Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Oikos and Polis: Some continued thinking...

This morning I was reflecting on some recent discussions around Bernd Wannenwetsch’s Political Worship, and came across Geoff Holssclaw’s post: “Church or Family”:  http://geoffreyholsclaw.net/church-or-family/, where he describes the unsuspecting visitors at his church walk in expecting a “church,” but find a “family” instead.

They hit on some similar themes. Wannenwetsch explores the relationship between Household (Oikos) and Politics (Polis). His primary contention is that the Household of God (born into through Baptism= the church) lives life in the Spirit and is the true picture of what the Kingdom looks like, or what is breaking into the Polis and what the Polis needs to hear proclaimed.

It is interesting to think of the Household then as the ideal. So long we have thought of the Polis as the ideal. We import ideas of the culture into the Household--Ideas of identity, self-image, of how reality operates, of the hierarchy of importance, of the hierarchy of people or acts, etc.  We interpret our worship gatherings through the lens of our world. We sit down on a Sunday morning expecting the same things as we expect on Tuesday at work, on Saturday at the movies, or Thursday for lunch. And then, we judge our experiences through the lenses of our Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Thursdays. (Tuesday) How effective is this “business” we call church? What do the numbers tell us? How can we be more efficient? (Saturday) That worship leader was a little off-key there. I really liked that Pastor’s sermon. How can we make this service more appealing to more people? (Thursday) This service really needs to fit into my hour time slot. I can just sit back and consume this service; I shouldn’t have to work at it. Can I just write you a check instead? Could you just give me three life-application points?

Instead, Wannenwetsch is proposing that the liturgy of the Sunday morning gathering is the kingdom of God. This is where we are proclaiming, in word and ACTION, the kingdom come—through the power of the Holy Spirit. The kingdom is a proclamation to the Polis. It is a picture of the world as it should and will be. It displays the hope and faith of the restoration of the world not merely through words, but by the actions of its community members—the way they treat one another, the way they order their lives and participation, the way the church understands her role in the world.

So, here’s where Geoff’s post comes in (I knew you were starting to wonder…). The supposition made by Holsclaw is that the Sunday morning gathering not only factually (for his congregation) feels like a family, but I would contend that it should feel that way. It should not only feel out of place from the ebb and flow of “the world” (as I know we’ve all been taught to interpret that passage), it should start turning our lenses inside out. The worship gathering allows us to form our understanding of the world-- our vision for what “reality” really is, the priority of the polis, the value of humanity and their hierarchy, and the hope for the restoration of the world.

In our gathered communities of worship, we get to live the story we long to live every waking moment. For the story of-- the world, the kingdom, each other, and how things should be—is hidden as a political proclamation to the world every Sunday morning (or Saturday night, or Sunday afternoon—whatever your ecclesial fancy). The spirit-inspired liturgy is reality where the polis fails. And that is the relationship between the two. They are not separate spheres. They are not opposed. One proclaims fullness to the other which is yet missing the pieces.

So the disconnect of people’s lives is a stark contrast to the familiarity of the Spirit-filled people of God. The discord of broken relationships is harmonized in the breaking of bread with one another in Christ’s name. And the hopelessness of a worn-out, cracked and damaged world, seemingly circling the drain is shattered with the creator God’s passionate embrace to restore and lavishly love creation—and claiming a people for God’s name. For this is not the story where God sits back and says, “impress me,” but sends of God’s self, Jesus, into the world to reclaim what was trampled by death—by trampling death itself.

My our Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and for that matter, our Wednesdays, Sundays, Mondays, and Fridays anamnesisly-remember the story of the God who call us.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Against the Other

Against the other.
For myself.
Draw my boundaries
for everyone else
to see, to wonder,
to toe the line.
Against the other
they’ve silently signed.

For to stand has meant to
be pursued
by anger, and hatred,
and rude, rude, rude,
belligerence and speech,
like my person isn’t there,
but only the facts,
would you dare
to include yourself?
your fortune?
your road?
into this dialogue
or leave in tow?

May our living be together
may our love be explicit
may the joy of our lives be in each little visit
May the way we speak about event, love, and living
honor each other,
and give joy in the giving—

of one life to another
to share each other truly
to offer ourselves in the mutuality of living
and to take as our foremost prize
the submission of me
for you, and your eyes.
may I see and embrace
the lines that encompass
as ways to be boldly
FOR you and your rumpus.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Imagination of the Spirit

Reading a book called, The Sacrifice of Africa, by Emmanuel Katongole. One word-- Excellent. (Review to come)

I'm mulling over a central theme of his-- the imagination. As he addresses the weaknesses, in particular, of the social and political imagination of Africa, I noticed that my imagination for the celebration of Pentecost is so wrapped in the images of the church receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, that I'm not sure I have left space to imagine new ways that the Spirit reveals himself and inhabits the world around me.

A helpful way Katongole addresses this in his book is to provide stories of how he's seen successful re-imagining. Perhaps the comments section will provide space to explore some stories.

Regardless, may your day and mine be filled with the Spirit, and an imagination open to seeing him at work in preparation for the celebration of Pentecost this week.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

To wear faithfulness

To wear faithfulness in front of others
was to go completely rogue.  
It wasn’t my style,
nor was it in vogue.
But in the midst of my closet of shame,
faithfulness and vulnerability
were calling my name.

They did not fit,
in my eyes they did not flatter.
But my taste in style
didn’t seem to matter.
It called me out,
it claimed my pride.
The chic I sought
inevitably turned tide.

What I saw on them
was not really fitting for me.
My body shape
was not meant to be
a thing for those clothes
it was for me
to be a place of humility.

A place to restore,
a place to be home.
No more wrestling,
no more to roam.

To claim independence
and tranquility,
I lay my pride,
and hurt to thee.

You name it as a thing of stone,
and tailor it to be your own.
A dress with pearls,
a sackcloth with ash.
In each light,
it’s can’t be matched.

For the clothing you design
never goes out of style.
Wrapped in love,
it does beguile.
It swoons the hardened heart to be
a soft and precious purity.

Mesmerized by its truth,
it honors, sanctifies, and moves,
us to a rich and sweet perfume.
It drapes across our bod in ways
that could not, should not, be imitated.

For this fine fabric
of vulnerability,
kindness, and modesty
in truth is strength
in its entirety.

Only made by
one in three,
a weaver great,
the trinity.

And while faithfulness
is not the rage,
indeed to wear it in any age,
is to be a trend setter,
an example be,
for others, for self,
for all authority.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"For my deepest fear is for them to look at me, and only see what God is not using me for."

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Table-- a balance

When I was 16 everything was exciting. Every moment of worship was complete surrender. It was easy then, as I had every hardship to surrender and yet not a whole lot in my control. And it was all so mundane-- starting at a youth conference in Southern Illinois on a college campus, with a “rocking” band, great speakers, and an acting group called “One Time Blind”. Fond memories to be sure. Typical, though. As I look back on it, I sometimes conceal that time because of the archetypal nature of it all—teen, youth convention, music, emotional highs, etc.
But tonight, I understood those moments anew again. I was caught up in the complete surrender of myself to God. And I realized that no matter the circumstance, no matter the formula—I am in control of my surrender. And if, in those moments as a teen, I surrendered so completely because of circumstance—I still made the commitment. It was still my choice and I made it. No one else.
Tonight was different. It was on my terms, in my home, and amidst only me and my closest friend. And this time, it was a surrender to give up some of the most planned moments of my life. And in exercising my abandon, I remembered those freeing moments of my youth. And I realized, though I have been their most ardent judge and critic, I yearned to continue the honesty and unadulterated authenticity found there. In employing abandon, I used the most unused part of me—my full reliance on God. It cannot be taught outside of these experiences. And I realized that I had not used, what others would call recklessness and I name as faith, in so complete a way since my youth.
And it felt beyond belief.
It was so beautiful I cried.
And perhaps it was emotional, or circumstantial. But I realize that emotions and circumstance should have every reason to sit at the table with reason and diplomacy. They have a voice, too. And they have been mute too long. They awakened a part of me that has long been silent in this world of academia.  Too silent to be an honest reflection of myself. So, welcome back one and all to the table. May you speak with freedom, and may grace abound.