May/June 2010 - Vol. 40...

Counter-Cultural in a Non-Christian World.

By Ellen Gryniewicz

We started out as students, barefoot and beaded, but when we started to build community, we needed more than that. We found what was needed in tradition, the traditions of the Jewish and Christian people of God. The Lord’s Day – setting aside Sunday for the Lord – entered our life fairly early, and became a mainstay in anchoring family and household life in stable patterns. Community daily prayers, often done as evening prayers, also helped. Celebrating the seasons of the Christian year further enriched us, and sometimes set us apart. Try celebrating Advent, not Christmas, in the weeks leading up to the feast of the Incarnation, and you will experience going against the stream of our culture. 

A less ceremonial, but essential, custom which has woven together the lives of God’s people whenever they have experienced being his people, is mutual care. We met together for support in small groups, provided meals when babies were born, helped one another move (endlessly, it seemed), and baked cakes for many, many weddings – sometimes two or even three a weekend.  And we prayed with each other and for each other and over each other. And we sang an ever-increasing repertoire of songs, many of our own composing. All of these things had been done by others before us, and had worked for them. They worked for us also. We became a people – a people who were noticeably different, set apart to be dedicated to serving our God. And this identity made us able to resist, at least in part, the powerful influences trying to pull us away from Jesus and the way of life he calls us to live. Forming a culture as a people of God helped us to counter the non-Christian culture we live in. 

[Ellen Gryniewicz is a senior woman leader in Word of Life Community in Ann Arbor, Michigan] 

Long Distance Commitment
by Tom Gryniewicz

As the first Thursday night prayer meetings grew from 12 people in November of 1967 to hundreds over the following year – many came from Michigan, Ohio, and even Canada! – we “regular” attendees who lived in Ann Arbor felt the need to begin meeting on an additional night of the week to have a chance to focus on our own spiritual growth and worship of the Lord.  A few of us also met together outside of these prayer meetings to seek the Lord for what he wanted to do with us all. 

I went into the U.S. Navy as my friends continued these gatherings. One day on my ship, the captain sent word that I had a ship-to-shore phone call.  It’s the only time I saw anyone receive such a call, and I thought as I went to answer it, “This must be something big.” It was. People from the Ann Arbor prayer group were calling to let me know that God was calling them to bind themselves together to him in something called a “covenant,” and could I pray that we would understand what it all means and respond to it. 

My long distance call led to a long distance prayer, and the prayer group was able to accept God’s invitation 40 years ago and make our first public commitments as individuals joined together in community. After a few years, I completed my time in the navy, returned to Ann Arbor and was able to publicly affirm my own commitment to that same way of life.  God deals with us no matter where we are, as long as we love him and want to please him – and he is never a long distance from us.

[Tom Gryniewicz is a coordinator in Word of Life Community in Ann Arbor, Michigan] 

Go to next page > Transgenerational - You Bet! by Van and Janet Vandagriff

Reflections from Founding Members of Covenant Community

These reflections are written by members of the Sword of the Spirit who were there from the beginnings in 1970 and have lived for 40 years in covenant community: 

(c) copyright 2010  The Sword of the Spirit
publishing address: Park Royal Business Centre, 9-17 Park Royal Road, Suite 108, London NW10 7LQ, United Kingdom