ROCHESTER, Minn. — At The Circle, a young, innovative church which meets in a renovated bus depot, there is no pulpit, platform or pastor, as such. The congregation rejects the labels "Christian" and "congregation," preferring "followers of Jesus" and "friendship community." There are no ushers, but rather "helpers." There is no worship team, but rather "God artists." And woe to anyone who affixes traditional church labels to any of it. "God's doing a new thing here," says Mitch Townsend, the leader of the church. He shuns the "pastor" label and insists people call him, "Hey, man," or simply "Dude." If someone slips and calls him "pastor," he bristles and gently rebukes them. "We got rid of all those old labels," he says. "There's no going back."
in a archived interview on hbo.com davidsimon, the creator of the wire, mentioned that omar little is the only character on the show that does not curse. simon suggested that omar's inoffensive language is a reflection of the fact that he has not submitted himself to an institution that has failed him and so produced the "debased language of those who are subject to the caprices and indifferences of the institutions they serve."in sum, omar does not curse because he has not capitulated to cynicism that rules the hearts of the other characters.
i was struck by simon's exposition of omar's character, since, by all accounts, omar is one of the most ruthless, violent residents of simon's blighted baltimore. omar is a child of the projects who robs drug dealers of their product for a living, will not hesitate to shoot a hopper who refuses to hand over the product and yet still finds time to find his "church crowned" granny to church once a month. omar piles up as many bodies as anyone, yet he will not deviate from his code by killing civilians, working for hire or distributing his spoils to his neighbors.
obviously, i am not interested in living by omar's particular code, but i am interested in relentlessly upholding the code or calling that Christ has imprinted upon my life. as i reflect upon omar's oddly inspiring life, i wish that my awareness of God's Kingdom, belief in holistic reconciliation and commitment to compassionate incarnation was so overwhelming that i felt compelled to exchange the cynical, despairing words that often proceed from my lips for words that more adequately reflect the beauty, truth and goodness of the God i serve. here's to living a life and utilizing language that is, in its own way, as focused, integrous and committed as omarlittle's.
"it was davidbosch who rightly noted that 'discipleship is determined by relation to Christ himself not by mere conformity to impersonal commands. the context of this is not in the classroom (where 'teaching' normally takes place), or even in the church, but in the world.* to be true, evangelical thinking reverberates with this idea. we emphasize the primacy of our relationship with Jesus and not to mere ideas about him, and we claim that this is an all-of-life phenomenon, but it is our lifestyle practices and not our thinking that constantly let us down in this matter." - alanhirsch, the forgotten ways, pg. 113
Christ does not call us to visit prisoners, feed the poor and clothe the naked so that we can develop a virtuous life. rather, Christ calls us to visit prisoners, feed the poor and clothe the naked because it is within such groups of people that He most fully dwells.
historically, i have been more concerned with my failure to maintain consistent quiet times, keep up with contemporary theology and fully invest in my pastoral "profession," than i have been concerned with loving my enemies, listening to the broken and breaking bread with the bedraggled. reading the statement above reminded me that unless i serve and sacrifice myself on behalf of the least, biblical knowledge and personal piety are of little or no value. for this reason, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, i hope to refocus my life on moving towards the center of all things and trusting that in the process of doing so the theological and spiritual details will work themselves out.
i think this personal movement from a "bounded set" view of christianity to a more "centered set" perspective is as important for the community of God as it is for this little disciple. i would like to spend a few moments explicating the latter movement but am going to spend a few more moments serving Christ instead.
today, due to 6 - 12 inches of snow in the hub, i am off of work. so i'm spending the day with little p, continuing to prep for my hebrew course and thinking up ideas for inappropriate christian t-shirts.
the shirt that's pictured above is currently available from lark news for $17.99. i'd love to pick it up for the pix, but, seeing as i'm broke, in lieu of such purchases i am going to produce my own christian t's instead. so, here are a few slogans i'm currently considering. i am entrusting cadewith the task of visual design, but where i have ideas, i've offered them.
1. "seduced by sunday school"* 2. "if you're looking to homer, i'm your gomer" 3. "MK and Awkward" 4. i'm the s _ _ _ solomon warned you about** 5. this shirt wouldn't have a slogan, but would feature an open Bible on the front and a smoking bowl*** on the back****
as always, your submissions are welcome.
* this text would be super imposed on one of those trashy lady silhouettes that adorn truck stops and are featured on these threads. ** *** of course, the bowl i'm talking about here would come from a "tobacco pipe." ****i think the .09% of the population who would understand this shirt would absolutely love it.
Who Knew that Cloth Diapering is Good for the Faith? Submitted by the Pixie*
Kathy, Preston’s day sitter, has suggested that we expand his BumGenius diapers to the third snap because diapers are supposed to go all the way up to the belly button. Now this may not seem like a big thing, but I’m not sure that I’m ready to have him wearing the fully expanded diapers at 9 months. I know our kid is looong but the diapers are supposed to last through potty training – what am I supposed to go to next if he outgrows the largest fitting?!! Thus began an in depth search of cottonbabies.com to see exactly how Preston’s cloth diapers are supposed to fit. I still haven’t found the answer to my question but I did find this:
How cool is that? Our diapers are made by Christians!! So we’re not crazy, crunchy, liberal, environmentally crazed New Englanders - we’re supporting the spread of Gospel...and preventing the spread of the super poo.
i am a thirtysomething worker bee who hails from massachusetts. by day i find jobs for individuals with significant disabilities and by night i spend time with my pixie-like wife and share life with my friends at the gathering in salem. my deepest passions are following Jesus Christ, extending God's compassion to the poor and obsessing about the Saint Louis Cardinals.