Story Session 9: Sean Gladding

Sean Gladding hails from Norwich, England.  He came to the U.S. in 1991 and spent 6 years in campus ministry at Texas Tech, also graduating from Tech with a BGS in addiction studies.  From there he went to Asbury Seminary in Kentucky, where he met his wife, Rebecca, and was part of Communality, an intentional missional community living and working with the marginalized in downtown Lexington.  After graduating with an MDiv in 2002, Sean and Rebecca moved to Houston, Texas, to serve on the staff of Mercy Street, a ‘church within a church’ at Chapelwood UMC, a community for people in recovery: both recovery from addiction, and recovery from bad church experiences.  Sean & family returned to Lexington in August to re-join Communality.  Sean and Rebecca have two children: Maggie is 5 and Seth is 4.  Sean is the first member of his family to become a Jesus follower, and has had the privilege of baptizing both his parents, a brother, sister-in-law and nephew.  Sean has ridden his ’84 Harley Davidson most days since 1991.

The Story of God. The Story of Us

  • Jesus is the climax of the story of Israel.
  • If we don’t understand Israel then we won’t understand Jesus.
  • The Bible has not been good news for many of the broken people that I interact with. Many times these people are told that they are outsiders. They get beat with it.
  • Many people are asking, “How the hell did I get here?”
  • As I began to tell the story of God with a bunch of drunks and addicts, that experience of exile resonated. People who have been estranged from their families, kicked out of the church. People who are alone, and lost. They have yet to hear the story of God that the Bible tells.
  • As we listen to the story together, over and over and over again, especially with people who are not like us, we begin to see the majesty, and the glory, and the mess of the story that unfolds. The story of God. The story of us.

At this time the lights are dim, there is a campfire video running, and crickets. He has created a campfire environment!

  • I will begin with the story with creation.
  • Maybe there is something in this story that we can hear together today, that will speak to us, that we haven’t heard before.
  • It is easy to forget where we have come from. Especially when we sit in the pain of exile. We feel like God has forgotten us.
  • I understand why we feel like God has forgotten us, but we are still His people.
  • We are far from home.
  • Reading from Genesis:
  • In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
  • We are not God’s slaves. We are his partners.
  • Life is hard, but that is why we must tell the story of God, and continue to tell the story.
  • When we forget our story, we will find other stories to live by.
  • In the story of creation, we clearly see importance of relationships. Perhaps God could not help but create us, to share with other people.
  • Life comes to us as a sheer gift, and not by our own efforts.
  • To take a day of rest, is to resist the internal forces.
  • We neglect the practice of communal sabbath rest at our own peril.
  • Something in God’s creation was not good, and that was for the human being to be alone. We were created to be in community.
  • To be created in God’s image is to not be alone.
  • The very first description of marriage is the very opposite of how we practice marriage in our homes.
  • In exile, on the margins of society, we are sometimes able to hear the story in different ways.
  • Vocation is to partner with God in tending the garden.
  • We pay little attention to our vocation and freedom, and we pay attention to our prohibition.
  • It is enough for now to remember them and us as it were in the beginning.


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