Wednesday's word

I hope the Summer is treating you well, and you are able to refresh your spirit in these long days of the season.  I’m going to be taking some time during July and August to just that, refresh my soul and spirit.  I’m going to travel to Spain to connect with my friend Moussa who is coming from Central African Republic.  We will be staying with his cousin in Malaga, and from there I will make a few treks throughout the country, and possibly to Morocco.  One particular place in particular I want to go is to the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, built over the resting place of St. James the Great, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ.  It is ending point of the Camino de Santiago, one of the three great Christian pilgrimages.  This time away will be a renewal time for me, to feed my mind and spirit.

During my absence, I am going to provide for the continuation of the Wednesday Word.  I will be utilizing extensively a book co-authored by Shane Claiborne.  The book is called Common Prayer, A liturgy for ordinary radicals.  For those who don’t know who Shane Claiborne is, I want to take some time to introduce him to you.  He would cringe at what I am about to say, but he is the embodiment of a living saint.

Shane was born and grew up in east Tennessee.  He graduated from Eastern University where he studied sociology and youth ministry.  He did his final academic work for Eastern University at Wheaton College in Illinois.  During that time at Wheaton, Shane did an internship at Willow Creek Community Church.  Shane did some of his graduate work at Princeton Theological seminary, and is now a part of The Alternative Seminary in Philadelphia.

Shane has a love for life and all of creation.  He is a leading figure in the New Monasticism and a founding member of The Simple Way in Philadelphia.  The Simple Way was founded so that those who were a part would live among the poor.  It was intentionally planted in the poorest part of the city, where no churches were located.  The Simple Way plants gardens, runs a store, and works for food security in the neighborhood.  When the city passed a law against distributing food on the streets, The Simple Way avoided breaking the law by distributing the Eucharist, which is not considered food after it is blessed.

All in all, Shane is an amazing young man who has placed his life in the hands of Jesus and follows where he believes Jesus is calling him.

Shane has worked alongside of Mother Teresa in Calcutta, he has been a part of the Iraq Peace Team which was a project of Christian Peacemaker Teams.  He is an active voice opposing the death penalty, and an advocate to eradicate gun violence.  To that end, he has developed a program whereby he takes guns and literally cuts them and beats them into implements to use for gardening (Sound familiar?  Swords into plowshares?).  Take a look at some the titles of his written work:

Beating Guns: Hope for People Who Are Weary of Violence

Executing Grace – How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why

It’s Killing Us

The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical

What If Jesus Meant All That Stuff?

Shane puts his work, his life, his entire person into what he believes, truly one who walks the walk, as well as talks the talk.  June 20, 2007 a seven-alarm fire at the abandoned warehouse across the street destroyed The Simple Way Community Center  where Shane lived.  He lost all of his possessions.  The Simple Way began collecting funds to accept donations not to replace Shane’s possessions, but to help those in the community who lost their homes to the fire.

Let me share a few quotes from Shane in The Irresistible Revolution…

“I asked participants who claimed to be “strong followers of Jesus” whether Jesus spent time with the poor. Nearly 80 percent said yes. Later in the survey, I sneaked in another question, I asked this same group of strong followers whether they spent time with the poor, and less than 2 percent said they did. I learned a powerful lesson: We can admire and worship Jesus without doing what he did. We can applaud what he preached and stood for without caring about the same things. We can adore his cross without taking up ours. I had come to see that the great tragedy of the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor.”

“We do need to be born again, since Jesus said that to a guy named Nicodemus. But if you tell me I have to be born again to enter the Kingdom of God, I can tell you that you have to sell everything you have and give it to the poor, because Jesus said that to one guy, too. But I guess that’s why God invented highlighers, so we can highlight the parts we like and ignore the rest.”

“There are some things to die for but none to kill for.”

And finally this quote, not from his book…”All around you, people will be tiptoeing through life, just to arrive at death safely. But dear children, do not tiptoe. Run, hop, skip, or dance, just don’t tiptoe.”

The material I’ll be pulling from his book, Common Prayer, are anecdotes he uses to help focus the reader on their own prayer life.  Jim Gray will be preaching and teaching on The Lord’s Prayer during my absence, I believe this will be a nice companion to help us all be deliberate in our prayers.

Know that I love each of you dearly, and will miss you greatly.  But no amount of distance will separate our hearts from one another.  Breathe in, breathe out, let God have you and hold you during this time of renewal and refreshment.

Your fellow traveler on the Way,

Pastor Tom

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