Synchroblog – All About Eve

All about eve

Each month I am invited to contribute to a synchroblog with other Christian bloggers. This month’s topic – All About Eve which I posted on yesterday has stimulated a lot of discussion.

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It’s Women’s History month and International Women’s Day is March 8. Women’s rights have been all over the news recently, from bills in Congress and state representative bodies to crass “jokes” by national broadcasters. The idea that women are or should be equal to men has become a polarizing topic of discussion on the national stage. So we thought Synchroblog might jump right in. Anything concerning women in general, women and the church, balancing women’s rights with religious freedoms, the differences between men and women … these are all good topics for blog posts.

There is one caveat, we are asking that the Synchroblog be a voice of moderation and temperance. You may have strong beliefs on this subject and that is good. Giving voice those beliefs in a spirit of cooperation and bridge-building is also good. We would like these posts to step in that direction.

Here are a couple of great examples of moderate writing on women’s issues to prime your writing …

–> An Apology From Limbaugh, But The Damage Is Done by Denny Burke –

–> And now…on the other side (critique of extreme complementarianism) by Roger E. Olsen

This topic idea brought to you by Wendy McCaig and Katherine Gunn (aka Jeannette Ailtes) … thank you for your help, ladies.

The link list is below …

Michelle Morr Krabill – Why I Love Being a Woman
Marta Layton – The War on Terror and the War on Women
Ellen Haroutounian – March Synchroblog – All About Eve
Jeremy Myers – Women Must Lead the Church
Carol Kuniholm – Rethinking Hupotasso
Wendy McCaig – Fear Letting Junia Fly
Tammy Carter – Pat Summit: Changing the Game & Changing the World
Jeanette Altes – On Being Female
kathy escobar – replacing the f-word with the d-word (no not those ones)
Melody Hanson – Call Me Crazy, But I Talk To Jesus Too
Glenn Hager – Walked Into A Bar
Steve Hayes – St. Christina of Persi
Leah Sophia – March Syncroblog-All About Eve
Liz Dyer – The Problem Is Not That I See Sexism Everywhere…
Sonja Andrews – International Women’s Day
Sonnie Swenston-Forbes – The Women
Christine Sine – 
It All Begins With Love
K.W. Leslie – Undoing the Subordination of Women
Carie Good – The Math of Mr. Cardinal
Dan Brennan – Ten Women I Want To Honor

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First Friday of Advent – Making Room for the Unexpected by Kathy Escobar

This morning’s post comes from Kathy Escobar,  a co-pastor at the refuge, an ecletic beautiful faith community in north denver, a mommy of 5 (3 teenagers & twins that are 10), teammate & partner to jose… a writer now & then…a trained spiritual director (one who’s a little on the loud side)…an advocate for my friends in hard places…a cultivator of voca femina, a creative arts site for women to use their voice…an online faculty instructor to make a little extra money here & there…and a group-facilitator-whenever-i-can-be-because-that’s-one-of-my-favorite-things-in-the-whole-world-to-do!  they all sort of just blend together and make for one messy life in the trenches with incredibly lovely & amazing & courageous people.

making room for the unexpected

“do not despise the small things” – zechariah 4:10

this past saturday night at the refuge we kicked off the first week of advent.  for some friends, this is the long 6 weeks between thanksgiving & new years where even more of life’s loneliness & pain & reality sinks in.  for others, it is a happy season where there’s a lot of joy & fun.  and a growing group of others, it has become a bit more confusing season where so many things about life & faith re muddled up & maybe not as clear cut as “its Jesus’ birthday, hooray!”

i have come to really appreciate in a deeper way the season of advent & the season of lent in the church calendar.  neither were something i celebrated intentionally until 4 years ago when we started the refuge, but each year it causes me to reflect in a deeper way on my faith & the mysteries of Jesus & what it means to walk this downward rocky path of life-this-side-of-heaven.  this year we are journeying through advent with a series of conversations focused on “making room for the unexpected.”  the season of advent centers around waiting, hoping, anticipating.  of living in the tension of what is and what will be.  of reflecting on new textures of peace, hope, joy, and love.

one of the tensions i seem to live in a lot in my walk of faith is the one that lies between “expecting too much” and “not expecting anything.”  i have this one part of me that wants God to bring simple comfort, ease, pain-free, financial freedom, smoother sailing, and a host of other things that often seem like good ideas because a lot of other people want them too.  and then the other part that is closed off, hardened, protected, and doesn’t really expect God to show up for much at all.  this kind of black and white thinking is so destructive & probably more subtle in a lot of our spiritual repertoires than many may want to admit.

this holiday season i want to make room for the unexpected, to live in the weird scary vulnerable gray area of faith where we don’t expect too much & end up horridly disappointed but we also don’t shut ourselves off from what could be out of fear & resentment.  to do this, i think we may need to possibly:

make room to feel a wider range of emotions.  it’s sometimes so easy to get stuck in “all good” or “all bad” but not let ourselves feel a mix of those & everything in between.  i’ve come to realize that despite what i may have been taught in a lot of my christian experience, we can feel sadness & joy at the same time.  or peace & confusion, fear & courage, and all kinds of other combinations.  i do think opening up our range of emotions can make more room for unexpected life.

simplify. oh there’s so much clutter that needs to be cleared in our day-to-day, and even more this time of year where things get faster, busier, full-er, more complicated.  this year for me, simplify is more than “less expensive gifts and less parties.”  it is about getting back to the basics.  peace, joy, hope, love.  sure, we can make all of these things complicated, but i also think they can be simple, too.  taking deep breaths.  laughing.  noticing beauty.  sitting & talking while not spending a dime.  receiving a word of kindness instead of rejecting it.  little things that help me center on what matters.

listen & look for God interference. we can get so stuck in the patterns of our day to day that we can miss out on small little God interruptions that i call “God interference.”  to me, God interference are moments where God is trying to get our attention in some small or big way to help break the cycle of our busyness, in-grown eyeballs, or being a victim of our circumstances.   in Christ-is-born stories in the gospels, i am reminded of how God interfered & interrupted mary and elizabeth’s lives with baby boys they never expected.   they responded to these huge, scary interruptions with joy and faith.  i wonder what we are doing with the smaller ones in our own lives?

one of my favorite parts of the Jesus story is just how “unexpected” he really was.  they were hoping for a strong-powerful-in-the-world’s-eyes messiah.  instead, they got a humble servant born as a baby to an unlikely couple in a stinky manger.  what the world says Christmas is about is not what Christmas is about.

Jesus came in an unexpected way and seems to still show up in unexpected-contrary-to-the-world ways.  in poverty. in sickness.  in desperation.  in darkness.  in the trenches of people’s real lives.

and so even though advent is a time of expectation, i wonder if we need to make more room for the unexpected.  to be open to small or big slivers of light & love & peace & joy in places we’re not used to seeing them.

yes, this advent i really want to be open to hope in unexpected places.

God-of-the-unexpected, may we make room for your movement in our lives, our relationships,  our neighborhoods, our cities, in the world this advent.

 

 

Corpus Mysticum: How the Eucharistic Image Informs My eating

This afternoon’s post was sent to me by Lisa Carlson co-Director of Aurora Care Continuum and a MDIV. Together with psychotherapist Maria-Jose. Lisa blogs at the River Beneath where they explore mental health through the perspective of poverty. I love the way Lisa grapples with her concerns about exclusion from our tables and relationship to the experience of communion.  This is an issue I have struggled with too.

I have situated myself in front of my dinner table as I write. My heart and mind are both filled with grief and inspiration. I grieve how exclusive our homes and tables are in this society. I lament that the poor do not know that they are welcome to knock at the doors of our churches and our homes to be cared for and yet (sigh) I am utterly and unstoppably inspired by the imagination and revolutionary ways of Jesus’s eating practices. As I have wrestled with, ruminated on and researched the holy texts around eating, I am comforted, affirmed and galvanized by the explicit fact that this is our tradition and our unique identity as followers of Christ; to allow our ways of eating to witness to the inclusive, healing and flourishing way of Christ in our world and for our people. I am charged that even in something as ordinary as eating, Jesus served to heal, liberate and reconstruct society.

Read the entire article

The Kingdom is Near: Gender Equality is so Pretty

The following post for The Kingdom is Here: Where Do You See it synchroblog comes from Kathy Escobar who works at a small church in Colorado called The Refuge.  described as an eclectic faith community, all equal, love jesus, pretty messed up, lead, follow, laugh, cry, serve, co-pastors, stories of brokenness and healing, smoker friendly, the refuge

Kathy is one of my favourite bloggers and I couldn’t resist starting this post by sharing another great article entitled Recovery Under the Big Tent that she has just posted for the week-long synchroblog hosted by big tent christianity, a collaborative event in raleigh september 9-13.  It also has a great Kingdom is Here flavour.

yeah, i think “the church” has a control problem. its heart is not bad.  its intentions are not evil.  it doesn’t wake up in the morning thinking “i’m going to ruin a whole bunch of relationships today.” but like all addicts (which i believe we all are in some shape or form), it is often unaware of just how pervasive the problem is and how much damage its really doing with controlling-finger-pointing-we-know-we’re-right-and-you’re-wrong ways.  and the only way to change is to begin to break out of denial and humbly engage in a healing process that will move toward restoration in their relationship with others, God, themselves.  Read more

the kingdom is near: gender equality is so pretty

when christine asked for some kingdom is near stories for this summer, i thought of all kinds of fun ways i see the kingdom of God in the life of our beautiful faith community, the refuge.  but the one that seems to rise to the surface often is the beauty of gender equality when-it’s-really-lived-out-in-the-body-of-Christ.

honestly, i never set out to be so passionate about gender equality in the church. i have always been a boat rocker in general, but it wasn’t until about 6 years ago that the scales fell from my eyes and i saw clearly how unjust so many church systems really were when it comes to gender equality.  i am a little mad at myself, to be honest, that i submitted myself to systems that oppressed women and silenced their voices for so many years.  i think it’s because their oppression was subtle; it wasn’t like women weren’t able to serve and lead in many capacities.  it was just that there was a clear and noticeable limit to that work and all the “power” ultimately rested in men instead of being shared openly and freely together.

over the years things have shifted and i see what it can look like for men & women to learn to live, love, and lead alongside each other.  it is not easy to do; there are all kinds of forces working against it.  but isn’t that really what the kingdom of God is all about?  that despite the resistance of all of the “forces” of man and the world (and sometimes religious systems), there’s now a new reality possible because of God’s spirit-at-work-in-all-kinds-of-ways-that-defy-the-status-quo.

i am so thankful to get to see the kingdom of God up close and personal almost every day.  i see men and women learning how to be friends, real brothers & sisters on the journey.  i see men and women using their voices alongside each other, separately & together but equally.  i see men and women healing deep wounds from their past with people and their present with God because they are finding people who reflect God’s image as mothers & fathers & sisters & brothers & daughters & sons in community.  i see women freed to use their gifts and passions right alongside men and men fanning that into flame tangibly.  i see prayer and support teams that aren’t just women-supporting-women or men-supporting-men but a lovely mix of both together, focused on loving and supporting and encouraging hurting friends.  i see people saying out loud “i don’t know how to be friends with men (or women), but i want to learn. can you help me try?”

really, what i’m seeing up-close every day is how Jesus’ spirit can break down patricarchal systems of inequality that have been deeply engrained in us. it is not something that comes in a rush, but it is something that can come when God’s people give up power and mutually submit, one to another, in freedom and love.

our community is small.  it is not flashy or exciting.  we are poor.  we are messy.  and there’s no question–sometimes it’s downright scary to have this level of community going on right before my very eyes. but one thing i know for sure–gender equality is so pretty, a beautiful reflection of the kingdom of God in the here and now.

Synchroblog on What is Emerging

Here is a list of other contributors to the synchroblog What is Emerging.  There are lots of great posts in this series and I would highly recommend them to you.  Thanks Julie for initiating this.

Julie Clawson begins the conversation on What is Emerging

Pam Hogeweide compares the emerging church movement to a game of ping pong.
Sarah-Ji comments that the emerging questions people are asking are far bigger than any defined movement.
Sharon Brown writes about using labels as an excuse.
Peter Walker reflects on how the emerging church conversation helped him recognize his power and privlege as a white male.
Dave Huth posts a on new ways to talk about religion.
Kathy Escobar finds hope in seeing a spirit of love in action emerging in the church.
Nadia Bolz-Weber reflects on the the beautiful things she sees emerging in her church community.
Chad Holtz writes on our Our Emerging Jewishness.
Julie Kennedy describes her organic entry into the emerging church and reflects on moving forward with a new public face.
Dave Brown comments on the emerging church and swarm theory.
Danielle Shroyer reflects on what is emerging in the church.
Brian Merritt offers his pros and cons of the emerging church.
Julie Clawson is grateful for emerging globalized Christianity.
Susan Philips points out that emergence happens as G-d redeems our shattered realities.
Mike Clawson reflects on the non-western voices that brought him to the emerging conversation.
Jake Bouma suggest that what is emerging is a collapse into simplicity.
Liz Dyer believes a chastened epistemology is a valuable characteristic emerging out of the church today.
Rachel Held Evans writes on what is changing in the church.
Tia Lynn Lecorchick describes the emerging movement as a wood between worlds (from The Magician’s Nephew).
Amy Moffitt shares her journey towards a theology of humility.
Travis Mamone comments on the need for the emerging church to rely on the word of God.
Sa Say reflects on the the prick of doubt.
David Henson lists what he sees as what is emerging in the church.
Angela Harms writes in in defense of emergent.
Wendy Gritter asks how we can listening to the voices from the margins.
Bruce Epperly comments on the largeness of spirit of emerging spirituality.
Linda Jamentz reflects on listening to the voices from the margins in church.
Lisa Bain Carlton hopes that our emerging conversation can respond humbly to our moment in time.
Christine Sine asks how far are we willing to be transformed.
Lori Allen Wilson reflects on what is emerging in the younger generations.
Cynthia Norris Clack sees love emerging in the church.
Bob Fisher lists the values emerging in his faith community
Mihee Kim-Kort writes of the conversions and conversations she sees around her.

What Is Emerging in the Church?

This post is in response to a synchroblog initiated by Julie Clawson.

A couple of months ago I read through Jonathan Brink’s interesting article Is The Emerging Church Dying or Maturing on the Emergent Village weblog. It seems to be very relevant to this topic.   At one point he comments:

Emergence suggests transformation but it also reveals that we’re not finished.

I have been thinking about this statement and its implications ever since.  More than anything what is emerging is the willingness to question all our assumptions about life, faith and God, which in some ways is scary but in others is very refreshing.  Christianity in its beginnings was a countercultural movement that brought transformation and change to every society in which it took hold because those that followed Christ questioned the assumptions on which their cultures were based.  But unfortunately in many societies this countercultural movement was lassoed, bound and stifled.

It is not so much a matter of what is emerging but of what is being transformed and how willingly we allow ourselves to ask the questions that will bring about this transformation.  And it seems to me that we are in a time in which our view of faith, of God, of the kingdom of God and of what it means to be a follower of Christ are all being questioned and hopefully transformed.  And that I think is a very healthy point to be at because change happens at the grassroots level where ordinary, everyday people are grappling with how to follow Christ in a turbulent and rapidly changing world.  It is my hope that we will never become so caught up in what is emerging that we become complacent and stop being transformed.

Tom and I have been involved in the emerging church conversation since the mid 1990s when it first emerged in the UK.  We have watched with interest its spread downunder and throughout North America and its struggles with theology and the shaping of spiritual practices.

I have watched with even more interest in the last few years as the movement here in the US has grappled with issues of justice, inequality and the need to listen to more diverse voices – women, Latinos, Africans and Asians.  In the future I hope that the issues of climate change and our need to live more lightly on the earth could move from the periphery to the centre of this movement too.  But I am sure that other issues I am not even aware of will continue to emerge and shape this movement and those that follow it.

A couple of months ago I wrote an article for the MSA Seed Sampler on What Will Shape Spirituality in the Next Decade? I expanded it on my blog to three articles that looked at the trends I felt will have most impact over the next 10 years –

What I appreciate about the emerging church is that it is engaged in grappling with aspects of all these issues, as well as some others that I have not mentioned here.  It is not hiding its head in the sand and pretending that the world is not changing or that we don’t need to change in order to be effective followers of Christ in the future.

We live in a world in which the rate of changing is increasing and I think that the conversations the emerging church has initiated and continues to participate in will become even more important in the future.  Yes I think the movement is maturing but I hope that as it matures it will not become comfortable and settle into a conformist way of doing things.  I love the concept of transformation because it does imply an ongoing process.  My hope for the future is that the emerging church can continue to challenge all of us to recognize that we are on a journey of continual transformation that needs to engage each new issues facing the church in the future.

Everyday Justice

My copy of Julie Clawson’s Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of Our Daily Choices arrived yesterday and i wanted to make sure that you all knew about it as soon as possible.  This is a book that I am really excited about, not just because I wrote the forward but because I think that it is one of the most important books that I have read for a long time.

In it Julie talks about how the everyday choices we make in our lives have ramification for the lives and wellbeing of people around the globe.  She highlights the consequences of our food and clothing choices and both for the people that produce them and for the environment in which we live.

Everyday Justice challenges us to recognize that these decisions are an important way that we show our love for God and for our neighbours.   It is a must read for all who care about God and God’s world.  I will probably blog more about it in the future and would love to hear your opinions on this topic too