Sunday, December 27, 2009

Open For Church, Indeed!

I love holding worship in a place that doesn't look like "a church" so that "the church" can happen so much easier; this morning on the third day of Christmas was an example.

We opened up the community center amid the continuing snow and ice at 10 am and a little after that one of our regular members showed up, then another came in as we gathered by the TV for a "soft chair Sunday". I began sharing Christmas stories from Carl Scovel's book of radio messages, "Never Far From Home" and we began discussing and sharing from them; during this, another one of our regular folks walked in, and then a little later during another story and conversation a man with his two dogs and a chain saw came in; he was out walking and looking for any work to do, and was tired cold and very hungry; he grabbed food and drink and joined us; then later another of our semi-regulars came in. Then later another that comes every month of so on Sunday morning but joins with us during the week off and on. Most people this morning came by walking as much as a mile and a half to be with us, for worship and company and food and drink and to take some of the food back with them from the food pantry, for themselves and family members.

After the stories were told and talked about, I put in the DVD Saving Jesus from the folks and we watched the episode on Jesus Birth: The Incarnation, listening to Marcus Borg and Amy-Jill Levine and John Dominic Crossan and John Shelby Spong and Walter Brueggemann and John Cobb talk about the scriptures of Jesus birth and the way they hold out the choice about which kind of Son of God is the real one, the one to follow, about the choices of following Empire or Christ and how they are or were opposites, about the real meaning of Christmas and incarnation and the nature of Jesus and God. I thought again about how our church/center is about recreating mangers in the world, not Inns, and how the folks we create these mangers with are more like the ones who hungrily sought out Christ in the world that favored the Caesers. I couldn't help but think about how rare it is that progressive Christian voices are heard and discussed in settings like ours and by our folks.

After the video lessons, we then had even others come in to be with us, to meet up with others who were there, and this was just in time for our "readers' digest condensed version" of the christmas eve liturgy.

First a digression about Christmas Eve; we kept the center open throughout the evening toward the time of the 11 pm to midnight carols and communion service; folks came and ate and left as the roads got worse; by 10 pm it was just two of us in the center getting ready to see if anyone else would be getting out; a teenage boy came in and stopped to see if we had any work he could do; he is a regular in our area; but this night he was on his way walking in the storm from here in north Tulsa to family in West Tulsa. I talked him out of the walk during the night; let him use our phone to try to get a ride knowing it would be futile but he tried calling several people, and by then I talked him into not heading out at least until daylight; in the meantime he helped us clean up to earn some gas money to give someone who would drive him; he helped a few cars out on North Peoria get unstuck, including a county snow plow, then left before the service began. As 11 am came there were three of us for the service. We had a great time of worship, sharing, prayer, singing the liturgy and lighting the candles. The full liturgy is published at We then stayed and ate early Christmas morning soup together and headed home around 1 am. I ended up in a ditch on the way home and walked the final block or two up the hill home, listening to the Blind Boys of Alabama's Christmas Album from which part of our service had come. Two days later with the help of volunteers at the center I got the truck out of the ditch and home.

So this morning with more stopping by the center gradually and joining us, we handed out candles again and said our prayers again, shared pastoral concerns and prayed the Lord's Prayer again, and sang Silent Night together and shared the light from candle to candle in the darkened room of the center. It was as close to the manger and the spirit of those who might have gathered around it, because of curiousity and having no where else to go and of being stir crazy and of wanting to share life and all its vulnerabilities, as I have been in some time. The homeless vets, the mentally ill, the hungry and the unemployed, the recovering alchoholics and those still struggling with alcohol and other addictions, the ones with family in the hospital still during this season, those estranged from their family, those about to be travelling, those about to go in for medical procedures---we were quite a group in our soft chairs this Sunday morning gathered around candles, one candle each for the weeks of Advent, for peace and joy and love and hope, one candle for Mary, which we had lit for our pastoral prayers throughout Advent, and the central candle lit for the Christ Child.

Then those who could stayed and ate our common meal together as others shared rides back home with those with cars so others wouldn't have to walk as much on their way home as they had to on their way coming in for church earlier. "Never Far From Home" is the title of Carl's book, and it was never so aptly titled for our time together and to be reading from it this morning.

So I just had to share these past few days with you, and especially this morning as we continue in the Christmas season. We won't have worship here next Sunday as most of our leaders will be out of town, or in our case, out of the country. But we know the center will be open most likely by volunteers as it is throughout the week, and whenever that happens church happens; we told all we hope they will take time next Sunday and worship with another church.

We will have a Pancake Breakfast for community residents and leaders on Saturday Jan. 9 from 8 to 10 am, talking about community events and building multi racial multi ethnic multi generational community. We will be walking behind our banner in the Martin Luther King Jr. parade in Tulsa on Monday Jan. 18 at 11 am. We will be at the Turley area community meeting Tuesday Dec. 29 at 7 pm at OBrien Park. We will be in worship on Sunday Jan. 10 at 10 am again talking about the past present and future of our missional community of faith. We will be meeting with others on all sorts of initiatives in the coming weeks to improve the quality of our community and life of our residents in partnership with folks all over north Tulsa. We will be at the week of programs at Phillips Theological Seminary in mid-Jan. see about joining with us there. We will be holding a Unitarian Universalist history and polity class through PTS and having classes here at the Center on Thursday evenings beginning Feb. 4. We will be hosting our weekly free medical clinic and classes and recovery group and donation room and food pantry and resource center and free computer center, and through it all trying to remember to love our enemies and choose to live the way of Christ and not Caeser, and to be open to so much more that will be given birth through us in the year ahead.

My family and I will leave Monday for Scotland, England and France, helping my youngest daughter get settled in for a year of pastry studies at Le Cordon Bleu. Keep us in your prayers, and keep one another in your prayers, and for all who journey with us here at A Third Place Center. You can follow our trip through

We depend on the contributions of one another. If you haven't exhausted your resources at the end of the year and wish to support this missional community, please send checks made out to A Third Place Community, and mail here to 6514 N. Peoria Ave. Turley OK 74126. It will be just another way you can be a part of "the church" here that is making a real difference by making Jesus visible around us here.

blessings and thanks and so much more soon, Merry continuing Christmas on this third day of Christmas, and soon Happy Hogmanay from Edinburgh, Scotland.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve 2009 Liturgy of Lessons Carols Communion

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
11 pm to Midnight
Lessons and Carols and Communion

The Living Room Church in “A Third Place” Community Center
6514 N. Peoria Ave., Turley, OK 74126 794-4637/691-3223

Ours is a missional community of free faith seeking to make Jesus visible in the world today 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. We don’t think Jesus would have it any other way.

Greetings, Welcome


from "Christmas Beatitudes" by David Rhys Williams
On this blessed day let us worship at the altar of joy, for to miss the joy of Christmas is to miss its holiest secret. Let us enter into the spiritual delights which are the natural heritage of child-like hearts. Blessed are they who have vision enough to behold a guiding star in the dark mystery which girdles the earth. Blessed are they who have imagination enough to detect the music of celestial voices in the midnight hours of life. Blessed are they who have faith enough to contemplate a world of peace and justice in the midst of present wrongs and strife. Blessed are they who have greatness enough to become at times as a little child.
Blessed are they who have zest enough to take delight in simple things.
Blessed are they who have wisdom enough to know that the kingdom of heaven is very close at hand, and that all may enter who have eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to understand.

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


O Come, all ye faithful, Joyful and triumphant
O Come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem,
Come and behold him, Born the King of angels
O Come, let us adore him, O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

Sing choirs of angels, Sing in exultation,
O Sing, all ye citizens, of heaven above
Glory to God, In the highest
O Come let us adore him, O come, let us adore him
O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

In Advent each week we have pointed the way to Christmas. Peace, Joy, Love, and Hope, these are the touchstones in our journey preparing our hearts.
We are Grateful for all the days carrying us to this holy night.
And so we come to Christmas once again, as have those before us through the centuries, the mighty cloud of witnesses who have lighted our way with their lives of faith, hope and love against all odds.
May the lights we burn tonight warm us with memories of their inspiration and their aspirations.
Peace and joy and hope and love---which never come easy and are easily lost—all come together in the liberating spirit of God.
May God’s light heal our lives and world.
And may this light, on this special night of birth, remind us that to be in the spirit of Christmas we must be where peace needs to be born,
Where joy needs to be sung,
Where love needs to be shared,
And where hope needs to be found.
We light these candles once again in this Season which reminds us how to live most fully all our days.
We light these candles to proclaim the coming of the light of God into the world.
With the coming of this light let there be peace. Blessed are the peacemakers.
With the coming of this light let there be joy. Blessed are those who mourn and who suffer in this special time, that their hearts be lifted.
With the coming of this light let there be love. Such great love helps us to love God and one another, especially our enemies.
With the coming of this light let there be hope, that goodness will prevail in our lives and world, that oppression will end, that what unites us is stronger than what divides us, that we will find our way in the light of God and fear not.
With the coming of this light let there be born once again the simple transforming freedom the Christ Child brings to the world, through which the light of God shines in all, that we may be God’s people every day, and care for one another and for all of God’s Creation, with our hearts, minds, souls, and our hands.
We light these candles to proclaim the coming of the light of God into the world.

O God, who hast brought us again to the glad season when we remember the birth of Jesus, grant that his spirit may be born anew in us. Open our ears that we may hear the angel songs, open our lips that we may sing with hearts uplifted, Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace, goodwill toward all. Amen. (King's Chapel Book of Common Prayer)

FIRST LESSON: Luke 2:1-7
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. The first census took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.


Away in a manger, no crib for his bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head;
The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep in the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes
But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes
I love thee, Lord Jesus! Look down from the sky,
And stay by my cradle, till morning is nigh

SECOND LESSON: Luke 2: 8-12

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."


The first Nowell, the angels did say,
was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep
On a cold winter's night that was so deep.
Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,
Born is the king of Israel.

Third Lesson: Luke 2: 13-20

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom God’s favor rests." When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.


Angels we have heard on high sweetly singing o'er the plains
and the mountains in reply echoing their joyous strain
Gloria, In excelsis Deo; Gloria, In Excelsis Deo.

Shepherds why this jubilee? Why these songs of happy cheer?
What great brightness did you see? What glad tidings did you hear?
Gloria, In Excelsis Deo; Gloria, In Excelsis Deo.

Come to Bethlehem and see, Him whose birth the angels sing
Come adore on bended knee, Christ, the Lord, the newborn King.
Gloria, In Excelsis Deo. Gloria, In Excelsis Deo.

"The Work of Christmas" by Howard Thurman
"When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart."


It came upon the midnight clear, that glorious song of old
From angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold
Peace on the earth, good-will to all, From heaven's all gracious King.
The world in solemn stillness lay, to hear the angels sing.

But with the woes of sin and strife the world has suffered long
Beneath the angel strain have rolled Two thousand years of wrong
And man, at war with man, hears not, The love song which they bring
O hush the noise, ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing.

from Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit, and from Altars in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor

MESSAGE and Holy Conversation
“The Difference Between Mangers and Inns”
Rev. Ron Robinson


O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven
No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin
Where meek souls will receive him, still the dear Christ enters in.

We lift up our hearts in God for the gifts of Life given for all.
Thanks be to God.
As Christmas reminds us of how the Divine came into the world in one so small, young, and fragile, so the Gifts of Life Abundant are in the ordinary made extraordinary, in the bread of the earth and the juice of the grape becoming food of the Spirit, incarnations of the Sacred.
Thanks be to God.
As Christmas calls us to be mindful of all those in need, all without a room, all with grief and fear, and to work for a world more just, so may this token of our daily bread, and this token of our cup of forgiveness which quenches the thirst of the soul, call us to go feed others.
Thanks be to God.
As Christmas offers us peace and light in times of darkness, may the sacred offering of this small meal, one to another, inspire us to acts of lovingkindness, all in the Spirit of the One born upon this night who showed us faithfulness without fear, preparing a welcome table for all.
Thanks be to God.

Prayer of Confession: Gracious and Loving God, we acknowledge to you, to one another, and to ourselves that we are not what you have called us to be. We have stifled our gifts and wasted our time. We have avoided opportunities to offer kindness, but have been quick to take offense. We have pretended that we could make no contribution to peace and justice in our world and have excused ourselves from risk-taking in our own community. Have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and help us to live our lives differently. We long for peace within and without, for harmony in our families, for the well-being of our neighbors, and the love for our enemies. Yet we have too often not made the hard choices that love requires. Show us how to walk in your path of faithfulness, hope, and love. Amen.

Words of Assurance: One fact remains that does not change: God has loved all, loves all now, and will love all now always, for all time. This is the good news that brings new life. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Prayer of Communion: O God, in the loving and liberating spirit of Jesus, we gather at this welcoming table open to all, remembering how Jesus gathered people from all the walks of life, stranger and friend and enemies, gave thanks to you, offered all the bread of life and the cup of blessing and proclaimed a covenant of love for all in your name. We remember too the wonder of his life, as we remember the wonder of all of Creation given unto us and how all are One. We remember the agony of his death, and all the terrors and the tyrannies that oppress people today. And we remember the resurrection, the mystery of faith in the everlasting Spirit, the triumph over fear, as we remember all those who have given Love the ultimate trust and the last word and who have worked to create the beloved community of renewed and abundant life. Help us to remember with this meal especially all those who are hungry, and may we treat all our meals as sacred and to be shared. Take us, bless us, so that even in and with our brokenness we may serve others. Amen.

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. And they said, Lord, when did we do this? And he said, You did this for me when you did it for 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.

And so we join together in saying the prayer Jesus taught to those who would follow in his radically inclusive hospitable and justice-seeking way of the Spirit. 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, the power, and the glory, forever, and ever. Amen.

All are worthy and all are welcome in this free and open communion. We follow the practice of intinction, or dipping of the bread into the cup before eating.
May we remember that in our times of hunger and brokenness, coming from the body and the spirit, that God provides wholeness and abundant gifts of Creation all around us, among us, and within us all, more than enough to share with others.


Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child, Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night, shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar, Heavenly hosts sing Al-le-lu-ia
Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born

Silent night, holy night, Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face, With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord at thy birth, Jesus Lord at thy birth.

Go out into the highways and byways. Give the people something of your new vision. You may possess a small light, but uncover it and let it shine. Use it to bring more light and understanding to the hearts and minds of men and women. Give them not hell but hope and courage. Give them Christmas all year round. Preach and practice the kindness and everlasting love of God.
(18th century American Universalist minister John Murray, adapted)

Parts of the Liturgy have also come from, and been adapted from, Singing The Living Tradition hymnal, UUA, and from The New Century Hymnal, UCC, and the United Church of Christ Book of Worship

Tonight A New Kind of Birth

Coming in a few hours: I will be posting the order of service for the 11 pm to midnight worship service tonight, especially for those of you homebound due to the snow and ice storm here in the Tulsa area; for others to enjoy; all can join together wherever you are in the world and know you are virtually connected by the internet, and really connected by God.

This is a special night; we know many of those of you will be with family, will be worshipping elsewhere perhaps on this day; we also know snow and bad weather is upon us; but we will be open at that special time not because there is something especially magical and liturgically correct about it, not because it is a long time tradition with us, and certainly not because we have a big turnout (we had three the first year; five last year), but because there is always the possibility that there is someone who needs to worship, to light candles, to sing, to join in communion, and might have missed other opportunities earlier in the day, or didn't feel comfortable doing so elsewhere, or who might just have the impulse in the minutes and hours ahead of time tomorrow evening that it is something and some place they are called to be on this special night and they saw us open or saw our sign in front of our community center which looks very un-church-like; they might have had a big fight with spouse and family; they might be especially depressed; they might have just gotten out of jail or be on their way back to jail; they might have already had too much to drink for the holiday; or they might just want to be with any who might need to be there, they just might want to be a part of holding this service open for those who may never come.

We will also be open at the Center some Christmas Day as well to provide a place for those who need one on that special day, just as we held a wonderful Christmas Party this past Tuesday and sang carols and laughed and watched a Christmas movie and ate with one another, many of whom it might be their only Christmas party of the season. We also will have Christmas Sunday worship and holy conversation and common meal on Sunday Dec. 27 as usual at 10 am. On Sunday Jan. 3, though, we will encourage in our ecumenical way that all go find another place of worship for that week's worship, or go open up at the Center and just be there as hospitality and conversation for any who might come by; regular liturgical worship will resume on Jan. 10. On Sunday, Jan. 17 we will have our annual Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday in the morning and that evening at 5 pm we will march with others together in the candlelight procession for the worship service at Boston Avenue Methodist Church downtown; then on Monday, Jan. 18 in the morning we will walk with our banner in the MLK Jr. parade through the Greenwood historical section.

The homily and holy conversation we will have during the candlelight service is called "The Difference Between Mangers and Inns." It will be about finding the mangers where Hope is born, where God's spirit is born for us to find, and about recreating mangers where we can be with others on their search too. It is about not letting the Inns, the full places, the popular places, the have-it-all-together places, the safe places, draw our time, talents, treasures and spirit away from the mangers.

In her book, Hope in the Dark, author and activist Rebecca Solnit quotes the philosopher Alphonso Lingis in words that seem to capture the radical essence of Advent and Christmas, who says, "Hope arises in a break with the past. There is a kind of cut and the past is let go of. There is a difference between simple expectation and hope. One could say, "because I see this is the way things are going, this is the way things have developed, I expect this to happen: expectation is based on the pattern you see in the past...I think that hope is a kind of birth--it doesn't come out of what went before, it comes out in spite of what went before. Abruptly there is a break and there's an upsurge of hope, something turned toward the future."

God is supposed to be born in Inns, based on expectations, based on all the stories of the powerful civilizations, and it is in the Inns and the palaces that our expectations lead us to. There is always No Room in the Inns for those who carry God with them; the real invitation after that knock on the door and the mother to be and father--refugees strangers--loom in the doorway, the real invitation is from them to those of us who create Inns and live in them instead of in mangers, the invitation to follow them and leave the Inns.

And so in Christmas too we immerse in the past and traditions and nostalgia, but stay there at our peril; we haven't been waiting through Advent for nostalgia, for the realization of our expectations; we have been waiting for an abrupt disrupture of healing and justice, for the overturning of our expectations.

Each Sunday here when we gather for our worship time in our missional community we see our mission statement before us, that we exist to make visible Jesus in the world. That is of course what we celebrate on Christmas, Jesus' life coming into the world. It is why we are always, or strive to be always, a Christmas community. Making visible is another way of phrasing the Gospel of John's depiction of The Word Becoming Flesh. God isn't supposed to do that; God isn't supposed to become fragile, bounded, vulnerable, earthy, poor. But God does and calls us to the same holy ground. God isn't supposed to take shape in a body and call us to such love of bodies and Creation, but this is what Christmas hope is all about, that a different kind of God than our world expects just might show up in the mangers just around the corner and on the edges of our cities and towns.

It is why, more than any other response we get here at our A Third Place Center---from all the things we do and hold during the year, or just from being open for someone---the response we get the most is "I am surprised this is here" and once they find out more about us and how we operate out of radical trust and grace and openness beyond creed or any other divisions among us and a commitment to have zero funds in our bank account at the end of each month, they are even more surprised we are still here.

I leave you then with a different kind of Christmas carol that captures the spirit of this different kind of birth of God, a hymn by Brian Wren, and where he has appropriately used the word Good as a kind of blessing I hope you will also read Good for God, and understand an even deeper sense of the hymn for this season we have been waiting for:

"Good is the flesh that the Word has become; good is the birthing, the milk in the breast, good is the feeding, caressing and rest, good is the body for knowing the world, Good is the flesh that the Word has become. Good is the body for knowing the world, sensing the sunlight, the tug of the ground, feeling, perceiving, within and around, good is the body, from cradle to grave, Good is the flesh that the Word has become. Good is the body from cradle to grave, growing and ageing, arousing, impaired, happy in clothing or lovingly bared, good is the pleasure of God in our flesh. Good is the flesh that the Word has become. Good is the pleasure of God in our flesh, longing in all, as in Jesus, to dwell, glad of embracing, and tasting, and smell, good is the body for good and for God, Good is the flesh that the Word has become."

Amen to all that, thanks for all you do keeping us open and praying for and with us and joining us when you can, blessings, and see you soon somewhere in the flesh, in the Word, in the continuing Christmas spirit, in the intersection of Jesus and Freedom, in Christ,


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Three New Books: Reviews on the way

Coming soon: excerpts and reviews of three new books on my shelves;
Follow Me To Freedom by Shane Claiborne and John Perkins, a conversation on leadership for communities that seek to change this new world.
The House Church Book by Wolfgang Simson who wrote the classic Houses That Change the World, with foreword by George Barna; disagree about what is biblical, agree with the call for reformation in structures.
The Amost Church Revitalized by Michael Durall, wise words for Unitarian Universalist churches about the oh so needed shift in thinking of church from the private sphere to becoming a public church, what I call missional community. Much of what we do here is reflected in the ideas and spirit of this book though it is geared for more traditional communities and of larger size. go to I was a little surprised and disappointed to see some of the tenor of the negative responses to Durall's book excerpt on public churches that was printed in the UU World; those who think his suggestions are radical won't know what to do with us. lol.
more to come and see below for other new posts.

Turning Your Congregation Inside Out: Growing Missional Communities

The title of this post is also the title of a workshop I just found out I was approved to lead at the UUA General Assembly in Minneapolis this coming June. I will be joined in presenting it and in conversation with colleague Joel Miller of Buffalo, and it is hoped one or two more to be announced later. It will be a chance to present some of what we have been doing here as church, sowing some seeds for others, and a chance to hear how others are moving to missional manifestation of what we call church, a redundancy if there ever was one. More to follow and you all can help me shape the workshop.

Type rest of the post here

Advent's Unapologetic Interruptions: Church Being Christmas

First, I hope this interrupts your day. Lord knows, I have had many interruptions here at our community center/clinic/library/foodpantry/givingroom cafe/kidspace/internet center today as I have tried to write it to you. And I just got back from a several days surprise trip out of town that was one of those pleasant interruptions but an interruption nonetheless. And as I get into hyper-planning mode not only for the holidays, but for a trip to Europe afterwards, interruptions are often just what I have needed.

And today I am looking at interruptions differently. I was just reminded in the new book by Shane Claiborne and civil rights activist John Perkins "Follow Me To Freedom" how the scriptures are all about interruptions, story after story how God interrupts lives, calls us in new directions, or back to the path; story after story about how Jesus was interrupted constantly, and how Jesus's prophetic actions interrupted the status quo and the powerful on behalf of and in league with the vulnerable.

And this time of the year, God how we hate interruptions, delays in our plans, in checking off our to-do lists. God how we hate to wait too. Whole industries have emerged to make sure we don't have to wait, to make our lives as full of convenience as possible. But then the interruption happens, as it always does. Something new gets added to our agenda. You will be hearing very soon about some exciting new ways we have been interrupted here with good ideas, with love and hope and big visions once again, and ways you can help us interrupt our world with our values and our presence.

Advent is the story of the Great Interruption, as God interrupts the life of Mary, certainly of Joseph, interrupting the powers that be with the greater power that another world is not only possible but it is already here, pregnant and growing, about to be born where no one would ever think to look. Advent is about the affirming spirit of waiting on that birth, on the birth of peace and joy and love and hope, waiting and letting it change us from within so we can change the world without, waiting to connect with others on the road to Bethlehem too, and the road to Egypt too, and the road back to Nazareth too, from where nothing good can supposedly come.

Let me interrupt you with the truth that Advent, Christmas, Christ, the Church is not about Metaphysical Truth but about real Trust, and that, in the words of Wolfgang Simson in his newly released The House Church Book, the church is not to "have" a message but to "be" the message. So it was that God didn't write out spiritual truths in the heavens above Israel 2000 years ago in languages all could easily get; God came in the fragile form, the mortal form, the oppressed and cast-off exiled form, of the baby that had to rely on and trust others for its life and its future. The baby had to wait. The baby was also, as all babies are, an interruption.

So how, as a church being the message of that baby, are we helping people to learn to wait and be open to what is growing within them, and how are we helping people to interrupt their lives, and the lives of those around them, with the surprising love and change that God's universal love brings?

....Last Saturday we picked up on doing the monthly community breakfasts for each second Saturday,next one Jan. 9, 8 to 10 am here but we are intentionally recreating the breakfasts to be multiracial multiethnic multigenerational times and leadership breakfasts where all get the chance to cross lines and learn what is happening in our North Tulsa/Turley area around the center. We got off to a great start. Spread the news and come to the next one. Suggested breakfast donation of $5 and we will have pancakes next time besides a range of healthy items.

...This coming Tuesday Dec. 22 at 6:30 pm we will offer our space for the wider community to gather for a Christmas party of carols and food and good times, reflecting the spirit of abundance with those around us who often live in scarcity or have a spirit of scarcity reflected back onto them.

....We have transformed our old clothing donation room into an open kidspace and gameroom cafe space and expanded food pantry space and still clothing area we call The Giving Room. It is where we have been having our Sunday Advent communion worship services. This Sunday at 10 am we will have our Fourth Sunday of Advent: Waiting on Hope worship with holy conversation and a common meal and decorating more for Christmas. We recently had a Christmas tree decorated and one of the residents who hangs out in the Center said it was the first time in his 60 years he had ever been allowed to decorate a Christmas tree.

...We have been working on community projects of public gardening and are hoping to soon own and transform some hilltop property overlooking downtown Tulsa and make it an outdoor A Third Place LivingKitchen Garden Park, a full acre, a whole city block, that ties in our two most low income areas and one incorporated and one unincorporated both multi racial but one predominantly African American and one predominantly White and American Indian. You can see a little more about this project by going to youtube at We need to get 100 people to send us $100 or more to A Third Place Community, our non-profit, at 6514 N. Peoria Ave. Turley OK 74126 so we can help fund the transformation project. Help us launch this and add your name to the list of givers.

...We will be coordinating with OU-Tulsa to hold community leadership skills classes for all residents free of charge on the last two Tuesdays of Feb. Mar. and April here at our Center, creating the kind of skills that will help people build job resumes, grow their own businesses, help out their own churches and associations.

...We will be helping connect another group of OU students with community residents and agencies interested in developing entrepreneurs and turning what others see as weaknesses, such as our infrastructure and abandoned lots and buildings, into assets.

...We are working with North Tulsa Economic Development Inititiative on the McLain High School greenhouse project, on healthy cornerstores developments in our area; with neighborhood association development.

...And again with OU's School of Community Medicine to move toward creating volunteer community health leaders, feeding the hungry with meals, and getting residents information and assessing their health needs; and with local farmers markets to expand our existing community gardens and orchard;

In all we do, we are guided by the spiritual intersection of following Jesus and Freedom. We celebrate this each Sunday and when we gather for our other meetings, and when we share with others the power of what is happening in our lives and community.

It is why, again this year, in case there are any out in need of companionship on Christmas Eve, Thursday, Dec. 24 at 11 pm we will open our doors for a worship of communion and carols and cider and cookies to bring in Christmas morning.

You never know Who will show up when you open up and wait.

blessings, thanks, and more soon,

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