugely significant as “little Christs” all through these years.
I’ll never forget learning to worship as a child in the sea of electric blue, burnt orange and pea green chairs fanning out through the original south sanctuary on Blanchard Road (now the Cornerstone Room) or the summer picnics in the apple orchard on the west side of the building, squishing apples under foot as I played.
Nor will I forget the awe of watching God fill the seats of our new sanctuary in the fall of ’92 as a “kid” worship leader…one very full service to two (almost overnight) and then to three every Sunday morning by ’96.
Then Karyn and I got married, moved out to Colorado Springs and helped to establish the student and worship ministries at North Springs Alliance Church, still tethered to Blanchard and all our significant relationships here–family, friends, mentors and prayer warriors (like Dick Sands and Peter Iveson).
We missed a lot of the first half of the 2000’s at Blanchard–Cambodia calling. But within six months of our arrival in Cambodia in 2002, we hosted a short-term team from Blanchard (Mary Ellen, Joan, Ruth, Lon, Linda…) and then another one in 2005 (Skye, Lisa, Kristen, Scottie, Duane and Muriel…). Then we came home in 2006, just as Blanchard was launching our second campus in Warrenville. I wasn’t a part of those early pre-launch services in the Cornerstone Room, nor do I know what it felt like to step out and leave the Wheaton campus for the humble Community Building in Warrenville, but every emotion in the book must have been experienced by God’s people here. Sorrow. Fear. Joy. Anticipation. Confusion. Hope. Anger. Peace. Determination.
Every one of us at Blanchard has a different story of God working here. We have loved and been loved. We taken shots and delivered them. And many of us might be just plain worn out from all the work. Yet I am confident that He is still weaving a people together for his purposes, in the desert or in the garden, through the sorrow and in the pain, the hope and the longing.
And in all the remembering of Blanchard’s past and imagining her future, Brennan Manning reminds me (and us) to be careful. It’s the simple call to living fully in our present, our now/here (or nowhere), our everyday existence as followers of Christ belonging to the Body of Christ at Blanchard Alliance Church. As Manning says so beautifully in one of my favorite books, Ruthless Trust,
…[fixating on] the yesterdays and tomorrows of life to the neglect of the now/here–Nowhere–is not living at all. When my mind is replaying past glories and defeats or imagining unknown tomorrows, the music of what is happening is muted.
In all the discussions, hand-wringing (?) and prayers over what we might look like someday as the people of Blanchard Alliance Church, may Jesus rule our present–our nowhere. Fully dependent on our trustworthy, immanent, close-as-the-air-we breathe Savior, may we immerse ourselves in our everyday stories for Him to declare, establish and reign for His purposes. Let that be enough for today.