Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Last Wednesday

I wanted to tell you about something that happened last Wednesday, something I did not anticipate. In a dim room, among friends, candles lit, towels damp, a man I don't know very well washed my feet.
(Read on...)

This is noteworthy because I usually take care of this myself. I choose the time and place of when and where my feet get washed. It is not a public event. It is something I do alone.
While I knew what this night was about, I did not expect this to happen. I thought that I did not know this man very well, and that I was safe. I had heard his story through his own tears. He had heard mine. We have eaten Jesus' body and blood together. For all of this, I did not consider us close. He was not a threat.
That did not prevent him from walking across the circle, kneeling, rinsing and rubbing my feet, drying them, hugging me, and leaving. He came into my space and moved me. Why him? Why me? I just did not expect this. This was a surprise.
Intimacy is not shared habits or interests, as I have thought. It is not time spent together. It is not trust built or earned. It is not a matter of charming the other. This man showed me that service creates intimacy. When he humbled himself and touched me, he taught me this. He showed me how close we are.
I left the dim room ashamed for what I had assumed, what I thought I knew so well. (I like to think I now how/why people connect). This is a new teaching for me, a hard one. I am only partially grateful for this teaching; I am honestly grieved at what this will cost, at what else in me must die.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Jesus' 40 days...

I know it's bad timing what with Easter just past; but my friend had this on his blog, and I liked it. Just rewind your minds a little bit. It's about Jesus' time in the desert. (not the dessert)

Monday, March 21, 2005

conversion and being saved

i spotted this amazing story at the BBC news site today. it has come to light that several asylum seekers have had their cases re-opened after they claimed to have converted to Christianity.
first of all, as an up-rooted Aussie a long way from home, i take a keen interest in keeping up with things "back home." i can't express how horribly disgusted i have been with our governments treatment of asylum seekers. to call it shameful would be an understatement.
(there's more)

Aside from the particularities of the Australian case, it raises some interesting questions for Christians working with asylum seekers. without wanting to be appear course (although, i fear, failing miserably), getting saved might really get one saved! so what does it really mean to care for foreigners in our midst? how might we avoid "rice Christians?"* do we need to worry about avoiding "making rice Christians?"
what do you think?

- see this article if you're interested in some background.
- this article covers some responses from the opposition party
- here is an article where the Australian Prime Minister suggests you are not more likely to be given asylum if you claim to follow Jesus.

* "Christian missionaries in 19th-century India used to describe those who came to the mission stations simply for food as "rice Christians". This became a derogatory term for those driven to accept Christianity out of hunger rather than genuine conviction."

Holy Week @ communality

The schedule for Holy Week is as follows:

23 Wednesday...7pm Foot-Washing - 112 W. High St.
24 Thursday.....7pm Passover Seder - 511 W. 3rd St.
25 Friday..........7pm Tenebrae Service - 112 W. High St.

26 Saturday.....7pm Jesus Movies - 511 W. 3rd St.
27 Sunday.......5pm Resurrection! - Potluck, Lamb, etc. 112 W. High St.

Everyone is welcome.

[this article is a sobering reminder about the intimacy of Jesus' death]

Sunday, March 20, 2005

blood and interdependence

i gave blood again two weeks ago and had meant to post some reflections then...but it has still been on my mind, so here i go. i am relatively new to the whole blood-donor scene (is it a scene?....sounds a bit shady). i found it a refreshingly grounded celebration of commonality, mutual need, and the fruit of such things that might be called solidarity. i chatted with people as we waited to be called back and "screened." the gathering was a mix of old and young, a rainbow of shades, and all taking their time out to participate in this uncomfortable process (one older lady went white as a sheet after giving blood and staggered away from the chair only to be carried back minutes later to be watched over by concerned staff).

(there's more) Just while i was there i had conversations with a woman from Cameroon, an Asian lady, an Hispanic woman, and an African American gentleman (...and i'm an was like the UN!)

as i sat in the waiting area i happened to be reading some articles about kenosis - the greek work that means "self-emptying." it one of the words paul uses to describe the Jesus-way of engaging with humanity and with all of creation (particularly in Philippians). kenosis implies a loving deference to the needs of others marked by self-sacrifice. it's a word that captured my sense of belonging to humankind as i was jabbed with a needle and watched my blood pulse along a plastic tube. i felt like i belonged to all of you and all the people in the room with me. as a rule, i'm detached from my own biology, my own need for things like air and food and water. often unaware for days at a time about this 'claret' that is always churning through me. i'm even more easily removed from a real sense of how much i need other humans to share themselves with me. that's one side of it. i'm also unaware of how much i am needed...not because i am so special, but just because i am. as the little rubber pouch filled up with blood i was powerfully aware of this double-need - for others, and their need for me. it was, perhaps ironically, a very 'spiritual' moment. in a strange way, i came closer to my humanness and this made me more open to matters that are essentially spiritual - identity, belonging, solidarity, and interdependence. this is the kind of sacred and formative experience i hope for when i gather with my community of faith, but am less ready for "out there" in "the world."

interdependence is an awkward, uncomfortable, needy place to be and it can result in all kinds of mess. i'm newly aware of the miracle of the incarnation and what a profoundly divine thing it is to be part of the human family, a family that includes the blood-shedding Jesus of Palestine. i think giving blood will become an important spiritual disciple for me...perhaps even a sacrament.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

gathering notes and pics

We had a great time last Saturday night at the Gathering. a wonderful collection of people celebrating the kingdom-coming in our city and surrounding areas. the food was plentiful and delicious and the conversations were stimulating and well informed by missional community living. Joseph (from The Rock and 12th St community) and John (from Communality) did a brilliant job organizing everything...thanks friends!

here are the "topics" covered in the various round-table discussions and the people who lead the conversation: (apologies if i get any of this wrong...)

* Surviving a Church Service Without Resorting to Violence
(Ian from Winchester)
* Let's Get Together and Feel Alright - Globalization and New Monasticism

(Billy from Communality)
* Liturgy and the Rhythm of Life

(Alan and Mark from Vine and Branches)
* Get Out Of My Face - Loving No Matter What

(Kim from 12th St Community)
* Outside the Walls...The Body has Feet

(Josh from Lexington Rescue Mission)
* Home, Home, Best Best Place - A Center for Mission

(Sherry from Communality)


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

new monasticism book

check out this book. It was put together by the new monasticism crew and our very own Maria has a chapter about hospitality. The book is based on these "12 marks".


Friday, March 11, 2005

Gathering 2

It's that time again . . .
The Gathering II

Saturday March 12, 2005
6-9 PM
First United Methodist Church
200 West High St.
Downtown Lexington

Please bring a potluck dish.
The gathering is a chance
for Christian's from many churches in Lexington
to come together and share
their passion for God's Kingdom. It's a time
to eat together, encourage one another and

practice the art of

This is a great time to connect with others in our city who are re-imagining the church and drawing on the ways of Jesus to be God's missional people. At a national level there are several "collectives" that encourage these city-wide/regional gatherings. One of them is called Emergent. Our Lexington gathering is listed so people in our part of the US can join the conversation.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

more yoder

this is something i have been thinking about: "the gospel concept of the cross of the christian does not mean that suffering is thought of as in itself redemptive or that martyrdom is a value to be sought after . . . what jesus refers to in his call to cross-bearing is rather the seeming defeat of that strategy of obedience which is no strategy, the inevitible suffering of those whose only goal is to be faithful to that love which puts one at the mercy of one's neighbor, which abandons claims to justice for one's self and for one's own in an overriding concern for the reconciling of the adversary and the estranged . . . this is signifigantly different from that kind of 'pacifism' which would say that it is wrong to kill but that with proper nonviolent techniques you can obtain without killing everything you really want or have a right to ask for."

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Another Parable to Ring Home

As Geoff mentioned, this past Saturday, Communality hosted our first-ever Winter Formal. (Various photos are available in the earlier post below.) We are a community well versed in simplicity and well attuned to the struggles of living; this evening gave us the opportunity to remember as well the exhuberance of the kingdom-within-reach. We planned an evening of extravagent food, music and entertainment.... and, for my part, it was convenient to be on the planning committee.

(You bet there's more....)We spent the late afternoon cleaning up at the High Street House, readying it for our evening's affair. We scrubbed the floors and windows and mantles, and decked the tables with elegant tablecloths, tall candles, and little tea lights. Food from petifores to sushi to spinich dip on garlic crackers called from the edges, and the aural mood was set with a selectively chosen CD mix. Folks within the comminity had donated various services for doorprizes, from dinner and entertainment with the Isaac Paul Maddock & Family troupe, to a professional bike tune-up courtesy professional bike tuner-uper Brad Flowers, to a night of childcare by the Koch's Marital Sanity Babysitting Service.

I picked up a hot date in the East End, on the corner of Fourth and Silver Maple. I arrived at Lisa'a place with a bouquet of flowers, and we plucked one to pin on Lisa's dress as an impromptu corsage before we headed down to High Street. We were dressed to impress, but still with an aire of playfulness as we strolled in with our feet clad in Chacos. We arrived bringing our contributions for the evening's dinner faire, but Lisa was unaware that I also arrived with a pair of rings in my coat pocket. I'd had a matching pair of wedding bands crafted in white gold, etched to mute the finish, but with the edges untouched to present some quiet flair. I was thorougly paranoid that she would bump the box stowed it my pocket and prematurely discover the plan.

The box and plan remained undetected, however, and we simply mingled and enjoyed the company for the party. Eventually the time rolled around for the evening's doorprizes, and with the co-conspiracy of the night's emcee, the stage was quite literally set. I assisted Brad in delivering the doorprizes, up until the last one. Brad reached into the basket, drew a name, and called our friend Bill up to receive "An invitation to a dinner celebrating the proposed marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Clinton and Lisa Graham." I was at this point kneeling with a small open box in front of one very surprised Lisa Benjamin.

Some cross between the rush of adrenaline charged blood to my head and the assault of Lisa's kisses confused the eloquence of the actual proposal question that I had imagined, but the answer of "yes" was clear enough. Fumbling with the clasp, I fastened the necklace from which the two wedding bands hung around her neck, and we held each other closely as we danced into the remainder of the evening.

Thanks to all who made this possible: the collaborators within my men's group... the unwitting participants from Communality... Ben and Anna who joined us for the festivities... and, of course, my now fiancé, Lisa.

Monday, March 07, 2005

communality-wide gathering: winter formal

each month we come together (from three different fellowship groups) to remember our unity and celebrate what God is doing throughout the whole of communality. each fellowship takes turns hosting this 'event' and this month the 3rd St mob presented us with a chance to indulge. the idea for saturday evening (thanks TP) was an extravagant winter formal...classic attire, high class fare, dancing and decadence (all within the rules, of course). as you will see, a wonderful time was had by was a fantastic challenge for a community like ours that is very well acquainted with simple-living, austere ways, and minimalist leanings (not to mention track-pants).
most uttered comment of the night: "i've never seen you dressed up!"
we witnessed a sensational marriage proposal as well as some (other) very generous door prizes ...any other reflections, memorable moments, quotes, etc?

(select 'full post' to see more pictures...)

pics from the AIDS march in DC

sorry these are late in arriving.
thanks again for those of you who made the journey and put action and energy into a kingdom-cause.
shalom to you!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

the parable of the lost ring

This is a ring i bought when i was home in Australia almost a year and a half ago. I bought it at my favorite market in my favorite city. It was very cheap. It was a symbol of home that i would carry with me and somehow it carried me when i was homesick. not magic, just meaning-full. so last week i was working with TP in the bitter cold shadow of a storage unit. we were unpacking and sorting donations for the refugee settlement agency in our city. my hands were hurting with the cold and then, after a little while, i didn't really feel them. sometime after the feeling went, so did my ring. slipped....away.....into knickknacks and kitchenware. refugees have lost homes, families, national identity. i lost my ring. the day before i had visited the immigration office and been treated very unkindly. i was freshly aware how lost one must feel in the militaristic environment of the USCIS without english as a first language. So, i wish i had a solution to this parable. just lots of lost people and things...and my ring from melbourne somewhere in central kentucky.