Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Real Mary

Scot McKnight has just published a book under this title and I like the title. Have you ever wondered what the 'real Mary' was like? I've wondered that about all the biblical characters, actually. I suggest that most of our 20-21st century filters are probably pretty heavy and what actually comes through about these people is only slightly the real deal!

At our Sat. gathering in VA Beach, Dec. 9th, we will take some time to explore the various roles Jesus' Mom took in her lifetime, based on what is at least revealed to us through her repeated entrances into the scenes of the N.T. record. A pregnant virgin, a Mom, a psalmist, a single-Mom ... divorced or widowed? house-keeper, disciplinarian, Jewish community participant, a cousin, a friend, an aunt or grandmother?, a spokesperson for the Savior of the world, a witness to her son's death and burial, one of those parents who witness their own child's death before their own, a follower of The Christ, a primary witness to the events that birthed a new cult-of-the-day = Christianity, a 1st hand witness to the experience of being a "Spirit-filled new-born" ... what else?

And then there's all those unanswered questions about her life: Who, where, what about her parents? Where did her husband disappear to? How many other children did she have, if any? Did she attend or lead any young house "church" after her Pentecost experience? What was the relationship between her and John ... did she go and live with him? How did she influence the N.T. writings of his? Where and when did she die?

For those who are able to find a little time for coffee and conversation during a very busy holiday season, I think the shared reflections from the women at this kavura gathering will be a holiday blessing for everyone.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Stem Cell Churches

Could the concept of "stem cell research" be applied to looking for a cure to our 'sick' church growth? What basic 'stem cells' are needed to preserve in order to cultivate a healthy community? What are the basic stem cells of a churching community? Seems like for women, and others that are typically marginalized as potential spiritual leaders of communities of faith, need to firmly redefine 'church' and embrace these new emerging definitions through risky implantations.

I suggest that our definition of church is static and sterile. At best, the current church plant movement is mired in cloning - spending boo-coo time and effort in training people (almost exclusively Maxwell/Clinton/Malphers wired, driven men) to plant a carbon copy of some existing Maxwell/Clinton/Malphers model. But, why are we putting so much time toward making clones of churches that people are not only NOT coming to in increasing numbers, but are shrinking (according to all national stats)?????

I suggest it's because to train for apostolic births, to nurture and cultivate fresh entrepreneur works, would mean that the institutional church machine would then have to embrace a diversity of people to launch such efforts ... breaking free from the stereotypical 'prime candidate' of church planters! (I will leave my readers to define the stereotype!) Ironically, I doubt whether Paul would have made it through the church planting sifting organizations that are being touted out there as being able to find the 'most likely to succeed" candidates! (I'm pretty sure that Priscilla would not have made it through the sifter unless she submitted to giving her partner's name first billing!)

Having said this, back to my first thread of imagination ... what are the stem cells of an authentic community of faith that could be cultured to provide new and fresh 'churching' communities for the 21st century?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Apostolic Women Church Birthers

If the tables were turned, what if women were financially supported to birth/plant new churches ... truly new postmodern communities of faith ... what would this look like? Where? How? How creatively different would feminine designed churching communities look like? What would women choose to spend the church plant monies on first, second, third? I dream of having a "Think Tank" that would answer these questions with multiple answers ... all being possibilities to find their actualization.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Accidental Death of a Baby ... by it's Mother!

I Kings 3:16-28 --- the story is famous for pointing us to King Solomon's wisdom in deciding the question of maternity between two mothers for the same baby. As the King threatens to divide the child in half, he rules for the woman who has compassion toward the child and gives up her 'rights' in favor of allowing the baby to live. And so they lived happily ever after! But do they all live happily ever after ... is it a happy ending for everyone?

All of Israel who heard of the story were in "awe" of Solomon's wisdom and that God's justice had certainly prevailed (vs. 28) But what about the human issues behind the story? Is God's footprint in the story only found over King Solomon and the royal impression he made for everyone? Are the two women and the child mere pawns to make a point for the King's "godly" wisdom?

Traditional modern church teaching has been willing to answer these last two questions with, 'yes.' But, fresh prophetic imaginations of postmodern theology is validating the depths of human complexities of each character within the biblical stories and the faith to believe that God journeys with each character throughout the story, seeking for a means of justice and mercy to prevail. Each character offers us a possibility to historically connect with their story, to search for God's Presence, and the chance to weave our story into theirs. So ... who of us in the 21st century might find our place in this story and hear the voice of God?

Let me start the list ... today's prostitutes, prostitutes who become pregnant, women who are left alone to give birth without family and community support, mothers and fathers who have accidentally caused the death of their child, parents involved in legal paternity or maternity suits, parents who win and people/parents who lose their legal battles, the variety of people in our family legal system who are called upon to make tough decisions involving parental battles (not many have the option of cutting babies in half today!) and then there's the children who only later in life find out the battle that was once fought on their behalf.

Certainly this biblical narrative will draw us into some great Spirit-led conversations this Sat.,Nov. 11th, at the Generations Quest Women's Kavura (in Va Beach.)