Friday, September 11, 2009

Our Common Liturgy

Feel free to print out and take with you and use for your own daily reflections, to incorporate into your daily prayer and worship.

Church at A Third Place Center

A missional community of free faith seeking to make Jesus visible in the world through small acts of justice and compassion done in great love. Join us in service throughout the week.

Our Welcome Table of Worship is open to all who welcome all, regardless of belief or denomination, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical abilities, economic status, or political affiliations.

Today is the day which God has made: Let us rejoice and be glad therein. What is required of us? To do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.
This is our covenant as we walk together in life: In the light of truth, and the loving and liberating spirit of Jesus, we gather in freedom, to worship God, and serve others.

Morning Songs and Morning Prayers
Lift up your voices in celebration; lift up the names of those on your mind and in your heart, followed by the Lord's Prayer; people are free to use the Lord's prayer versions they are most familiar with.

Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Communion Open To All
Blessed are you poor. The realm of God is yours. Blessed are you who hunger today. You shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep today. You shall laugh. Blessed are the humble. They will inherit the earth. Blessed are the merciful. They will find mercy. Blessed are the peacemakers. They will be called children of God.
Jesus said I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came to me. They asked him, when did we do this Lord? And he replied when you did it to the least of these.
Here is the bread of life, food for the spirit. Let all who hunger come and eat. Here is the fruit of the vine pressed and poured out for us. Let all who thirst now come and drink. We come to make peace. We come to be restored in the love of God. We come to be made new as an instrument of that love. All are worthy. All are welcome.

“Let Us Break Bread Together” “We’re Gonna Sit At The Welcome Table”


“Shalom Havyreem” “Go Now In Peace”

Type rest of the post here

Gospel of Mark reflections

During this year, between now and Easter, we will be incorporating selections from the Gospel of Mark into our church's holy conversations or our communion words during worship. I will post these or many of them here on the blog.

For example, this coming Sunday I will be lifting up from Mark second chapter, how one of the first evidences of his public ministry after the baptism and time in the wilderness is reflected in the story of Jesus and his disciples eating with tax collectors and sinners. My point is not only that he associated with those who were scorned by other people, meaning that he could find God within them and through their lives and not just taking God to them but also that his eating with them was not like going to a restaurant where there are people different from you eating. In that case you might still be separate from them, just visiting so to speak, and it might be about your own self-righteousness to be seen with those you shouldn't be seen with. But with Jesus and his dinners, they were family affairs; it was about going deeper with those who are endangered, becoming truly relational with them, creating that fictive family and kind of relationship that is opposed to the kind most favored; it is about risk. That is what being in a missional community is and calls us toward. It is what communion every time we worship points us to.

And here are reflections from the lectionary readings from Mark for the past Sunday and the upcoming Sunday. Read more at

First the pivotal passage of Jesus' encounter with the Syro-Phoenician mother; one of the very few times Jesus is verbally one-upped (the other also by a woman, his mother); a Gentile and a woman with an audacious spirit, risking hurt to confront him and when faced with Jesus' dismissal of her, she continues with her prophetic stance of faith that knew no boundaries of ethnicity or gender or any other way of separation and oppression. She holds up the possibility of redemption and mutual transformation to Jesus and his followers themselves; she holds up the mirror to Jesus about his very calling; she models the very way of the disciple, as opposed to so many of his authorized disciples who don't get his message and ministry, in a gospel that is about becoming a disciple of Jesus in dangerous times and ways. For those of us who find our deepest following of Jesus by being in relationship with others who are different from us theologically, culturally and other ways, and with the vulnerable, this is a scripture that highlights our very faithfulness. And then this is further revealed by the wonderful next scene Jesus' healing, our healing, comes through that wonderful word Ephphatha, to be opened, to be in a position of receiving of receiving the healing of love and truth from others, especially from those who we have been taught to turn away from and who so often turn away from us; our way of being a disciple is to live in the spirit of Ephphatha. To create systems that are open, not closed.

Mark 7: 24-37:
From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 28But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” 30So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
31Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”
This Sunday: Mark 8:27-38
But what kind of a Christ, a Messiah, was Jesus to his followers, and to us? Radically, he was seen as the Messiah through his vulnerability, his power-with others, not through his power-over others. Peter's understanding of the Messiah, of God, of the community of followers, was that of the way of the world, of the Roman Empire and temple collaboration way, not the way of the divine Jesus had been demonstrating for them, the divine relationship and compassion for the outcast, and the way that led to but beyond the cross. Jesus is rebuked by Peter for violating the norms of the Messiah and so Jesus rebukes him back, or the Satan he is exhibiting; and certainly religious leaders ever since have still not gotten it and have followed the cultural norms instead of Jesus' way of disrupting the cultural norms. No wonder :) throughout Mark Jesus calls on disciples to be silent about what they see and are told; silence until they are able to get and live it; silence beats the way we so often say and do just the opposite of what Jesus called us to say do and be. What are the crosses that line our lives today, the way the crosses lined the roads Jesus walked upon? Which ones are we called to pick up and transform as we are transformed? It is not that we seek suffering, and judge our selves based on some degree of suffering for the good cause--that is counter to the spirit of Jesus--but that we live, as this following text implies through Jesus' teaching, as if we were already in a state of resurrection and by doing so put all the suffering that may come from the world's crosses into a larger perspective.
27Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” 30And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
31Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
34He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

These were some of my thoughts this week.

Type rest of the post here

Community Visions

Here is another updated report on what and how our missional community of faith is doing in our northedge of Tulsa.

Recent sightings of the Spirit here in our community:
we had a wonderful start of Community Visions last Saturday where we worked with OU social work students on turning some of our dreams into grant realitiies and projects in the areas of food and justice, animal justice and safety, neighborhood justice and transforming abandoned buildings and lots into pocket parks and more spaces for community gardening and community events. The overall arc is to continue with our becoming an inside-out incarnational community; we turned our church inside out into A Third Place Center, and now we are looking at decentralizing and spreading out A Third Place into a movement that can be located wherever we are called.

On Saturday Sept. 19 the next round of Community Visions will take place at A Third Place as we hear back from the graduate students on their research since our meeting. We will also on that day have a Community Volunteer Appreciation Lunch in coordination with OU. And the final presentations will take place on Saturday Oct. 17. Come see community in action where people least expect it, and how they least expect it. And Wednesday Sept. 23 at 6:30 pm we will have a planning Board meeting. Much to celebrate.

We had our Plant Rescue church without walls last Sunday; communion service at the Center followed by guerilla gardening at a site that will become a skateboard and soccer complex, rescuing native plants that will be transplanted to our new gardening project at the Cherokee School here. And we have our common meals to round out our time of sharing Sunday together.

This Sunday we will have our monthly time of holy conversation lifting up experiences of the last week or last month that have moved us closer to God, opened us up to Love and Joy and Service, moments perhaps of transformation, and also those things that have caused us to struggle with this walk of faithfulness. Next Sunday, Sept. 20, will be a chance to ask me anything about my odyssey of faith, of this community and visions, and sign up for your chance to do an oddyssey and present those things that sustain you.

The Big Garden Party and free lunch will be held at Cherokee School, 6001 N. Peoria Ave., on Saturday, Sept. 26. Come for all or only a part of it; bring youth groups, friends, the curious, etc. From 8 am we will begin transforming the landscape into a kid-friendly garden vs. a maintenance-worker friendly one. We will also have our semiannual Free Seed and Plant and Garden Exchange; bring to share, take what you find you need. And we will have a lunch at noon and tour of the school where my wife and I met 50 years ago in kindergarden. We will continue planting all afternoon. Right now the art teacher has to keep her blinds down because of the ugly view out the windows; we want to change that with a prairie garden; right now all over our north Tulsa area the landscapes at the elementary schools are abysmal, the grass goes uncut, unsightly utility fixtures are prominent in front, and we wonder why the schools are called at-risk. Neighborhood revitalization can be started at the schools and beginning at Cherokee we want to begin sowing these seeds at our other schools here too.

At worship lately we have been talking about the power of words in our simple common liturgy, how these words help us to live faithfully to a vision broader and more loving than the words we hear so much of the rest of our lives coming from the television, from work, even from our families and friends. Every Sunday we say together words of the ages such as the Lord's Prayer, the Beatitudes, Micah's admonition to live justly, love mercy, walk humbly with our God, and the Psalmist call to know this is the day which God has made so let us rejoice and be glad therein; each Sunday we break the bread and drink of the cup (by intinction) and talk about all the different meanings held for us in the ordinary act, sacrament of communion; sometimes we focus on unity, sometimes forgiveness, sometimes liberation from oppression, sometimes a theology of enough, this past Sunday on what it signifies about being a part of a Body, of Christ, of Creation, of sharing despite our differences and validating our differences and we have many. Many of the words we will be absorbing this year will come from the Gospel of Mark we incorporate into our time together this year, in small doses. I have been and will be doing some longer reflections on Mark in one of my online bible study groups and will also be posting them at Planting God Communities

These words we try to live out all the rest of the week. Sometimes individually, and so we hope that the common songs we sing and will be learning become a part of our daily lives, as do the prayer words and blessings; We try to live them our together too getting together at odd times to hang out, to do small projects, to share life and thanks. And attending community events together like the wider community association meeting Tuesday Sept. 29 at 7 pm, the upcoming Taste of North Tulsa Event at McLain High School on Thursday Oct. 8 that will be free to all, and to see all kinds of opportunities for get-togethers go to

We will have community breakfast and random acts of kindness this Saturday at 9 am beginning with breakfast at the Odd Fellows Lodge, 6227 N. Quincy.

We are starting a walking club called Souls and Soles you will be hearing more about; we are going to explore new transformations of the Center with times for workdays to do it; and through it all every day we offer a place well into the night for people to meet, share, find out information, get and give donations of clothes, food, books, and more. We will be starting a movie and social justice documentary times. The seeds continue to be sown. All that you have read about up to this point happens often with one or two people, sometimes four, sometimes a dozen; that's what it means to be missional minded.

Come see.

Type rest of the post here

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Recent report from the church

Posting a few recent reports about how we put a lot of the theories here into action.

It was good to relax this past Sunday as we gathered for conversation, to watch more of the documentary on monastic life Into The Great Silence, share communion and fix and eat a healthy lunch. It is also good to see that the garden we have planted for the community is yielding produce for our center and food pantry, and thanks for other donations of home grown fresh produce for it from others.

Looking ahead: This Sunday and next we will watch and discuss the movie Simon Birch and John Irving's book A Prayer for Owen Meany which "suggested" the movie, both as a way of launching a study and discussion of the Gospel of Mark and radical discipleship in our time, a time when it is both quite easy to be a Christian and extremely hard to be a follower of Jesus.

First Sundays of each month we will pick back up on our Church Without Walls Sundays, doing things together in the community or worshipping with other groups. Second Sundays during our holy conversation time we will de-brief our lives and bring back reports on how we are living as missionaries of love and justice, sharing stories and struggles. On other Sundays we will offer turns at doing Odysseys sharing something special from our life story, or something we have found that inspires and sustains us, or a passion we want to use in the world. Children will continue with lessons from the book Hide and Seek With God.

Special days: Saturday Sept. 26 will be a day of transforming the landscape, and lives, at Cherokee School, with gardening from 8 am to 11 am, with a special lunch and tour of the school as a gift from Bonnie and I in celebration of the day we met 50 years ago in kindergarden at Cherokee; then more gardening in the afternoon. For more and ways to help, in person or with other ways, contact Bonnie at Come be our guest and help us help the school. On Saturday Oct. 31 we will host our annual big community Halloween Party at our A Third Place Center; help us keep making the celebration bigger and better; Sunday, Nov. 15 at 2 pm help Turley United Methodist Church as it celebrates its 100th anniversary; Nov. 22 will be the Thanksgiving Service and the annual Reverse Offering Sunday when we give out money for people to use for acts of random kindness beauty justice or to seed projects and causes that make a diffeerence, then on Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday we share stories of how we used the monies; On Nov. 29 we begin Advent sundays leading to Christmas Eve communion.

Stay tuned for other special days of community service through A Third Place and special fund-raisers.

Thanks and blessings and more soon,

Type rest of the post here