Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Mississippi

As many of you know Jen and I are from Mississippi. As scattered reports come in about the state of emergency in my home state, I have learned that my family has been affected by the wrath of this storm. I have a grandmother in Magee, MS that has lost part of her house and a cousin there that has also lost part of his house. I also have an another grandmother in Laurel which we have been unable to contact and an aunt in Gulfport who we have not been able to contact. This is all the family I have in Mississippi and it seems as though they have all been displaced by the storm. My cousin - who has spent time in Africa and the Middle East - says the devastation is on par with that of the war torn areas he has seen. All form of communication and power are down for the entire lower half of the state, as well as, all major roads are closed. The report is that it will be 4 to 6 weeks before they can restore the areas.
I will be leaving for the area tonight or tomorrow morning with relief supplies and equipment to help clean up. I also know that Tyson Foods is taking a first run of 18-wheelers to set-up cooking stations all over the area to BBQ and provide food for people. I would greatly apprentiate your thoughts and prayer over the coming week as my family and the rest of the southeast begin to recover. I have had many questions about what can people do to help and I don't really have an answer. Feel free to contact me and I will tell you what I am doing. Thanks!

Monday, August 29, 2005

May the farm be with you.

On the art-side of the organic, Mustard Seed Associates's discusion of sustainable agriculture has higlighted some pretty fun sites:

Personally, I find the Meatrix to be the more provocative, but, dang, Store Wars is fun.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

WIFE VS. ASPHALT - ROUND TWO



Most of you know about my wifes run in about two weeks ago, but I thought I would post a story and a pic to share some details. About two years ago, we were out on a bike ride and she had a little mishap. She stuck the chainring on her bike through her heel which resulted in surgery. After this happened, I still made her ride about 20 miles home because I thought it was just a "little cut" (still have not lived that down). In her most recent fight with the asphalt, I was a little more prepared to do all the right things.

Check that tooth out in the Pic!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Dining out for life

Tonight is one of the annual fundraisers for Moveable Feast of Lexington, and organization that delivers meals to HIV and Hospice patients across the Lexington area. Area restaurants agree to donate a percentage of their day's profits to Moveable Feast, and ambassadors will be present at each of them with information about the organization. Dining Out for Life is a nationwide fundraiser for AIDS service organizations around the country. This year the following restaurants are participating if anyone is interested in enjoying a nice meal while supporting a great organization!

Asian Wind
Bistro La Belle
Buddy's Bar and Grill
Cafe on the Park
Canary Cottage
Corky's Ribs and BBQ
Jonathan's at Gratz Park
Mia's
Puccini's Pasta & Pizza
Quirk

You may even catch CG taking me out to a fancy restaurant for the occasion!

Monday, August 22, 2005

greenbelt

we're off to a kingdom party like no other.
http://www.greenbelt.org.uk/




Mr Will Samson, Sherry and I will join as many as 20,000 others to sing, paint, write, talk, chat, converse, listen, hear, hope, and drink some tea at the tiny tea tent.

We go as envoys of Communality - to represent our life together and to learn more about God's global mission. We'll try and post something to this blog while we are there and let you know what's up.

Eating Twinkies with friends

Maybe it’s because I’ve been away from our dear friends and family in Lexington for a few days. Perhaps I am lonely for them and a bit overemotional. But yesterday I heard some great teaching from Tom Tanner at Wesleyan Fellowship about being in relationship with each other and I couldn’t help but think of them. As he spoke, he reminded himself and us, the congregation, of something his mentor said years before that has always stuck with him. It was simply this, “Don’t forget, Jesus is also known as ‘Life-bringer’.” He went on to talk about what this ‘Life’ is like. He talked about loneliness and the need to be in relationship because we are created in the image of a Trinitarian God. He offered statistic after statistic about the well-being and disease of people and the relationship with the integrity of networks of friends and family. He most potently illustrated his point by saying that "it is better to eat Twinkies with friends than eat broccoli alone.” To a rigid legalist of health and fitness like me, this struck quite a blow. I realized how quick I am to focus on the “rightness” of certain situations or practices that I miss the life-giving circumstance of the Kingdom – belonging to one another and being together. And, working in the context we do, I spend way too much time holding to Jesus as the “to the death” Messiah and Redeemer of all things broken and wayward in the world that I forget that Jesus is the bringer of Life. Lastly, I recognized anew that we experience life most abundant when we are with one another in the throws of day-to-day life. Friends in Lexington, we miss you already. I’m looking forward to enjoying the delights of trans fatty acids with you soon.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Two Borrowed Books

I borrowed two books from a home near my home. Brad loaned me The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor. Geoff loaned me Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb. I am not sure why I wanted to read these together, but they seem to go together. I'll try to explain.
The Crabb book uses stories and scriptures to help the reader see how blessings and a life of ease keeps a believer from attaining the life God would have for us. He gives followers of Jesus permission to have awful things happen, and permission not to understand why they have happened. Crabb observes that, "we love to explain suffering; it makes us think we can avoid it." He warns the reader about dreams and desires, saying that our dreams may not congrue with those of God. Crabb helped me to see again how suffering is not the absence of God, but a chance for us to cling to God when God seems far away.
O'Connor tells the story of a rural prophet and his legacy. The prophet's grand-nephew, Tarwater, resists his great-uncle's instruction and envisions another life for himself. He longs to be connected with another relative, one educated by modernity past the trappings of religion. For half of the story, Tarwater resists the "bread of life," denying a hunger that grows within him. At the same time he literally throws up anything else he consumes. It is only at the end of the story, when all other options are shattered or burned, that the young man is ready to carry the gospel to the city, and to warn God's children of "the speed of God's mercy."
These books continue to read me. I want that hunger that Tarwater resists, the hunger for the bread of life. I want my dreams to either be nourished by the living water, or else dashed on the cornerstone. (O'Connor draws so much on Biblical images in her story that I take it as permission to do so too. I may not make a habit of this as it would be unfair to my family to go gothic at this poing in my life.)
These books humble me so much because I honestly do not look forward to becoming less than the protagonist in my own story. That said, I can't help but note that Jesus is calling me to such. His is a story in which I am not a leading man, but a following man. I may not have a speaking part. My scene may be edited out of the final version, or eclipsed by other players.
But so be it. My story meanders so--it is really only interesting to myself. I don't need to cling to my plans. I don't need to build my skill set. These things will not hasten the kingdom. I want to participate in the story of Jesus, even though I fear what that will cost. Please help my unbelief.

Friday, August 19, 2005

required reading

I spotted this post of a "top twenty books" series (thanks Sivin)....it got me thinking. I end up reading a lot of books about our life in mission together and i keep coming back to a few that stand out. The first two are just amazing examples of how you don't have to write hundreds of pages to say something significant. The third is a little longer but you can cut to the last couple of chapters and find some great wisdom.
So here are my top three...

bible and mission by Richard Bauckham

life on the road by David Bosch

reading in communion by Stephen Fowl and Gregory Jones

the end of the end is nigh

"Organised religion is in near-terminal decline in Britain because parents have only a 50-50 chance of passing on belief to their offspring, a study claimed yesterday. By contrast, parents without faith are successful in producing a new generation of non-believers, it said."

this article goes on to paint a fairly pessimistic picture for church numbers.

I wonder how well this translates to the united states....
is it good news or bad news?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

lives condemned, lives redeemed.

"I felt like a profiteer, ashamed and useless. By geographical chance, the piece of the map where I was born, I could walk away. I had the great unfair advantage of choice. I think I learned the last lesson of those educational years unconsciously. I had witnessed every kind of bravery in lives condemned by poverty and condemned by war; I had seen how others died. I got a measure for my own life; whatever its trials and tribulations, they would always be petty insignificant stuff by comparison."
– Martha Gellhorn, Granta.(#23, ‘Home’)

Last week, in a profoundly heartrending way, I encountered the pain of this journalist’s reflection.

A single mother arrived with her two young boys, tired, dirty and thin. They traveled for three days to arrive in Lexington from Sierra Leone. In an instant, they appeared before us, offering a face to the thousands of victims of conflict, atrocity and suffering in West Africa. They stood worlds apart from me. They belonged to Lexington now. She had nothing but one bag, which was lost somewhere between New York and Charlotte. Her piercing vulnerability was most palpable at that moment. In an unfamiliar place, she relied completely on the love and care of strangers.

When we arrived at her new home, an apartment near other Liberian refugees, I helped her feed the boys and prepare them for some much needed rest. I told her to shower and sleep and do nothing more. She seemed grateful yet confused as she looked around and asked me for clothes she could put on once clean. The thought of such a trivial detail had escaped me completely. I was almost breathless with a sense of conviction and shock.

I went home to get her something to wear and I called our friends, the Samson’s. Within an hour, they produced clothing for her and her boys from their own children’s clothing. Next, I went to the office to rummage through our random donations for additional clothes. As I searched, God’s Spirit reminded me of our community’s discussion a few weeks ago of the loaves and fishes, the feeding of the 5,000.

Clearly in this passage with Jesus and his disciples there was a need present – the people needed to be fed and there was little available to eat. The disciples offered up the world’s way of managing scarcity – “let them fend for themselves.” Jesus, in turn, said to his disciples, “No, you do something about it. What is it that you have to give?” It is a well-known story and in it there is so much about abundance, provision, miracle and grace. As a Sunday school story, I missed out on a lot. I always concluded simply that the outcome was rather far-fetched and unaccountable, Jesus doing his one-off miracle of making food magically appear – an act of the divine.

Suddenly last Saturday, in a real experience of facing a tangible shortage, the truth of the story materialized for me. That clothing for this family would appear in a brief period of time wasn’t necessarily so unbelievable at that moment. Rather, I discovered the deeper reality that couldn’t be dismissed as some unattainable, supernatural event. It was most fully a matter of the Kingdom come – which as I held to be the provision of God meeting the labor and faithfulness of God’s people. Something came from nothing. It was not a strange or inexplicable act at all. By God’s grace and the easy efforts and generosity of believers, there was abundance.

Monday, August 15, 2005

strangers in our midst

there is a great (front page!) article in today's Herald-Leader about a recently arrived refugee family from Liberia. Check out the article here. Not many of us in this community of faith have remained untouched by the unbelievable tragedy and grace of local refugee stories. we have had some kind of connection with KRM for over 5 years now and it's hard to imagine a more important work for the people of God than caring for the strangers in our midst.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

flick of the switch

...not just one of my favorite AC/DC albums.
it's the way we fill a room with light and perform countless other functions in our homes, work places, and recreational spaces.

We are continuing our efforts to provide opportunities for people to learn about Mountain Top Removal and advocate on behalf of a growing number of people affected by this horribly destructive mining technique.
To that end we are showing a brilliant documentary called Kilowatt Ours

Everyone is welcome:
7pm, Wednesday, August 17th.
High St House (112 W. High St. Lexington. KY)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Loving Creator and the Primary Producer

More on food, land, and the creation that we are a part of...Ryan and I took another trip to the farm and we took Isaac. there are some more pics at the end of this post. Here is a reflection from my dad (Kevin Maddock) who spent much of his life as a farmer...

Before I lived in the city and visited the prisons, I was a farmer. My dad and mum were farmers and I was blessed with a country childhood. After I had done my schooling and some extra subjects in Agriculture I came back home to the life and work of a farmer.(there's more) As I grew in my faith and worked the land (even with the curse of the weeds and the thistles and thorns) and got to know the scriptures, I came to understand how much God in grace had spoken to the people of old through the powerful messages of creation.
As I came to love the land and the animals I was blessed with the wisdom and experience passed on to me from my dad and grand-dad who had both lived all their lives in the local area as farmers. They knew the seasons, the droughts and the floods, the richness of the soil in different parts of the property, how different paddocks would respond in different seasons and what type and breed of cattle were best for those conditions.
I thank God that I had the privilege of farming for about 26 years, long enough to grow a deep love for the land. This deep respect for the creator and His creation meant a task like killing an animal for meat was a sacred ritual and never done lightly.
I lived on the land long enough to experience and learn of the wonderful rhythms of the seasons and learn to see it as creation breathing as the season of heat and dry turned into the cool and wet, the joy of the little calves and caring for the mothers well, the season and celebration (and hard work) of harvest.
It was a wonderful life of living and working with creation while having a profound sense of cooperating with the creator.
To see the chickens run under the hen (Luke 13:34) and remember what Jesus said - to daily watch God feed the birds (Matthew 6:26) and, in turn, my own slow learning to trust God’s provision. And all of the other ways see a loving and gracious Creator expressing His goodness and being continually reminded of lessons about the Lord.
I now live in the city, in a world of concrete and bricks, and have been learning to recognise God's provision in different ways. Recently I noticed God feeding the birds in a small concrete yard in a high security prison where a prisoner had thrown some scraps for the sparrows. I sat and chatted with him as he enjoyed watching his “pets” eat the crumbs. I shared with him how I used to enjoy watching God feed the birds along the creeks and in the paddocks on our farm.

isaac calms a savage beast (baby goat/kid)

















ryan, farmer david, and isaac tend to the tomato plants.














isaac says hi to the chickens













...and for a few kind words, this is what the chickens gave us.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

the end is now

i've been thinking about something Billy said to me in a conversation we were having the other day. As is often the case we wandered around several ideas about the church and about the world and we wondered out loud what on earth we are doing. The subject of salvation came up and what it means to be motivated to evangelize...and then Billy said something like this:
"The church seems to be so worried about people going to hell when they die, but what about the world around us that has already gone to hell?"

This was a very clarifying reflection for me. I was able to see (again) how our present-tense practices of love and justice must be drawing on the hope we have in the future. our understanding about the "end times" (eschatology) needs to be funded by the fact that, for many of our dear friends and family, the end is now. if you doubt this (and many of us have such luxury in this part of the world) just take some time to find out about Niger or Sudan or even your own neighborhood or city.

What we think about the end times is not some theological side-issue. it is the bread-and-butter of an engaged, gospel life. We need to find a sustainable way to acknowledge and act on the hell in and around us. Sometimes we are overcome with despair or we fly into a frantic "save the world" fit. I think David Bosch described it best...he called for a gentle urgency.

the bakers

our far-away friends, Ken and Leanne Baker can be heard here on Stephen Said's Blog. Well worth a listen...and our little community gets a lovely tip-of-the-hat from those dashing young urban missionaries.

Also, you can hear Stephen and Alan chat about the emerging missional church and Al's new book - here and here.