Thursday, December 17, 2009

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,

Type rest of the post here

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