Friday, September 05, 2008

CCDA and Theology Pub

As summer draws to a close and we get back into our "serious" lives, we have some very exciting opportunities to get together and build our community by teaching and learning from one another.

You've already heard about the up/rooted discussions taking place on September 17 and 23 and the free workshop on October 18.

We've also just confirmed a Theology Pub, hosted by Nadia Bolz-Weber, who I met recently when she was in town for a conference. I want to say that she's an amazon of energy, passion and charm and I REALLY hope she takes that in the best possible way. :-) She's from House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Co. and the author of Salvation on the Small Screen? 24 Hours of Christian Television.

It takes place on Sunday, November 2 from 6 to 8 at the Bar Louie on Printer's Row, which is 47 W. Polk St in Chicago. There will be beer. And God. And brains. Not zombie brains. Talky brains.

Because joining her are all of her famous author friends:

Pete Rollins - How (Not) To Speak of God and The Fidelity of Betrayal: Towards a Church Beyond Belief
Becky Garrison - Rising From the Ashes: Re-thinking Church
Doug Gay - Alternative Worship: Resources from and for the Emerging Church
Nannette Sawyer - Hospitality: The Sacred Art
Ryan Bolger - Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures

You have one of these books. If not, get one. Bring it to be singed. Or signed. Or just bring yourself. It'll be great.

On a more get-out-of-town vein, wouldn't it be nice to visit Miami as it starts to get colder but before all the snowbirds settle themselves back in their nests? How about the end of October? The 22nd to the 26th to be exact? It happens to be my birthday on the 25th so if you happen to be in Miami at that time, you can . . .you know . . . give me a present or something.

But why would we both be in Miami at the end of October?

The Christian Community Development Association (CCDA), that's why. Some of you know that I found my way to the emerging movement from the social justice direction, having grown up visiting Lawndale Community Church and Mendenhall, MI through my parents' involvement from a young age. (Those are the incarnational ministries of Wayne Gordon and John Perkins, respectively.) CCDA is a community of folks who have moved into or moved back into the most forgotten neighborhoods in our country to be more like Jesus by surrounding themselves with the poor and working on their behalf. These are some amazing folks who have doing this for 30 years. Emerging folks have a lot to learn about authenticity and love from their experience.

The conference in Miami is one of the least expensive conference of it's kind at only $80 for students and $155 for everyone else. This year, Brian McLaren is one of the key-note speakers, so we're really trying to make emerging folks away of this really amazing experience.

Please check out the conference website for more details. I listed some of the break-out sessions that you might be interested in below. Thanks for reading this far. I'm so excited to get back in the swing of things again.

Go Gently,

Jesus for President

A workshop to provoke the political imagination.

Shane Claiborne

Saturday, October 25

3:00pm - 4:15pm

Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers

Prayer is not so much about convincing God to do what we want as it is about convincing ourselves to do what God wants us to do. Through exposition of biblical prayers, Shane and Jonathan provide concrete examples of how a life of prayer fuels social engagement and the work of justice.

Shane Claiborne & Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

Thursday, October 23

3:00pm - 4:15pm

Pre-emptive Peacemaking

Conflicts arise in the context of individual and group stories. Most conflicts fit in a handful of story patterns. Jesus told and lived an alternate story that redeems these other stories.

Brian McLaren

Saturday, October 25

3:00pm - 4:15pm

Urban Monasticism in the 21st Century

This session will address the critical place of the Desert Father of North Africa and a contemplative spirituality to building effective church communities in Western urban culture today. We will consider the radical power of silence, solitude, and a "Rule of Life" to slow both us and our people down. Moreover, we will consider its long term impact on our community development efforts today.

Pete Scazzero

Thursday, October 23

3:00pm - 4:15pm

Global Shalom: Not just for us

This workshop focuses on the reality that a peaceful and just existence cannot be experienced by only one portion of our world's population. In order for there truly to be Shalom, it cannot be limited to one nation, one ethnicity or one religion.

Brandon Sipes & Curt Luthye

Saturday, October 25

1:00pm - 2:15pm

Uniting and Mobilizing the Church to End Poverty

Fighting poverty has become a test of our faith and a social justice imperative of our time. Today the number of Americans living in poverty is almost identical to 1968, the tragic year Dr. King was assassinated. Since this tragic turning point in history, our nation has experienced 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, lacking both the bold leadership and national resolve to redress the root causes of poverty in America and around the world. This workshop will explore how you can best engage and mobilize your church and community to put the issue of poverty on the top of the national agenda and hold elected officials accountable to a bold anti-poverty agenda. The workshop will also provide practical ways to unite and engage your church in advocacy that addresses the root causes of poverty in America, including through the Mobilization to End Poverty on April 27-29 2009.

Adam Taylor

Saturday, October 25

3:00pm - 4:15pm

Militarism & Poverty: The Cost of War

Four decades ago, King spoke prophetically to the inextricable relationship between America's militarism, and the plight of its poor. As the current war approaches a trillion dollars, it's imperative that the Church examine this costly and egregious relationship, and seek to bear witness to God's shalom in the world today.

Craig Wong & Bob Kaiser

Saturday, October 25

1:00pm - 2:15pm

Prayer, Peace and the Poor

We will be talking about the importance of prayer (individual and corporate) when serving the poor. We hope to show how prayer and practical service filled with love and mercy will lead toward peace - with ourselves, our clients, our neighbors and our community.

Hector Alicea & Chris Ramsey

Friday, October 24

3:00pm - 4:15pm

Organizing Faith Communities for Environmental Justice

Lisa Sharon Harper and Rachel Anderson will share the story of how these sister grassroots urban movements came to be and what they are doing to organize faith communities for environmental justice. Motivated by the theology of Shalom, New York Faith & Justice is collaborating with faith communities and grassroots environmental justice agencies in New York City to organize a faith-based movement for environmental justice. The Boston Faith and Justice Network is equipping a rising movement of Christians committed to raising awareness and pressing for environmental sustainability for the global poor, starting with fair trade. There will be time for questions and answers.

Rachel Anderson & Lisa Harper

Friday, October 24

3:00pm - 4:15pm

Thursday, September 04, 2008

God's Official Political Party

Over the past few weeks, my daily personal experience in listening to God speak through the Bible has uncovered a great deal about national leadership. Most of my encounter with the Bible over this time has centered-in upon the lives and leadership approaches of two kings—a man named Saul and another one named David who both led the nation of Israel over 3000 years ago.Of course, I’d be the first to recognize that the political environment they lived in and the one we see in our own culture are two very different worlds. Saul never had to get elected and David never ran a TV campaign ad. Neither of them had to come up with a catchy slogan or pick a vice-king for their administration’s ticket. They didn’t arise out of political parties or ever experience tracking polls. CNN and Fox didn’t exist—so the scrutiny on these leaders was of a whole different sort.All that being said, these recent biographical studies in Israel’s first two kings have been a profound help to me as a backdrop to what’s going on in our culture today. (Remember the old saying: Fail to learn from history and you’re doomed to repeat it.) For the first time in my lifetime, the political world is touching full force on things beyond legislation, policy, and political platforms. The societal and spiritual ramifications of this year’s election are obviously higher than I can recall. Faith—a once taboo topic in the American cultural dialogue—is now very much at the center of the conversation. The issue of race is one of the driving forces behind the choices Americans face. Gender is a chief point of discussion. Generational issues form debate lines as to what is better—older ways or newer approaches. Even the political parties themselves—while seemingly energized—are at a crossroads since unquestioned party loyalties have almost become a total thing of the past. (This is a good development in my opinion, by the way.) People seem to be making choices less because of a party label and more because of what a candidate or movement represents in belief, conviction, and character. (Insert your own “No Duh, that’s the way it’s supposed to be” reaction to all of this.)In Saul and David's cases, neither were Republican, Democrat, independent, or Green. Both of them entered their role in national leadership like rock stars. (Sen. Obama wasn’t the first.) Both of them were bold mavericks (Sen. McCain wasn’t the first.) Both of them began their leadership roles at young ages. (Gov. Palin and Sen. Obama weren’t the first.) Both of them were war heroes. (Sen. McCain wasn’t the first.) Both of them were swept into power because of the people’s concern over national defense. (Sen. Biden and Sen. McCain weren’t the first.) Both of them started out quoting the ancient sacred Scriptures as a guiding force to how God held a leader and their nation responsible for living inside His ways. (God's ways pave the pathway to the best versions of our lives and our nation. Both Saul and David were anointed as a savior of sorts to a nation in profound turmoil. (Sound familiar?)In 3000 years since the two kings, some things haven’t changed. While we are seeing history in the making here in 21st-century America, it’s not new stuff. America is just following the generational trajectory of what happens when cultures make right or wrong choices about what's most important. We feel it currently only because this kind of reality has always existed in human affairs. You see, when things feel not-quite-right in the lives of everyday people just like you and me, we begin looking for a leader to march us out of the morass that will engulf us if we don’t move out soon.Neighbors, we’re at a cultural crossroads today. Our tenuous dependence upon the resources of those who don’t love us out in the wider world make some of us nervous. Our fears that our planet's ecological sustainability is deteriorating as we speak because of the speed of our culture lead us to a crossroad. Race and gender realities are no more removed from the national soul today than in the intense days of the Civil Rights movement. We just use a different language about it all, today. The involvement of the faith community within the public square is at stake. We are not at a Democrat vs. Republican crossroad. We are at the crossroads of who America is going to become. As a pastor, I don’t say this to scare or for the purpose of hyperbole, but to simply state a truth.The two different leadership trajectories of Saul and David led their nation to two drastically different outcomes. Saul was a miserable failure--a man who relied upon his own wisdom and strength--and ended up destroying the most sacred values of that people. David--albeit an imperfect man--restored the things that were most sacred to God and the people. And brought that nation and culture into a whole new reality—even adding immeasurably to the moral and cultural beauty and traditions that he had been handed at birth. He made his world better because God was free to shake him up inside of the inner world of his soul.Just moments before David’s meteoric rise to leadership would begin, the Scriptures explained what the most critical ingredient inside a person is such that GOD IS FREED TO CHANGE THE WORLD THROUGH THEM: “Don’t judge by appearance or height…the Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but THE LORD LOOKS AT THE HEART” (1 Samuel 16:7—nlt).The heart.A leader’s heart. A nation’s heart. YOUR heart. And mine.This year’s election represents something deep and important about our culture—but only because it represents something deep and important about you and me. And that’s not a political reality—it’s a soulful one.Who are you becoming? Who is your family becoming? What kind of culture is Mokena fashioning in our classrooms, bedrooms, halls of justice, and churches...on park benches, judicial benches, and the athletic benches of our children? Who are we becoming? What are we calling important that really doesn't matter? What are we ignoring that will save us from becoming one more culture among many who litter history books with their slow demise instead of becoming "a city on a hill"? WHO ARE WE BECOMING?The voting booth in November won’t determine the final answer to these questions—you and I will. God looks at the heart of things—so, then, so should we. Imagine a political party built on the platform of the heart. God's heart. That's where God establishes His party.More to come on this…
RECAP of AUGUST meeting

Up/rooted.west met at Randy Harper's house on Tuesday August 5, just before Mike and Julie Clawson packed up to leave for Texas. We so greatly appreciate what Mike and Julie have meant to us over the past few years. They have exerted much effort (and lost much sleep) in order to help move forward the emerging church discussion, to network many sojourners with other travelers on this journey, as well as introduced difficult, but important questions for Christ followers to reflect and act upon. Thank you and keep it up! Let us know how we can encourage you!

The topic for our last meeting was the relationship of poverty and the poor to Christ's ministry and the gospel. We read chapter 3 from the book "Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger", by Ron Sider, a long-time Christian activist for progressive issues. This chapter asked the basic question of whether God has a preference for the poor and it delved into what Christ's ministry and message have to say about poverty and issues of justice. We had a lively discussion that started off as we related our own past experiences of what we've heard preached in our Christian communities and commonly held Christian views (assumptions) related to poverty. We shared our experiences of reaching out to others in need, while also distinguishing between the more common practice of charity versus justice while truly seeking to know and understand the poor we come across. A common theme of the discussion related to the lack of voice and the sense of powerlessness that those in poverty feel. There is also a great need to participate in empathic listening of the stories of those struggling in poverty, entering into a two-way transformational relationship. We must recognize that we are capable of having a "God-complex" when we do charity or extend mercy and act justly and to think it is our job to "save" the poor; rather, we are called to love – in words and actions – this looks differently in every context.

We also spoke eagerly of our desire, as a group, to seek opportunities to put what we discuss and learn into action in future up/rooted.west gatherings – which is why for our September meeting, we'll be combining further discussion on poverty with a 1 hour serving opportunity at Feed My Starving Children (more info below).

NEXT MEETING – Tuesday, September 23, 7pm
Discussion & Serving at "Feed My Starving Children" – FMSC – a non-profit organization in Aurora that ships food around the world to starving children.

Meet up at Caribou Coffee at 7pm sharp, near the intersection of Ogden and North Aurora Rd., then we'll carpool together to FMSC.

OCTOBER Meeting – Saturday, October 18th - 8:30 am – 2pm
FREE Workshop held at Sacred Heart Monastery in Lisle, IL (On Maple Ave just West of Rt 53)
"Living Ordinary Life with Extraordinary Love"

Experience the goodness of Benedictine life, a workshop for men and women of all ages and put on by the Benedictine sisters of Sacred Heart.

St. Benedict wrote a set of guidelines or a Rule, about 1500 years ago that has guided monastic life for men and women across the ages. Today, there are monastic and new monastic communities following his rule, as well as Protestant monasteries following these guidelines.

Come find out what these ancient practices have to do with the future of Christ followers living in community – city community, suburban community, apartment community –anywhere!

To Register: send email to up/rooted (link in the sidebar) with your name, address and phone# - that's all!

Schedule of the Day:
8:30 am Registration, Coffee & Rolls
9 am Lectio Divina – Reading and Praying with the Sunday Gospel
9:15 am Sharing about Lectio
9:45 am Benedict and his values
10:30 am Tour of the monastery
11:30 am Eucharist
12:00 Lunch (no cost – will be provided)
12:45 pm Outdoor walk – Leisure with God and nature on beautiful monastery grounds
1:45 pm Applying Benedictine Life in the every day world
2:00 pm Conclusion