Introductory 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

Text First Published September 1998