Saturday, October 31, 2009

Toward a more responsible redemptive social action

Highlighted by O'Steven from John Hay, Jr., D. Min.


View of the problem - individual moral default
View of the person - moral bankrupt, "project", dependent
Position of the helper - benevolent evangelist, authority over
Nature of intervention - press for spiritual-based behavior adjustment in the dependent
Catalyst for change - conversion
Intended Result - Discipleship
Practices - preaching, teaching, mentoring, accountability
Where is God? Above
What is Salvation? non-material, transcendent
Community impact - individual lives positively impact the community indirectly


View of problem - individual & systemic default
View of person - client, dependent/codependent
Position of helper - professional caregiver
Nature of intervention - call for social-based behavior adjustment in client
Catalyst for change - connect to good resources, will power
Intended result - productive member of society
Practices - assessing needs, procuring entitlements, follow progress
Where is God? Aside
What is Salvation? social stability, relieved of social oppression
Community impact - self-sufficiency, independence impacts the community indirectly


View of problem - personal & relational estrangement
View of person - guest, gift-bearer, neighbor
Position of helper - host, toward mutuality
Nature of intervention - opens possibility for change within guest and host
Catalyst for change - sustained, respectful interpersonal interaction
Intended result - neighboring
Practices - making room, hosting, neighboring
Where is God? among
What is Salvations? realizing hope in relationship, emerging community
Community impact - interdependence between neighbors impacts the community directly

A Few Observations:

1. Hospitality offers a powerful "next step" for many faith-based initiatives struggling to breakthrough to more authentic relationships
2. Hospitality reframes redemptive social action away from specialization and professionalization while maintaining a highly disciplined approach
3. Hospitality is thoroughly Biblical in its grounding and Kingdom focused
4. Hospitality places confidence in the work of God the Holy Spirit to foster authentic relationships between guests and hosts
5. Hospitality creates a dynamic system of true freedom, clear boundaries, and mutuality among participants
6. A paradigm of hospitality is not easy to initiate and it is maintained precariously by constant reinforcement of its principles, practices and open conflict (not competition)

Misso Dei - "Mission of God"

Basilica Di S. Vitale - Byzantine Mosaic Ravenna, Italy circa 548

"As the Father has sent me, so I send you." John 20:21

Missional reorientation - the biblical message of mission is radical, and much more transforming that we have traditionally allowed it to be.....the church of Jesus Christ is not the purpose or goal of the gospel, but rather its instrument and witness.

Ecclesiocentric approach of functional Christendom - has made missions only one more of the many programs of the church and this church centered approach is alive and well in North American congregations - collecting funds and sending them off to genuine mission enterprises elsewhere - rather than viewing the entire congregational budget as an exercise in mission.

Reorientation of theology - has been necessary to help us see that the church is God's instrument for God's mission and the definition of "church" itself continues to present challenges as new faith communities form to prophetically challenge the dominant cultural dynamics and accept their vocation to proclaim the hope, the message and the demonstration of the inbreaking reign (Kingdom) of God in Jesus Christ.

Fundamental affirmations of this missional hermeneutic include:
  • a missional ecclesiology that is biblical where scripture functions authoritatively
  • a missional ecclesiology that is historical - is part of our catholicity (global universality) as we are guided by the church in all its cultural expressions, including those that precede us and those that are contemporary with us
  • A missional eccelsiology is contextual - there is only one way to be church and that is incarnationally, within a specific setting as the gospel is translated into surrounding culture
  • A missional ecclesiololgy is eschatological - the church and its doctrine is not static, but developmental and dynamic, moving toward God's promised consummation of all things
  • A missional ecclesiology can be practiced - and translated into action as the function of all theology is to equip the church for its calling to - "make disciples of all nations..."
Body of Christ - no accident that the church is called the "body of Christ" as it continues as an incarnate expression of the life of God...and no less than for Jesus, this necessitates that the church always takes particular form, shaped according to the context in which it lives....leaving the church never finished, settled or permanent incarnation...its vocation is to live faithfully, to the gospel in a fully contextual manner

Missional faith community - finds expression in a number of different organizational arrangements.....formations of particular communities began in Jerusalem, Samaria, Antioch, Asia Minor, Greece and homes, assemblies in rented halls, riversides or synagogues... with the ecclesial practices beginning immediately, and the structures for continuing Christian witness emerging, borrowing from the cultural context for regular meetings for worship, instruction, and mutual encouragement highlighted by diverse patterns of celebration.

Diverse structural forms - existed as these faith communities each embodied an expression of the one people of God formed by the Holy Spirit to be witness to Jesus Christ...and the structure of connectedness was likewise diverse but present in their common vocational calling.
The challenge is to enable the missional community to function faithfully in its specific cultural context with the structures incarnating the message in its setting.... "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:35

Reign of God - the church is the sign, foretaste, instrument, and agent of God's inbreaking Kingdom and the goal is to organize the church in ways that will enable it to "represent God's reign as its community, its servant, and its messenger." The church finds itself living out the tension between what God has already done and what God has promised to do...with a continual need for confession, renewal, and change.....a continual conversion of the church.

Apostolic instruction - church's task in every culture is to find the visible structural form that is worthy of its calling to be the witness to Christ in that particular place...a faithful response to the gospel, appropriation of the Spirit's empowering gifts for continuing ministry, and the dynamic translation of the gospel into the structure and functions of the community.

Basic form of particular community - is a gathering company of followers of Jesus called by God's Spirit and joined together as God's people in a particular place where this happens concretely in the joining together to worship, to grapple with the Scripture, to be instructed in the faith, to love each other, and to practice the rule of Christ corporately and individually.

Challenge - is to become a missional community, with continual reform and transformation and the resources of the Holy Spirit to guide ongoing structural innovation and to practice radical hospitality that welcomes into the centered community people who are at all stages of response to the gospel...not establishing levels of spiritual status or a spiritual elite.

Overarching sense - of church life is that of a pilgrim people, a movement toward God's promised fulfillment....and the community itself is continually being converted as it follows Christ. Membership can't be defined in terms of achievement, or completion, or having arrived...there is ongoing growth, and a covenanting process.

Calling at Pentecost - what Peter calls a "race, priesthood, nation, and people" (1 Peter 2:9-10), a worldwide multicultural fellowship of witness....a universal community of communities with the particular community in essence, an expression of the church catholic....a common bond, a relationship that is part and parcel of their vocation and their faithfulness.

Reformation - supplemented the "classic marks of the church" from Nicea in the 4th century, with its definition of the "true church" in terms of basic functions: where the Word is preached, the sacraments administered, and Christian discipline as adverbs rather than adjectives...the church's missional ministry is unifying, sanctifying, reconciling and proclaiming, with a focus on the dynamic work of God's Spirit in and through the church, rather than dwelling on abstract concepts defining the church.

Sent church - can't let the need to maintain itself organizationally eclipse the mission for which it is called and equipped - faithfulness to the original apostolic authority which means reconciling, sanctifying, and unifying ways it demonstrates the love of God through the rule of Christ.... further the catholicity, holiness, and unity of the church are rooted in and formed by its apostolicity.....these marks express the sent-ness of the church; they describe what this sent community does and how it does it.

Missional community - is catholic when its way of serving Christ is appropriate to the gospel, while modestly recognizing that it is not the only way to be a Christian community...its way of being contributes to the reconciling of the entire church by focusing on the center of the gospel: the person and work of Christ, the hope of the gospel, the promised inbreaking of God's rule already begun in the apostolic mission. God's Spirit (the Sanctifier) works through the community's witness to heal the broken creation, to extend the salvation that Jesus accomplished on the cross.

Holiness demonstrated - in the ways that it practices forgiveness, fostering healing and reconciliation, makes peace, loves righteousness, and walks in Jesus' footsteps...translated into concrete service to the poor, the marginalized, and those subject to injustice....the community makes holy as it lives out the gospel in all its organizational processes, internally and externally.

Servus servorum Christi - missional thrust of the covenant means that we understand ourselves as servants of our companions in the centered congregation....Jesus washing the feet of his disciples is the model of ministry for the covenant community....redefine oneself within the community as a "servant of the servants of Christ"

Missional ecclesiology - must clearly identify and resist all attempts to equip the church merely for its maintenance and must reject every proposal to restore the trappings and privileges of Christendom

Gospel of the inbreaking reign of God - must be upheld as the sole criterion of the particular and connecting structures of the church....that gospel requires of the church that it be open to surprise, to testing, to suffering, as well as to the blessing of joy and peace....

Highlighted from Missional Church - A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America edited by Darrell L. Guder

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thanks Marshall and Larisa !

Jenn, Kath, Steve and Ann in Campina, Romania - We miss you already !

Worlds Oldest Republic - San Marino

Marshall and Larisa McKenna enjoy the view of San Marino, the worlds oldest and smallest sovereign and constitutional republic founded on September 3, 301 by Saint Marinus. The government of San Marino made United States President Abraham Lincoln a honorary citizen. He wrote in reply, saying the republic proved that "government founded on republican principles is capable of being so administered as to be secure and enduring."

OPEN HAND - Emerging Community Themes

OPEN HAND International Christian Community 1997 -2009

Emerging Themes that have been woven into the DNA of our global community structures:

1.) Intentional Faith Community: Emerging Church
2.) Social Business Network: For-Profit/Not-for-Profit Sustainable Businesses
3.) Missional Faith Community: Global Apostolic Missions


Question: "What happens when you meet postmodern Italians in a dark alley?"

Answer: "They offer you a deal you can't understand."

Check out Carl Raschke and his book The Next Reformation on postmodernity.


"The key question that Christianity helps us answer is not 'Is there life after death?', but rather, 'Is it possible to have life before death?'" -- Peter Rollins

So be it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Holding my tongue...for four weeks???

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend my first Friday morning prayer session at Flanders yesterday. I was only able to stay for 30 minutes, but it was a meaningful start to my day. For anyone who has not yet been, I encourage you to force yourself out of your cozy bed while it's still pitch black outside, step your feet onto a freezing floor and make your way to an even colder Flanders (do they even have heat there???). Thanks to Scott, there was some warm coffee I wrapped my hands around to keep my fingers from suffering hypothermia.

I digress....after some readings, prayer and communion, I took Scott's advice and decided to participate in the great bowl challenge (not sure what it's really called but this is what I'm naming it). If you've been to prayer, you know what I'm talking about; and if you've participated in this specific activity, you know why I call it the "great" bowl challenge. My challenge for the month is indeed great - and don't worry, I won't let myself off the hook just because I received it on Oct. 16. I will continue to grapple with it through November 15 at 7:30 a.m. - 744 hours to be exact with approximately 496 of them waking hours (but who's counting?)

Here is the spiritual discipline I was led to pick up: "Seek to go an entire month without gossiping, slandering, or putting down another person." Until you're faced with this challenge, I don't think one realizes its difficulty and just how often your tongue slips into "gossip mode..." especially if you work in an office setting where not everyone agrees with the boss's management style.'s to four weeks of holding my tongue. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Josh sends greetings to Romania

Unell and Josh at the Mana Deschisa campus.

Excerpts from Josh's recollections of his time in Romania with Marshall and Mana Deschisa:

"I was at my parents the other day and somewhat cursing the black walnuts that unpredictably fell on my car when parked in the driveway. The tree only looks like a green, healthy tree a month or so of the year. The rest of the time it looks on the verge of dying as its leaves are half-brown and appear to be hanging on for dear life. The nuts come falling in autumn and they are encased in a hard casing that stain your hands if you touch them. The beauty of them, however, is that walnuts are considered a 'super-food', one of God's best creations for feeding us Mid-
West folks. Super high in protein and omega 3 fatty acids, along with being good source of vitamins B,E and magnesium.

It really makes me glad and excited when people I know are going to visit Marshall and experience Open Hand Romania. It oft feels like another lifetime that I was there five (or more ?) times. It also makes me think of guys like Unell (who I often forget the names of), who is in the picture I've attached. He is a guy who has a pretty awesome conversion-process. I'm not sure if he is with Open Hand anymore but if so, please tell him Peter Reynolds and I said "Buna!" As for the walnut tree, it was in thinking about Unell that made me reflect upon that difficult, but beautiful tree. Marshall has spent the past 12 years recognizing the 'walnut trees' in Romania. I love that about him and think I share a bit of it with him. My dislike of roses is connected to this, for they are so easily recognized as 'beautiful', yet really have much less to offer than those awkward walnut trees. Marshall has recognized the streets of Romania as the tree that litters its walnut seeds about and knows that the messiness of handling them is so, so worth the effort. Unell is one of God's best creations, I believe.....

Have a phenomenal trip and I look forward to hearing about it when you return,

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

OPEN HAND - Intentional Faith Community

Open Hand USA is an emerging catholic, missional and monastic faith community: 1997 -2009
Affiliates: Australia -Holland - Kenya - Norway -Romania -USA

Catholic implies a post-Reformation ecumenical embrace of the church in its numerous world wide expressions.

Missional can be summarized by a global focus on the good of the cosmos (world) with a desire to work for God's Kingdom in transforming love for all creation.

Monastic informs us of the ancient rhythms of intentional community and spiritual disciplines woven into the fabric of our relationships.

Emerging means just what it says - an ongoing process of discovery and formulation as we are continually informed and often surprised by what God is doing here and now in our journey of faith as an intentional community in Indianapolis.

C.S. Lewis reminds us that .....we are forbidden to neglect the assembling of ourselves together. The Church is the Bride of Christ and we are members of one another. As Christians we are not called to individualism, but to membership in the mystical body. The very word membership is of Christian origin, but has been taken over by the world and emptied of all meaning. Today it refers to "members of a class or group" and this definition that stands for "particulars included in a homogeneous structure", is almost the opposite of what St. Paul meant by "members". Club membership consists merely of "units", not anything in the Pauline sense.

We can see how true membership in a body differs from inclusion in a collective by looking at a family. The grandfather, the parents, the grown-up son, the child, the dog and cat are true members in the organic sense precisely because they are not members or units of a homogeneous class. They are not interchangeable and each person is almost a species in themselves. If you subtract any one member from the family you have not simply reduced the family in number, you have inflicted an injury on its structure. Its unity is a unity of unlikes, almost of incommensurables.

Inherent in this kind of unity is a richness, a diversity and extreme differentiation of persons in harmonious union which we know intuitively to be our true refuge both from solitude and from the collective. This is real organic unity. The society into which the Christian is called is not a collective but a Body. It is in fact that Body which the family is an image on the natural level. Membership in this body is not a massing together of persons, because at the threshold we discover that the head of this Body is so unlike the members that we are summoned from the outset to combine as creatures with our Creator, as mortals with immortal, as redeemed with sinless Redeemer.

The sacrifice of selfish privacy which is daily demanded of us in the Body is daily repaid a hundredfold in the true growth of personality which the life of the Body encourages. Those who are members of one another become as diverse as the hand and ear. Obedience is the road to freedom, humility the road to pleasure, unity the road to personality. Our structural position in the Church which the humblest Christian occupies is eternal and even cosmic, and the Church will outlive the universe - everything that is joined to the immortal head will share his immortality. The collective is mortal, the individual shall live for ever. Amen

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

12 October 1492

"I went to sea at an early age, and there I have continued to this day; the same art inclines those who follow it to wish to know the secrets of this world....I have sailed everywhere that is navigable...Our Lord found this my desire very proper....He opened my understanding with his hand, so that I became capable of sailing from here to the Indies, and He set fire to my will to carry this out, and with this fire I came to your Highnesses." Columbus to the King and Queen of Spain

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Leadership,Imagination & The Spirit of Adventure

"Consider," he said, "that you, as young architects are to be the pattern givers of civilization... you must be the way showers. As no stream can rise higher than its source, so you can rise no more or better to architecture than you are. So why not go to work on yourselves, to make yourselves in quality what your would have your buildings be?" Frank Lloyd Wright

Sunday, October 4, 2009

28 Years later - October 3, 1981 - October 3, 2009

Love you lots! The wife of my youth - Ann, and our offspring - Nick, John, Peter, O' and Annie! As usual, your assignment is to stay out of control and go out in life and have more fun than you should....enjoy the challenge -cheers, DAD

Friday, October 2, 2009

Rabbi Jesus

"Define the hell out of yourself, or someone else will...." Rabbi Ed Friedman

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap: An Icon for Meditation

The imagery of this icon draws on Aboriginal cave/rock art from ancient times. The Aborigines would put red dirt in their mouths and place their hands on a rock or cave wall and then spit on their hands until an outline remained of their hand. Much like graffiti is used by gangs today, the hand image would mark a territory for a certain tribe or group.

The interesting thing about this image is that it is not a drawing of a hand. The negative (pink) space forms the recognizable shape around the hand. We recognize the form of a hand in the “gap”.

The concept for meditation here is to take the original Aboriginal idea of the hand marking off territory and turn it inside out. At certain times in our lives, we aren’t as concerned with what we own and where we are, but where we’re going. I think the first prayer that pops into our minds is, “God, show me what to do and where to go.” Often a holy silence follows this prayer. At times, it can feel like there’s no response to this prayer. It seems like God could use a hearing aid. Maybe we didn’t word our prayers correctly. Maybe we’re on the wrong path and can’t even remember the way back to the path we branched off. Maybe the prayer is just us talking to ourselves.

What if we had the eyes to see the “gap”? Maybe God isn’t going to show you where to go and what to do, but maybe in your daily life you can see a void of love, peace and compassion in family and friends’ (even strangers’) lives. These are the areas that are crying out to be filled with the goodness of his kingdom. These are the shadowed areas that are in need of light. In this sense, the ability to “mind the gap” is a gift given to us—the eyes to see and the ears to hear a void that is calling out for the goodness and love of Christ. Therefore, “minding the gap” is the ability to see an area of need and acting on that need. Maybe then we can begin to see where our hand—a part of the body—fills in the void. We can then claim this small area for the kingdom.

So, if you are at a point in your expedition where you’re uncertain of which path to take—remember to “mind the gap”. It is one strategy for determining the way forward.