“The time for anonymity is ended.” This phrase has been continually brought to the forefront of my mind since Valentine’s Day. That morning, I went to a “friend-raiser” breakfast hosted by ArborWoman Pregnancy Center, and listened as Iris, the executive director, cast vision for the pregnancy center over the next few years. When she first considered jumping on board with ArborWoman, she remembered thinking that the center and its vision to be a safe place for women to consider their options during an unexpected pregnancy was “the best kept secret of Ann Arbor.” As she shared this musing, I remember thinking, “oh wow, that doesn’t make sense at all. We should definitely not hide this thing—it needs to be out in the open.” And then that phrase drifted into my head “The time for anonymity is ended.” It became a message not only for the center but also very much for myself. And, as I’ve discovered since then, a message for many other people in our church community as well.
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” Matt. 5:14-15
As Antioch Ann Arbor, now is no longer the time to hide behind being a small church plant newly established in Michigan. Now is the time to run, to shine bright, that many would turn to God and praise him (Matt. 5:16).
One way that Antioch has stepped out of hiding is through regular meals together, such as ones hosted by different people in the young adults community. Some of these spaces are for the community to come together and pray for each other, like Sunday brunches, and others, like the potlucks on Sunday nights after church, are for people outside the community to feel invited. Different young adult connect groups have also had community nights and campus outreaches called Encouragement Café, to love on people in the city. Antioch has also answered the movement-wide call to prayer through weekly gatherings called Early Morning Prayer (EMP). And recently, we got together for a worship night, to praise God and be led by the Spirit, with live music and spontaneous prayer.
At the beginning of the sermon series ‘Felt Needs’, Ted shared a very important passage of scripture to Antioch as a movement- Acts 2:42-47. The verses give a vivid picture of what the early church looked like, of devotion and fellowship, of eating together, and prayer. They met each others’ needs, praised God for his favor, were filled with awe. And God multiplied their numbers each day. The brunches, potlucks, community nights, encouragement cafés, EMPs, worship night (and many, many other things I’ve surely failed to mention) are all reflections of the Church coming together in worship. The message is clear- we don’t need to remain anonymous. That time is passed, and now is the time for our names to be known.
That might come across as a strange, almost arrogant, thought. We want our name known? Isn’t that for Jesus- for His name to be known? Yes, of course! Why else do we do anything that we do as a church? To quote Jason Sudan, “religion is a lame hobby.” We live to make Christ known to the world. And God has given us a really good thing— the blessing of Kingdom culture lived out through a community that works to love and support each other. Far be it from us to stand at the wayside and not invite people into it. Let’s wave our banner in the air like we just don’t care, people! That is cause for celebration!
Jordan wrapped up the sermon series with a message titled “Environments of Freedom.” He talked about being ones like David, who declare that God is our fortress and that we will not be shaken. “You can control if you are a worshipper,” he said. You can choose to be content where you are. Conversely, we have a holy discontentment to see God bring justice, to invade dark places, to be persistent in the things of the Kingdom. I am excited to see how the Church continues to run with this message of freedom, and as people in varying states of need are drawn to us, just as the discontent were drawn to David in the Cave of Adullam, God will do something truly, breathtakingly amazing.
“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:3
About the Author: Gabby hails from Waco, Tx where she received her undergraduate degree in social work. She calls herself a Michigander now, and is excited for the next adventure with God in Ann Arbor and Detroit! Geography is her favorite subject, and as the American daughter of Filipino immigrants, she is no stranger to a diversity of food, culture and travel. You can often find her at the local rock wall, hitting the pavement around Ypsi/A2 or, her favorite, getting quality time with good friends.