Firstfruits began with an idea: How could women’s needs to gather with other women, experience God’s love and go forth more centered on their own giftedness and purpose be met? Then the Holy Spirit stepped in and something powerful happened!
In the beginning … Firstfruits began as a vision for a women’s ministry whose purpose was to gather women to experience God’s love. And as a result, be transformed!

As word spread about this unique opportunity, other parishes became interested in hosting a Firstfruits gathering. It became apparent to the founders of Firstfruits that this “gathering” needed to be moveable. We became known as a moveable feast of spiritual opportunities for women.

Room For All

Let’s face it, the pandemic has affected all aspects of life including our spiritual life. Scientists and medical professionals worry about the long-term effects of the virus on us physically. I’m wondering about the long-term effects on us spiritually.

I’ve had a number of very honest conversations with women who are experiencing a post-pandemic shift in their otherwise staid thinking on just what church means to them. It’s like their spiritual equilibrium has shifted slightly and they are feeling off balance, not quite as steady as they had been.

The fear and the uncertainty of the last eighteen months has been a reality check for many of us. An opportunity to take pause and reflect on our spiritual habits or lack thereof. Anytime we slow down and reflect inward, feelings of confusion and anxiety can rise up. That’s good. It means we are growing.

But often if feels anything but good. We can feel like we are in a spiritual crisis and in need of God’s “first responders”, a term that Word on Fire fellow Stephen Bullivant uses when describing the church in his introduction to Catholicism after Coronavirus. And by church, he means all of us.

Pope Francis issued an invitation in his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, “to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities.” That quote has been on the Firstfruits website since its inception. That is what Firstfruits is all about. We are God’s first responders to those who are hungering for a lived, meaningful faith.

Speaking of responders, I was overwhelmed with the response to my S.O.S blog. Thank you so much to all who took the time to send me your reflections. Your responses were all across the board. They were beautiful in their depth, sincerity, and honesty, and in the fact that they reaffirmed in me the importance of making sure there is room for all in any new, creative evangelization effort.

Room for those who are so angry at church right now that they couldn’t comment. Room for those whose first time back to church in person was described as “thrilling” and they “wept like a baby” when receiving the Eucharist. One woman said she missed “just taking a breath in a sacred place.”

Room for those who expressed a sadness when church closed but also a new and enriched experience of God outside of church. As it said in a reflection that one of you sent me by Glenn McDonald, a Presbyterian minister, “We found new ways to connect, serve, and encourage. Our hearts became more open to hear the Gospel and to be reassured of God’s care and love.”

Room for those who missed “rubbing shoulders” with their community but acknowledged that you often hear of experiences where people go looking for that true community in church and are deeply disappointed.

Room for all.

What has become clear to me as I prayerfully read and pondered your responses is that the spiritual equilibrium shift is really God at work. During this time that we have been gifted with to plumb the depths of our spiritual lives, we are to look for God’s will for each of us in response to what we personally and individually have experienced. It’s not the same for all.

In closing, I want to share an original reflection I received last week.

Is there a place for old thought in my spirituality now?
Do I need to rearrange the room, leave the room or just peaceful reside in the room?
Now I might be distracted, get edgy or even move about in the room!
I could decide to leave the room.
That is fine too.
Yet ultimately how I allow Christ’s heartfelt presence in the room is my earnest quest.
I know whatever room I truly occupy will be Home to the Beloved.
And in truth all rooms avail God’s powerful Love and Joy.
Moment to moment.

Feeling so grateful to be on this journey with you.

Joan

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Joan Carey, Firstfruits executive director, is an author and speaker with a passion for helping women grow in their relationships with God. Her Ponder This book contains a series of modern day parables sure to get you thinking about and seeing our extraordinary God in our ordinary experiences. Joan invites you to use resources on this website for daily reflection in your journey to grow in God's loving care for you.
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