My Blog has moved!

My blog has moved. To view the most recent content please go to . See you there!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Jesus for President Blog Tour

I purchased a copy of the new book by Shane Claibourne and Chris Haw, "Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals". (You can click on the book to the left and read samples of it). I have been excitedly waiting to get the book after reading last fall "Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical". I bought it online and counted the days to get it. One day I came home from work and a box from Amazon was open in my living room. But the book was not there. My 17 year old son, Bene had nabbed it!

Bene has just given it back to me after devouring it. As a father I have been so excited to watch as my soon to be 18 year old has become an ordinary radical for Jesus. As he read the book, he told me that many people young and old would pick it up, skim it and then ask if they could borrow it or said they would go buy it. Six people so far, and one did go to the store and buy it.

Needless to say, I told him he couldn't lend out my copy quite yet as I hadn't started to read it! Sorry guys -- Go buy your own! I find this fascinating. I think it has a lot to do with what I perceive as an emerging dissatisfaction with politics as usual among evangelical and other Christians. Shane describes this book as a project "to provoke the Christian political imagination". I like that. Too often we have bought on to a party line, not realizing that we are part of a true, vital, radical kingdom counter to the politics of this world's empires.

I have so far only read the preliminary pages and the first section "Before There Were Kings and Presidents." Let me give you some initial impressions and I will follow it up with more thoughts in another post.

First, this book is more than a normal book. It is a work of art. I mean that literally. The pages are artwork that have the words printed on them, seemingly hand scrawled, typed, underlined and with edit marks, too boot. There is a real sense that this book is designed to awaken hearts, to truly re-enliven stiff, stuffy, cob-web filled, gray painted interiors of the inner sanctums of many a Christian's heart. It is full of color, photos, drawings, and abstract art. Its words and art flow together to get you thinking and feeling.

The first section is a re-telling of biblical history that brings in sharp relief the tension between God and empire. Shane and Chris tell the stories we all have heard in Sunday School, but in a way that you can see a clear politic of God and the empire emerging. To give an example let me quote a little from the section on the tower of Babel.

"God's people decided to build a sky-scraping tower (Genesis 11), Scripture says that "the whole world had one language," and the people seemed quite impressed with their limitless power. So they began erecting an idol of human ingenuity to "make a name" for themselves. They hoped to attain the beauty of heaven, only to find themselves growing farther and farther from God who dwelt with them in the garden of Eden. During the project, God noted that "nothing they plan to do will be impossible to them" (Gen 11:6) You can almost hear the echos of Hiroshima and Nagasaki heer. It seems that God has an aversion to limitless power. It is not that they were a threat to God but that they were a threat to themselves. This type of grand collaboration wouldn't be God's solution to a world "full of violence." Instead of letting them build a bridge to the heavens, God came "down" from the lofty heights and scattered the people across the land, confusing their languages and bringing them back down to earth. They became babblers. God confused the language of the whole human family and any hope for communication, and reconciliation now lay only in the hands of God."

Shane and Chris bring this thought to a conclusion by saying, "This tale is less a tragedy of divine punishment and more an act of divine liberation for humankind from an imperial project that would lead to death."

To me it is good for Christians to see in sharp relief that there is a difference between empire or national self interest and the politic of God and Jesus. In the upcoming sections I trust these thoughts will be expanded on and applied to my life as an ordinary radical following the crucified lamb today.

As I close this initial post on "Jesus for President", I want to leave you with the titles of the sections.

Section 1. Before There Were Kings and Presidents
Section 2. A New Kind of Commander-In-Chief
Section 3. When the Empire Got Baptized.
Section 4. A Peculiar Party

This post is part of the Jesus For President Blog Tour. For other blogs on the tour see Jesus For President Blog Tour. At this site you will also find videos by Shane and other information about the upcoming book Tour. Shane and Chris are to be in Raleigh on July 22.
Look for Jesus for President Blog Tour - Part 2 post in about a week. (It actually took me about 6 weeks, but here it is as pormised ---> Jesus for President Blog Tour Part 2 )
If you would like to hear Shane talk about the book in his own words, check out this video.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Prayer of Blessing for The Commonplace

This is the text of the Prayer of Blessing for The Commonplace. The Commonplace is the new home of Common Heart Missional Community and Common Cupboard. It is located at 225 Garmon Rd, Indian Trail, NC. Some of this material was written by me & some came from portions of the Brigid Liturgy in Celtic Daily Paryer by the Northumbria Community. The Scripture portion is from the New Living Translation. Also included is the traditional English translation of the Prayer of St. Francis. As you read it the italic portions give direction. The bold sections were prayed in unison. The regular type face sections were prayed by individuals.
April 19, 2008
11:00 AM

On the porch, outside the doorway

May God give his blessing on this place
God bless it from roof to floor,
from wall to wall, from end to end,
from its foundation to its covering.

In the name of our strong savior
may this place be a commonplace,

a place of small things done with great love
a place where the ordinary and common are transformed by his love.
a place of help for those in need
a place of encouragement for those struggling
a place of strengthening for the journey
a place of equipping to serve others
a place where heaven and earth overlap,
a place from which followers of Jesus go forth expanding God's kingdom and enlightening hearts with God's love.
In the "entry area"

May all be welcome here,
friend and stranger, from near and far.
May each be blessed and honored
as they enter.

There is a friend
in the gentle heart of the Savior.
For the love of him we offer friendship
and welcome every guest.

In the "Cupboard"

A reading Matthew 25
"But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. Then the King will say to those on the right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'

"Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?'

And the King will tell them, 'I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'

Lord we thank you for your provision,
for each blessing you provide.
As we gather food, here in this place,
may this food carry your love
to homes in need of nourishment
and hearts in need of your love.

Moving to the freezer room of the "Cupboard"

May all who give, and all who receive be blessed in you.
May each who labor in these be filled with you peace.
May each who carry food from this place be filled with your peace.
May each who receive food from this place be filled with your peace.

In our "Family Room"

As we gather, as we pray, as we learn, as we grow,
As friendships are developed, as hearts are encouraged,
As each day passes and each new year comes,
May we cherish the time spent together in this our family room.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

In our "kitchen"

May God the Father
be the guardian of this place
and bring his peace.

May his love be shared,
and his will be found here,
and may there be peace between all peoples.

May the Spirit bring lightness and laughter here.

May the Lord give peace
but never complacency.
Here may encouragement be found
and relationships strengthened.

Each day, every day,
each going out, and each returning,
the Lord bless you and keep you.
At the Door

Christ, in our coming
and in our leaving,
the Door and the Keeper;
For us and our dear ones,
this day and every day,
blessing for always. Amen.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you,
wherever He may send you.
May He guide you through the wilderness,
protect you through the storm.
May He bring you home rejoicing
at the wonders He has shown you.
May He bring you home rejoicing
once again into our doors. Amen
You can check out pictures of the Family Fun Day that followed the Blessing at

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Key Foundational Principle: "Demonstrating God's Love"

The key foundational principle of Common Cupboard is "Demonstrating God's Love." I believe that what we do and how we do it speaks much louder than any word we speak. I believe that our western culture has heard a lot of gospel, but I am not sure that they have really understood it. Too often a large part of the Church here in the US has been caught up in arguments, divisions, political agendas, scandals, and frankly our own selfishness that the words and actions have not matched. So with Common Cupboard we focus on equipping followers of Jesus to do things in such a way that the love of God is demonstrated.

The Bible is full of directives to love in both the Old and New Testaments. Jesus summed up the Old Testament in two great commandments, to love God and to love people. He told his disciples that the world would know who we are because of the way we love. We are told by one of Jesus' best friends' John in his letter to followers of Jesus that we love because God first loved us. And I love how Paul puts it in his letter to the Romans ... "But God demonstrated his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

To me there is a saying of Jesus that ties it all together for me. It is in John's Gospel. He says "As the Father sent me, so I send you." God sent his divine son Jesus as a flesh and blood human to take the lowest place and serve his creation. He sent Jesus as God in the flesh, to be Love's humble servant. It is the same way that Jesus sends us, with the same mission as well. We are sent to demonstrate God's love.

To me this transforms all that I do ... if I let it. The commonplace becomes an opportunity to demonstrate God''s love. Kindness in word or deed becomes a powerful means of ushering people closer and closer to God. But it has got to be done with intentionality. You can't be slipshod about demonstrating God's love! Its got to be on purpose.

This is why we do things the way we do at the cupboard. For instance having people fill out forms, stand in line, come to an organization, wait to be seen in order to get food that they need is not serving them in a way that demonstrates God's love. God comes to us! He meets us where we are! He sets no hierarchy or organization in the way of experiencing his kindness, compassion or love. That's why we deliver food through visiting them. That's why there is no forms, no questions, no requirements to receive our groceries. We want to break down the impersonal charity hand-out, and be personally present, caring and lovingly serve people right where they are. This is helping people "in such a way that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven."

Francis of Assisi is quoted as saying. "Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words." The story goes that this was said in response to a disappointed young disciple who had followed Francis all day long hoping to hear the preaching that transformed hopeless people and brought faith alive. Instead, he got to see Francis help an old man, give to a beggar, listen to the tearful story of another, serve a sick person. It was actually the power that Francis had to incarnate the message of the love of God in his actions, that drew people to faith in Jesus.

This key principle, demonstrating God's love in practical ways, will open up hearts to faith! Paul, the writer of most of the books of the New Testament, says this in his letter to the Romans, "Don't you know it is the kindness of God that leads you to repentance." My friends, we are Christ's body here are earth. It is through us that God demonstrates this love and kindness and draws people to repentance.

This post is the last of 3 in the series on foundational principles of Common Cupboard. The other two can be found by clicking on "Common Cupboard: A Pooled Resource." and "A Common Cupboard Foundational Principle - "Invisibility"