Imagine sitting by a warm fireplace, on a comfortable couch, with a journal and Bible in hand, looking out at a scene like this one. This comprised at least half of my day at CLCP's first staff retreat, which took place last Monday. I'd like to share with you excerpts from our director's recap of that day. In it, you'll find ways you can be praying for us (highlighting in particular the fourth paragraph below):
Dear CLCP board,
I wanted to report to you on what came out of our staff retreat, and our extended time of prayer, reflection and fellowship. The legal ministry is God’s work and it is a work of the spirit. It will emerge from our life with God.
Our theme was “Nothing is Impossible with God.” We looked at Isaiah and how God cares so much about Justice and the Poor and how he showed his mercy even in judgment by providing the Jews and the world with a Messiah. Isaiah shows us how things are now, how they will be in the near future, how they will be when Christ comes, and what the heavenly kingdom will be like. So we can look at our world and realize there is more than we can see now. That is helpful when we look at how big the problems are that we are trying to deal with.
Wendy led us off with a lesson on loving as Jesus loved, and took us deep into John 17 and what it means to be one in Christ, to be one as He is with the father, that type of unity. We left feeling closer to that oneness, and if I could pick one thing that emerged from our time it’s that we want to build on that with our clinic attorneys.
We are concerned that we are lacking spiritually, on clinic day, which is our main event. That we come from work, all business, give advice, go home for dinner. And that what happens behind closed doors, in our clinic offices, could be better, for the attorney and the client. We’d like to encourage attorneys to come spiritually prepared, maybe even listening to a good tape or music on the ride down. We’d like to get attorneys there a half hour early, and have a good time of prayer and preparation that is inspiring and gives some food for thought, a transition from the work day. Have people praying for the clinic time, seeing it as a divine appointment, taking the time to minister effectively. Then afterwards, have a meal together and a time to debrief, right there at the clinic. And see the time spent as given to the Lord, even if clients end up not showing up. This will take some set up by us, and cooperation from the attorneys. We also need to constantly be incorporating new attorneys into this fellowship.
We talked about our spirituality. That’s not our vision, or our plan, or our procedures. It’s what we look and feel and sound and smell like. We are in the justice and reconciliation business. It’s a people business. Our goal is changed lives. We deal with poverty at its root – broken relationships, with God, family, employers, everyone and everything. That takes time. We need help from our community partners.
We talked about loving like Jesus loved, what that would look like. There is a humility and gentleness that is needed that may seem unlawyerly, and in some sense we need to give up something to get there. We are all so busy. It’s an enemy and obstacle to our work, which asks volunteers to donate time they don’t have. We need to model an unbusy lifestyle. “I have time for you. No, I’m not busy.” We value busyness, and we shouldn't.
We’d like to model an effective approach to sharing the gospel with our clients. We want to have non-Christian clients, and clinic attorneys. We need to struggle with the tension that will bring; it’s a good tension – not everyone will agree with us. A local pastor and friend asked Ted and me if we wanted to go with him to share the gospel to a friend’s son last Friday at 6 pm. I wish I had said yes and gone with him. I missed an opportunity....