Editor's note:

Tucked away at the end of Richard Fos­ter’s book Streams of Liv­ing Water is a heart­felt cry for a new gath­er­ing of the peo­ple of God. To mark the pub­li­ca­tion of Streams twen­ty years ago, I’ve cho­sen that brief after­word’ to put before us a vision of what the love of Christ could look like in our world. On Fri­day, I’ll share why the book is so sig­nif­i­cant and how it changed the direc­tion of my own life. 

—James Catford

Excerpt from Streams of Living Water

Every­thing I have shared with you in [Streams of Liv­ing Water] grows out of a deep con­vic­tion that a great, new gath­er­ing of the peo­ple of God is occur­ring in our day. 

The streams of faith that I have been describ­ing – Con­tem­pla­tive, Holi­ness, Charis­mat­ic, Social Jus­tice, Evan­gel­i­cal, Incar­na­tion­al – are flow­ing togeth­er into a mighty move­ment of the Spirit. 

They con­sti­tute, as best I can under­stand it, the con­tours and shape of this new gathering.

Right now we remain large­ly a scat­tered peo­ple. This has been the con­di­tion of the Church of Jesus Christ for a good many years. But a new thing is coming. 

God is gath­er­ing his peo­ple once again, cre­at­ing of them an all-inclu­sive com­mu­ni­ty of lov­ing per­sons with Jesus Christ as the community’s prime sus­tain­er and most glo­ri­ous inhabitant. 

This com­mu­ni­ty is break­ing forth in mul­ti­plied ways and var­ied forms.

I see it hap­pen­ing, this great new gath­er­ing of the peo­ple of God. 

I see an obe­di­ent, dis­ci­plined, freely gath­ered peo­ple who know in our day the life and pow­ers of the king­dom of God.

I see a peo­ple of cross and crown, of coura­geous action and sac­ri­fi­cial love.

I see a peo­ple who are com­bin­ing evan­ge­lism with social action, the tran­scen­dent Lord­ship of Jesus with the suf­fer­ing ser­vant Messiah.

I see a peo­ple who are buoyed up by the vision of Christ’s ever­last­ing rule, not only immi­nent on the hori­zon, but already burst­ing forth in our midst.

I see a people…I see a people…even though it feels as if I am peer­ing through a glass darkly.

I see a coun­try pas­tor from Indi­ana embrac­ing an urban priest from New Jer­sey and togeth­er pray­ing for the peace of the world. I see a people.

I see a Catholic monk from the hills of Ken­tucky stand­ing along­side a Bap­tist evan­ge­list from the streets of Los Ange­les and togeth­er offer­ing up a sac­ri­fice of praise. I see a people.

I see social activists from the urban cen­ters of Hong Kong join­ing with Pen­te­costal preach­ers from the bar­rios of Sao Paulo and togeth­er weep­ing over the spir­i­tu­al­ly lost and the plight of the poor. I see a people.

I see labor­ers from Sowe­to and landown­ers from Pre­to­ria hon­or­ing and serv­ing each oth­er out of rev­er­ence for Christ. I see a people.

I see Hutu and Tut­si, Serb and Croat, Mon­gol and Han Chi­nese, African-Amer­i­can and Anglo, Lati­no and Native Amer­i­can all shar­ing and car­ing and lov­ing one anoth­er. I see a people.

I see the sophis­ti­cat­ed stand­ing with the sim­ple, the elite stand­ing with the dis­pos­sessed, the wealthy stand­ing with the poor. I see a people.

I see a peo­ple, I tell you, a peo­ple from every race and nation and tongue and stra­tum of soci­ety, join­ing hearts and hands and minds and voic­es declaring,

Amaz­ing Grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.

Excerpt­ed from Streams of Liv­ing Water: Cel­e­brat­ing the Great Tra­di­tions of Christ. Copy­right 1998 by Richard J. Fos­ter. Used with permission.

Pho­to by Nick Kwan on Unsplash

Originally published September 1998

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