\”Concepts create idols, only wonder grasps anything.\” – Gregory of Nyssa

Spirituality

Rochester Rule of Life: Living Within a Relational Covenant

CovenantIt was a little over a year ago that I was introduced to the practice of keeping a Rule of Life by my fellow cohorts in the MREML Program I enrolled in at Rochester College. To be completely honest, I was hesitant to its practicality at first feeling it was a bit juvenile and institutional with the implications of the word “rule“. Over time though, it began to take on a different meaning in my life as I began to recognize it as a practice not so much about rules of institutional authority but rather more about the relational organic practices of covenant that begin to shape who I am and the person I am becoming.

In its meaning, a covenant is defined as a binding contract between two parties. It can be both personal and/or economical. I suppose it also can be communal in some contexts too. In any form however, it is always relational and transforming to those who are a part of them. In the context of my covenant with Rochester, I find that transformation in three ways.

As an image bearer of God I find the nature of my covenant being rooted in my relationship with the Trinity. As he is the first mover in defining my nature I must first look to his voice and presence as he speaks to the person I am meant to be. Any transformation that is or going to take place in my life should be rooted in the guidance of His nature and wisdom.

Secondly, the nature of a covenant in identity must also be intertwined into the relational community I am a part of. While this includes the fellow cohort of students I am a part of, it also extends into the locality of my relationships in my neighbourhood and my tribe. Transformation in the academia of Rochester is not just for the stretching context of personally acquired knowledge but rather the exercised practice of learning for the sake of transformed community practices.

Lastly, the embrace of an organic relational covenant brings transformation to the environment we are a part of. While finding new and renewed understandings of who we are through covenant we also see the environment we are a part of in a new and transformed way without ever leaving it. Marcel Proust stated, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” While the nature of our covenant transcends the distance of many states and countries even, each of us finds a shared transformational renewal in our own personal contexts of locality which can become inspirational to one another as we share our stories.

The authors of the book ‘Mighty Stories, Dangerous Rituals’ write that, “When we weave together the human and the divine, we are attentive to another story that is not completely our own, a narrative that has the power to transform.” While we begin to embrace the ritual, and tell the story of a Relational Organic Covenant to which we are a part of over the coming months, let us always remember that this covenant is not unto its own self a declaration of who we are personally, but also those who are in covenant with us!

He remembers his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant.” (Psalm 105:8-11)

With that in mind, here is my Rochester Relational Covenant…

  1. Because we believe God became flesh and dwelt among us in Jesus and continues to make his home with us through the Holy Spirit:

We will care for our own bodies as we await our adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

We will care for one another as we share our lives, particularly by praying for one another.

We will care for creation

I am committed to alternating workouts throughout the week between the weight gym and wheeling the pathways while the weekends are elective.

I will be attentive to healthier food choice while maintaining a diet which treats food as fuel for purpose and not self gratification.

I will seek to model a holistic and healthy lifestyle both for my wife, my tribe (Expressions), and the community around me through the growth of my mental understanding, physical conditioning, and spiritual awareness.

I will read one chapter of scripture every day for the purpose of meditating in it through the rest of the day.

I will seek to apply my learning within the Rochester cohort and MRE to the growth of my tribe and The Edge.

I will seek to engage in my studies through reading, writing, and practice, to the best of my abilities with the intent of growing closer to God’s call upon my life.

I will practice daily morning prayer and throughout the day.

  1. Because we believe that God has reconciled the world to himself through Jesus and reconciles us together to God by the power of the Holy Spirit:

We will create hospitable spaces in our lives to welcome others as Christ has welcomed us.

We will work toward peace and reconciliation within the body of Christ so that our unity might be a testimony to God’s reconciling work.

We will welcome the hospitality of God extended to us by others as they share in peace with us.

I will continue to open my house as a sanctuary to the work of God in all those who enter it through Tribal Gatherings, suppers, leadership gatherings, and social events.

I will seek to meet with all the tribal leaders a part of The Edge at least once a month one on one either by phone, coffee/meal, or online.

I will continue to model and invite others to be a part of the discipling culture our tribe is a part of (I-Living) while continuing to develop a discipling culture within The Edge.

I will attend and be a part of all Edge leadership suppers, gatherings, and retreats while fostering the relationships we have.

I will meet with my ministry partner John every two weeks to learn from his modelling, wisdom, and instruction while dreaming and discerning on the future movement of our tribes.

I will be open to the invitations of my nieghbours to any community gathering point.

I will continue to publish my thoughts and writing in public spaces (blog, Face Book, Email) with the openness of engaging others in conversation around them.

  1. Because we believe God’s love has been revealed to us in the self-giving death of Jesus, and because that love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit:

We will cultivate practices of steadfast love in our own lives.

We will bear each other’s burdens, weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice, in order to participate in a trustworthy community.

We will find ways to make our neighborhoods places of God’s trustworthiness through self-giving love.

I will seek to be involved in at least two community or YYC projects per month for the purpose of creating a better neighbourhood.

I will seek to show love to my wife through dating often, meaningful gifts of beauty (yes, it might be sentimental but, the occasional rose goes a long way!! :) ), and making time to listen to her.

I will also seek to be a better husband through reading, council of friends, and podcasts/video.

I will love my tribe through being present in their lives while shaping my discussions with them solely through the language of encouragement and empowerment.

I will seek out every opportunity to engage my neighbours in conversation while being attentive to the opportunities to bless them within the context that they are in.

I will continue engaging the story of the Calgary Centre for Global Community & being involved in its activities.


Further Steps Towards The Edge – Pt. #4 – Creating an External Vision for Dreaming Dreams and Seeing Visions

Out There“I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day this [movement] will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed:”[1] to be Living the Life of Jesus Within the Lives of Others! Ok, so I took some creative freedoms in sharing Martin Luther King’s famous words. There is such an inspiring force to them though as we contemplate the significance of dreams and visions in the mission of God. The apostle Peter knew that too, as he quoted the prophet Joel, “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”[2]

God’s mission is bigger then just any one movement. The old saying is true that, “It is not so much that God’s Church has a mission as much as it is that God’s mission has a church.” We cannot limit the vision of The Edge or the dreams we might have of its future solely to the internal voice of self-reason. Lesslie Newbigin writes that, “the Spirit who thus bears witness in the life of the Church to the purpose of the Father is not confined within the limits of the Church. It is the clear teaching of the Acts of the Apostles, as it is the experience of missionaries, that the Spirit goes, so to speak, ahead of the church.”[3]

The challenge brought to The Edge is a willingness for all of our leadership to seek inspiration not solely from its internal practices of The Edge and our Cultural Discipling Rhythms, but from those outside of its identity who might be of like-mindedness. While maintaining the cultural discipling rhythms of Investing, Involving, and Inspiring, we can find inspiration and wisdom from other missionally focused movements that might strengthen, build, and equip our own covenantal practices and understandings of them. Holding our own beliefs and practices in open form to the greater community of missional groups, not only creates a communicative dialogue between movements that would shape our own, but also open doors of collaboration and the ability for us to shape other movements around us. This is not dismissing the solidarity of our own cultural rhythms in discipleship but rather transcending them to the greater movement of the mission of God as a whole.

In the practicalities of this we need to explore the questions of what are the other missional movements around us that resonate with our own? How might we begin a dialogue with them towards mutual collaboration? Are we willing to let them speak into our cultural rhythms in the pursuit of “dreaming dreams and seeing visions”? What practices of accountability would we expect upon our leadership in participation?

[1] Kouzes, James M., and Barry Z. Posner. The Leadership Challenge. 3rd ed. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2002) Pg. #145.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ac 2:17). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3] Bevans, Stephen B., and Roger Schroeder. Constants in Context: A Theology of Mission for Today. (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2004) Pg. #297.


For All To Be Rooted In Christ’s Love

Canyon Creek

This morning I had the opportunity to speak at my good friend Justin Bills church, Canyon Creek Christian Fellowship. It was a great honour and since I haven’t actually preached in over 2 years, I felt stretched from the comfortability of my living room pulpit!! :)

Here is my message and slides. I pray God speaks to you as much as he has to me!!


Further Steps Towards The Edge – Pt. #3 – Creating a Central Unity for a Culture of Rhythms in Discipling

Heart RhythmsOver the last several months Desmond Tutu’s words from his book ‘No Future Without Forgiveness’ has been resonating in my thoughts. He said, “‘My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.’ We belong in a bundle of life. We say, ‘A person is a person through other persons.’ It is not, ‘I think therefore I am.’ It says rather: ‘I am human because I belong. I participate, I share.’”[1] It is a natural rhythm of breathing in and out the life presence of Jesus as we find a sort of organic communal covenant relationship with him that begins our discipling practices and says we belong both to him and to each other.

So what are the rhythms that we practice to which announce our belonging to The Edge Movement? There seems to be three spheres of discipleship that naturally form in our culture. While each may find different expressions between the tribes, The Edge focuses around the converging practices of Investing, Involving, and Inspiring the lives of its members. It is difficult to state a defining place of beginning in such a process as each sphere coexists with the other and yet each element of the three begins a radical transformation of the disciple and the community to become more entwined in the reflective life of Jesus.

Edge Discipling RhythmsThe challenge brought forth to The Edge is to recognize the interdependence we have on one another in following these rhythms. Each needs to be dynamically broadened in depth and understanding and each must be communicatively interlinked within the entire movement itself and between all the tribes. We must recognize and see them in practice through the entire network and not limited to just a limited few or solely in the leadership. How might we as collaborative leaders develop these rhythms further? How might we develop interlinking ligaments that foster stronger relationships between each tribe and between the tribal leaders?

The importance of tribal harmony is detrimental to the transmission and communicative contextualization of our discipling cultural rhythms. In Bevans and Schroeder’s words, “Like a complex fugue or polyphonic motet, God’s unity is constituted by diversity and God’s diversity is rooted in unity of will and purpose; the church is the church inasmuch as it has been included in that harmony.”[2] As leaders in The Edge, we must make the effort to not only find a listening ear to that which God is doing in our own tribe, but also find interlinking relationships with other leaders in the movement to hear the harmony in which God is creating with the surrounding tribes. If we only are listening to our individual tribal identities and practices at the exclusion of the others, we could very easily lose track of the communal rhythm and become nothing but “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal”[3] in the midst of a struggling symphony. As God’s mission began in love for the other (John 3:16), so must ours, as we love those who we are a part of.

[1] Tutu, Desmond. No Future Without Forgiveness. (New York: Doubleday, 1999) Kindle Location 431.

[2] Bevans, Stephen B., and Roger Schroeder. Constants in Context: A Theology of Mission for Today. (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2004) Pg. #298.

[3] [3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (1 Cor. 13:1). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

 


Further Steps Towards The Edge – Pt.#2 – A Mission Built on the Foundation of Relationship

imago Dei

“We are not so much individuals, as our Western culture in particular would have it, but, as images of God, deeply social and communal in nature. The perfect communication and self-giving that is God’s very self is the church’s deepest reality, since Christians have undergone theosis and participate in the divine nature.”[1] Stephan Bevans and Roger Schroeder articulate the deep need we have to base our existence and mission in the roots of relationship. It’s not just a passion; it’s in our very nature to want discipleship on a personal and intimate level as apposed to simply being a Sunday event. We don’t want to just know about Jesus, we want to know Jesus!

After spending years with his disciples, Jesus turned to them and asked, “Who do the people say that I am?” Speculatively they answer, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Jesus, wanting to know if they really knew him then asked, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter, perhaps hesitant at first, states, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”[2] It is an epiphany brought only through the relational presence of living life with Jesus and the revelation of God’s Word through the daily work of the Holy Spirit.

This is the nature of The Edge’s mission – Living the Life of Jesus Within the Lives of Others. It propels us from the transformational life of simple discipleship to the apostolic life of serving the other for the greater sharing of God’s glory and Kingdom. To be a part of The Edge is to embrace this identity and mission as central to the purpose of all other endeavors.

We cannot take this mission lightly however and we must be intentional about our covenant to its calling. It is not just an individual binding of independent relationship but a communal covenant shared between ourselves and the others in the movement. As Christopher Wright shares the significance to God’s act of redemption and it’s role in the believer through the model of the exodus story, “The exodus was not a movement from slavery to freedom, but from slavery to covenant. Redemption was for relationship with the redeemer, to serve his interests and his purposes in the world.” Our participation in God’s mission is not to be out of self-propitiation or communal or personal freedom, but in the giving of ourselves to the work and pursuit of fulfilling the vision communally set before us as a Kingdom citizen.

The Edge’s mission comes with the promise of great reward and benefit through supported discipleship but also with the apostolic commissioning and responsibility to invest, be involved, and inspire our fellow brothers and sisters in the greater movement. This is the challenge left not just to the greater leadership, but all who are in covenant as tribal leaders. To do otherwise is to question whether we are truly part of the movement we call The Edge or just solely part of our own smaller independent endeavors.

Our first steps towards the future of the Edge is to explore an understanding of how we personally and communally are willing to commit and covenant to this vision as a singular movement who is Living the Life of Jesus Within the Lives of Others through Investing, Involving, and Inspiring practices. Secondarily we need to explore how this vision is then shared, expressed, and embodied, by the tribes we lead.

[1] Bevans, Stephen B., and Roger Schroeder. Constants in Context: A Theology of Mission for Today. (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2004) Pg. #298.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Mt 16:13-20). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


Further Steps Towards The Edge – Pt.#1 – Theologians of the Imago Dei and a Calling Truth

At the EdgeIn a great text titled ‘Transforming Mission’, David Bosch identifies that, “The best theologian, is not the one who can give a complete logical account of his subject, but the one who ‘assembles more of Truth’s image and shadow’ and thus moves beyond the confines of ‘pure’ rationality. True rationality thus also includes experience.”[1] The Edge has truly embraced this reality as we have moved far beyond the traditional and institutional church while experiencing and taking part in a story far bigger then ourselves. Yet if The Edge is going to maintain its existence and part in the mission of God, it must find understanding in the callings placed upon it as a distinct movement itself.

The mission to which The Edge is called is understood only when we first understand the organizational existence and identity we have in reflecting the image of God over the past and present. While exploring that story in the first two series’s of posts, we have come to recognize three distinct callings placed upon our movement to further develop our growth and shape in pursuing the mission of God. In this series of posts I hope to pursue these callings further while bringing the challenge forward to radicalize our story even more in becoming God’s instruments for taking steps towards The Edge as a discipling movement.

[1] Bosch, David Jacobus. Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission. (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1991) Pg. #361.


Journeying in the Story of the Edge – Pt. #4 – Conclusion – The Inspiration of Common Tribal Themes and the Nature of the Missio Dei in The Edge

ChurchLike the early disciples crowded in the upper room following Jesus’ crucifixion, The Edge began in the living room of a home with the question “What is the church meant to be?” Foundationally, we hoped to explore an expression of the ecclesia that would not necessarily be new, as much as it would be of a deeper more intimate and meaningful encounter of worship, mission, and discipleship for those who journey with us. No longer would the institutional four walls of church structure hold back the gospel from permeating all the corners of our society; rather we would take the gospel and enflesh it through all of our relationships to the very edges of our lives as we live the life of Jesus within the lives of all others.

Though perhaps to different degrees between each of us, this journey has us wrestling with common themes and issues of holy discontent that shapes our view and dismissal from the traditional church. In some cases we have even experienced or found forms of oppression and persecution in our shared stories as reactionary responses from the traditional church, much like the early disciples experienced with the rise of Pharisee leadership in the Jewish tradition during the early years of the Christian movement.

Thematically The Edge also experienced the rise and fall of those in the journey with them. With the persecution of the early church, death would become a recognition of martyrdom. We have seen those in our own tribes who have passed away that were heroes to our faith, saints of a sort. Celebrating in the life they led we find inspiration to the mission we are a part of in the story of God today.

Pertinent most of all to recognizing our involvement in the missio Dei is our call in discipleship and desire to be ‘Imitating Jesus’. The great commission from our Lord to, “Go therefore and make disciples”[1] becomes a mantra to which we are a part of as we embrace the hope to be living like Jesus lived. It is to these questions that we now turn. Where is it that God is now calling us? What are the challenges he is placing upon us as his called people? How must we learn to become better disciples in the mission of God as part of The Edge movement? These are the questions we will explore in our next series of Further Steps Towards the Edge.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Mt 28:19). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 378 other followers