Thursday, December 28, 2006

christmas eve pics

the samson's hosted us for the communality christmas eve gathering. here are some of the pics i snapped (you can see some more by clicking on any of the images.)

communality advent wreath

zms

food

crowd

Miller-Maze Meetup

There will be a meetup for Jonathan Miller and Irv Maze this Friday at their Lexington HQ. Jonathan is a Democratic candidate for Governor and the author of perhaps the best book on faith and politics in some time, The Compassionate Community.

I would recommend dropping by if you can. I have met Jonathan and, while I am not prepared to endorse him yet, I think very highly of him. Just like our involvement in council races in 2006, this is another great chance for our community to connect our future and the future of our area together.

Here are the details:

Date: Friday, December 29th
Time: 4:00-6:00 PM
Place: 575 West Main St., Lexington, KY 40507

Here is a googlemap, in case you need directions. The HQ is right across the street from the Mary Todd Lincoln House.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

nourishment from Leunig

michael leunig is a regular source of poetic comfort and challenge to me. here are a couple of prayers from him for this season.

Christmas.
Dear God, it is timely that we give thanks for the lives of all prophets, teachers, healers and revolutionaries, living and dead, acclaimed or obscure, who have rebelled, worked and suffered for the cause of love and joy.
We also celebrate that part of us, that part within ourselves, which has rebelled, worked and suffered for the cause of love and joy.
We give thanks and we celebrate.
Amen

Love is born
With a dark and troubled face
When hope is dead
And in the most unlikely place
Love is born:
Love is always born.

Monday, December 18, 2006

JCLF...In a Manger?

Last night, JCLF all came together out at Eloheh village so as to experience part of the Christmas story in an entirely different way. As we all arrived, we piled into the house and prepared to see what Mary, Joseph, and baby (8lbs 7oz) Jesus might have experienced amongst the animals, hay, and nice April evening air. Piling out of the house, one could see the familiar Eloheh Village sitings - chickens, cats, those two huge white dogs, sheep, Little Dot, and of course, the goats, for it was into their home that we would go and read Scripture and experience what a manger may have really been like. To tell you the truth, I was a little more caught up in the goats, the smell of hay and goat poop, and this little baby goat named Chocolate than I was in the actual reading of Scripture, but instead of hearing the Scripture, I felt like I was experiencing it. I mean, really, the smells, the goats nudging us and trying to get attention (they probably thought we were there to feed to them), and imagining infant Jesus laying in a manger. I had never thought of this before, but if Jesus was laying in a type of animal trough, do you realize that he was at the same height as the "waste escape mechanism" of the animals? Yeah, I know that's gross, but it kind of brings the whole story (that I heard over and over and over...ad nauseum...growing up) that much closer to reality. Like Greg said, "When you can see it, smell it, and touch it, it really kind of brings it home." So, thanks Randy, Edith, Skye, Young, and Redbird for letting us come out and experience the nativity in an entirely different way!!

Advent: Conceiving

Various individuals within our community help us to conceive of the transformation which Advent brings. These folks infuse our community with the imagination of the divine, and help us to bring the "just within reach" Kingdom of God into contact with our grasping fingertips.

Here on this blog, Dan Lowe has brought us several word-images in recent months which give creative expression to some of the complexities of the Kingdom breaking through the seemingly forsaken spaces.

In the traditional church (a context in which many of us have lost all imagination of hope), we look to John and Katheryn as they continue to draw out urban-missional engagement through their lives of service.

I also think of Todd Paul's eagerness to tackle nearly any endeavour, using God-given talents (and sometimes some brash entreprenuerism!) to jump into anything from economics to roofing.

Advent calls us to such imaginitive conceptions.

(Read on...)Central to the themes of the Gospel is our willingness to faithfully stand where we would not have set foot apart from the leading of God's Spirit. The Scriptures resound with the tales of God's people enfleshing the dreams of God, persistantly holding fast to the inbreaking reality of God's goodness.... precisely in the midst of injustice and injury. It is just this kind of faith-filled imagination which prepares the way for the Kingdom.

From the sights and sounds and spirituality of the city, to the pulse of the church's lifeblood of ministry, to the million-and-one odd jobs which make up our days.... we call one another into the conceptulization of realities of redemption.

Take some time to peruse last year's reflection, and put some flesh on your own Spirit-embedded imagination.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

carols and chili at the Brown's

a great night at the Brown's for the 4th annual carolling and chili cook-off.
click on the photo or here to see more pics.
carols

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Advent: Being Patient


Be patient, be patient,
    don't be in such a hurry;
When you get impatient -
    you only start to worry.

Remember, remember,
    that God is patient, too;
And think of all the times
    when others have to wait for you!


So reverberates the song from my childhood.... but what happens when that patience stretches to Peter's analogy and a thousand years is like a day? The waiting for the redemption of advent is anything but easy.

(Read on)In reflecting on patience, several folks within our community come to mind. Ask Greg and (especially!) Mary about the waiting process which lies behind the work of a Ph.D. and energy and efforts within a fledgeling faith community. Speak with Sherry and hear of the waiting process of growth within the soil of a garden, as well as of the kingdom imagery and work which this evokes. Share with Robbie and Melissa in the recent birth of thier child, or with Jodie in her present expectancy, and discover a theme of waiting with which our community has been well familiarized of late.

The Kingdom is coming, and the Kingdom is right at hand.... and yet, even in the glimpses of it, we wait expectantly for it. We particiapte in the waiting with each other as we encourage one another in patience and perserverance.

Take a look at last year's reflections, and pass along the patient yet active expectation.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

serve god, save the planet

eating
last night a group of us had the great pleasure of eating with matthew and nancy sleeth. you might remember this post about matthew's book, "Serve God, Save the Planet" - it is a brilliant call to action for Christians to practice love for God's creation by living sustainably.

anyway, back to dinner last night. greg and mary set up a beautiful table in the 'dining room' of the High St House. we had a wonderful meal and heard about the journey the sleeth's have been on. i was deeply moved and inspired to hear their radical choices to practice what they are now preaching. the sleeths are truly authentic witnesses to living justly. they are also delightful people and we experienced that particular joy of meeting strangers who turn out ot be kindred spirits. we are thrilled they now live locally and we recognize we have much to learn from them as we seek the welfare of our city, state, nation, and planet. we (communality peeps) also spent some time sharing about our various experiences with local environmental organizations...we shared about mountain top removal, justice groups, and city initiatives to make Lexington 'green.' (also...see the local newspaper article here)

hopefully we can all continue to help our local christian family find the language and motivation to become involved in living out the good news of jesus in relation to the environment. if you live locally and have some influence at your church we would encourage you to have dr. sleeth come and speak. please contact me or follow this link to directly connect with the sleeths.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

isaiah's advent prayer

sherry, maria, mary, and lisa have taken off to chicago this weekend for the school for conversion . so isaac and i are having a lads weekend which means plenty of loud music (at breakfast time!)...we share a love for johnny cash and u2 and isaac's favorite track right now is "the saints are coming" (a u2/greenday collaboration). my favorite tune (for this week) is the new u2 single, "window in the skies." it is a great advent/christmas tune - see the lyrics here.
at this time of the year i love to read Isaiah and get excited (along with the writer) about another possible world. so, this advent, i am praying with Isaiah:
"O that you would tear open the heavens and come down..." (64:1)

some good advice at 3rd st coffee

live

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Heavenly and Not-So Heavenly Host

In wilderness I am surrounded by company I cannot lay eye upon;
I am a living stone often with the feeling of being alone,
yet I am set near the corner somewhere
in a foundation that stretches farther than I can see.
The mortar of men is shattering and crumbling,
dust blows in the winds of revolution
and reformation whispers from places where being alone
is a dark reality.
Winds will blow and waters cover like a flood,
destroying modern marvels, and bursting ballooning levies;
though now it creeps and crawls as it turns,
the paradigm will shift; realities will crash,
yet the foundation will remain;
loneliness will then be a non-entity;
then I will be your priest and you will be mine and she will be his,
and we will all be surrounded by a company we can finally see.

Pregnant with God

spotted this beautiful quote over at Simon Holt's blog (it is a fantastic site for reflections about all things divine-in-the-ordinary).

"Standing at the threshold of another Advent we begin our season of growth and expectation - a time to secret ourselves with Mary, to join our hearts with hers, and to grow pregnant with God together. God invites us to a quiet place of reflection and bounty. This Advent, choose some time for silence. Make space within yourself to grow large with the abundance of God’s favor. Make this a time to fill your lungs deeply with God so that you can breathe Christ into the world."

Thomas Hoffman, A Child in Winter, Sheed & Ward, 2000.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Advent: Welcoming

Would you invite someone you met living on the downtown streets who was struggling with mental illness to become a part of your household? If you were that person drifting from place to place on those streets, would you give up your autonomy to link yourself to the lives of others, despite the personal costs involved?

Would you travel across state lines for the sake of embedding yourself into a community of faith, even if it meant transplanting a family and then sharing your new home with friends and strangers, both invited and uninvited? Would you be willing to be "dragged along" in such a move and to rediscover yourself in a new environment?

Would you be willing to head to the other side of the globe for the sake of service and ministry, crossing cultures to live out the message of the gospel? Would you be willing to "get real" enough with people even in that service to share your own woundedness and struggle?

Advent welcomes such change in our lives.

(read on)In reflecting on this week's theme of "Welcome", I think of folks like Billy and Maria and JFK, the Samson family, and Pete and Lori. The Welcome of Advent involves us taking our Awakening to the need of salvation and bringing the implications of that to a place of acceptance. The welcome of the change to which the coming of Messiah invites us is brought through the messy and painful process of repentance, and from it springs the willingness to allow the transformation which God works in us.

The divine welcome which is extended in the Incarnation is at once both affirming of our humanity and challenging in pressing us into Christlike imaging of it. As we are welcomed, so we are changed; and as we are changed, so we welcome others. I appreciate our community's challenge of "welcoming" beyond the boundaries of culture, race, gender, sexual orientation, and social status, and I'm thankful for the ways it has been imaged both by the folks mentioned above as well as others in our fellowship.

My encouragement then, is that we continue to welcome the transformation to which the gospel calls us.... and that we share that welcome with each other.

You can read some specific suggestions for reflective-actions at last year's post.

books. we love 'em

i jotted these notes a while back in an effort to justify my (our) love for books.

...because books are very important to us - they have become companions for the journey. these odd companions talk to us, pose difficult questions and even, occasionally, say something that changes our life (all)together.

we are determined to apply narrative theology to our life in communal-mission. this means becoming better story-tellers and better story-listeners. we read fiction and non-fiction with equal passion and anticipation for something real to leap out at us.

ultimately, we hope to share some of the realities with which we are confronted, afflicted, and comforted .

this is important. so is
this and
this.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Store Wars

a clever little piece of propaganda from the organic trade association (thanks to mr. sean gladding for the link)

http://www.StoreWars.org

World in Prayer

CG introduced me to this site a year or so ago when we used to pray these together, and I've used it a few times for different communality gatherings. Often I have been asked to send it out and have always forgotten. I thought this would be a good time to post it as we begin our advent journey, yearning for the Savior of the world.


World News This Week in Prayer

The New Friars - book review

The New Friars by Scott Bessenecker

My old mate Sean “back of the net!” Gladding gave this fantastic book a few weeks ago. Let me see if I can do it justice with a review. The author is Scott Bessenecker, director of global projects with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA. The book is an IVP publication in their Likewise line aimed at exploring an “active, compassionate faith.” After reading this one I’m looking forward to more of its kind from IVP through this line.

The review…

SHORT VERSION

Great book. Buy it and read it…then pass it on to someone who needs to know about what is doing outside church buildings. (and if you won’t/can’t buy it…you can have my copy as long as you pass it on after reading it.)

LONG VERSION

The book is a survey of both the history and current expressions of missional-monastic individuals and communities who have prioritized service and solidarity with the poor and oppressed. The first chapter is a whirlwind tour of scripture and Christian history which Scott uses to locate today’s “friars.” Scott then takes the next two chapters to unpack the various causes and effects of poverty. I felt this was a helpful start to the book – he “heads off at the pass” many questions about where the blame for poverty should lie and how that matters for us as Jesus-followers. Chapter four rounds out the poverty discussion by proposing that the incarnation is God’s ultimate and ongoing expression of solidarity with the poor.

(There's more)

The middle of the book is where Scott hits his stride. He suggests that certain historical monastic orders (Celtic, Augustinian, Benedictine, Nestorian, Franciscans, Dominicans, Jesuits, Moravians, Anabaptists) share key attitudes with the new friars - InnerCHANGE, Servants to Asia’s Urban Poor (Servants), Urban Neighbours of Hope (UNOH), and Word Made Flesh (WMF) - and that these “ingredients” set them apart vocationally from the wider body. Each of the middle five chapters deal with these attributes; Incarnational, Devotional, Communal, Missional, and Marginal. I will not go into each of these in detail – suffice it to say I found this a very helpful set of categories for framing Christian living, perhaps even more useful than specific “practices” or “marks.” Although Scott uses (stories from) his own life to illustrate various points the writing is never self-indulgent. Once I realized the author was doing more than just presenting me with the facts (fair and balancedJ) and was instead ‘walking’ with me through the stories, the narrative flowed very naturally. In fact, on the several occasions the book had me in tears it was Scott’s personal reflections that moved me so. Each of the five middle chapters draws historical characters into conversation with current ‘friars’ to make a case for the validity of these ingredients as thoroughly Christian and deserving of our attention – especially at this time in human history.

…and that’s where he takes us in the last chapter and the conclusion, confronting the reader with the ‘cold hard facts’ of our world today. In short, he suggests that this is the “dark before the dawn”, that human history has never (!) been so steeped in poverty, suffering, and evil. Bad news….but surely, Scott writes and hopes out loud, the sun is coming up. Even if you don’t buy his doomsday reckoning of current day conditions (and he humbly offers the reader that option) one is pushed to consider the scale of despair in the developing world. A sobering read for anyone in love with Jesus and the Kingdom he announced.

This is a wonderfully humble book written without any of the edginess and self-righteousness that would have dripped all over the pages had I been given this project. It is written in a way where scripture, history, and personal stories converge to paint an accurate (as far as I can tell) picture of a still-forming movement. And it is this ‘still-forming’ aspect that I might highlight as a reader and humbled participate in this kind of ‘new monasticism.’ The greater test for them/us will come with the years that bear out their/our faithfulness to this radical and exhausting call. Can they/we keep it? Can we raise our families and nourish future generations? Can we draw in our brothers and sisters in the wider body of Christ who might otherwise see them/us as an anomaly – at best, something to watch from the sidelines, at worst, a dismissible freak show? This drawing in of those not directly connected to such ‘friars’, I think (and hope), might be the best fruit from Scott’s writing. Hopefully this book will validate such vocational choices as more than a spasm of youthful hubris. Scott stated unequivocally that not all Christians are called to serve the poor in this particular way but he does make clear that “the broader community of believers” should “release and support this movement of saints.” A timely book, particularly for the western church, as we awaken to a globalizing world and seek more mission-shaped modes of engagement.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Advent: Awakening

It is 5:00 am and Geoff is making coffee at the YMCA where some guys come in from a night on the steet, eager for the warmth. Their stories are burdened with the weight of brokenness and injustice. As Geoff learns and tells these stories, we are awakened to the need for healing and change.

Ryan listens to the stories of men recovering from addictions, and though he cannot share the conversations, his faithfulness helps to open our eyes to the struggles around and within us. Will prepares some vegetables from the garden he has shared with Ryan, along with a cut of steak from a side of beef collectively purchased from a local farm. These are decisions made in awareness of some of the disturbing realities concerning what we eat, and we as a community are awakened by these choices.

Advent is a time of awakening to the need for salvation.

(There's more)
Our senses are aroused to the realizations of the need for change in our world and the need to for transformation in our lives. The Scriptural stories for this week describe a Creation with which God has entrusted us.... a Creation good, fruitful, and abundant; and yet a Creation marred by our unfaithfulness, causing selfishness and alienation and death. We see Noah aroused to action by judgment, God awakening the patriarchs to a new way of life in covenant, and Joseph's all-too-sobering encounters with the pervasiveness of injustice.

From Randy and Edith's reminder to us of the need for healing among Native American peoples, to Melissa's travels to serve in the orphanages of Zimbabwe, to the Brown family's political and personal involvement in bettering thier local neighborhood, we are awakened by one another to both our need for salvation and our call to participate in that salvation.

I encourage you to both fast and feast in that reality. See last year's posting for some particulars, but in general, continue to press one another along in the need for Jesus. Post a comment below on how you have been awakened this advent, and let's share some stories together Sunday evening.

Advent Advocacy

To add to my husband's postings, Sherry and I have put together the following way to be awakened to the suffering and brokeness of our world. As we awaken to the coming of Salvation during advent, let's remember that God calls us to be participants in his redemption. Please join us for:


ADVENT ADVOCACY

What: Communality invites you to
A weekly advent letter writing lunch

When: Wednesdays 11/29 through 12/20
11am-1pm

Where: Third Street Stuff Coffee
257 N. Limestone

Details:
Each Wednesday during advent we will be hosting a table at Third Street Stuff to provide an opportunity for anyone interested to recognize various issues of poverty, disease, and injustice and to take action against them in a letter writing campaign. Information regarding the issue and current legislation as well as the names and addresses of legislators and a sample letter will be provided.

Topics will include:
November 29th: HIV/AIDS
December 6th: Hunger and poverty
December 13th: Debt relief
December 20th: Department of Peace

Drop by during these times at your convenience. Come for one or come for all.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

just giving

I enjoy giving people gifts. I think that is a good thing. My husband quotes something like, the worst evil is a perverted good. The next month of shopping frenzy has become that in my mind. It is so sad to me because it uglies something so beautiful as giving gifts to the people we love. I don't want to participate in the holiday materialism. I also don't want to not give my family and friends gifts. My mother-in-law would not understand if I chose not to buy her anything out of principle this year. I have to buy her something. Plus, I love looking through toy catalogs for presents to send my nephews. In my efforts to make my gifts special, I have accumulated a compilation of retailers and information that may help others stuck in a similar quandary. This is a collection of fair trade and otherwise worthwhile shops from my favorites list. I thought I'd share it with you in order to: 1. maybe save you some time in mall traffic 2. support good retailers 3. show you some neat stuff and 4. help you spread the practice of fair trade buying to whomever you give gifts. I know there are many more and other local shops that are good to support. This is just a start.

(click 'full post' to read the rest...)
fair trade stuff
http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/
www.agreatergift.org
http://www.novica.com/
http://irc.kintera.org/site/pp.asp?c=brKNIXNMF&b=6862
http://store.gxonlinestore.org/index.html
http://www.heartbeatscatalog.org/
https://www.womensbeanproject.com/
http://catgen.com/ifat/EN/
http://www.garudainternational.com/
http://www.onevillage.org/
www.fairindigo.com
http://www.womenforwomen.org/bazaar.htm
http://www.globalcrafts.org/
http://www.worldofgood.com/catalog/index.php
http://www.taraluna.com/
http://www.fairtradequilts.com/
https://www.leagueofartisans.org/shop/index.php
http://www.groundsforchange.com/
http://www.mercadoglobal.org
http://store.tilonia.com/index.html
http://www.oxfamshop.org.au/shop/
http://www.unicefusa.org/site/pp.asp?c=gtITK4OVG&b=42535
http://www.handcraftingjustice.org
http://www.catgen.com/wsdp/EN/100001.html
www.apdkbombolulu.com/EN
www.africanhome.co.za
www.getethical.com
http://www.nativities.com/index.asp
www.one-world-is-enough.net
http://www.shilpanganindia.org/index.html
http://www.artisanatsel.com/boutique/liste_rayons.cfm


local
www.justcreations.org
www.kaht.net/


gifts for others
http://www.oxfamamericaunwrapped.com/
www.heifer.org

for more info and links
http://www.shared-interest.com/
www.ifat.org
http://www.transfairusa.org
www.crsfairtrade.org
http://www.coopamerica.org/
http://www.thriftyplanet.com

baby
http://www.katequinnorganics.com/
http://www.allnaturalbaby.com/
www.bamboosa.com
http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=90883


other stuff (organic, recycled, or just nifty)
https://www.ethicalwares.com/
www.mattany.com
http://www.shop-pod.com/info.html
http://www.farmaesthetics.com/
www.qcollection.com
http://www.loomstate.org/
http://www.branchhome.com/
http://kstudiohome.com/
http://www.tsdesigns.com/
http://www.jansdotter.com/
http://www.ecomall.com
http://www.gaiam.com
http://www.femailcreations.com
http://www.etsy.com/
http://www.globalgirlfriend.com/

Les Miserable in Real Life

I just read an article from the BBC that recorded some vandalism in a Montana church. The vandals were three youths who "stole money, smashed computers and windows." When they were caught, the youth had marijuana and pipes on their persons, were charged with the crimes, and may face a jail sentence. However, the church, modeling forgiveness, collected funds to buy "love baskets" for the youth. Several hundred dollars worth of gift cards, Xboxes and controllers, a DVD and a VCR were collected and are to be given to the youth.

As was quoted in the article, many of us have walked similar paths and, yet, have experienced the grace of God. The church in this article reminds me of the bishop that gives Jean val Jean the silver val Jean attempts to steal; this church has modeled the forgiveness God gives to us. As the pastor from Montana has said, "We hope that these gifts help to keep these kids off of the street," let us hope that the grace God grants us keeps us from the temptations to darker places in our own lives.

Friday, November 24, 2006

rev tc links

i was tipped off to this amazing music site by my mate tony cant.
tony also linked to a johnny cash (music) video on youtube. worth a look.

communality on flickr

hsh
late adopter that i am, i finally joined the cool kids and opened a flickr account.

yesterday's lazy thanksgiving afternoon gave me the chance to upload some pics so if you are interested check out the communality set

i also posted some of my nature-y pics and some three springs farm pics
if any of you have some communality pics hosted by flickr (or another site) please let us know...a link in the comments would be nice.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

the chief and the queen

heard this story on the BBC this morning.
i thought it was a hopeful piece....some dignity finally given to a man who travelled across the ocean to represent his people. it is a sign that times and people and nations do change, perhaps a sign of some 'justice' finally coming - or it could be too little too late. is something like this better than nothing?

here's a quote from the article...
The Queen is to unveil a memorial to a native American chieftain.
Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, she will pay her respects to Mahomet
Weyonomon, of the Mohegan tribe, who died of smallpox in London in 1736.
He travelled from Connecticut to petition George II about the capture of his
tribe's land by English settlers, but died before he met the king.
Foreigners were barred from being buried in the City of London so his body
was interred in an unmarked grave.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Evangelical spreads green message

a little while back we posted about a great new book called serve god, save the planet
the author recently moved to our part of kentucky and we are excited about meeting with him to celebrate our kinship and learn from him while sharing what we have been learning.

this article was in the local paper on sunday (front page - above the fold. wow.)
here's a clip from the start of the piece...
J. Matthew Sleeth is a man of God and a man of science.

He is a physician who believes that the Bible is the literal word of God, that Jesus Christ walked on water, and that our addiction to oil and energy is killing our spiritual lives and violating a sacred pact with God.

As a "born-again" Christian preaching environmentalism, Sleeth is part of a growing phenomenon of evangelical Christians who think protecting the natural world should transcend politics. He spreads that message with his new book, Serve God, Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action, and through an incessant speaking schedule before groups and congregations across the country.

book review: "Bible and Mission..."

this was over at the (now defunct) "ashram books blog." though i wrote it over a year ago i thought it could do with another posting...

Bible and Mission: Christian Witness in a Postmodern World
This is a brilliant book about missiology for those of us laboring in the globalizing Western context. It is brilliant because it is concise, humble, and hopeful. It is just 4 chapters (112 pages) in length and deals with the themes of globalization, universality and particularity, narrative theology, and hermeneutics. I think the inclusion of the tired clause 'postmodern' in the title is off-putting and serves to understate the broader scope of the book which is to identify the ways in which Scripture might be contextualized in our time.
(click 'full post' to read the rest...)
One of the most helpful frameworks Bauckam describes is his "three dimensions of the biblical narrative (pp.13-16):
Temporal (movement into the ever-new future)
Spacial (movement towards ever-new horizons)
Social (movement always being joined by others, an ever-new people)

He suggests these three dimensions give us clues as to how mission flows from Scripture and how we might also imagine our engagement with the world around us. He takes the time to urge us not to confuse the Modern myth of progress with biblical eschatology (p.20), and to remind us that our life together as God's people is the story of "permanent openness" while we also anticipate closure with hope for wholeness. But even this closure is not some bland overarching sameness...it is, rather, particularized expressions of the Kingdom coming in all kinds of places and ways.

Another very helpful part of the book is Baukham's reflections on 'biblical geography' (ch.3). This is an especially important dimension of missiology in a world where we can access so much of the globe with such (relatively) little effort. The story of God has always entailed crossing cultural boundaries into unknown places. With the western missiology conversation increasingly employing descriptive terms like "empire", "center", and "margins" to orient our missional movement (especially among people identifying themselves with new monasticism and the emerging missional church) I am grateful for Baukham's articulate exploration of geography and its implications for ecclesiology. He uses the twin terms centrifugal and centripetal to describe the comings and goings of the church, reminding us that these movements are not tied to any particular geographical location though they will always have geographical contexts. The new center, John (12:32) tells us is Jesus, and Jesus is always taking us (sometimes kicking and screaming) outside our comfort zones. At the end of his chapter on geography, Baukham adds another metaphor - the diaspora or exiled people. I would have liked a little more discussion on this as it seems to be an especially useful paradigm for a highly mobile subculture like the "cultural creatives."

In the last chapter, Baukham suggests some reasons why the Christian story is not a totalizing, metanarrative (ala Lyotard). In short, he argues that Christianity is not modern (post-enlightenment), not based on cumulative progress, and not a story of human mastery (God is the primary actor in history). The Christian story offers "a plurality of angles on the same subject matter", making it inherently untidy and complex - hardly the blueprint for finality. Having dodged the post-modern silver bullet accusation, Baukham moves on to offer a brief reflection on the supreme ideology of the west - economic prosperity (p.103).

While coercive power is the modus operandi for the increasingly omnivorous consumerist-economy, Baukham's summary point is to offer witness as the alternative way of the Good News. The Kingdom will be coming in unlikely places in unlikely ways and at the 'edges' of our experiences. We can be encouraged, says Baukham, because "much that is happening" has "some real correspondence" with the ways of God in Scripture.

Here are some helpful quotes:

ON GEOGRAPHY...
"So the church's mission is not a steady cumulative process in which we move even further away from the biblical narratives. We are always beginning again from the biblical narratives, which still open up unexpected possibilities for our own future within the future of Jesus Christ. We are always figuratively starting again from Jerusalem on our way to the ends of the earth. We are always starting again from Jesus who is the one human for all others, and we are always starting again from Pentecost, the event that gives birth to the new community on its way to the new future." (p.21)

"God's presence is now among the people in the metaphorical Temple they themselves compose. This new center is everywhere and nowhere, just as with the advent of modern geography and postmodern globalization the ends of the earth are now everywhere and nowhere. To substitute another physical center for Jerusalem...was always a mistake, however understandable. God's people move from place to place, but not from a geographical center to a geographical periphery. Mission, to borrow the title of Mishop Nazir-Ali'a book, is 'from everywhere to everywhere'." (pp.76-77)

ON SUCCESS...
"The church is never far from the insignificance of Jesus and his band of unimpressive followers. It is always setting out from the particular in the direction of God's incalculable gift of everything." (p.18)

ON EMPIRE...
"So to witness to the kingdom of God as far as the edges of the earth, as Jesus commissioned his apostles to do, was to expose Rome's aspiration to limitless dominion as blasphemous." (p.107)

i'm thankful for monday morning prayers

Lisa and Will have inspired me to be thankful in recent days with their blog posts.

i am incredibly thankful for the women that gather early monday morning at the high st house to pray. it is a practice i don't participate in directly but certainly i receive a direct blessing. the fact that my sisters in community do this for me (among others) is a great reminder about how my salvation is caught up with the salvation of others..we need each other so that we can be saved. it also causes me to think about my own commitments, making me freshly aware that my disciplined life (or lack thereof) is more than mine...it will build up or tear down people around me.

wow that got a bit heavy...bottom line: i am thankful for you monday-morning-praying-women.

Friday, November 17, 2006

wiconi missio dei gathering

as previously posted, a group of us were privileged to be part of the native american-lead gathering in Nashville last weekend (link). Billy, Dan, Janine, Barry, Isaac, Sherry and I took in the gracious hospitality, wisdom, and worship.

my first and most primal response to get togethers like this is lament - for the people of the first nations and for the immeasurable loss of life and other horrible fallout of colonization such as the annihilation god's majestic cultural gifts. languages, symbols, and ceremonies that would have no doubt taught us much about the ways of God. then i go deeper into sorrow as i think about my own 'sunburt country' and what was (is!) done to the Aboriginal people.

my second sense is to just watch and listen to the stories, songs, and dancing. the beauty and strangeness of praying with flutes and drums was a gift to me and somehow created space for contemplative prayer i rarely experience.

thirdly, and this is the truth for most 'conferences', the treasured words are not principally from the stage but come with the informal conversations that fill in the gaps between the programmed events.

finally, from the stage i heard richard twiss, mike rynkowitch, and terry leblanc....all excellent thinkers and communicators. i'm not sure if anything was recorded.

it was also a treat for sherry, isaac, and i to catch up with our dear friends (the Jacksons) and visit the Vanderbilt campus and Fido's coffee shop (along with bongo java our favorite breakfast spots in Nashvegas). Posted by Picasa

babel (the movie)

sherry and i went to see Babel on our date night this week.
it is a movie that wears you out..in a good way. intense and engaging, incredible direction, stunning imagery overlayed with sparse but potent dialogue.
each scene might be the seed for a doctoral study in anthropology and it is a must see for anyone interested in missiology and our globalising world.

at a closer-to-home level we both ached for the characters, their lot in life. tragic mistakes. heartbreaking lonliness. the redemptive moments toward the end caught the magical tension between the particular (personal) and universal healing for which we all yearn (in our better moments).

it is one of those movies that has stayed with us for days...churning away in the some 'back room' of our brains. if you are up for a provocative, disturbing and ultimately beautiful experience go and see it....or just go and see it for our sake so we can talk about it with some others :)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

683

What, pray tell, is the significance of 683?

Well, it is way the heck over the required score of 350 on the P.A. licensure exam.

You can put together the rest.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sankofa Nest Gathering

This message from our friend Jim Embry....

After living in Detroit for almost 5 years, I have returned to Lexington to continue the work of creating sustainable communities…which means that our life work is guided by the interdependent principles of social equity, environmental health, community vibrancy and economic prosperity . I recognize that a critical mass of visionaries/activists/cultural creatives/progressives is needed that believe "Another World is Possible" and are interconnected like a spider web in manifesting that vision. Towards creating these spider webs I contribute Sankofa Nest Gatherings which were held this past spring and we now reconvene after a summer break . These gatherings are meant to connect us, inspire us, educate us...and nourish us...for the Great Work of Transformation. The evening experience includes a potluck dinner, lots of conversations and discussion, usually watching a video, a backyard bonfire, sharing flyers/materials and some FUN!! Some stay late and dancing is known to happen.

WHEN: Saturday November 18, 2006 7:00pm-11pm
Dinner begins at 7pm and ends when the food is all gone....and the video begins at 8:30pm…

VIDEO Topic: The documentary, "The Power of Community – How Cuba Survived Peak Oil," The Community Solution: Cuba Film http://www.communitysolution.org/cuba.html
We will discuss how to move Lexington along the path of local food sustainability...so bring lots of ideas!


WHERE: 573 STRATFORD DR--.home of Jim Embry (off of Claysmill Rd. turn left .3 blocks south of Rosemont Garden..look for candles in the walkway)

HOW: POT LUCK (please bring only vegetarian or vegan foods.. and good drinks..also make concerted attempts to bring food or drink that are local products).

PLEASE RSVP…at 859-312-7024 …..and for more info


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The concept of SANKOFA is derived from King Adinkera of the Akan people of West Afrika. SANKOFA is expressed in the Akan language as "se wo were fi na wosan kofa a yenki." Literally translated it means "it is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot".
"Sankofa" teaches us that we must go back to our roots in order to move forward. That is, we should reach back and gather the best of what our past has to teach us, so that we can achieve our full potential as we move forward. Whatever we have lost, forgotten, forgone or been stripped of, can be reclaimed, revived, preserved and perpetuated.
Visually and symbolically "Sankofa" is expressed as a mythic bird that flies forward while looking backward with an egg (symbolizing the future) in its mouth. ________________________________________
SANKOFA - GO BACK AND RETRIEVE

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Thursday, November 09, 2006

wiconi gathering

The Wiconi mission dei gathering in Nashville starts today and goes through saturday. Dan. Barry, and Billy will be traveling down there and Sherry Isaac and I will be there for the start of things tomorrow. should be a good time of worship and learning. Brian McLaren, Mike Rynkiewich, Randy Woodley, and Richard Twiss are all speaking.

here's a blip from the website about the purpose of the gathering:

"It is my hope that you will prayerfully make the sacrifice to join us for these historic gatherings, beginning this November in Franklin. Become part of this emerging “Missio Dei Initiative” to bring the Shalom of God back into the forefront of the church. Let’s begin to envision – to look out into our increasingly radically diverse, multiethnic and religiously pluralistic world with new eyes of faith to recognize the Spirit of God at work in lives of people around the world.

Richard Twiss
Convener of the Missio Dei Initiative"

A Neuroscientific Look at Speaking in Tongues

i found this article in the NY Times fascinating. i've only spoken in tongues once (that i am aware of) and i'm not sure of it's value/purpose on that occasion apart from a deep sense of communion with God - i was greatly comforted and renewed by the experience (i was alone so there was no interpreter...i'm not sure what i said....it sounded like hebrew which i studied for a couple of years prior to this event but it may well have been gibberish....anyway....where was i?)

the article...i found it interesting because neuroscience is such a new field and i think these kinds of technologies are going to broaden our understanding of how humans are (being) made and how we (think/believe we) experience the divine. it is a place where theology and anthropology merge and i imagine this to be a great, exploritory-science dialogue that has enormous implications for missiology (among other things).

so here's a quote or two and here is the link to the article.

"The passionate, sometimes rhythmic, language-like patter that pours forth from religious people who “speak in tongues” reflects a state of mental possession, many of them say. Now they have some neuroscience to back them up.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania took brain images of five women while they spoke in tongues and found that their frontal lobes — the thinking, willful part of the brain through which people control what they do — were relatively quiet, as were the language centers. The regions involved in maintaining self-consciousness were active. The women were not in blind trances, and it was unclear which region was driving the behavior.

Contrary to what may be a common perception, studies suggest that people who speak in tongues rarely suffer from mental problems. A recent study of nearly 1,000 evangelical Christians in England found that those who engaged in the practice were more emotionally stable than those who did not. Researchers have identified at least two forms of the practice, one ecstatic and frenzied, the other subdued and nearly silent.
The new findings contrasted sharply with images taken of other spiritually inspired mental states like meditation, which is often a highly focused mental exercise, activating the frontal lobes. "

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Jenesis Nevaeh Gregory


Jared's sister had her baby today. Her name is Jenesis Nevaeh Gregory. She was 6 lbs., 2 oz.

WooHoo! Here is Jared's email, if you want to contact him.

"The Case Against Faith"-Sam Harris

Though reductionistic and shortsighted in its own way (and certainly controversial!), I thought that this article raised some very good points worth pondering.

By Sam Harris
Newsweek
Nov. 13, 2006 issue - Despite a full century of scientific insights attesting to the antiquity of life and the greater antiquity of the Earth, more than half the American population believes that the entire cosmos was created 6,000 years ago. This is, incidentally, about a thousand years after the Sumerians invented glue. Those with the power to elect presidents and congressmen—and many who themselves get elected—believe that dinosaurs lived two by two upon Noah's Ark, that light from distant galaxies was created en route to the Earth and that the first members of our species were fashioned out of dirt and divine breath, in a garden with a talking snake, by the hand of an invisible God.

This is embarrassing. But add to this comedy of false certainties the fact that 44 percent of Americans are confident that Jesus will return to Earth sometime in the next 50 years, and you will glimpse the terrible liability of this sort of thinking. Given the most common interpretation of Biblical prophecy, it is not an exaggeration to say that nearly half the American population is eagerly anticipating the end of the world. It should be clear that this faith-based nihilism provides its adherents with absolutely no incentive to build a sustainable civilization—economically, environmentally or geopolitically. Some of these people are lunatics, of course, but they are not the lunatic fringe. We are talking about the explicit views of Christian ministers who have congregations numbering in the tens of thousands. These are some of the most influential, politically connected and well-funded people in our society.

Read the rest of the article at:
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/15566391/site/newsweek/

Monday, November 06, 2006

SSAWG Conference


The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group will be holding the 16th Annual Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms Conference. (Whew, say that five times fast) It is January 25-28 in Louisville. The cost is low for a typical conference but still not cheap. There are waivers available for those who are planning on working in the area of sustainable agriculture.

I am planning on attending some part of this conference, so let me know if you are interested in sharing rides out there.

blogger Al Hirsch

our mate Alan Hirsch has started blogging...follow this link:
www.theforgottenways.org
and clock on the 'blog' tab at the top of the page.

his new book will be out sometime in the next month or so. sherry and i have had the good pleasure of reading the manuscript and it has been a significant challenge and encouragement - along with 'constants in context' (by Bevans and Schroeder) the best missiology text i have read in recent years.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Interesting organization........

Last night Frontline had a nice documentary on a neat organization (called KIVA) that is doing some cool stuff with microfinance. They link through the use of the internet entrepeneurs in poor countries with potential donors. Not surprisingly, their website has been crashed by people like me following up after the Frontline documentary. Anyhow, this is worth checking out and is potentially something that we could partner with or consider doing in the future as we work to find ways to live out our faith in practical and liberating ways. Below is the web address:

http://www.kiva.org/app.php

FireMike 3

 Posted by Picasa

FireMike 2

 Posted by Picasa

FireMike


we celebrated all saints this past sunday eve. a couple of my favorite living saints are mike and sarah brown. after our gathering mike unleashed yet another gift on us with some fire-spinning. it was a holy night and mike added a magical touch with his new craft. thanks for the show, mike. keep it coming. a couple more pics to follow... Posted by Picasa

more sfc

...and here's the other side of the postcard with more details. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Inhale Exhale

I breathed in hope and exhaled your name,
I closed my eyes and imagined your face;
I reached out and touched his garment
and hoped that his power would explode in my screams
in those dark moments when I see your tears
and your body shakes with doubts and fears.

I breathe in hope and exhale your name
I reach out and stroke his cheek
and catch the drop that escapes his eye,
and when he leans over, to my ear, I understand;
he breathes in promise and whispers your name.

Monday, October 23, 2006

elections

Maria sent this link out on our community list serve but i thought i would also post it here....

"As the election approaches, here is a website that has a survey sent to all local candidates, with their responses or lack thereof. It's set up by Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, which may or may not align with your personal politics, but it does seem to be a good resource for seeing some of the positions side-by-side. Hope it helps! Maria
http://kftcvoter.netcorps-or.org "

Sunday, October 22, 2006

fall


we took a family trip yesterday to Reed Orchard...i took this pic of a variety of apple called "Arkansas Black." it was beautiful to see the many different types (shapes, colors, tastes) of apples and pears. the Creator seems to delight in variety. It was a spectacular day and Isaac ate his body weight in apples. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

the stranger in my DNA

Yesterday during Kingdom Conference at Asbury Seminary, Professor Christine Pohl spoke in a moving and prophetic way about the biblical mandate to welcome the stranger and care for the alien in our midst. With this year’s theme “Crossing Borders at Home” the focus is on refugee resettlement and immigration. Artfully and yet plainly, she lead us through the metanarrative of Scripture, reminding us of God’s loving and hospitable initiatives to a nobody people who were guaranteed that throughout their history they would be strangers again and again. We were carried through texts such as Exodus 23, Genesis 12, Matthew 25 and 1 Peter 2. In and through these, an identity unfurls of being both a stranger and a host. This central thread in the Bible culminates in the report that Jesus, as a child, was forced to flee to Egypt with his family. It is not often remembered that our Lord and Savior himself was a refugee at the start of his life.

As I heard this message, I was inspired, convicted, and overcome. I thought of two things personally. I recognized the privilege of my fatigue and burnout in the work of refugee resettlement and the shame that goes with it. I had the honor of receiving and serving families forced by war and conflict to reside in a strange and sometimes unwelcoming land. And yet, even as I’ve shared in the role of host, I hadn’t realized that somewhere wrapped up in me is an alien and the genetic memory of being an outsider. Because we are grafted into the story of the people of Israel, this identity of stranger in a strange land is ours too.

This is our story, our genealogy. Recently my father shared with me about his substantial work on our family’s genealogy. He loves it. He managed to meticulously document our relatives back to the 1600s. What he unearthed is rich in stories and places of the people who made us, the Espy’s. Without any effort or leap of imagination, I easily associated with these long-since-dead people I never knew and I thought, “oh, great, these are my people.” An inherited dignity is ascribed to me by my ancestors that takes no work on my part and asks nothing of me – a detached history.

More ancient and central than this earthly lineage is my inheritance and place in the story from Scripture As Christine reminded us, this family tree comes with mandates, frightful promises of exclusion, burdens to live justly, and the Head of the clan being crucified. This heritage is one I don’t always want to belong to. Of course, it also comes with the mystery of grace and abundant life. The important thing about the renewal that came in those moments in chapel is that the reminder of identity and the acknowledgement of who’s I am spills over into the call again to live and to act as a servant, a blessing…to cross borders again and again, simultaneously aware of my own exile and the holy honor of being a welcoming host.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

please pray

...for Lisa and Ty Samson as they meet with others in this nation's capital today. They are gathering to protest the use of torture and the related, recent changes to US law. Whenever our kin in missional community go out and put their hope into action like this we are mindful that they represent us and we are called to support them. Here's a clip and link from and to Will's post at his blog.

This Tuesday there will be a demonstration at the White House, just prior to the time when the President is to sign the Military Commissions Act of 2006, legislation that legalizes torture of prisoners. Further, this bill would eradicate the the writ of habeas corpus for detainees, meaning that we have eliminated the process for determining if the prisoners we are torturing are even individuals of interest. God help us (and I mean that quite literally). This is a terrible piece of legislation and ranks the United States with some of the cruelest and most barbaric cultures.

see here for more details in Will's post: http://willzhead.typepad.com/willzhead/2006/10/take_your_stand.html

Monday, October 16, 2006

Thanksgiving.......

Last night after our fellowship meeting I had a really nice conversation with John and Katheryn about their work at First UMC, what's happening in the broader city, and the various other things that seem to be coming together among Christians on the national and international level. It was an encouraging conversation. During the talk John and Katheryn shared about how amazed they have been at the example of the Amish community in Pennsylvania who have made amazing efforts to come around the family of the man who murdered and maimed many of their children. We agreed that this is an awesome example of mercy, grace, and belief in the power of kindness and compassion to overcome evil and oppression. It is a timely reminder. In our world today there are a great many who have valid concerns about the ill-effects of "western" understandings of civilization, the current course of our consumerist culture, and the ideology of violence that seems to underlie so much of our quest (especially in America) to "secure" our markets, beliefs, and personal lives. And at a time when war both threatens and continues to consume so many precious lives daily, I think it is amazing that we're given such a remarkable example of a simple and obscure people's refusal to repay "evil for evil." Though certainly as human and prone to weakness as the rest of us, the Amish have indeed given us all a gift at a time when we ALL really need it. It is possible to resist the negative influences and corruption of the surrounding culture with peace, love, compassion, and forgiveness. And it is possible, when the "filth" of the world pollutes our homes and communities, to act in a way that makes the hope and promise of another and better world seem possible. So, I give thanks for this wonderful gift, and thanks to John and Katheryn for taking the time to share and consider. I guess that is ultimately the greatest gift of all.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Green Living Expo in Lex

****3rd Annual Bluegrass Energy &Green Living Expo
Where: Lexington Convention Center/ Heritage Hall
Date: October 14- 15, 2006
Times: 10- 6 on Saturday, 11-5 Sunday
Contact: Ben Perry, event coordinator
Email: benperry@a-spi.org
Phone/ Fax: (859) 523-4773

Description: The 3rd annual Bluegrass Energy &Green Living Expo is free and open to the public and includes sustainable living workshops, educational exhibits, a Children's Expo, and a trade show offering a variety of green products and services!
Visit our website at http://www.bluegrassenergyexpo.org/ for directions and more details.

SCN will conduct 2 workshops at the Expo on Sustainability Philosphy and Practice...Saturday at 5pm and Sunday at 4pm in Room D...everyone is invited to help facilitate this conversation.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Mercy and Justice

our friend (and missionary hero in India), Kate Pocklington sent us this quote.

Mercy is like the ambulance at the bottom of a cliff, ready to help those who fall.
Justice builds a fence at the top of the cliff to protect them from falling in the first place.
Mercy wipes the tears from the eyes. Justice asks, “Why are you crying?”
Mercy welcomes the hungry to gather around G_d’s banqueting table.

Justice addresses why some are under the table aching of hunger while others are sitting on top of the table aching from gluttony.
Mercy seeks and saves those lost in the darkness.

Justice asks, “Why is it dark? Who is keeping it dark? Who is benefiting from this darkness? Is it I, Lord?”
Can You Hear Me? – Brad Jersa

grocery downtown?

this was in today's local paper....
"Grocers might return to downtown"

would be a nice thing for those of us living in the city. here's hoping...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

is god green?

i wanted to pass on this information (from an email we recieived) about a show tonight...Sherry and I were actually contacted by the producer of this show some time back and it looks like an interesting program.

I wanted to let you know – and ask you to spread the word – about an important PBS special that airs this week and prominently features the role of faith in the fight against mountaintop removal coal mining.

In “Is God Green?” – which airs this Wednesday, October 11 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check your local listings) -- Bill Moyers examines the changing views towards the environment among evangelical Christians.The documentary features Allen Johnson, co-founder of Christians for the Mountains. As one review puts it:
The program explores the real-world consequences of mountaintop mining and its toxic by-products on the local water supply, profiling residents forced to live with drinking water allegedly contaminated by harmful chemicals and their fight against a subsidiary of the region’s largest coal company, Massey Energy. Allen’s group is working to recruit local churches to explore the pollution problem as a theological and Biblical issue, and to join their fight. Today, after 12 years, the local government is building the infrastructure that eventually will bring clean water to the effected communities.

Here at Appalachian Voices, we know that people of faith have a critical role to play in the effort to end mountaintop removal mining. Five major religious denominations have already passed resolutions against mountaintop removal mining.You can learn more about the intersection of religion and the fight against mountaintop removal mining by clicking on this link:http://www.ilovemountains.org/prayers

And if you haven’t yet done so, please add your voice to the more than 2,000 Americans who have already pledged to help end mountaintop removal mining by visiting the

ILoveMountains.org website:http://www.ilovemountains.org/take_action/Please forward this email to your friends and family, and invite a friend over on Wednesday to watch “Is God Green?” Getting the word out about the real consequences of mountaintop removal mining is critical to our efforts to end this destructive practice. Thank you for taking action.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

more words for community living

"as long as we are on earth, the love that unites us will bring us suffering by our very contact with one another, because this love is the resetting of a Body of broken bones. even saints cannot live with saints on this earth without some anguish, without some pain at the differences that come between them. there are two things that men can do about the pain of disunion with other men. they can love or they can hate. hatred recoils from the sacrifice and the sorrow that are the price of this resetting of bones. it refuses the pain of reunion."

thomas merton

lord, help us to love.

Global Warming: Local Practices, Global Effects

“An Inconvenient Truth” with panel-led discussion
Wednesday, October 11, 2006 at 5:30 PM
"Global Warming: Local Practices, Global Effects"Presented by TERRA, the Transylvania Environmental Rights & Responsibilities Alliance

Kentucky Theatre
5:30 -- Free showing of "An Inconvenient Truth"
7:15 -- Panel Discussion with
Congressman Ben Chandler;
Deputy Secretary of the EPPC, John Clay;
Dr. James Wagner, Professor of Biology, Transylvania University;
and Dr. Alan Bartley, Professor of Economics, Transylvania University

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Sign and a Psalm

Last week I walked behind the old court house on my way somewhere. I noticed a historical marker that I hadn't seen before. It noted that on this square, in the shadow of the courthouse, humans were once sold. White people would buy and trade black people here. The marker noted that children were often separated from their parents. This was also the site of a whipping post where slaves were beaten if they were out in town past curfew. Here was the market, an open air, free market, and the law enforcement, that sustained slavery here in our town, in Lexington. When I turned away from this sign, I saw that I had missed the light at the crosswalk. I felt a bit disoriented as I waited on this corner with my thoughts. I could be down the street had I not read this sign. It is a sort of burden to consider our history on a sunny morning; it does not lend itself to efficiency. It is not terribly easy to get on with a morning after such a lesson (though, to be fair, it is probably easier than it should be.) I am not sure how the Psalmist does it. Psalm 90 begins with a reflection that God has been our dwelling place for all generations, that God has been "from everlasting to everlasting." God has been present throughout our histories, observing, participating, allowing some pepole to buy and trade, and others to be bound. Somehow, the Psalmist is not paralyzed by history. How can this be? How are we to journey with this God who has been present for our sins and those of our fathers? How can I ask that God establish the work of my hands when they tremble so?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

(not) crocodile tears

i was really sad when i heard about that crocodile bloke from Australia, Steve Irwin. i was quite surprised how sad i felt and i'm still not sure why - perhaps it's because i'm australian and a long way from 'home', perhaps it was Steve's love for nature that enlivens me, perhaps i'm just soft. anyway, the other day my dad sent me a link to this article by Brian Mclaren and it caused tears to flow as a lament and in gratitude - a proper grieving. it managed to touch me where my sadness lay and i'm very grateful for Brian's writing. here's a snippet from the piece and here's the link to read the whole article.

I don’t recall Steve speaking of God much. But every time he said, “Isn’t that a little beauty!” I think he was speaking for God, the One who notices and loves the smallest goodness of every created thing. The look on his face when he sat with an orangutan or swam with a green sea turtle or let a lizard perch on his finger – that look in itself was a sign and a wonder. Sure, some people think he was over the top, but with millions of other fans, I miss him, and with them, I’m inspired to live life a little – no, a lot - louder and freer because of him … playing my own unique part in the sacred mission of saving love. Rest in peace, Steve-o. Well done.

Question

The following question came as a result of some discussions following Theta Phi lectures in chapel (at Asbury) last week. It's pretty broad but I'd love to know your thoughts.

Did Jesus expect his teachings to become national policies?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

take comfort

"The church is never far from the insignificance of Jesus and his band of unimpressive followers. It is always setting out from the particular in the direction of God's incalculable gift of everything." (p.18)

from this book.

Monday, September 25, 2006

discerning vocation

I came across some good help this week in a book called, “The scope of our art: the vocation of the theological teacher” edited by L. Gregory Jones and Stephanie Paulsell. In a chapter written by Jones (Negotiating the Tensions, pp.209-224) he pulls together four quotes that, he says, helps one navigate one’s vocational choices. For your enlightenment, here they are….

“Something’s your vocation if it keeps making more of you.”
Gail Godwin, Evensong

“When Christ calls [someone], He bids him come and die.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

"The place God calls you is the place where you deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC

“Do you want to make God laugh? Tell God your plans.”
Familiar Saying in Divinity School

Friday, September 22, 2006

America's smartest cities

Lexington made the top ten in this CNN brainiest cities list. education is no guarantee for wisdom but it's nice to see our home town ranked with the likes of 'real' (sexy?) cities such as Seattle, DC, and Boston.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The unexpected invitations of God

The book of Isaiah is full of good news. I know it is the book of a prophet calling for change and delivering condemnation and rebuke to God’s people, but it is one of my favorite. Through its passages, I find I can begin to hold together the nature of the omnipotent God of history and the vulnerable, incarnated Jesus. I love it because it reveals the kind of God I desire to follow and it is loaded with the hope of redemption and the promise of new places.

I think one of the most simple and profound declarations in Isaiah comes from these verses:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
” (Isa 55:8-9)

And these ways of God are unpredictable and unexpected. In the chapters surrounding this verse, the God of Israel beckons the barren woman, the thirsty and poor, the foreigner, and the eunuch. Restoration and healing are promised for each of these who the religious of Israel would forget. The woman who never bore a child is instructed to make lots of room for her descendants. The thirsty and the ones with no money are offered the richest of fare at no cost. For the foreigner, the invitation into the house of prayer and the dignity of belonging is secured. And the eunuch is guaranteed that which he could never obtain – an everlasting name. Certainly these are not the ways of this world I currently know.

As I wrestle with thoughts of global poverty, national policies, justice and the role of the church, and think through issues of local need and division among the rich and the poor in Lexington, and long for the promises of something different to be realized in our time, I don’t conclude much on my own. But, I lay my anxieties of all that is lacking at the feet of this God in Isaiah – the one with the righteous ways of love, the omnipotent agenda, and the strange preferences for the least.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

myles horton quote

a few years ago a dear friend introduced me to a man named myles horton - not in person, just through american history.

anyway, mr horton has become a hero for me and this brilliant quote came to me via sojomail ( www.sojo.net )this morning.

If people have a position on something and you try to argue them into changing it, you're going to strengthen that position. If you want to change people's ideas, you shouldn't try to convince them intellectually. What you need to do is get them into a situation where they'll have to act on ideas, not argue about them.
- Myles Horton