Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Irresistible Revolution, II

Here is an excerpt from Shane Claiborne's book which I used in my recent church e-mail from The Living Room here in Turley, OK. To give a practical slant on some of this stuff I might post here on this blog some of my TLR reports from recent months. Click to read more.

But we are not here to provide programs and to make plans. We are here to develop leaders who will transform lives and the wider community in God's radical loving and liberating spirit of freedom and justice as shown in the guiding spirit of Jesus. That means, as Shane Claiborne writes in his book The Irresistible Revolution, "growing smaller and smaller until we take over the world." Against an era of super-sized consumption and values and mega-churches often seeking to be more like the Empire and Ceasers of the world than the radical rabbi Jesus and those early followers of his, small organic relationship-based communities of faithful activists are popping up all over the place in this new millenium. As another of Shane's chapters says, "We may be crazy but we are not alone."

We will be reading Shane's book together this fall and looking at ways to apply the expereinces and insights here. He quotes Mother Teresa, with whom he worked for a while, who said: "We can do not great things, only small things with great love. It is not how much you do but how much love you put into doing it." His faith steps took him to Iraq to protest as the war started; to Wall Street to protest in a loving, laughing way, to jail for actually living with the homeless, keeping them from being evicted, and for breaking the law by "feeding the homeless" and reminding people that Jesus was a homeless man. He has served in mega-churches and has started a community, a new form of monasticism, in one of the poorer sections of Philadelphia (see http://www.thesimpleway.org/index2.html)

He writes: "Little communities are being born all over--zealots, tax collectors, prostitutes, cowards, all being reborn together. There is a new tribal confederacy of faith communities, a community of communities, emerging and dreaming ancient visions. We are not a neo-denomination, because we are not trying to spread a doctrine or theology. We are not even trying to spread a model of community. We are just trying to discover a new (ancient) kind of Christianity. We are about spreading a way of life that exists organically and relationally and is marked by such a brilliant love and grace that no one could resist it....

"Everywhere I travel I find groups of people dreaming new and ancient dreams of what it means to be the church and to love our global neighbors. Nearly everywhere we speak, young people come up with tears in their eyes, no longer alone in their dreams for another world. Over and over we hear "I knew there was more to Christianity." We are waking up. What seemed impossible is becoming normal.

"Because it is small like the old mustard seed, it is possible to miss the little revolution spreading across our land, cross-pollinted by an ongoing web of relationships and a common vision--of alternatives to existing worldly structures, of bartering economies, of money collectives for emergencies (instead of insurance), or prophetic interruptions to war and theft, of sustainable urban gardening and eco-energy alternatives, of using the trash and wreckage of the old consumptive world to create things that bring life and beauty. We have been deeply polluted by the world, as James would say, so it take incredible creativity and all of us learning together to be faithful to the Way. Meanshile, these little acts of love are taking over the world like mustard spreads through the garden. And Jesus promises that the world will hate us, for we are not of the world. If the world does not hate us, we must wonder whether we are really imagining an alternative."

Come be a part of a re-imagined world, beginning with who you are and where you are, who your neighbors are, become an open window for the Spriit of Life.