Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Disciple of Christ

Yes - that is me. Big D - Disciple as well as little d - disciple.
Meaning that I do identify in this post denominational age as a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ.) I used to be a Presbyterian, and a Methodist and now I am a Disciple. And I will continue.

I write this after attending Saturday's workshop on the Disciples of Christ at Camp Christian that was led by Glen Carson from the Disciples Historical Society.

He took us back through the history of our denomination - our beginnings in both Kentucky with Barton W Stone and in West Virginia with Thomas and Alexander Campbell.
He talked about the four pillars of the church.

And as he spoke I realized that this is why I am a Disciple and will continue to be.
The four pillars:
1. The primacy of the new testament - we are followers of Jesus and that is what is most important. That the message of the Old (First ) Testament is important but we are a new testament church. And the stories and teachings of Jesus as well as his death and resurrection continue to speak to me every year. Not to mention the acts of the apostles and the letters of Paul and others. This has truly been formative to me and to my faith.
2. We pursue Christian unity - not well - but that is our polar star. We are Christians only and not the only Christians and we do not think that we are the only ones with the truth. We are in competition with no one and we work with everyone to express the light of the love of Christ.
3. We believe in and practice the priesthood of all believers. And we do every week - you see it especially at the table. There does not need to be an ordained pastor in order for us to have communion. And I know from my experience with other denominations that this is huge for me. I could not pastor if my church placed me in anyway above the rest of the congregation. And while we all say this - not every church practices it. And I feel especially blessed by the church that I serve where members do everything I do - visit the sick, Bible studies, preach, lead worship. We are the body of Christ.
4. We have the promise of the open table. Everyone is welcome to come. The initial invitation was made by Jesus. And Glen made a point on Saturday of saying that you did not even have to be a believer. He said that the invitation is for any who are weary and heavy laden. Come. And this table is a place of memory - remembering the life, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus. But most important to me - it is a mystical place of presence. We gather together in the presence of our Lord.

And so I thought I would write this blog just saying that I have yet to learn of a church that fits what I believe better than the Disciples of Christ. We have a respect for education that comes from our forefathers like Alexander Campbell as well as an awareness of the power of the spirit that comes from Barton Stone.

We are - of course - not perfect in practice. We all have stories of times that churches and regions and even the general church fell away from trusting in God's leading and may have been guided by fear and power needs. But the ideals of who we are called to be as followers of Christ continue to speak to me.

And so, as I reflect on my life I hope that people see in me one who is trying to follow Jesus Christ as a disciple. And I am glad that 30 years ago I found a denomination that fits ME!

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Spirit of Generosity

This weekend I went to a workshop led by Margaret Wheatley on the "Generosity Economy."

She is a writer, speaker and consultant who "applies the lens of living system theory to organizations and communities." (from her website). She is a world traveler and has learned from her work with indigenous people as well as science and nature to see the world with a different paradigm from the "western mechanical" way of thought.

To translate this is what her message is."Humans can get through anything as long as we are connected.". And life's basic building blocks are relationships. And right from the start of our time together she talked about what blocks relationships and our souls: speed and stress. One of our biggest problems is people being dstrcacted. We lose our reason, we lose our ability to think, we lose our moral judgment and our ability to imagine.

Some quotes from the workshop that I am still pondering

- the paralysis of the western culture is dismissing things that we decide are not worth our time. Like developing relationships. We have to learn to be curious about who people are.
- we are all "bundles of potential" that manifest only in relationships
- a biological principal - to create health, create more connections
- Ubuntu - we can only be human together.
- We exist in a bundle of belonging - Desmond Tutu

She talked about the beginning of community - once we discovered fire we moved into community and sat in a circle and told our stories.
What has happened is that we have become more and more isolated from each other.
I thought about the advent of television and a family that sat together and looked at a screen at someone else's story - a sit com or drama that becomes resolved in 22 or 53 minutes. That was my growing up experience - but we still sat together at the dinner table and talked

Now I think people look at separate screens - not even the same story and often do not sit "at table" with one another. The loss of community is profound and of course, leads to loneliness and isolation.

She showed us a picture of a grove of aspen trees and I learned something new. T

Aspen trees are propagated by a root system and are actually interconnected by their root system. The oldest grove of aspen trees is 80,000 years old in Utah! They can moved - migrate - to where the light is. You will never see a single tree - they are connected.

I will write more about this retreat later - but today I cannot help but reflect on what a church is supposed to be. A place of connection for all people -
And sometimes we really are. Other times not so much.
As I have been writing this morning I get a phone call from Don Sexton who wants to know where Ella Mae Lindamood is in rehab so that he can send flowers. There are connections that go on all the time that I don't even realize. The underground root system.

We just finished our second week of our "intergenerational Sunday School" and I have really enjoyed watching the connections and the conversations between people who did not really know each other before. I especially love the opportunity to help adults and youth talk and listen to each other.

Anyway, on this Monday morning I ponder the mystery of connections and how blessed we can be to grow together. And it does involve taking time to cultivate the relationships of our lives.