Saturday, February 26, 2005

advocate update

Just got off the phone with Lisa who was calling in from the march so we could hear the chanting etc. wonderful stuff. for a moment i was there. now i'm not and so i'm blogging instead....can't wait to hear all about it and see some pictures. more when they come home early tomorrow morning.

interesting/disturbing and related's local paper has front page articleabout AIDS and the African American population.

...and this article about the student march (our very own brooke is featured)

Friday, February 25, 2005

thursday night and the birth from above

we had a wonderful conversation about being newly born last night. clinton and lisa encouraged us to bring photos of ourselves when we were babies/young children as a way of looking on the freshness, vitality, and hope that accompanies early life.

pat and brooke prepared a delicious curry for our dinner. brad lead us in a continuation of our feasting with a reflection on grace while we shared eucharist bread and grapes - the grapes were a wonderfully innovative way to remember the life-blood of Jesus.

we talked about the passage in John 3:1-17 and how Jesus suggests "born from above-ness" is directly related to Spirit, and Spirit is chaotic (or at least unpredictable). nicodemus is looking for answers less complex...and so are we.

people shared some recent experiences of being "new-born." lots of beautiful stories and reflections as well as laughter.

we wondered about the aparent spirit/flesh dichotomy in the passage. we were freshly aware that "god so loved the world" and Jesus was sent "NOT to condemn."

it seems to me the incarnation is critical to our coming to understand the reationship between "spirit" and "flesh." and it's a good time to explore this stuff while we walk the lenten path.

Thursday, February 24, 2005


We are proud to have several wonderful people from our community joining in with as many as 10,000 others to raise AIDS awareness over the weekend. About fifty activist-advocates will leave today from Lexington for Washington DC to join in the call for, among other things, affordable and effective health care and treatment for those suffering with AIDS in Africa, South America, and other impoverished parts of our world.

Check out the web site...

Pray with us for their safety as they travel and for "ears to hear" in DC.

Monday, February 21, 2005

bound and loosed

"what paul doesn't say is that the gospel deals only with personal ethics and not with social structures. nor does he say that the only way to change structures is to change the heart of individual persons, preferable the person in power, and then see that he exercises his control of society with more humility or discernment or according to better standards. what needs to be seen is rather that the primary social structure through which the gospel works to change other structures is that of the christian community. here, within this community, persons are rendered humble and changed in the way they behave not simply by a proclamation directed to their sense of guilt but also by genuine social relationships with other persons who ask them about their obedience; who (in the words of jesus) 'bind and loose.'"

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

I know the title makes me nauseous and confused too! Bear with me. I was in a wedding back during the summer and the groom was more creative than average and decided to hand pick all the groomsmen gifts. My gift, a magazine! (I love magazine and newspapers) The mag is called, “Books and Culture” (If I was more blog savvy I would link it for you.) At any rate, I got my first issue yesterday and in it was a book review on the book, “Soul Searching.” Apparently, this is a book about religion in teenage culture by a well-known sociologist, Christian Smith.
In the little interview with the author this phrase appears, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. The author meansa view of god that provides a moral framework and comfort in the unknown. The author says that most of the teenagers in his research have this type of a believe in Christ. He even broadens his statements to include most of the Christian population.
This past weekend I was having a conversation with my dad driving through backwoods Mississippi. We were chatting about how most of the members of my mother’s family have fear as the over arching theme of their faith and how it is crippling my grandparents. During this conversation my dad states his believe as clearly as I have ever heard him state it, and he describe what this author calls Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. After reading this article and reflecting on the conversation with my dad, I can see how this view of Christ is very popular in the church. As I have thought about it repeatedly the past two days, it makes me very sad and angry that Christ has been reduced to a Moralistic Therapeutic deity.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Reflections of Home

Today I received an envelope full of mortgage papers in the mail. Lisa and I walked through a duplex on Ohio Street this past weekend. With the search for a home in that area on for some time now, after brief consultation with folks we trust to help guide us in the decision, I made an offer on the house which after some negotiation was accepted. With this soon-possible purchase to think on, the conversations and dreams which Lisa and I share of what our life together will look like find an additional tangible expression.

Last November, I was asked to write an essay for the Witness student publication at Asbury. The issue's theme was "Making a Home at Asbury", and so with reflections on "home", my thoughts wander back to this submission as Lisa and I, as well as others within our larger community, continue to envision the future. Not knowing when (or if) the Witness will be published, I post it here....

(There's more)

Not Having a Home At Asbury

You did not have a home.
There were places You visited frequently,
Took off Your shoes and scratched Your feet
Cause You knew that the whole world belonged to the meek,
But You did not have a home.

Friends, we can choose to make a home wherever we journey, but our challenge remains: must we hold so tightly as to make it something we "have"? As we sojourn for a time within the educational community of Asbury, I presume that our response would be primarily shaped by our desire to pursue the Kingdom of God. I write of my own pursuit in the hopes of encouraging and challenging us all toward an accountable, welcoming, missional life, engaged in God's care for the marginalized.

Shortly after coming here three years ago, I moved into a large house in downtown Lexington where I presently live with a married couple, three single men, and one single woman. In choosing to make our home together, we have covenanted with each other for mutual accountability. By living in common, we invite one another to the honesty of invasive questions and vulnerable answers, and so share with one another the challenges, struggles, and encouragement of living openly.

We have also corporately committed to making our home a place of hospitality. In response to Scripture's call, we hope to welcome those whom society might commonly label "unwelcome". We have particularly designated a bedroom in the house as space to host a guest "in transition," whether that be someone in recovery from addiction, in attempting to break the cycle of homelessness, or in need of special care. In general, we have also individually committed ourselves to making our "own" space a welcoming one to refugees, migrant workers, and folks from the street.

In an understanding of our engagement with the transformative mission of God in our local context, we have also sought to bring the Story and Life of the gospel of Christ into our neighborhood and immediate relational networks. Our home becomes a "sending point" as through tangible reconciling work and intentional words of redemption we offer up to others the same salvation we have received.

Friends, as we make a home in our time here at Asbury, I would invite each of us to hold loosely to the cultural expectations of independence, security, and family. I challenge us to live together as a people of God in interdependence, openness, and radical hospitality. Perhaps, even, as a Kingdom people we might go so far as to make a home here, not as something we "have", but as something we give away.

Birds have nests, foxes have dens,
But the hope of the whole world rests
On the shoulders of a homeless man
You had the shoulders of a homeless man.
You did not have a home.
- Rich Mullins

Thursday, February 10, 2005

readings for lent

For the past couple of years I have been reading through this book during lent. All the readings can be found here and i highly recommend them as a guide for prayer/meditation/reflection in this season.

Today i have been thinking about the fact that "i am dust and to dust i shall return." I know that's not the whole story and the breath of God that continues by the Spirit will animate me on the other side of death....but I feel the weight of mortality today and I'm aware of the harsh wilderness that accelerates decay. Perhaps this is the right way to feel on the second day of lent. I need some honey for my bones, some air for my lungs. It was a blessing to be surrounded by the 3rd St peeps tonight and I felt like i was carried along by these companions. peace and grace to you all.

Morning reflections

You wouldn't think that I have a pharmacology test today as I sit here blogging. But, I somehow just can't resist.

Last night, Maria and James led us in a beautiful Ash Wednesday service where we began to reflect on the season of lent. I really appreciated Maria sharing how in the early church lent was a time to focus on those who had been asked to leave the fellowship so that everyone can be brought in again at Easter, being united with the Resurrection. I found that particularly meaningful, and this morning, as I reflect on tonight's scriptures, my life, our life as a community, and seasons of penitence and celebration, I had some thoughts I would like to share.
(There's More...)
Tonight's scriptures include the fall in Genesis and the temptation of Christ: themes of shame, isolation, and temptation. In my life I can see how those themes play out. Sometimes I feel wonderful, vibrant, excited, passionate, and life giving. I can have tons of energy that can be contagious, and at those times I feel secure, included, and I am able to celebrate being part of a community. Other times I don't have so much energy. I begin to think something must be horribly wrong with me, and I can easily fall into an anxious depression. I feel isolated, ignored, unloved and unlovable. It's at those times I feel the least included, and I have the most temptation to be unfaithful.

This morning, reflecting on seasons, I think about these themes in nature. When fall and winter come and the leaves begin to die and fall off the trees, I don't think-- OH NO, something must be wrong. We should do something. Maybe we should uproot the tree and move it to a warmer climate. Maybe then the leaves won't die. Or, maybe the tree is just faulty. It must be a bad tree, we should just get rid of it. No, it's natural for the tree to have seasons of ups and downs.

In my relationships in the community I also see the same seasons. Sometimes I can spend a lot of time with a particular person, and I feel really close and secure in that relationship. Then, often life circumstances become troubled, stressful, or busy, and due to my own insecurity, I feel my relationships suffer. That has been particularly hard the past few months as my schoolwork has gotten really hard. It takes up more of my time than it used to, and I don't have as much time to invest in relationships, with our women's group or with the rest of the fellowship. This morning I am able to look at that and realize that this too is just a season. When the tree is rooted, it will blossom and produce fruit again in the spring. I appreciate the way we put down roots as a community. The thought of committing to and buying houses near one another fills me with a renewed sense of peace. I am able to trust that our roots are deepening, and I believe in the life that is developing even if I don't always see and feel it.

So, this morning I am thankful for the beginning of lent. I am thankful to be able to reflect today on the fall of man in the garden which leads to temptation and our separation from God and each other. I am especially thankful for the confusing, overly-wordy passage in Romans which gives hope that somehow, at the end of difficult seasons, we will all be brought back into the fellowship again through the grace of Christ. I wanted to take this time in a busy season to share that with those who read this blog, because I am also particularly thankful for all of you.

Now, I'm finally off to study.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

measuring our success

how do we measure success? Jordan Cooper has some suggestions for a missional approach to reading "the scorecard."

becoming wise interpreters

I had a fantastic conversation with Joey this week. I was asking some questions about how our community might better read and be read by scripture. Upon Joey’s recommendation I had read this book and really found it helpful. You can find it at the LTS library – if Joey or I don’t have it checked out. I don’t want to try and unpack “the whole tamale” here (is that what you people say…us Aussies would say “the full bottle” or “I’ll give you the cork tip”…I’m still learning the language) but one of the most thought-provoking ideas is that we need to approach the scriptures so that we might become wise interpreters. This is quite different from mining the biblical text to see what it meant and then (confidently) pronounce what it means now. (there's more) The former requires deep involvement in the mission of God by way of Christian community. The latter requires expertise, especially in historical studies. The difference might appear subtle but it is critical if we are to avoid treating scripture like an artifact thereby setting it at a distance from our immediate context. Wise readings are only possible in the grounded, practicing, (dare I say, missional) contexts of Christian community. Fowl suggests that becoming wise interpreters of scripture requires “nothing less than the transformation of our lives and of the common life of the Christian communities in which we find ourselves” (a quote from this book, p.408). Please don’t hear me dismissing rigorous biblical scholarship. But it seems clear that such scholarship does not (trans)form the world on its own. Much more information is not what we most need when we come to scripture.

And then I reflected on our various experiments at fellowship gatherings. We have tried all sorts of methods to find our way into the scriptural narrative. I realized we have created a space for a conversation in which the scriptural voice chimes in to encourage, confuse, correct, judge/mock, celebrate, and inspire our life together. The poetry, imagery, stories, and demands have opened up so many wonderful new practices, ideas, and dreams for us. We still have a long way to go but by God’s grace we have wandered into a “strategy for interpretation” that seems to match some of our core beliefs; that we are in mission with God, we are all called to priestly duties, and we are guided by a living voice that is Spirit breathed scripture.

Last Thursday Lisa and Clinton lead us in a ritual of reflection and candle lighting. We were encouraged to share about our encounters with God’s glory from a distance, through someone else, and up close – face to face! (our readings are from here ). We shared our encounters and lit candles, placing them on a simply crafted landscape to signify their relative proximity to “Glory”. The scriptures gave us a script/voice, setting the tone and pace with pithy narratives. These narratives helped us interpret our lives and in the process of this conversation we came face to face with one another and with the Creator of life. We are also reminded about the ongoing potential to encounter "Glory" in the space outside the walls of our gathering place. This may well be another miracle in our midst.

ps: the picture of Glory was lifted from Billy's post here.