A personal reflection on fifty years of life together in covenant community which began in Ann Arbor, Michigan USA in 1970
Fifty years ago, I was a freshman at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan USA. I began attending charismatic prayer meetings in the late 1960s and experiencing God’s presence in ways I had never thought possible. It was the beginning of an amazing ride. In September 1970 I made my public commitment to life together in covenant community in Ann Arbor.
Looking back on all that the Lord has done over these fifty years in covenant community, I am very grateful. The Lord has given me many, many brothers and sisters in Christ from all over the world. I lived in Belgium for two years, helping start the Jerusalem community there. I have traveled to many different countries on mission trips, played guitar at a Papal mass (perhaps the only Protestant to ever so do), lived with men from all over the world as part of The Servants of the Word, an international ecumenical brotherhood of men living single for the Lord, and I have seen the Lord work in many powerful ways. As I approach my 70th birthday this coming January 2021, the challenges facing me now are different, and the Lord’s grace is different.
I remember when I was 30 years old, and Steve Clark (the founder of our brotherhood, The Servants of the Word) was turning 40. We asked him to share some reflections on turning forty (which seemed VERY old to us at that point). He proceeded to give a very profound insight into the types of grace God gives at different times in life. To young people, God gives the grace to make significant decisions and commitments, and to set bold life directions. To older people, God gives the grace to be faithful to those decisions, commitments and life directions. You need both to fulfill God’s plan.
Over the years, I have sometimes lamented that there seem to be fewer opportunities to make bold new decisions and commitments. My life is full and there aren’t many ‘new things’ that I can fit into my packed schedule. But then I recall Steve’s presentation and resolve to focus on being faithful to the decisions and commitments I made years ago. I am open to new things, but first and foremost I will be faithful to my current commitments.
A few years ago I was thinking about how some people’s lives affect many others, and bring fame and recognition, while others’ lives are almost invisible. Yet people in both states may have given themselves completely to the Lord. In fact, sometimes the invisible, humble life is the more precious and significant in the eyes of the Lord. For me, it boiled down to the fact that each of us has the fundamental challenge of being faithful to whatever it is that the Lord sets before us. It may bring fame and fortune, or it may bring poverty, sacrifice and difficulty. No matter the path the Lord sets before us, we are called to be faithful to it. To stick by our post until dismissed by our Captain.
This inspired me to write a song called ‘Well Done”. The chorus goes like this:
“O when this life is over and I take my final rest;
When I’ve made my final journey ‘round the sun;
May the angels receive me in the land of the blest,
And may I hear my Master say ‘Well Done’.”
Then the last verse, reflecting on the fame that one could achieve in life, goes like this:
“All my life’s story, all the vain and fleeting glory;
All that has faded for me now.
But that one blessed crown, worth more than all the world’s renown,
Shall be mine if I hear: ‘Well Done.’”
I pray that all of us in The Sword of the Spirit may be faithful to our individual callings, whether they be prominent or hidden, and that we as a people may play our part in God’s plan. And in the end may we all hear the Lord say “Well done, good and faithful servant – enter into the joy of your Master.”
Top photo credit: photo collage of community activities past and present, (c) 2020 Living Bulwark/The Sword of the Spirit
Listen to an mp3 music audio clip of Ted Kennedy’s song, “Well Done” here.
See other articles by Ted Kennedy in previous issues of Living Bulwark.