4.30.2010

Just in time

Acts 13:13-25

Reading Paul's litany of God's faithfulness to God's people reminds me how good God is at giving us what we need, and when we need it. Not what we want, when we want it.

From patriarchs like Abraham and Moses, through judges and kings, to a Messiah...with some prophets thrown in along the way to spice things up...to apostles and missionaries and even persecutors and benefactors (such as the elector who protected my ancestor Martin Luther), and on through the parents, teachers, pastors and saints who transmit faith to us today, God has established a true apostolic succession, and unbroken chain of witnesses sent out from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. When Israel needed wisdom God sent judges, and when the people needed to be reminded of God's desire for them, prophets brought a word from the Lord. When I need to go deeper God sends a spiritual director; when I need company on the journey God provides a community. Providence, just in time.

I'm in DC for the TransFORM gathering of missional practitioners. I have been wrestling with the weight of the institutional church of late. Now I am about to be in prayer and conversation with kindred spirits, fellow travelers on the road outside the box. coincidence? I think not.

This is how we know God goes before us, even when we can't see a pillar of fire: We get exactly what we need. Just in time.

4.19.2010

What is emerging in the church?

The Sarcastic Lutheran posted a response this morning to a synchroblog on the question "What is emerging in the church?"  Its a question we at Kairos have been exploring throughout our three-plus years together, and one that's been on my mind of late.  So I'm going to jump in and crash the party!

What's emerging?

Life together. ... Community is about finding companions for the journey, not neighbors for the pew. We're looking for people who are there for us, living icons of the Christ who is always with us. We want to learn from each other, lean on each other, be there for each other,  it's not about another place to put on a "got it all together mask." At Kairos we value community time along with worship, because relationships grow and serious faith questions are wrestled with as deeply (if not more so) around the dinner table as in worship.

Practice in imperfection ... Faith should be a way of life, not a set of rules or a catalog of beliefs.  It's harder than don'ts... Faith gives us do's: the way of love, mercy, healing and justice modeled for us by Jesus.  But not as a ladder to climb to God, rather as a bridge to reconcile with our neighbors.

Creativity ... More and more I run into people who, like me, yearn to express their questions and their love for God in our own words ... In questions, and our stories, and prayers and liturgies.  Eventually we would like to worship mostly in our own words and images, but for now we blend our own ideas and resources from contemporaries in many traditions along with ancient litanies and creeds.

Collaboration ... Lets face it, there are serious fractures in the church. Yet there is an emerging willingness to put common commitments as followers of Jesus ahead - or at least on a par - with our differences.  Yes, in some cases the differences are becoming more loud and militant. Then there are churches like the ELCA which are becoming ecumenical bridges between communions that don't connect directly, and the emerging conversation has opened up dialogues between mainline, evangelical and global churches.  Denominations may well become less important as organizing structures, but have an important role to play guarding the treasures of their theological and spiritual traditions and forging new generations of ecumenical partnerships.

Engagement ... The disconnects that allow Christians to stay cloistered in a faithful bubble while ignoring the world outside their doors are being pieced back together.  Serving -- particularly feeding people in our neighborhoods -- is a hallmark of our community.  Many of us have spent time in churches where the busyness of administering the church, planning worship, paying the bills, etc. took priority over serving, so our church-without-walls has intentionally tried to balance enlightenment with engagement.

Formation ... In an age of instant consumerist gratification, we're learning that there are no quick solutions for spiritual formation.  Our vision is to welcome anyone and offer opportunities for those who want to go deeper.  And we include children in the main gathering rather than segregating them out for "education," because the lesson of being with their parents as they discuss, wrestle and worship is a lesson no other teacher can provide.

Fun ... One of our core values at Kairos is having fun with our faith.  We don't take ourselves too seriously -- we can celebrate, lament, serve, pray and journey together with the joy that comes knowing that God is with us in everything.