Monday, December 22, 2008

August Rush - August's Rhapsody ( SoundTrack )

"The music is all around us > all you have to do is listen." - August Rush

The incarnation of the wind...music/sounds, carrying the very Spirit of the living God. Do you hear it? see it? taste it? feel it? I do. And amazingly it is taking me to places not everybody understands.

Merry Christmas to you all. I love you all.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

ikon advent event

I'm waiting around to participate in the first ever international ikon online blogging event outside of Belfast, Ireland. Their "Ikon Advent" event currently has 51 people signed on through facebook from all over the world to participate. You can click the above link to check out the entire event's conversation if you missed. I am waiting, just waiting...anticipation is key really...whenever!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Part 4-Phyllis Tickle and Peter Rollins discuss Emergence Christianity

4 of 4: "Radical is Root"

Peter Rollins: "This is a message to the whole church, not to a certain segment of the church."

Part 3-Phyllis Tickle and Peter Rollins discuss Emergence Christianity

This 3rd of 4 videos looks at "What's Happening Outside the US?"

Part 2-Phyllis Tickle and Peter Rollins discuss Emergence Christianity

This 2nd of 4 videos explores the notion that "God Can't Be Defined." Peter Rollins shares some insights about the "traumatic event in Scripture." He wonders about how we can make sense of juxtaposed descriptions of God that are placed side by side within Scripture?

Peter Rollins: "Truth is in the rupture."

Peter Rollins: "We've reduced God to an idea, to something we can speak about rather than this traumatic event which transforms and changes us."

Peter Rollins: "We're the object and God's the absolute subject."

Part 1-Phyllis Tickle and Peter Rollins discuss Emergence Christianity

I just found out about these great youtube videos that were put together by Paraclete Press, the publisher for Peter Rollins' books. This is the 1st of 4.

This first conversation wonders around what Emergence Christianity is and the operative values within it. The two values Pete speaks about here: 1. "Suspended Space", 2. "Doughnut Structure".

Monday, December 15, 2008

thinking outside the cookie cutter

tonight was the night. the cookie dough had been cooled for the three required hours and we were ready. we took out the dough, argued over who was going to roll it out, argued over who was going to sprinkle the flour, argued over who got which cookie cutter to use. it was great! LOVE IT!

ok, aside from the usual grief that comes with a 7 and 6 year old, brother and sister respectively, it was a great night. we laughed, listened to christmas music and found joy in just being with each other. after a couple cookie cutter cuts, i took out a knife and began to carve my own figure. the kids observed intently and guessed inquisitively. "it's a cross" grace said. "no, it's an airplane!" derek yelled. "yep, said dad, that's it. you got it D".

"so who wants to use your brain to cut cookies instead of cookie cutters?" i asked. "your brain or cookie cutters?" i asked emphatically again. grace shouted out, "my brain!" i gave each of them a knife (hope you're not listening kc) and watched as they began to imagine, engaging with creative thoughts bubbling up from within. what a sight to see. they had become co-creators! how fun and frustrating at the same time, but wondrously free to be.

there was a snag however and it was this: all their brainy creativity was taking FOREVER. i said "alright now, let's just go back to the cookie cutters and stop using our brains." they argued again and demanded not to go back. i agreed after the usual ping pong match of words. in that moment i thought it kind of interesting how impatient we can be...i could be.

isn't this how life is sometimes? we get excited about trying new things, using our brains for a change, getting creative, and yet for some reason it never gets along as fast as we would like or hope. but maybe that's the point. isn't it about the creative process and not merely the "getting-it-all-over-and-done-with"? isn't it about the gift of wondering, and together, what could be? what we also learned was that if it failed, we balled up the sugar cookies and started again. ahhhh, fresh starts, who doesn't like those?

and so i celebrate tonight, that for a moment, for a short break in time, we were able to stand in opposition to the constraints unassumingly and unconsciously imposed on us...and for that time, we were able to think outside the cookie cutter!

taking a leap

well, i have done it. i have discerned, for better or for worse, for what i hear God calling me to do. i have been serving as an interim/transitional pastor simultaneous to beginning the flagstaff abbey an emerging expression of church. last week i notified the bishop, council, call committee, all to their surprise, that i will not be submitting my name as an interviewing candidate for the traditional parish. that means i'll only be serving for a few more months as an interim in this setting. i am discerning what to do, but very much feel called to put old wine in new wineskins, not for the sake of an ecclesiastical beauty contest, but for being true to the kind of leader i hear God calling out in me.

i feel too schizophrenic to be living in two completely different cultural realities. the best example, although i know they all break down, is this. i feel i'm not the leader to restore a 1964 vintage mustang, but do feel called to work on hybrids and push even further into the future with the very way we build and use transportation. this is the best expression for helping to share the divergent and vexed reality i have continually found myself occupying.

i've got to say at another level but very much related, i'm also concerned about the professional aspect of church leadership, lay and clergy alike. i don't know how it will all work out, but i just know that the perception from those supposedly outside the church, don't really give a flying shit that there is a professional and many won't actually and financially support such an effort. what this doesn't mean however is that they aren't concerned about generously contributing to good causes for the sake of serving the common good. but the church is loosing its ground on how to sustain itself. which in and of itself is a telling reality. i realize this is a huge generalization toward mainlines and that they will vary, but when i think about 20-30 somethings here in my southwest context, i am not seeing an interest and enthusiasm in financially supporting and sustaining such communities with full time paid church staff. this doesn't mean that there won't continue to be churches who have people willing to pay their pastors, but i believe there is a decline happening, with attached suspicion toward this whole venture.

Monday, November 10, 2008

where do i fit in?

i love life! my wife and two children derek and grace. what a gift to be held by each of them, and warmly. i have great and real friends who share an understanding of God that can't be articulated only lived.

i'm sitting here doing my favorite activities, indulging in some belgium beer i picked up from a liquor store in san diego, Corsendonk an abbey ale. i was drawn to the picture of mary holding jesus, what better sales ploy could you have really. i've got my incense burning as i'm listening to Duke Special, suggested from my friend and mentor who doesn't even know me, peter rollins. all the while reading and sitting here wondering.

last week i attended, at the invitation of the synod office and our new assistant to the bishop for outreach, an outreach national conference in san diego. little did i realize how i've grown to be anti-evangelical, that is, those who i have determined to be driven theologically more by propositional concerns than matters incarnational. i had a stirring conversation, albeit short, with dan kimball. even though i was a bit agressive in my questioning, probably too judgmental (sorry dan i just yearn for conversational parnters). from my perspective in what i was wanting to talk about the conversation boiled down to heeding jesus call to make disciples. dan's claim was that peter rollins and others like karen are not doing that only gathering people together with no real leadership development into discipleship. i think we'd all agree that discipleship is key, the question for me becomes what does it mean to learn from jesus and what are we actually teaching people from jesus? do we teach all the biased perspectives from scripture as truth or could they be contextualized. is there a formational, character building piece, in isolation from being missional in service to God's world? what does it mean to cast your nets? i've always thought about it in relationship to his first words about his primary mission "repent and believe, the kingdom of heaven is at hand." what does it look like for us as disciples to learn that we are caught in God's kingdom net? is it merely a propositional venture? this is where i love peter rollin's ideas that propositions are the very aftermath seeking to articulate the very encounter we've had with the holy.

i'm wondering recently about the pursuits we have in life. i've been listening and learning about the emergent conversation and heard a lecture from the 2007 aar event, the second emergent forum at the event. the event had scott mcknight, diana butler bass and tony jones. tony mentioned an interesting thing about those who are pursuing this thing. he said essentially, 'you know, a lot of those who are involved in this are involved because this is their last ditch effort for being involved in church. if this didn't exist they will be joining the 125 million who are predicted to be leaving the church by 2050.'

wow! so where is my home? i want to be a part of a church that isn't afraid of critically thinking about absolutely everything. that learns to live the very grace oriented life it so eloquently articulates and celebrates.

ya know in my own wondering and discerning for going to get a phd i have had a lot of people tell me that i shouldn't do it because i'd be missing out on the very thing i was trying to create, an alternative church. the other thing i hear is that you don't want to do that because you'll become too aloof, esoteric and elitist from the very people you want to help and make a difference for. this all has me thinking because that's how i've often experienced a lot of those phd people too.

but on the flip side maybe it has something to do with what tony jones says, this is the only way they would ever be connected to church. you know, me and my judgmental ways, i wonder why is would it be that one of my professors whom i admire so much through my dmin program at luther, why does he not attend a local church, why is he himself not connected to an incarnational community of faith? even as he helps others to be church, how is he being church? maybe this is the only thing keeping him alive as in any way connected to the church and if he didn't have this outlet he wouldn't even be involved.

i admire tony for at least being connected to his place solomon's porch, even though i've had a bad experience years ago with their pastor. maybe at some level we're all just doing the best we can with where we are and what's available and for how we're trying to make a difference. maybe that's just what a lot of this comes down to. maybe its the best way to deal with the depression for the immensely systematic mess and enigma we find ourselves in as the transitioning church and how God is trying to work through us to birth a new reality. maybe. all i know and all i really hold on to are the thoughts from bonhoeffer's "i am" poem...wherever i fit in, wherever my place is in this world even as i'm still discerning what i should do and where i fit in..."whoever i am, i am thine."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Peter Rollins on Irony

Peter Rollins is, in my opinion, the foremost thinker and framer of the emerging church conversation. This introduction briefly gives you some insight into the person we can read about and learn from. Hope others can gleen from him the very gold that I have. thanks pete for your inspiration and humility.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What Would Jesus Buy? - Official Trailer!

a great film speaking to the deep challenges of our consumption driven society. we have become so ingrained in it we don't even realize. rent it, you can get it on netflix.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Great Emergence

Check this out. a helpful contextualized notion for where the church is trying to find itself today.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

pete rollins lecture

check out this link to a pete rollins lecture. WOW!

you might also want to look at his blog: peterrollins.net/blog/

also his new book: a fidelity of betrayal

Thursday, September 18, 2008

abbey's call to worship

What is it, or perhaps who, that calls out to us? A voice inviting us to engage or to be engaged…to participate in a reality bigger than ourselves? Our own voice or the voice of another? Is it our own voice masked in the other or the other way around?

And what per say is the voice | the silent voice | saying..speaking to the depths of the very being and into the essence of who I am, really...the longing that I yearn to hear deep within, a longing for connection? significance? wholeness? meaning?...a new way of ordering, re-orienting world, community, self?

Whatever this voice, whenever | wherever this voice, it seems to be a call, a call toward stillness and silence, for a willingness to sit and be, waiting and wondering. Whatever this voice, I am moved…not into further noise and distraction, but into a quiet space of reflection, of stillness, of silence. Waiting into who I am and who I am to be...all the while consumed by the One who was, who is and who will be…immersed in this presence and assured | the journey | is never lived or grown alone.

Let us pray…let us be, in God and with each other…

Selah

Amen.

Monday, July 7, 2008

abbey outreach practices



well I'll tell you right now, we're not gonna be knocking on doors. we'll be knocking somethin' else! Cheers!!!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

So there was this guy...getting on a plane

(dedicated to my friend chris and tamie)

So there was this guy at the airport. He was on his way to class, of the religious sort for getting smarter and stuff. While at the airport he began to have visions for his final thesis and started brainstorming, as is the case with his free-association-type brain, on paper, actually it was his really cool laptop.

Anyway, he wrote about all the themes he's been hearing himself make reference to including knowing and being known, holding and being held, hospitality, humility, monasticism, questioning, intimacy, loneliness and not least of all listening; ya know the normal sorts of things everybody thinks about from time to time.

Well, the time came to get on the plane. He stood in line, waiting and waiting and waiting. He walked down the tunnel thingy and onto the plane. And he walked all the way back through this long 757 locating his seat two from the very back, 39C (at least it was an aisle). After he made his way to the seat he was greeted by one of the most awkwardly friendly persons. As he was still standing, making his way to be seated, the guy who would be his ride-along-companion for the three hour tour, reached out his hand and said "Hi I'm Caleb. I don't like to do this thing." This thing of course meant flying. "What's your name?" he asked.

"Me? I'm Dave" he said.

Within the first minute of being seated Caleb had asked him practically every conversation starter you could imagine. "Where you from?" "Where are you going?" "Have you lived here your whole life?" "Are you married?" "Do you have children?" A generous portion of diarrhea of the mouth was shared.

Finally Caleb charmed in...again, "I don't do this flying thing very well. I was schedule to fly yesterday but I freaked out so I got off the plane. I'm traveling to Buffalo, NY with a stop in Minneapolis/St. Paul. I just need to talk to someone for a little while to keep my mind off of all this. You don't mind do you? So what do you do?"

Oh no the dreaded, "what do you do" question. He hated that question and usually avoided it at all costs. There was a lot to do for his class, he had to complete some reading, another paper, yada yada. Anyway, he had for a moment recalled the previous things he was writing while waiting in the boarding area. Ya know, those things about knowing and being known, being held and hospitality...listening! sh#$

So out of his mouth it came, "I'm a pastor, a Lutheran pastor." Not quite loud enough for everyone to hear mind you, a little louder than say a whisper, but just loud enough for Caleb to hear.

"You're a pastor?"

"Yep" he said in a quick, don't-disturb-me-look-the-other-way-type fashion.

"Wow, I guess things will be alright now." he said with assurance.

"Yep" said Dave the gracious pastor, "everything will be alllllll right."

Once they took off the pastor guy pulled out his head phones, rather quickly if you can imagine, along with his ipod, and the book he was to read. He turned on the ipod and then sat back to listen and read. In a matter of seconds however, the battery light came on and said, "low battery" and proceeded to turn off. This didn't effect the gracious and loving pastor for a second as he continued to sit there anyhow reading his book, head phones on in clear view...without music. Ah yes, he did this for a good 20 minutes or so. Can you believe it?

THE END

So why do we write? Why do we brainstorm books to be written about grandiose ways of embodying life? What's going on inside of us that we need to get things out of ourselves...and for whom?

Miroslav Volf writes this about his own writing of books. "Most books I write, I write for myself, as a spiritual exercise." A little later writes saying "In the book (Exclusion and Embrace), I argue, among other things that we should embrace our enemies as Christ has embraced us. Well, an 'enemy' - a small one - arose in my life after I wrote the book, and I sense in myself the propensity to return in kind and exclude rather than forgive and embrace. And then I heard myself saying, "But you argued in your book...' It was like an academic's version of the still, small voice my wonderful and godly mother so often speaks about."

Ahh the ironic situations in which we find ourselves. Peace all.

Great Book!!! Go and Get It



I just completed one of my many books for class, one of the few I actually read. Nonetheless, this is a fantastic vision of a life in God for any individual/community to aspire to. As one who's been claimed as living in the "rainbows and lollipops world" I commend this book to you all, to any who may be listening out there. This book spoke profoundly to me of a life not merely theologized, but embodied spiritually, a challenge to those aspiring to a beautiful life.

Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace by Miroslav Volf.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Closing the Gap Between the Gathered and Scattered Church

One of the biggest complaints (as if there's only one, come on...) to church is the isolation aspect of those church goers. Ya know, the one singlemost segregated hour of the week where like minded people gather to hear stuff about God, exchange pleasantries, do some spiritual calisthenics and then go their various ways only to meet up again a week later.

But what about bridging this gap? What about integrating the gathered/scattered side of church? What would it look like for a church to simultaneously be both? What does it look like to listen to the voice of God as a gathered/scattered community? Could it be that the church gets to listen "with" others, culture/world, etc., instead of only having others listen "to" what the church dispenses? Could it be that God is simultaneously seeking to convert the church right alongside of the world in some greater sense for what God is up to in the world?

This is some of what we're experimenting with at the flagstaff abbey. And I'm talking in the gestation stage of things here...pretty fresh pups, if that. We're now meeting in a local bar, the green room. We're looking at having semi-structured thematic nights where missional aspects of God's world are heard, discerned, exposed, acknowledged and integrated into a curious setting for what God is doing in the world and how we are being called to become a part of a larger view of life ourselves. I especially invite you to check out our latest thoughts for what this community values by clicking down below at "Last Time at the Abbey".

The monastic life generally entails some semblance of silence. But I've been wondering if it isn't more about stillness...calming oneself down to the point of actually being present and attentive to other movements, other vibes, others reverberations. Obviously the silent thing is going to be a wee bit difficult in a bar. However, the stillness thing? Not so sure. With an invitation to hear things differently, especially in a different setting? What if becoming still ourselves for the sake of listening to something radically different and again, hearing it in a completely unexpected setting, sets up the stage for hearing differently, what could this do? to me? to others?

Who knows what's going happen with all of this. I certainly don't. But what I do know is I'm being called out to something new, and that there's a significant relationship to this gathering and scattering that hasn't quite been integrated in a way that is consistent with God's work in the world. What do you think?

Last Time at the Abbey

Follow the above link to hear what's been happening at the Abbey.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Catching Up with God's Expansive Movements

Recently I was asked, along with a friend, to lead a workshop at our regional church conference, i.e. synod (gathering) assembly. The challenge we faced was that we were given the title for the workshop without any involvement on our part ("Who are the Unchurched: New Models for Ministry") even as we were asked to write out the description which went something like this: "why are we getting the right answers to the wrong questions?" One of the wrong questions for me includes "how can we get more (young) people in the church?" People, and young people especially, are not some acquisition in need of possessing! Are they not already possessed by God? Hasn't God already redeemed the world? Isn't God in the process of redeeming (whatever that big religious word means) me too?

So at the assembly we decided to run the workshop more as a conversation. I don't think people got the point. We didn't spell it all out for people either, which, I'll go out on a limb here and say, is always good to make people think about and experience things differently. Most people however only think in predetermined programmatic terms that has some kind of pre-fixed infrastructure, which then requires the people, resources, etc. to be put in their place to run. But what if the program is the people engaging in a process, discovering as we go what this is all about and including more and more people to the discerning table of God's activity in the world?

It was my sense that not everyone got it. I think there was much more of a frustrating and dismissive tone around how we engaged. Everyone was looking for formulas, templates, these "new models", without any sense for the experience itself as the new model of engagement through listening and conversing with one another. What it seems that people desire most is some kind of an end rather than a process. There's no doubt that process makes people uncomfortable as it reveals less certainty about where we're going. And yet, what if the supposed "end" of this missional stuff is about how we are engaging in the journey rather than a nice and polished end? When we come to hear about a "new model" and expect it to be delivered and deciphered through the same means we've been familiar all along no wonder we have a hard time getting it or as Jesus might say, "let those with ears hear."

And so the challenge I face is not to seek to describe this thing (this thing as an expanded movement of God the church gets to be a part of) in words as much as to provide space for it to be experienced and allowed to emerge. Not too unlike an artist in process...the color pallet being all the resources God is redeeming to tell a story, to paint a picture, larger than any one particular area could do on its own. So if you can stand back far enough, watching and listening as the collage unfolds, can you actually begin to see God emerging? Calling us into something bigger than ourselves? Perhaps the new leadership style should be viewed more as an artist/muscian and less like a CEO or manager of a franchise.

The flagstaff abbey is looking at meeting downtown flag...it's about time! Church without walls here we come! We'll be meeting a local bar, the green room on Tuesday night. Martin Luther took music out of the bar and brought it into the church, i.e. worship. We're looking at taking the church out of a building, i.e. sanctuary, and taking it back to the bar, the contemporary social gathering to see what God could do to expose each of us, now I'm talking about me too, to a greater, more expansive view for what God is doing in the world. Just a thought: isn't this the very thing that Jesus embodied when "the word became flesh and tented among us?" I'm wondering and talking about helping to create space, an expanded notion of God-space, for a larger view of life.

So what will happen? I don't have a clue. I just know God is already everywhere and with everyone inviting us to get on board with what God is doing. Didn't Jesus help share this point by becoming one of us? I'm just trying to facilitate a community, belonging to God, where we can better and with greater perspectives, wonder how God is at work in the world and where we may be called to get involved too. I never liked the idea of going to church given the fact that "I am the church" someone once said. Instead I like this notion of being church in the world, exposing the place, movement, presence of God and listening to others for how they are hearing that movement too. Who knows, maybe the only young person to be "gotten" in this whole process will actually be me!

Friday, May 30, 2008

The World's Music as 'One'

Click above to read this article. You can also check the music examples by clicking the 'Listen Now' link too!

As I listened to this I couldn't help but to wonder what this could look like from an ecclesiological perspective. It reminded me of what we're trying to do at the abbey and what i hear going on in the emergent world...a sharing of the gifts to express something altogether different than exists in isolation from each other. The beauty of music as an exemplary metaphor for the gift of being 'one', WOW!

what do you hear?

praying reconciliation: pentecost 3

One: Gracious Father, we look around the world, and even into our own lives, and see the beauty of your creation from a fractured perspective. Much of life is like shifting sand, unsettled and unstable. Come Lord and speak to our lives, come and make a home within us.

Many: Lord God, give us eyes to see you in our daily lives, in the good and the challenging, so that our vision of your world, and presence within it, can allow us to be witnesses for you.

One: Lord Jesus, we are aware of the fragility of relationships, among spouses, children and parents, friends and even those who, as enemies, make it challenging for us to love and understand that we are worth being loved. We feel the disruption of these relationships in our lives and the pain goes deep.

Many: Forgive us for the times that our own words and actions create sinking sand pits within which others are consumed by the darkness of life. Give us patience to endure the words and actions from others who don't demonstrate your compassionate and forgiving ways. Give us the wisdom and courage to see ourselves as your children, worthy of love and life. Help us to build others up in the same way you build us up.

One: Holy Spirit, continue to breathe into our lives your fresh and uplifting power that we might be hopeful rather than cynical, understanding rather than judgmental, humble rather than haughty, and forgiving rather than contemptuous.

Many: Breath and Wind of God, it is a gift to be here today. To be reminded of how much you love us and continue to be present in our lives. Come and make your life in us as a rock upon which we can rest and from which we can serve with your love. Give to us the strength to be your people, a people of hope and forgiveness, compassion and mercy, generosity and love.

One: Community of God, it is God's desire to write his words of promise and life in your hearts and souls, to have them written on the palm of your hands as a reminder of how much and how often God is at work in your life bringing peace and reconciliation. And so trust God's word for you this day, 'My very Life is the rock upon which you can build your life. Come to me and make your home in me as I have made mine in yours.'

Many: Thanks be to God! Amen.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

embody it and they will be...coming and going in God


Missional ecclesiology is centered first and foremost in the nature of God. Churches attempt at surviving causes great anxiety and begins the anxious work at operational levels of function and organization. This is most notably seen through the adapted idea 'build it and they will come.' Many have the idea that if you create space, as if the beginning point is void of space, it will be filled, eventually. And in some sense I suppose it might. But the real question for us to wonder is what is it that is being built? Who's doing the building? Who's being built?

One of the challenges with the modern church, among other great gifts this expression has been, is that in many ways it sees itself as the builder, the operational manager making space for others to occupy. But again, first and foremost, it is the very nature of God that occupies the space already, at the center and who builds space for us. All for the sake of our own occupancy, IN GOD! It is built 'for me', space created 'for me' so I can both be affirmed in who I am as a child of God and challenged to 'change my mind' about things that aren't also IN partnership with GOD. This IN GOD stuff, or as Paul talks about it, 'in Christ', is what is being built. God's very essence of life lived out IN us as we gather together.

I'm convinced that healthy expressions of church, no matter what label or designation you want to give, will at their best be present to the One who is present to us. These communities will embody the very notion that God holds us so closely, dearly, intimately and tenderly, that by the very encounter and experience IN GOD, we will be affirmed and changed within. Whether its through a verbal confession or an intuitive 'yes, God is here, and I'm a part of God's life. Now breathe through me.'

There is a challenge we face in the life of being church between the tension of gathering and scattering as God's people. The way we attend to the relationship between these two the better off we will be in our efforts at 'being' the very people God intends us to be. It is not just in the gathering, nor in the scattering, but in the very dynamism occurring between the two. So we need to wonder and explore together, why do we gather? What do we do when we gather and why? And what does that allow us to do differently (in our scattering) than if we never gathered at all? I believe how well we attend to the very nature/being of who we are IN GOD and in conjunction with these thoughts it will appropriately and helpfully place us in the direction of embodying the way of Christ in the world. It is not an anxious way, but a peaceful one, at least in some way because God is the one who holds all of us and we, in our part, model a life of being held more than a life of holding, whether it be doctrinal, denominational or whatever.

Friday, May 23, 2008

cool jones quote:

"If you want to be a good archaeologist you have to get out of the library." ~Indiana Jones

Thursday, May 22, 2008

not another frickin' church!

That's exactly how I feel when I hear about another church start, another property purchased, a developer doing whatever they do to perpetuate themselves without any critical regard for why we are doing what we're doing. How's about we move from church starts to church ends. I mean the last thing the world needs is another church. Didn't Jesus come to do away with the in-a-box thingy? What the world could benefit from, and especially those churchy people within, is a new way of being church. There is a HUGE difference. That's exactly what we're up to at the flagstaff abbey, being church in a new way...through our differentiated unity, through a contemplative way into peace and reconciliation. Who knows, I'm not particularly interested in the grandiosity or even the aesthetically cutting-edge aspect of it all as much as an attempt to embody a new way, faithfully rooted with the ancients, while walking with some others today just to see what might happen. What if the very doctrine of the 'new kind of Christian' (to use McClaren's language) community was not in the propositions of faith we held, but in the way we celebrated being held? What if being held was about how we engaged with each other as if we, humanity, really mattered, had value, each of us and that God was in and around it all, creating something new? What if in our celebration of being held it also included other's ability to engage and change us? Could God be in the other, changing me, calling something vital in and from out of me? Give it up to God and say, here it is, here we are, broken, lonely, exhausted, take what you will, use us as we gather and scatter in your name and make it, us, your own.

prayer of reconciliation: pentecost 2

One: Gracious God, we gather this day to push back on the frantic pace of life, to make space for you to come to us, to speak to us regarding the life that belongs, not to ourselves, but to you, as has been spoken to us in Holy Baptism. We gather this day to put our lives into perspective in light of your presence with us.

Many: May our words spoken now be more than words on a page, but a prayer within. Come to us Lord and speak into our lives, lives that have been reclaimed by you for the sake of your Spirit’s home in us. We come to allow your voice and presence to give perspective to the priorities of our lives. Come and give us the wisdom and courage to hear you. Convince us of the value that each of us embodies because of your claim on us.

One: Lord Jesus, we hear challenging words this morning about regarding our value, our focus and priorities and how much you desire to serve and strengthen us in this life.

Many: Help us when we are more concerned about what we have, what we look like, and where we are going. Give us your peace to know that this life isn’t just about acquiring possessions, position or prestige, but about you coming to us in your words and in our neighbors. Restore us to a life that daily desires you, and that is free from the clutter and distraction of all we have and want.

One: We give you thanks Holy Spirit that God’s truth continues to blow in this place, a truth that helps us to realize ‘first-things-first’. Give us the ability to discern your Spirit’s calling into daily life and relationship with you.

Many: Forgive us for the times we want to control situations according to our own interests rather than as it might relate to the broader, common good of your community for the sake of your mission in the world. Help us not to worry about our life but to trust that in you, through prayer and discernment, we will reflect a life that is filled by you.

One: Community of God, just relax, and take a deep breath, all will be well. ‘Do not worry about your life., consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, it is not due to their own effort that they grow but because of their inherent life in the One who creates and sustains all things. You don’t have to be anxious about holding up the universe, God is already taking care of that…just trust God, for all will be well because, as God says, ‘I love you and care for you.’ In Jesus’ name we pray.

Many: Thanks be to God! Amen.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

playing "we"


This morning during the children's message i asked: 'what do we do when we come together every week?' Responses came...we praise, we talk, we pray. I said, 'ya know, the most important word in all of that is the 'we'. I had them look to this icon and asked them what they saw...'three people sitting at a table, God?'

I've been wondering all day around this spirit-of-the-moment phrase, that the most important word is the "we". The community of God makes space for us at God's table, no matter who we are...that as we are together God is present, the God-between, in and around our and all of life.

I can't help but to have a final thought on this eve of Trinity Sunday...the thought that what God is inviting us into in this life is a game, the game of "we". So who gets to serve first?

Friday, May 16, 2008

praying for reconcilation: Trinity Sunday




One: Heavenly Father, creator of all things, through your word you generate life and bring things into being that did not previously exist. Through your very being you begin a relationship with all of creation to couch your own generous life and reflect your beauty to the world.

Many: Forgive us when we constipate your life-giving efforts. Help us to see the goodness of life that you have created in us and in those around us that we might live with renewed eyes for your work in the world.

One: Lord Jesus, you are God’s sending gift to us in order that we might know God’s heart beats for us and for all those who are broken, exhausted, lonely and in need of joyful companionship.

Many: We give you thanks Lord Jesus that you heard God’s call to be sent to live among us and show us the presence of God at work in our world. Forgive us when we aren’t receptive to the ways you come to us. Help us to grow into the fullness of life that only can come when we are in relationship with you.

One: Holy Spirit, wind and breath of God, you continue the mission begun by Jesus to expose your Kingdom-life breaking into our world. You choose to blow through us to continue this work in your world, be with us and help us to attend to you.

Many: Help us to grow in our understanding for what it means to be your sent community to a world in need of your loving touch. Give us the wisdom, courage and openness to discern new ways you are at work trying to equip us to be your living body. Forgive us when we think we have it all figured out and when we no longer have to come to you for direction for how we are to move forward into your world.

One: Community of God, you are precious in God’s sight, honored and loved, ‘I have called you by name, created you as my child,’ God says. ‘Now GO…go forth into my world equipped in love, peace and reconciliation to encourage others in my way of life. Go!’…in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, GO! And remember, I am with you always.

Many: Thanks be to God, amen.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Monastic Method

Acts 17 has been swirling in my mind as I prepare to share some thoughts on May 15th for a proposed Flagstaff Abbey among partner churches. Paul goes into the marketplace noticing the religiosity of the crowd and that they've built an altar to an unknown God. In his usual argumentative/persuasive fashion he helps them to understand that this unknown God has a name and that it is Jesus Christ.

As I think about the possibility for this neo-monastic community I share Paul's courage to be present in the marketplace with all of who he is. He doesn't isolate himself from the world to engage in his faith, but comes to the very center of public life to offer another explanation, an explanation that the philosophers were all to welcome to receive as they were always open to exploring new information.

Celebrating Paul's ability to live faith publicly, but differing from his Socratic method of persuasive speech, what would it look like to substitute the monastic way? And again, differing from Paul's somewhat arrogance for certainty in truth, what would it look like to enter the marketplace with all of who we are, the best of our vulnerable selves, as pursuers of Truth ourselves, as those needing to be touched just as equally by God, as fumbling listeners and fractured lugs in need of God's healing touch? What would it look like that the emphasis is less on our own convincing words, but in yielding to a way, the monastic way of hospitality and humility? Instead of worrying about having to prove "God, Jesus' whatever to the world, what of allowing the proof to be our very lives lived seeking to be transformed and converted ourselves by each other? Could the humility that we are attempting to embody through centered song, word, and silence be enough of a witness to change hearts? And most of all, OUR OWN?

Then, and only then, maybe we'll have the wisdom and courage to discern where and how we need to have a voice and where we don't.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Now this is Good News I can get on board with!

WOW! I have never heard such a clear and profound understanding for the essence and task of evangelism as I hear articulated in this article from one of the brothers of Taize. You can get this and other great articles at this link, Taize articles.


What does it mean to evangelize?

In these days of marketing, we have learned to mistrust those who promise us good things. In this context, the New Testament verb “to evangelize” can frighten us. We are embarrassed to propose our faith to someone else, as if we were trying to sell something. And we are so deeply concerned to respect others that we do not want to give the impression of imposing our own ideas or to try and convince others. Especially when it is a question of a subject as intimate as trust in God.

But do we really know what the New Testament means by “evangelizing”? In Greek, the verb is used for the expression “to announce good news”: someone who is “evangelized” is basically someone who has been “made aware, brought up to date.” The verb can be used to announce a birth, an armistice or the inauguration of a new leader. It has no religious meaning in itself. And yet it was that word, almost too commonplace, that Christians used to describe the most precious aspect of their faith: the announcement of Christ’s resurrection. What is interesting is that, gradually, the word lost its complement. People didn’t say “make someone aware of Christ’s resurrection” but simply “evangelize someone.” This was obviously to save time, but that lack of a complement also has a deeper significance.

To proclaim the Good News of the resurrection is not, for Christians, to speak of a doctrine to be learned by heart or a piece of wisdom to meditate on. To evangelize means above all to bear witness to a transformation within a human being: because of the resurrection of Christ, our own resurrection has already begun. By his infinite respect towards those he encountered (visible through the acts of healing we find in the Gospels), by taking the lowest place so that no one would be lower than him (that is the meaning of his baptism), Christ Jesus restored worth and dignity to every person. Still more, Jesus was with us in death, so that we could be close to him in his communion with the Father. By this “admirable exchange” (Easter liturgy), we discover that we are fully accepted by God, fully welcomed by him just as we are. The Christians of the first centuries summed this up by saying, “God became man so that man could become God!” To evangelize thus does not mean in the first place talking about Jesus to someone but, on a much deeper level, making that person aware of the value he or she has in God’s eyes. Evangelizing means communicating these words of God that rang out five centuries before Christ: “You are precious in my sight, and I love you” (Isaiah 43:4). Since Easter morning, we know that God did not hesitate to give everything so that we would never forget what we are worth.

Can we “evangelize” someone while respecting his or her freedom?

Causing people to realize their worth in God’s eyes is not something optional. Paul even goes as far as saying, “Woe to me if I do not evangelize!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). For him, evangelization is the direct consequence of his attachment to Christ. Through his resurrection, Christ unites us inseparably to God. No one can ever again feel they are excluded from that union. And at the same time, humanity is no longer fragmented: since the resurrection, we belong to one another.

Still, the question remains: how can we communicate that news to people who know nothing of God and seem to expect nothing from God? First of all, by our personal attachment to Christ. Paul said, “You have clothed yourselves in Christ” (Galatians 3:27). Evangelization calls us to start with ourselves. It is first of all by our life, and not by words, that we witness to the reality of the resurrection: “To know Christ and the power of his resurrection and a sharing in his sufferings, coming to be like him in his death, so that [we] might finally attain the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11). It is by our assurance, by our serene joy in knowing that we have been loved from all eternity, that Christ becomes credible in the eyes of those who do not know him.

There are situations, however, when words are necessary. Peter puts it well: “Always be ready to reply to whoever asks you the reason for the hope which is in you” (1 Peter 3:16). Of course, speaking of an intimate love requires much sensitivity. And sometimes it is hard to find words, especially in situations where faith is brutally called into question. Jesus knew this well, and he said to his disciples, “When you are brought before (…) the authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you need to say” (Luke 12:11-12).

Because Christ clothed himself in our humanity and we have clothed ourselves in Christ, we should never be afraid of not knowing how to speak. In the Christian vocation of not choosing those they love, but of receiving everyone without discrimination, there is a generosity that is touching, and even more, that encloses someone in the life of Christ. In our capacity as servants, we share our garment with those we serve, a bit like Jesus who, when he washed his disciples’ feet, “took off his garments” (John 13:4). It is above all the disinterestedness of our acts that will speak for us; it will authentify the words we speak.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

prayer of reconciliation: easter 7

One: Lord God, this morning we hear a prayer from you Son on our behalf. What a gift it is to know you care so much for us, our life in this world with you and how we live it out. You are the essence of glory…light, peace, power and new life. May we honor your glory present in and through us.

Many: Forgive us when glory is more about our rise to position and prestige at the expense of others and when we diminish the presence of your glory finding its way out of us.

One: Lord Jesus, through your presence in our world you have brought a renewed understanding for the goodness of humanity and its essential worth. You have given us a new lens for knowing God through intimate and personal terms.

Many: Help us to move away from a knowledge of you that is more grounded in doctrine, and sophisticated words about you, than in an actual 'living-breathing' relationship with you, and the very way we love. Help us to make space to grow in you, that by being present with you, our knowledge of you can affect every decision and relationship we have.

One: Holy Spirit, author of the Church everywhere on earth, you give us the opportunity to celebrate the oneness of who you are with the world in the way we engage with one another. We thank you that care for this unity. We also recognize the challenging and fractured ways that it is often lived out.

Many: Help us to celebrate the differentiated unity we have in you. Give to us the ability to embrace differences in others while still learning to love. Help us to remember that our own unity is a result of the you, the one who hold us and keeps us throughout our entire lives.

One: Christ's prayer for us is that we might reflect this glory, knowledge and unity in him with the whole world. As God's people gathered together this day, know that you are loved and accepted for all of who are, and that because of this claim on your life, we have been given the opportunity to live freely, to love and to serve in Christ's holy name we pray.

Many: Amen. Thanks be to God!

~in conjunction with John 17:1-11

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

because church belongs to Christ and not me...

I want it to be of public record that those of different skin colors and heritage are welcome here.

I want it to be known that those who suffer from any kind of addiction (whether they are recovering or not) and their families are welcome here.

I want it to be known that women and children are welcome here and that they will not be harassed or abused here.

I want it to be public record that in this church you can bring children to worship and even if they cry during the entire service, they are welcome.

I want it to be known that those who are single by choice, by divorce, or through death of a spouse are welcome here.

I want it be known that if you are promiscuous, have had an abortion, or have fathered children and taken no responsibility for them, you are welcome here.

I want it to be known that gossips, cheats, liars, and their families are welcome here.

I want it to be known that those who are disobedient to their parents and who have family problems are welcome here.

I want it to be of public record that people of various sexual orientations and members of their families are welcome here.

Let it be public knowledge that we take seriously that all are simultaneously fractured and fabulous. The young and old, the rich and poor, all who recognize that life is not merely dependent on our own effort, but given and shared with each other and God.

Let us not condemn the world, but proclaim to the broken, lonely and hurting God's gift of reconciliation and peace.

May God give us the wisdom and courage to welcome and forgive one another as Christ has shown us this nature in the way of God among us.

(adapted from a guy, chuck hazlett who put this in his congregational newsletter)

If you're saying 'no duh!' to all this, good for you. These words need to be said, even more importantly...embodied, not merely by individuals, but entire communities because in the end, it seems to me, this is the way God makes space for us...all of who we are.

Monday, April 28, 2008

easter 6: prayer of reconciliation

One: Merciful God, we begin this first day of the week to be in agreement with you. "You are precious in my sight, honored and I love you" says God. And yet, a disparity still exists between the way you see us, the way you want us to build up each other and the way we actually live in relationship to you by the way we care or don't care for others.

Many: Make me joyful and proud when I love well and give me a conscience when my actions and words deny my neighbor the life that you intend.

One: Lord Jesus, we hear words this morning about loving as you loved us. If we're honest we have to say, like the disciples before us, that we too fall short in our ways of loving. Perhaps our own loving, or lack thereof, is connected to the depths of understanding how much you could possibly love us, a fractured and fragile people, who yearn deeply to be accepted for all of who we are.

Many: Help us to live into the fullness of your grace for us. Help us to know that we are more valuable than we could ever imagine, and that we have the capacity to do, in your holy name, the most remarkable 'life-giving' work.

One: Spirit of Truth, the gift of love you pass on from Christ empowers the fullness of humanity that God created. That Christ loves us means that his intention is that we too could become fully human through the way we reflect this love, even to those we hold in contempt. Give us the wisdom and the courage to embody this love, not simply with our feelings that change like the wind, but with our words that carry the power to raise to newness of life.

Many: We give you thanks that you have trusted even us to continue your ministry of love, reconciliation and peace. Give us the strength, compassion and understanding, when loving our neighbors, to realize the power and impact our own words and actions have. Help us to choose wisely your way of love and therefore become the transforming community of God you intend us to be.


One: God intends for us to live in the fullness of life which is the product of being loved well. Hear these words, again, from the One who loves you more than anything, "I have called you by name, you are mind, you are precious in my sight, honored and I love you. Now, love as I have loved you."

Many: Thanks be to God!

Can people MAKE time for God anymore?

I am amazed at the frantic pace of people these days. The church I'm serving is filled with over-worked, stressed out, over-programmed, dysfunctionally-driven and under-attended people strangled by these social knots. I often wonder if the exasperation I feel is connected to what is coming at me (of course my own stuff too, not to minimize that) through the parish...a people who are deeply depressed, tired, disconnected and numb. And then I think, how is church life really set up? Is it set up to allow people to thrive in what God would have us receive as REAL LIFE? I suppose at some level this is the constant juggling act of life itself, the balance of work and play, rest and responsibility. But is the church helping or hindering a full life in God? No wonder people hesitate getting involved if its all about perpetually serving on some committee until Jesus returns. What in the world have we made church into?

Where is the space to be silent? Where is the space to allow God to speak to us and communally so...to wonder together as God seeks to address us, without commentary from the expert? Is there another way for people to MAKE time for God that isn't consumed, or better yet, constipated by an institutional framework? Certainly God in God's almighty power can and does work through such institutional structures to be sure. There are even people who grow and flourish in such systems. I'm just wondering about another way that God might be wanting to connect not only to the non-confessional, but even more importantly to the confessional, who need to be jolted in new and fresh ways for listening how God is speaking and engaging in the world.

Perhaps we're losing, if not already lost in many ways, the essence for how God seeks to encounter us rather than how we, egotistically-driven or otherwise, want to engage God. What if God really wants to use difference and diversity as a lens for speaking more clearly to us for what he desires to create within and out of us? Today, how is this embraced and even practiced within the Christian faith short of elitist dialogues that happen in some aloof space far from daily living? And then, what are we to make of all of our differences denominationally? If difference again is key to the reconciling work of God, how are we in the life of church embracing this truth in such a way that we allow it to work on us? I'm not suggesting that we deny who we are, collapse our identities or differentiated expressions into some ecclesiastical homogeneity as the non-denoms do. What of allowing the differences to co-exist and allowing them to engage one another in a joint effort/effect of living out a faith in Jesus that celebrates these differences without trying to minimize them? What could it be for a community to embrace the idea that 'we shouldn't be surprised that we will come to different conclusions about the bible, faith, church and God, and that it does not disturb God as much as it does some of us'? What of a post-denominational community of God? Could this happen? And what could it look like?

What about an ancient way, a contemplative way...the monastic way.

This might be a viable option alongside the pantheon of others available. In fact I saw a glimpse of it when I recently visited the community of Taize, France last month. This monastic community prides itself on being an ecumenical community, living life together grounded in prayer seeking reconciliation and peace.

What would it look like for these denominations to come together in prayer, like the Taize community, to allow God to address all of us together in one setting? What would it look like from the stand point of a supposed 'outsider' to see people gathering who are not seeking to convert the outsider, but rather to be converted itself by the difference of each other, to learn this way of reconciliation by, with and alongside the other through prayer?

So, this is my newest, emerging (pie-in-the-sky) dream...to create an abbey, a Flagstaff abbey. I hope in the near future to invite and involve interested parties to the table for a conversation. Included are American Baptists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians to start.

Well, we'll see how it all goes and what God wants to do through it all...oh yea, and in the process, through me too.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

a challenging quote:

"The safest place for ships is in the harbor,
but that's not why ships were built."
-Anonymous

Now would this be more reflective of purpose, identity or both?

my emerging blog

It has been a long passion of mine to be an evangelist for the emerging church conversation, especially among friends and colleagues who have been seeking to understand it. I too must admit however that much of my own drive has been related to a deep ceded attempt to 'win over' those who would dismiss this approach to church as another faddish movement. Perhaps at some personal level what resonates in me is the need for reconciliation, to be in agreement with me, a yearning to be understood for who I am. And so my long attempts at explanation drive to figure out, help others perhaps, come to appreciate what I have come to appreciate in this thing. For me there is something deep and rich, highly contextualized within this whole emerging church conversation, that allows for a different expression of being church, different not better, than I have ever known. I feel that I have explored as experientially and theologically as I could have to this point, arriving at rich fountains of wisdom and knowledge for things emerging. I too wish to help to cultivate someday a community that reflects emergent values and beliefs.

This said however, I am emerging in my own 'blogosphere' right beyond perhaps what might be called 'emerging apologetics' and into a broader world of curious wonderment. So to grow into a deeper sense of freedom through curiosity and less defensive and argumentative posturing with the need to preserve or protect the emerging community from dismissal, I am having a repentant heart. My site will remain in joyful favor and celebration for things emergent but with hopes of becoming a more inclusive and playful discourse of all things created by God. A justification for a new format? No, just descriptive explanation of who I am and what I hear God calling out in me.

Cheers to all other curious and adventurous souls.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What's the point?

after blogging and blogging for several months i just got warn out. i took on a gig at a local church here in flag helping to serve as their transitional pastor. it's been good helping to facilitate church and all, bringing some insights from missional and emerging church ideas, but still i'm left a little dull inside. god is teaching me to love people and to be patient. no wonder our dog's name is patience. what i miss however about this blogging stuff is the creativity to wonder in new ways without judgment, or at least until your readership causes you to hesitate and compromise what you're truly feeling and thinking. for instance, on sunday as i was preaching i mentioned that Jesus works beyond Lutherans and that we are Christian first. I suppose this isn't quite profound, but does shake up a few of the old entrenched ones who have been Lutheran since conception. but along a different but somewhat broader note what of the idea that God isn't Christian? I mean is that really true? Can we say that we believe in a Christian God? You see for me, I can say that I'm a follower of Jesus and that my limited understanding of God is known, seen, experienced through the lens of Jesus. But to say that God is Christian is to pit this Christian God against all other adjectival expressions of God. What is interesting for me too is that many of my friends who dismiss church, but deeply believe in God, are much more quick to relax into this concept than those who have been lifers. Is this the Pharisaical stuff coming through? Is it a foundation that is afraid of being shaken for being cast into the abyss? And so what's the point of it all really? If we aren't given the space to wonder more deeply in and around who God is why even engage in authentic relationship with God. I love Rollins understanding of all of this critical reflection as determinative and responsive to the God who holds us. My critical stuff allows me to say I do love God because God gives me the freedom to explore who God is and who God is not. Today I'm insightful and a genius and then I read my writing tomorrow and I'm way off base and naive. What's the point of it all if we aren't allowed to enter into the mystery of God by challenging our own perceptions of who God is while trusting simultaneously that what is most important is God's holding of us rather than our holding, 'theologizing', of him. until next time...