Written by Cathie Ostapchuk
In our family we are deep in the swirl of planning for my daughter's upcoming June wedding. We have checklists of things that need to be done today, next week, wedding week and then...the wedding day itself. And since we are exactly one month out, you can be sure we are already checking the weather forecast and wondering what provisions can be made for a "Plan B" if the weather does not cooperate with our plans.
At Gather Women, we are also deep in the swirl of not only short-term and long-term planning, but also gathering the learnings of our recent Gather days in BC and Alberta. We are reflecting on the beautiful feedback of women who showed up and heard the message that we are Beloved Warriors, not forgotten, and that there is a place for us all to belong. In each others' presence we sensed harmony and unity as Canadian women - because we know what it is like to be living in a country with more diversity than any other country in the world, not only province to province, but culturally, denominationally and generationally. We share common language with the women who drove from Lacombe and LacLaBiche and Peace River and Medicine Hat and Calgary and Prince George and Winnipeg and Saskatchewan, because we all have our feet planted in this soil and just 'get' what it is to be Canadian girls. Strong and Free.
We have taken some time to let the beauty of our recent Gatherings go deep and to reflect on what weather conditions are present in our nation that will shape our future Gatherings. We know that the feedback, "we have been waiting for this for so long", "this space feels so right", and the strength of Canadian women's voices rising together is for such a time as this.
We are observing you gathering the one and the few through Gather Circles - and know there are many more circles to be created in the days ahead. Please have a look at the Conversations we have prepared for you - and be Bold in inviting some women to a circle that you are creating. You can find all the information you need here http://www.gatherwomen.com/gather-circles/
We are already into the short-term planning for Gather Quebec as we prepare to be present with the gorgeous women in Montreal, and step into a nation within a nation to come together at the stunning St. James Montreal on June 11. God is truly doing a new work in the la belle province. Would you join us there? You can register here http://www.gatherwomen.com/gather-event/
And the long-term forecast is ever before us. We are dreaming of gathering women from coast to coast in Toronto on October 1 for our first national Gathering. Will you be joining us? Who will be the voices that speak to the women gathered? What message will God put first on our hearts and then on our lips? Who will come and sit at the table across from you as you take your seat? Who will lead us in beautiful worship, and in creative display of the God of the Universe who has called us together before time to be together for this time in history? What will our conversations be about? At Gather Women we want to create conduits for conversations about the church, about the culture, about our policies, about our education, about our social fabric - about our role as Canadian Christian women in transforming our nation through love and service.
We know that our country is changing gradually and suddenly. Overnight fires rage in Ft. McMurray and lives are devasted in an instant. Our FIrst Nations brothers and sisters live on the same soil as we plant our feet and feel a gradual isolation and invisibility to the rest of the nation that suddenly shocks us as we hear of unfathomable suicide by so many of their beautiful children. What is our call to respond? Individually? Collectively?
What is the long-term forecast for our nation? How do we Gather and raise up a Canadian collective of Christian women who are poised to gather in to go out and become powerful agents of restoration and reconciliation in their families, communities, churches, and in the forgotten places of our nation?
You see, the long-term forecast is always in our minds as we Gather in the short-term. We know that in any given province on any given day we are not able to fulfill all that God has planned for His girls in the coming days, weeks, months and years. We are truly seeing just a glimpse of the revelation of God's heart for us as Canadian women. So we are true to be worshippers, to be students of the Word of God, and to be committed to community and belonging in the spaces we gather.
Long-term, we are also called to develop the leadership potential of every woman who raises her hand to shape her sphere of influence, through leadership portals and coaching communities.
Long-term, we are also called to be missional as we rise to reach the forgotten or isolated terrains of our country and find women we can invite to relationship through conversation and presence and knowledge of the saving work of Jesus Christ.
Long-term we are called to Gather in humility, placing our lives and our dreams at the feet of the God who knows that we were born for purpose and eternity in His presence.
Long-term we are called to Gather greatness - to find our individual and collective voice and Rise to meet the challenges our culture is needing us to become part of the solution to. Girls, we are half the church and need to step in to ownership of that responsibility.
Will you Gather with us? Perhaps online as we create and grow our online Facebook Gather Women Coast to Coast group in a few days. https://www.facebook.com/groups/gatherwomen/
Perhaps by adding your name to our growing list of women who are staying connected with what's coming up on our subscriber list. http://www.gatherwomen.com/take-action/
Perhaps by launching your own Gather Conversation Circle and creating pools of community and belonging around the conversations of Jesus that will ripple out and spread one conversation and one relationship at a time.
Or perhaps you will take a risk and be bold and come and join your beautiful Quebecois sisters in Montreal on June 11.
We are inviting you soon to join us in Toronto on October 1 for our national Gather Rise. Perhaps you already have a sense that you are there, no matter what. Because while we do what we know what to do in the short-term, we are confident that God 'knows the plans He has for us - plans to give us a hope and a future' (Jeremiah 29:11) here in this nation for this time in history, as His girls.
Sharpen your swords, girls. Get your game on. Craft your unique gifts. Wear your mantle of purpose as a Daughter of the King. The long-term forecast is that you are going to be not only needed but called into active duty as part of the Canadian Sisterhood.
What's the long-term forecast? Be ready. Rain or shine - we move forward. Let's stand in the middle of God's glorious grace pouring over us as He calls us to partner with Him in the great work of redemption for all His daughters.
And by doing so we are doing both the short-term and long-term work of leaving markers of faith for the next generation and beyond.
Let us Gather.