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