Thursday, May 14, 2009

More Missional Renaissance: Not a church, but the church

You might want to read posts below first.

From Reggie McNeal: "He kept pressing me for an answer: "Tell me what a missional church is."..I tried to explain why we weren't getting very far in our conversation. When you refer to "a" missional church, you miss the point. The discussion should be about "the" church. "A" church is an institutional way of looking at church. "The" church is a movement. "The" church is people. He didn't buy it. My answer didn't satisfy his need to develop a description of something he wanted to call "church."

"This encounter reveals different points of departure in how people view the church. These are not just points in tension; they are irreconcileable in their implications for what people wind up thinking and doing. When we use a instead of the in front of church, I think we miss the missional revolution in its true essence, by reverting to language supporting institutional implications. "A" church draws on centuries of thinking about a corporate something that exists apart from the people who make it up. This language fails to make the break with the Western Constantinian institutionalized view of what church is. Missional followers of Jesus don't belong to a church. They are the church. Wherever they are, the church is present. Church is not something outside of themselves that they go to or join or support [or attend.RR]; it's something they are. "

Mission means sending. The sense of sending is throughout the whole of the Bible. The mission of God, the sending for God, is about redemption, reconciling, responding, restoring. The missional church is then a redundancy. But it is God's mission that calls us; our mission is becoming a people of two or more who are seeking, listening to the call, to find where God is moving in the world and we are sent to be there participating with God in response to that call.

And an organized church with bylaws, budgets, building, paid ministry and all those other inherent drawbacks can still be a thriving missional people; if they catch the three shifts McNeal writes the book to guide people through.

Just as it doesn't take what people traditionally think of as a church to be the church.

"I was sharing these issues at aq conference of collegiate ministers and a participant said, 'You mean to tell me that if two Christians are tutoring high school students in English, that's a church? My reply was that centuries of conditioning would lead us in the West to frame that question that way, in an attempt to define some organization so we can talk about it. 'What I am saying,' I explained, 'is if people are tutoring students in the name of Jesus, the church is there.'

This is why we talk not about planting a church, but a movement, church planting churches, and how that makes all the difference in your spiritual DNA of the group, is the root of many conflicts and different ideas of mission, and it is why we are challenged not only to think about such things as the symbolism of the difference between planting and starting, a church and the church, but also why the first order is for a conversation on what is imagined and meant by church, and why, and expanding people's understanding and committment to what church is. It is why, after you do that and get people to open up to new/old visions of church, that planting missional faith communities whether you call them churches or not, whether you organize them as corporate beings or not, why people will see 1. that it is necessary as a very aspect of being missional, as a marker of healthy spirituality, that you aren't complete until you have multiplied even in a variety of ways, that one way or another you have given yourself away; and 2. that it is, after you get it, the shift, that it is not something hard to do, but because it is very natural, very sustaining, it is hard not to do it; it is easy, really, and it is fun. If it isn't easy and isn't fun then that is a red flag that it isn't missional in God's way anyway.

More to come. Get the book. Give me links where others are talking about it. What do you think, feel, about some of these excerpts and reflections? Much of what is in the book goes on to give "traditional churches" inspiration and stories about how they can become a part of the missional renaissance. Not all is lost. There are things they can do, especially with their resources, that missional communities in places like here in Turley can't, in terms of this renaissance, this new birth, this church being born again. So if you have given up on church, or are a part of a church, or are moving into missional identity as we are, and donning one of my other hats if you are part of a small group in the UU Christian Fellowship world or might be thinking of growing one where you are, there is something for you here.

More will come from McNeal's book here at the blog in the days and weeks to come.

Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church, by Reggie McNeal

Below in a post I have incorporated some of the questions asked by Reggie McNeal in his new book and applied them to our missional faith community in the Turley, North Tulsa area. In this post I will do a broad sweep of the major sections of the book and future posts I will lift out sections of interest. If you go back, though to a post I made here on October 27, 2006, you will see a very early edition of what became the book as I blogged on a workshop I was in led by McNeal. Here is the link. It was a seminal post and helped keep me moving along the missional path. I would put this book right up there with The Shaping of Things To Come by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost (and other books by them especially Exiles, The Forgotten Ways, ReJesus), and The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne (along with The New Monasticism book), and Organic Church by Neil Cole, Emerging Church by Gibbs and Bolger, and of course the works of Brandon Scott, Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, the New Paul Perspective books, and our archives of UU Christian Journals as stepping stones on this path....Looking for one book for the Summer new to read about the church? Make it this one.

"The rise of the missional church is the single biggest development in Christianity since the Reformation."

"Going missional will require that you make three shifts, both in your thinking and in your behavior: From internal to external in terms of ministry focus; from program development to people development in terms of core activity; from church-based to kingdom-based in terms of leadership agenda."

"These three shifts call for a new scorecard for the missional church. The typical church scorecard (how many, how often, how much) doesn't mesh with a missional view of wwhat the church should be monitoring in light of its mission in the world. The current scorecard rewards church activity and can be filled in without any reference to the church's impact beyond itself."

"A church in Ohio passes up the option to purchase a prime piece of real estate that would allow it to build a facility to house its multisite congregation. Instead, it votes not to spend $50 million on church facilities but to invest the money in community projects...New expressions of church are emerging. One pastor has left a tall=steepled church to organize a simple neighborhood gathering of spiritual pilgrims. He is working at secular employment so that he doesn't have to collect monies to support a salary; rather, he and his colleagues are investing in people on their own street....Another entrepeneurial spiritual leader has opened up a community center with a church tucked inside of it. He has a dozen other ministries opeerating in the shared space." [Hmm. that last sentence sounds familiar to what we are doing.]

"The missional church renaissance is not occurring in a vacuum. Just as in the fifteenth century, larger social forces are at work that conspire to create conditions ripe for this kind of development. The confluence of three significant cultural phenomena is fueling the current collaboration and creativity: 1. the emergence of the altruism economy; 2. the search for personal growth; 3. the hunger for spiritual vitality."

Missional shift 1 from internal to external focus: missional does not, does not, does not, does not (my emphasis of his point, hence no quotes) mean starting community outreach programs; those can actually defeat the missional shift needed to actually enter in and mutually transform the community of which you are a part. "Externally focused ministry leaders take their cues from the environment around them in terms of needs and opportunities. They look for ways to bless and to serve the communities where they are located [and I would say they relook at where they are located]. Much of their calendar space, financial resources, and organizational energy is spent on people who are not [and may never be] a part of their organization...attendance may actually go down if people are released to mission.

Missional shift 2 from program to people: The typical clergyperson is groomed to do project management (yes, even the sermon is a project) (teach the Bible--or New Member Class--manage the church, grow the business)....At one point McNeal says that the early church was not an ideal church, and was full of problems, or else the New Testament would have been a lot shorter, but the A.D. 30 leadership, the pre-Constantine expression of Christian spirituality is more missional while the later expression is more programmatic, more imperial....The movement founded by Jesus was largely a marketplace phenomena, an organic connection among people who were experiencing a way of life together. The early days of the movement focused on simple teachings of Jesus, with particular attention to living lives of sacrifice and service to one another and to one's neighbor.

Missional shift 3 from church based to kingdom based.: "Missional leaders are thinking differently about what church could be and even should be. The difference in their thinking is measured not in degree but in kind...from primarily concentrating on institutional maintenance to developing an incarnational influence, kingdom impact more than church impact [kingdom refers to Jesus's kingdom of God sayings that contrasted God with Caeser's kingdom; substitute your words of choice if kingdom bothers you, or live deeply in and through the language and see what happens--RR]...

Missional Renaissance and The Church

Hi all.
First, Reminders of our scheduled gatherings you are invited to join us at (remember that the unscheduled ones are ones we want to hear stories about too when we gather, those where we build relationships with one another and with those we don't know, guided by our Jesus community values of hospitality, lovingkindness, freedom; these happen all over the place and time):

Sunday, May 17, 10 am at A Third Place Center, worship, a DVD showing of the Bishop Carlton Pearson worship service at the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship Revival in March at All Souls Church, and a common meal and holy conversation on our lives and service with others.

Thursday, May 21, 6 pm Turley History conversation at A Third Place Center.

Sunday, May 24, journey to the UU Congregation of Tahlequah for 11 am worship followed by lunch as I lead worship service and preach on "Ashes to Ashes, Life to Life". Call 794-4637 to arrange carpooling or caravanning.

Saturday, May 30, Tulsa Audubon Society's Make Every Home A Wildlife Habitat Garden Tour; Sunday, May 31 our worship gathering and holy conversation in the morning and Sunday afternoon join with me as I lead a discussion with the All Souls Cinema Society on a film we watch together. Call me at 691-3223 on Friday, May 29 to get film details.

We will be doing some more guerilla and community gardening the rest of this month as we get ready to be a part of the Tulsa Community Gardening Association first Garden Tour on Sunday, June 14. More info to come. Also feel free to come hang out at A Third Place Center; help provide hospitality during the health clinic times on Monday and Friday mornings; watch TV, help those who come in during the day; meet others in the community; just showing up makes everything else possible.

We have exciting gatherings coming up this summer and we will be getting out the news on those events and missions soon.

I hesitate sometimes even writing down the schedule of events because we slip so easily into the default mode of the programmed church, programmed lives, instead of cultivating a missional faith community and missional lives that is based on relationships, transforming lives, going deeper, serving with others, letting the Spirit guide us to more depth, all of which can be hindered as we fill out calendars and schedule our lives, especially our spiritual lives. Look for us to do our best to fight back against some of that cultural programming that feeds consumerism and individualism; I am sensing it will be one of our major shifts in the coming months as we keep our Spirits fresh amid all our community transforming work in the world.

How about some of these questions to guide our feet? They come, sometimes altered by me, from the wonderful new book Missional Renaissance by Reggie McNeal. If you want to "get" our way of church, "get" this book. You will see how everything changes when you quit thinking of "a" church, and start thinking of "the" church that has a variety of manifestations (mega to organic to monastic to etc.), but all committed in their own ways to moving people closer to God's mission especially as revealed in the Jesus way. The church can become visible many places, in many people; "a church" as a religious organization non-profit committed to programs is only one way.

Ponder these questions in your heart...

Are people better off for being a part of this church, or are they just tireder and poorer?...Is the church supposed to be the center of a person's spiritual experience? No it's not...[good thing since more and more people are not locating it there]...Instead of delivering spirit, God, learning, how are we helping people debrief their lives and find spirit, God, learning in life?....Instead of asking our children what they learned in Sunday school, the youth service, how are we doing engaging them in God conversations with us?...If church is a people, and not a place, how are we improving lives? are we helping people pray, connect with others, change a calendar for sacred time, use their finances instead of being used, orient all the spaces of people's lives toward God and not just worry about a space called worship and church, and engage with technology in a way that builds lives and not tears them down?...Are we helping people become self-aware, develop life skills, and grow relationally?...How often do people get to explore and share about 1. what they enjoy doing, 2. where they see God at work right now, 3. what they would like to see God doing in their lives over the next six months to a year?, 4. how would they like to serve other people and how can we help one another to do it?, 5. how can we bless them, pray for them.

Over the coming "Summer of Love" in Turley, 2009, let us let these conversations and questions be with us and invite others to engage with them too....we have a lot of relationship building and life and community transforming gatherings ahead of us. Some of it will be connected to our partnerships with others, and some of it will be connected to deepening our lives together in this missional faith community we call the LivingRoom Church at A Third Place Center.

For more keep checking back to the blog Planting God Communities as we chat more there about the book by Reggie McNeal, the author whose workshop in Tulsa in 2006 helped me to envision a new way for our group and to share that conversation with all of you. Lets create a conversation out of it not only in person at the Center but also through the blog. Also check out more of our community missional ideas and plans and events at

We have made a lot of great groundbreaking missional steps, and by falling back into my old default modes of church I've made a lot of missional missteps, and I think this summer will be a wonderful time for "vacating" these old tapes running in the back of our head and dreaming and doing together our mission of making Jesus visible in the world. thanks for all, blessings, and more/less soon,


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Friday, May 08, 2009

Gary Snyder Sums It Up

When he wrote:
"Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there."

It is important to find your place on the planet; and be led by God's spirit and Jesus' model when you find your place, so that it is something more than just your desires and wants that decide where you will live, where your place will be.
Dig in. It is the only way to unwrap the gift that awaits you.

Take responsibility from there. That is, after all, another word for Love. Creative-Response. And Love is another word for God.


Some Radical News: What Else Would You Expect?

Hi all. Some quick gatherings coming up, then some important news, and reflections....on how the spirit and presence of the incarnational and organic mission known as the church can be used to inform other groups and projects and how that can transform your world perhaps even more abundantly than what any single group of people do by themselves. That is what our radical news is all about, elaborated below the news on the gatherings coming up. Please pass this on to others who might find it of interest.

Tomorrow, May 9 is Second Saturday of the Month Random Acts of Kindness and Beauty here. Come join with us tomorrow especially as you can as we do some more guerilla and community gardening from 9 am on; call 691-3223 to know where we will be or come by the Center, 6514 N. Peoria Ave. We have several projects transforming our neglected area, and we are getting ready to be a host site for the Tulsa Community Gardening Association Tour on Sunday, June 14 too. If you want to be on an email list to receive notices of our guerilla gardening and community gardening events as they come up, please let me know. You can also follow along with them and get updates by "friending" me on FaceBook.

Tomorrow, May 9, at 2 pm join with some of us as we host a table during the Cherokee School Carnival, 6001 N. Peoria Ave., letting people know abour our Center, about our Health Clnic with OU, about our Summer Food Program at Cherokee, about our gardening, our many projects. We just got through giving out certificates of thanks to all the faculty and staff at Cherokee entitling them to a free book of their choice from our A Third Place Community Center Library, and we produced a poster of inspirational quotes for teachers that we presented to them.

Sunday, May 10, 10 am, come spend Mothers Day in worship with us as we focus on "The Mothers of the Church." We may have heard about the Fathers of the Church, Origen, Augustine, Aquinas, Anselm, Calvin, Luther, Wesley, et al---but we will lift up the Mothers of the Church, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary of Magdalene, Priscilla, Teresa of Avila, Hildegarde of Bingen, Mary Dyer, Antoinette Brown Blackwell and Olympia Brown, Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa. Who would you add to the list? Come be a part of our Holy Conversations as part of worship and stay and cook and eat a meal together.

Looking Ahead: Sunday, May 17 I will be on a family trip in Kansas and Chris Smith of Bartlesville will lead our worship time, and the featured presentation will be the hot off the presses new DVD of UU Christian Fellowship Revival Worship featuring Bishop Carlton Pearson at All Souls Church Tulsa. A beautiful and moving experience captured wonderfully on video.

Looking Further Ahead: Come with us as we travel our church to Tahlequah Sunday May 24 at 11 am as I preach at the UU Congregation of Tahlequah, 11 am, sermon entitled: "Ashes to Ashes, Life to Life" Church is, after all, or should be, a moveable feast....May 30-31 The Audubon Wildlife Home Habitat Garden Tour in Tulsa; Sunday, May 31 afternoon join with me for All Souls Cinema Discussion, or go join with others in worship together at 3 pm kicking off Diversity Week and Gay Pride Week...Come march with us in the Gay Pride Parade Saturday June 6...Come help us plan a bowling outing, and more missional worship experiences as part of the "holy ground" of community gardening.

$10 million X Prize For Transformative Community Healthcare to Turley/North Tulsa and our A Third Place Center and OU collaborations and other partners. We hope that is a headline you will be reading about three to four years from now. In our area a lot of people play the lottery and go to the casino and think of this quick fix to their lives; but our commitment to working toward the newly announced X Prize (given by the folks who awarded a similar prize for the first private spacecraft and are sponsoring a current competition for the most sustainable automobile) will hold out an alternative vision for a Win For All, one that builds up a community and relationships instead of, as the lottery and casino does, of subtly and slowly destroying community and relationships and feeding into the myth of quick fixes and convenience which are, at heart, spiritually wrong and bad for the health of all.

Even if we don't win, a new commitment to work toward the prize, and to work on the outcome of improving our residents health and community health by fifty percent will be a transformative and groundbreaking experience for this area we call "an abandoned place of Empire." At a recent meeting after worship last Sunday we met with some initial partners who had the idea of our area and our relationships being the place for this to happen locally, the first of many partners and meetings to come, to begin dreaming and planning how to create a model and plan to apply for the prize. Next year five communities will be selected to compete for the prize itself. With the national leadership already provided in this by the OU-Tulsa Community Medicine, we are going to be looking at creating a health initiative that is comprehensive and community based and takes in all the factors that contribute to the poor health of our area where we have a life expectancy of fourteen years lower than just an area eight miles to the south of us on the same street. We are going to be revolutionary. In many ways, given our initial dreaming, we are going to be looking to take the spirit and the model already begun with us here with our faith community in Turley---changing from an attractional to incarnational presence, moving from organizational to organic, from institutional to movement to relational--and apply its lessons in emerging culture to how we see and create health together from the grassroots up. Instead of being clinic based we envision neighborhood wellness resident leaders helping to deliver street by street or neighborhood by neighborhood care, a kind of preventive first responders network, which will go along with the same project we have been working on for general community organizing with OU in our area helping residents get resources to clean their area and create safer streets. Now all of that work, and our community gardening work which is health-related and our animal safety project which is health-related, will be channeled into the outcome envisioned by the X Prize. We will break down the individual oriented health care system to stress group clinics, support groups. To do it all is especially tough in an underserved endangered community with high mobility rate, but here we are hoping the competitive and cooperative spirit, and the development of unique incentives, and the possibility of the $10 million itself will grab people's imagination. The tentative ideas will be expanded; new ones take root and old ones not; the conversation will move forward and keep including more folks at the table who will help us reshape our dreams, so be a part as there is much more to come in the months ahead.

Even if all we had was our initial meeting and sharing of dreams, and if nothing official was ever done beyond what happened last Sunday, it was a seed planted that, like the Spirit of Creation and Life itself once spoken, cannot be taken back, becomes a part of history, shaping the story of a people, which all began with the story of a very few people of God seeking to make the loving and liberating and radically hospitable Jesus visible in the world. Come experience this power and this people anytime you can, anywhere you can, be it Sunday for our "pause that refreshes" or anytime we gather in mission living out our faith.

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Because, in our blessed messiness, we are here

Here is a recent report from our church/community center, and at the end a string of wonderful quotes that capture the philosophy behind our presence.

This Sunday (April 26), if weather permits, we will celebrate outdoors at O'Brien Park at 10 am with worship and holy conversation focused on Creation Spirituality and the Bible--so of course being outdoors makes sense--followed by cookout for community meal. Come be with us. If it is too rainy to enjoy, we will be in usual space in A Third Place Center, 6514 N. Peoria Ave. We also hope to weave in some community gardening and perhaps guerilla gardening again as part of our worship and service time Sunday.

Also, FYI, next major event: our sponsorship with Univ. of Oklahoma Tulsa of Neighborhood Life 2009, a chance for community residents to learn how to better be community leaders and organizers and build skills for improving their streets and areas. 11 am to 2 pm Saturday May 2 at A third Place Center on North Peoria, for all within our two mile service area radius of north Tulsa and Turley. Free Lunch included for participants. This is a followup program to Turley Talks 2008 which we coordinated last year. Spread the news and connect any interested residents with this great opportunity to resist burnout, find ways to make a difference and get resources needed out to where they actually live.

Because, even in our blessed messiness and terrible organizational details, et al, we are here....

...there will be a summer food program for lunch at the local school for anyone between ages one and eighteen years old. The schools around us have almost 100 percent subsidized breakfasts and lunches during the year, but without summer school in them for those weeks in the summer many can't make up the difference at their homes which can't budget for it. So we are coordinating a lunch program this summer that will be able to feed anyone in those age ranges whether they are in school or not, or what school they go to. Help us spread the word and if you want to help serve the lunches during the summer contact me asap, and we are going to use it as an opportunity to help pay some for the unemployed to be the servers, so helping not only those in need of food but also on a very limited basis helping others in need of job, funds, and something good to add to their resumes. It is the fruits of great working relationship with Cherokee School and we are also working to help start a similar program year round at O'Brien Park for those 60 years and older.

because in our blessed messiness, we are here...
....some animals will be fed and cared for; some public spots and community gardens are sprouting up in our area; some consciousness is going to be raised about all our abandoned property and rundown houses projects through a new powerpoint and advocacy; people are getting clothed; getting health care; getting to know that there is more than one way to follow Jesus and be a church; get help with job applications and social service applications through the computer center, meet others who are interested in the community life and bringing hope and truly living room into our common life.

REMEMBER this Fragments and Allow them to help re-member, or pull together, the fragments of your life and faith:
"Everywhere Jesus went there was a riot," but as one Bishop said, "Everywhere I go they make me cups of tea." Church has been too domesticated. Or as novelist Dorothy Sayers wrote: "If you mixed as much as I do with people to whom the Gospel story seems to be nothing but a pretty fairytale, you would know how much of their contemptuous indifference is due to one fact: that neveer for one moment have they seen it as a real thing, happening to a living people. Nor indeed, are they fully convinced that Christians believe in its reality."

"Those who are taken captive by Jesus see mission not merely as a practice preferred by God but as an aspect of his very character. He is mission." Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch in the new book ReJesus. (Don't let the masculine pronoun mask the importance of the church not having a mission but as being formed by and a reflection of God's mission.

All that we are engaged in here in our area is not new, but stands in a long line of people who have gone outside the stereotype and image of church, God, and Christ in order to bring God's healing presence to folks. The early church; the early monks; the folks at Koinonia and so many others. Like John Perkins, an African American in rural Mississippi who got out of there in the pre civil Rights era days and got away from God and church too, and then rediscovered faith and it led him right back to Mississippi. We try to also be guided by Perkins' 3 Rs: 1. Relocation. It matters where you live, and with whom, and how, and who you rub up against in everyday life, and who you learn from, and Jesus says to follow him it means going to the abandoned places. 2nd R: redistribution of resources. Fight against the materialism and consumerism and individualism that drives our being possessed by our things instead of us possessing them, helping people to learn how to give, to learn that they themselves are a gift of God which makes all the difference in how they will see themselves as givers and receivers with others. It is why all we do we do for free and give for free and promote common lending. 3rd R: Reconciliation. Trying to live as if all the divides are not as important as media and culture make them out to be, trying to provide common ground, a third place, for reconciliation between individuals, among groups, to happen. (ideas developed in the book The New Monasticism)

The bible isn't about or mostly about an individual's eternal salvation and a recipe for it; not about you but about y'all, about forming a people out of slavery, forming a people out of resurrection, about communities.

Celebration (ie parties, worship, laughter, gatherings of service and hospitality and sharing and learning) is our best tactic of resistance (says Jonathan Wilson-hartgrove in the new monasticism). It's what the church is, a place and a people for a different kind of celebration than you can do alone, or than the stodgy old stereotype of church wants you to do and be, or what the culture of me and my needs wants you to do and be.

Thanks and blessings and more soon,

We encourage folks as they are moved to donate to our presence here. Checks can be made out to either The Living Room Church or A Third Place Community Foundation and sent to Rev. Ron Robinson A Third Place 6514 N. Peoria Ave. Turley OK 74126.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Our Weekly Communion

Each Sunday morning beginning at 10 am our time is divided up in these parts: gathering and greeting; centering ourselves for our time of worship; morning song; morning prayer and sharing; communion; holy conversations and lessons for children; benedictions; cooking together, saying grace and eating our meal together, opening our meal to all who come and taking it to those home-bound and leaving plenty of leftovers for those who come to our Center during the week.

Communion, the sharing of bread and juice of the vine, is an integral part of the way we build community, worship God, and strive to make Jesus visible in our world today. Just as our missional expression through the A Third Place Center is vital to our sense of ourselves as a church; just as our eating together a real meal we make with our own hands each week and offer to one another and to others, sometimes from food we have grown ourselves, so communion is part of what makes us church. Just as is the reciting of the Lord's Prayer each week, along with sharing the plate and cup as a reminder and a real presence of Jesus's spirit among us, our singing and our lighting candles and sharing prayers connects us with the followers of Jesus not only around the world each week, but through time as well. Just as our open table, our welcoming of all without giving any theological test, connects us with the free church tradition and those churches within it even if they are not Christian.

Communion evokes and captures all of that. Universal love, radical forgiveness, our communal being, freedom of thought as the way we experience God's freedom, and our ultimate mission to build community and to feed those in need in the world, feed them with food and drink, with friendship, and with a sense of mission to those around them, especially those who are different from them.

We sing the song Let us Break Bread Together as we begin to pass the bread of life and the cup of hope around our circle; we finish by singing We're Gonna Sit at the Welcome Table. It moves us from our own immediate community to the promise we make to participate with God in creating the Welcome Table that should be God's world.

Just as in the song Welcome Table, we have no fancy style. This past Sunday we actually used tortillas and Jarrittos mandarin soda; we gave the excuse that it was to celebrate Christianity in the southern hemisphere and Tres de Mayo, but it was really because we hadn't replenished in time the usual grape juice in the cup and the french rolls for the bread. It reminded us though that it is the spirit of communion, not the express elements of it physically, that make it a reminder of the sacred mission and meal in the Jesus tradition, the Jesus way, which goes back not just to his Last Supper and his institution of the meal done in remembrance of him, but is evocative of his total life--eating with sinners, creating a party and riot wherever he went--, of his death--broken bread like his body broken, like all our best ideals and relationships brokenness, reminders of our own and all mortality;--and of his resurrection, as he continually fed those who encountered him after Easter, and broke bread with them so they would recognize him.

Down below in the post from March 26, 2009 you can see the common liturgy we use around our time of communion.

But it is part of our very lifeblood of a community, and is why we do all we do in mission with others in all the ways you have read about here or will read about here in some very exciting news in the future. (Just when I didn't think more miracles could happen....)

I look forward to sharing with any of you more about our weekly communion, and to hear your thoughts as well.