I’m inspired this morning by Ted Gossard on slowing down. He talks about “the Word of the Lord” (a phrase for you fellow post-charismatics) to most of us being, “whoa” or some variation of “slow down.” Our tendency is to run ahead, set our strategies, and work them relentlessly (though perhaps not tirelessly). Perhaps in the process, even when we’ve not lost our way completely, when we’re just a bit disoriented, we still tend to plod along without further evaluation. Transparently, Ted writes,
I’ve been pretty much too busy to read or write for the past …almost two weeks now. As my friend Bill Kinnon mentioned, the project that’s had me snowed under for that period of time has been the redesign of the Allelon website. There are a few bits and pieces yet to come and some small tweaks to be made, but there it is in all its glory! I came into the project at the 11th hour when most of the design was done, but as Bill mentioned it’s been a large amount of work by a small number of people. The new site is much easier to navigate, and I found all sorts of things that I’d never seen on the old site… and that’s without even browsing through all the articles. We updated some site content today, including a new article by Sally Morgenthaler and a video report from Seabeck and our Missional Order conversations this past October. You’ll find me talking in the video… but that’s not the best part of the eleven-and-a-half minutes. Bill spent a lot of time editing today, and he did a great job… he left me asking, “So, when is the next gathering?”
(RSS readers can click through to this post to view the video.)
I’ve been writing a fair bit on themes around a missional order since Seabeck. Anyone new to this blog might think I write on little else, but this is simply a current theme… we’ll be onto other matters soon enough, though this one is quite unlikely to be left behind entirely. I
talked a little bit about the daily office and its relation to liturgy already, but the whole subject of the daily office is one that I’ve been encouraged to write about a little more.
For those who are less familiar with the whole subject, there’s a fairly long-ish Wikipedia entry for Canonical Hours, and quoting from its introduction:
The catch line was more along the lines of, “So a priest and a rabbi walk into a used bookstore…” not just because it sounds like the lead-in to a good joke, but because it’s actually what happened. I’ve said before that I have trouble keeping up with podcasts. I don’t take the bus anywhere, and in front of a computer I tend to prefer to read instead, which means if I start the computer playing something I still end up reading while it plays, and I miss stuff from the podcast. I tried listening while washing dishes, but (a) dishes don’t take that long and (b) people keep talking to me in the kitchen. But I really wanted to listen to the podcast of an event I was sad to have missed, from the Idea Exchange series last season: Rabbi Larry Pinsker and Jamie Howison — “A Rabbi and a Priest in conversation on how we read the Old Testament.” Fortunately, I had a perfect opportunity while last month on the flight to Vancouver en route to Seabeck for the Allelon Missional Order conversations.
There’s one thing from the Seabeck gathering which impacted me quite deeply, but about which I’ve really said nothing so far… the language of revolution. Much of this comes from a brief talk that Al Roxburgh gave on Wednesday morning, but for those who weren’t there, it also features in an article on the Allelon site (Page 3 in particular. It was also part of the subject matter for a walk around the mall with Papa Al and Brother Maynard. (Sara Jane dubbed it, Paparazzi Bill publicized it.) If this post is of interest, I recommend chasing down some of the longer explanations and discussions in the links I’ve provided. In the nature of the zen story which is told and retold orally in part because it is then shaped by the experience and understanding of the storyteller, here, mostly in my own retelling, is what I got, which I relate under the question with which Al opened his brief address at Seabeck: “How do cultures change?”
One day as we were dwelling in Luke 10 at the Seabeck gathering, I stopped on the “70″ — or as some manuscripts report, “72.” One explanation of this textual error is that a scribe somewhere along the line “corrected” it to read 72 instead of 70 because it was associated with Numbers 11, which also features a group of 70, from which two were missing — or not.
Andrew Jones has announced a new blog season for himself, following the Celtic and church calendars. The Lectionary calendar starts “Year A” on December 2nd with the Advent season, and I’m considering options as I seek to add some new spiritual habits (disciplines) into the pattern of my own life, and wondering how I might weave some of them into the blog happenings here. I’m thinking about:
- Dwelling in Luke 10;
- The “Shalom Lectionary” in an appendix to Walter Brueggemann’s Living Toward a Vision: Biblical Reflections on Shalom;
- The Revised Common Lectionary;
- The Daily Office;
And so we come to covenant. In our discussion of a Rule of Life for a Missional Order, I’ve sidled up alongside this subject a couple of times already… and it’s time to dig deeper. First, I said a little about language, and the stumbling over some of the commitment-words that we use. We talked about this a little at Seabeck, as an important indicator of how we approach the idea of something we call a “rule” and make vows to live our lives by it. Later, I talked about remembering what we’ve been promised as being critical to coming through a period of exile. I was thinking about this again last Sunday evening as I was one of about 250 people sitting in an ordination service at St. Benedict’s Table as a new deacon was ordained by the bishop. There’s something about vows and resolutions that ought to be taken seriously.
I introduced the concept of Shalom yesterday as I was concluding my last post on the missional order. I should take this opportunity to explain that my many musings on this subject over the past week-plus, although they are tagged “missional order”, do not represent the formal outcome of or substance of discussions in our gathering at Seabeck. Many of these themes emerged at one or more points in the discussion, but the thoughts I present are my own ruminations arising in these post-Seabeck weeks. Of course, many of my thoughts go back to much older ruminations, and I’m busy wrapping them all up in this series. A series, mind you, which I never intended to be a series. Nonetheless, I’ve summarized it as such in a sidebar below. Back to Shalom, a concept which also makes an appearance in Luke 10, where a blessing of peace is extended to those from whom the 70 sought hospitality, and the notion of “a people of peace” arises in the reception of the greeting of peace.
I’ve been working up to this all week, and I doubt I can cover it off in a single entry, but let’s see what we come up with, shall we? Just piecing together some themes following the Seabeck Gathering sponsored by Allelon, I have begun to consider The Role of The Rule (and other disciplines) as part of The Subversive Nature of the Ordinary in helping to keep us on the path during a mapless quest or an aimful wandering — a Peregrinatio. Len picked up a theme from me of covenant renewal, which I commented further upon, saying I didn’t plan to hit the theme until today, that I was just foreshadowing. Well, the pressure’s on.
I’ve been thinking about the sojourn lately. At the Seabeck gathering, there was no discussion at all about what to name a missional order, but I was thinking about David Fitch’s Missional Order of St. Fiacre, St. Fiacre being the patron saint of gardeners, and so selected for the metaphor of church planting. The order we were talking about is quite likely to be fashioned as a pilgrim order, being based as it is in Luke 10:1-12 where Jesus sends out the 70 (or 72, depending which manuscript you’re reading). I checked, and discovered that St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers. St. Christopher is an interesting character, having been de-canonized in 1969 for lack of evidence not only that he lived a holy life, but that he existed at all. “Christopher” means “Christ-bearer”, which is fitting for a sent people. The question of existence resounds in a question that Rick Meigs asked me as we were dwelling in Luke 10 together. “What were their stories?” he asked, pointing out that we don’t know where the 70 came from or what happened to them afterward. This would be a fitting image for us too, who partake in the journey without want of recognition or pride of place. We merely appear, bearing and sharing the peace of Christ, and then move along. In the account of St. Christopher, it is said that he had taken the place of a hermit who guided travelers. Rather than merely guide, St. Christopher would carry them safely to the other side of a stream. One day he carried a child across the stream, and the weight of the child almost crushed him. Arriving on the other side, the child revealed himself as Christ, who was heavy because he bore the weight of the world on his shoulders. An image for us perhaps of the fact that the task of bearing Christ is not an easy calling. Or sending, if you will.
Pictured: an ordinary lunch at the Missional Order gathering last week, time spent not only sharing meals, but listening to the ‘other’ and entering into their stories. It’s a mundane sacred practice… but I’m getting ahead of myself. I have now transcribed my notes from cards into an OpenOffice document, partly as a way of reviewing, processing, and synthesizing. As I was reviewing my notes and thoughts with my cards spread before me, typing words that I jotted down and having those words jog others, voices, phrases, I began to feel strangely moved. I wonder if the truly subversive nature of what we’re talking about has not fully sunken in for most of us. We really are talking about changing everything, but we aren’t changing much of anything. As we return to the ideals God set in our hearts and the practices he has given us, God himself is on the move, changing things fundamentally. The cheese has slipped off the Romans’ cracker, and while they fumble about to find it and reassert its position, it’s being gobbled up by the peasants. The lowly, the ordinary. The meek.