"Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32, NRSV).

"Greet Prisca and Aquila ... Greet also the church in their house" (Romans 16:3, 5, NRSV).

Friday, January 30, 2009

Robert Benson's new book.

For the Robert Benson fans out there, his new book The Echo Within, is out.  It is the latest of the books he wanted to write rather than was asked to write and is clearly written from his heart.  A beautiful little book about being created in the image of God and discovering  who God has uniquely made you to be.  It is Robert at his best, I loved it.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bible Overview Resources

House church friends: I have found these resources helpful for helping folks get a grasp of the big picture of what God is doing and where our little communities fit.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

House Church - Something Different

At his blog Subversive Underground, Keith Giles asks the following:

"What if there was a way of doing church that made community easier, facilitated discipleship, and inspired organic growth? Why would anyone oppose something that helped people to follow Jesus in their everyday life, set them free to discover and practice their spiritual gifting in the context of worship, and helped encourage lifestyle of evangelism and personal mission?"

According to Giles, that way is 'house church'. Read the entire article for encouraging anecdotes about the church that meets at his house.

[My only issue with Giles' question (above) is the idea that house church makes community easier. Community is never easy, but always involves sacrifice and the messiness of relationship. House church may make community more accessible, but it must still be intentionally pursued and nurtured. I'm sure he would agree.]

Monday, February 4, 2008

Collect for Ash Wednesday

Let us pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Day with Robert Benson

V. The Lord be with you.

R. And also with you.

Let us pray.

After the day spent with Robert Benson, that seems the only proper way to begin this post. Thanks to Jim McKinney for arranging this mini-retreat and to he and Jan for so graciously opening their home to us. Thanks to Robert for sharing heart, mind, and spirit so passionately and eloquently with us. And thanks be to God for his gifts of brothers and sisters with whom we may share the journey, for the Bread of Heaven and the Cup of Salvation and the prayers of the Church to nourish us on the way, and for our Lord Jesus Christ -- the means of grace and the hope of glory. I will forever treasure the sharing of the Eucharist with each of you this day.

Several of you expressed an interest in learning the "mechanics" of the daily office. I have added a link to the blog (Daily Office: Mission St. Clare) which will guide you through the offices of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. This site is useful in a stand-alone manner or as an introduction to the Book of Common Prayer, itself.

We mentioned several prayer book resources today. Information on Robert's latest book of the Daily Office may be found under Links, below. The Presbyterian book of prayer mentioned today is titled Book of Common Worship Daily Prayer and is published by Westminster/John Knox Press (W/JKP). It generally is available in stock at Cokesbury Book Store. The Episcopal Book of Common Prayer is always available at Chapter and Verse Bookstore (under the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee in the telephone book) and often at Cokesbury Book Store, Cedar Springs Book Store, and even Borders. You will want the 1979 version rather than the 1928 (probably).

An excellent introduction to and resource for the liturgical calendar may be found in Liturgical Year (Supplemental Liturgical Resource 7) published by W/JKP. I got my copy of this at Cokesbury several years ago; I do not know if they stock it routinely, but I'm certain they could order it.

I thank each of you for your contribution to this day and look forward to next time.

Peace of Christ,

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Irresistible Revolution

One of my former students at Maryville High School -- I taught him everything he knows about physics! -- is now one of my spiritual mentors, even if only indirectly through his writing and witness. Shane Claiborne (photo above) is cofounder of The Simple Way (http://www.thesimpleway.org/), an inner city ministry in Philadelphia and is among the pioneers of the new monastic movement. His book Irresistable Revolution is humbling and challenging; I cannot recommend it highly enough. I have read it multiple times and am now listening to it on my iPod; it is available as an audiobook download through iTunes read by Shane and is simply outstanding. In it, he quotes from Soren Kierkegaard; I thought I would post the quote here for your consideration.

The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church's prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Relating Like the Trinity

[The following quote is from a lecture given by Dr. Larry Crabb called "Experiencing the Trinity: Trinitarian Community and Spiritual Formation". This has obvious implications for how we relate to one another in our house churches. It's easy for me to think that a home church "model" will automatically create the kind of community that Crabb talks about here, but that just isn't true. When it comes to pursuing Trinitarian community, we "home church" folks must be just as intentional as our brothers and sisters in other church models.]

“Final reality, the final nature of things, is a certain way of relating that is foreign to me naturally. The way the Trinity relates among themselves defines reality. Reality is a certain kind of ‘relationality’, a certain kind of community which [Jesus prayed would] be reproduced in the Christian community.

In John 17 [we learn] what the Lord wants to see happen most as He is headed to the cross, praying in His high priestly prayer. He was saying, ‘As a result of My death, I want to see Christians form small groups like Ours.’ If that’s true, then I suggest it isn’t too much of a leap to suggest that all good marriage counseling, all good parenting counseling, all good counseling about sexual addiction, eating disorders, depression, and anxiety…needs to center on people learning what it means to enter in to a certain kind of relating style. And until we focus on ‘relationality’, I don’t believe we’re getting to the core of reality in our souls.

Are we specializing in our churches on moving people toward Trinitarian-like relating through spiritual conversations? If we are, I believe we have a church. A church is not about simply doing lots of good things. It’s not about merely behaving morally. It’s not about merely…discovering your voice, finding out who you are, using your gifts; it includes that, but essentially it’s about being in community, being with others the way the three Persons of the Trinity are with each other. We need [our spiritual leaders] to value Trinitarian relating above all other goods; above evangelism, above mission, above youth programs, above every other good thing that churches do.”