Artist Wanted for Missio Dei Book of Prayer

July 31, 2006

Missio Dei is currently writing its Book of Prayer. We are looking for an artist to give some time to provide some illustration and illumination for this book of prayer. We can’t pay much…but we’ll pay something and also give the artist a handsome bound version of the prayer book.

What is the Missio Dei Book of Prayer like? Well, when it’s finished, it will include 4 weeks of morning and evening prayers, with optional mid-day prayers, as well as our stations of the West Bank (which are 12 places we pray at regularly on the West Bank of Minneapolis). Our prayer book is being written by our community because our ecclesiology is based upon the idea that the local community develops its own stories and–in a sense–its own theology. We want our Book of Prayer to tie us together with the larger Christian Tradition yet reflect our own convictions, which include:

  • A Jesus-centered read of Scripture.
  • A commitment to peace.
  • The conviction that Jesus still leads his Church through his Spirit.
  • A commitment to urban, diverse, ministry.
  • A special concern for the marginalized.
  • A missional emphasis.

We will share our prayer book, and its art with any community that would like to use it for their own community. Though the Missio Dei prayer book is written for our own neighborhood and its emphases, anyone could change the wording as needed. Here’s an example of a prayer from the book, which is half done:

Opening Prayer

LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago. You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. For the breath of the ruthless is like a storm driving against a wall. Isaiah 25:1-4


Matthew 5:3

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Isaiah 61.1-3

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the LORD?s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion-
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.

Pray for the filling of God’s Spirit. Listen for the Spirit’s leading. Trust in the Spirit’s empowering.

Simeon?s Song
Now, Lord, you let your servant go in peace:
your word has been fulfilled.
My own eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared in the sight of every people;
A light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.

Closing Prayer

God of Creation, Redemption, and Reconciliation. Your Spirit brings justice. Look upon us and judge what we have done with our stewardship. You see the brokenness and poverty around us and around the world. Help us to see the brokenness and poverty around us without fear, but with compassion. Call us to action. Help us to be people of Justice. Amen.

“C’mon!” (said in the voice of GOB from Arrested Development)

July 31, 2006

I tend to stay out of partisan politics. And while extreme-edge conservatives scare me because of their selfishness and cold-heartedness, the extreme-edge liberals befuddle me because of their inability to see reality:

This article from Christianity Today shows just how stupid some folks can be. Here’s a snippet:

In his book, Griffin argues the Bush administration planned the events of September 11 so they could provide justification for going to war with Afghanistan and Iraq. He writes that although Christianity began as a specifically anti-empire gospel, the church has been silent about an imperialistic America-which he compares to the Roman Empire.

“I became more convinced that if the truth about 9/11 was going to be exposed, the churches were probably going to have to be involved,” Griffin told CT. “If we become convinced that the so-called war on terror is simply a pretext for enlarging the American empire, we have every reason as Christians to try and expose the truth behind 9/11.”

Westminster John Knox (WJK) officials said they published Griffin because of the questions that he raised in his previous books, The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11, and The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions And Distortions.

“We have a long tradition of being a publisher of somewhat progressive stances on theological and social issues, so it is not out of character for us to do this,” said Jack Keller, vice president of publishing at WJK. “Whether or not people were fully persuaded by the arguments, he was certainly raising some interesting issues.”

C’mon! (Said in the voice of GOB) Does can anyone seriously believe that the U.S. Government actually PLANNED 9/11?! I think the United States Empire is definitely an Empire in the tradition of Rome, and is most certainly broken and corrupt as nations have a tendency to be. But this sort of extremism makes the Church look every bit as bad as Pat Robertson does.

Out of Ur on Monasticism

July 28, 2006

Check out this encouraging post from the Out of Ur blog (from Leadership Journal). Here’s a snippet:

Recently friends from a major publisher of Sunday school curriculum called me. They were researching trends in spiritual formation, they said, and they thought I might help them.

After a few warm-up questions, they got to the heart of the matter: “What would you recommend for spiritual formation in our time?”

“The monastery,” I said.

There was a long pause.

“I?m serious,” I said.

I had someone tell me recently that “new monasticism” isn’t new…it’s the same thing as a Christian commune. This article reminds me that not only is new monasticism not new, but it is in touch with the Tradition in a way that the communes of recent decades were not. New monasticism unashamedly draws from the monastic tradition and seeks to root itself in theological and spiritual soil. Not that communes of the past were uninterested in such things. But it seems to me that “new monastics” are more intentional about deep spirituality, missional engagement, and working with the larger Body of Christ. The biggest difference is perhaps that new monastic communities center around a “rule of faith”–which is what makes a group an order, rather than merely a group of Christians who live together.

Reflections on Khat

July 27, 2006

I just read a Star Tribune article that tells of a major DEA drug bust that involved 14 Minnesota residents. The bust involved the East African drug khat. Here’s a snippet:

Fourteen Minnesota residents are among a 44-member international drug trafficking organization that was responsible for smuggling more than 25 tons of khat from Africa into the United States, the Drug Enforcement Administration said today.

The khat, a natural plant stimulant, was worth more than $10 million, the agency reported.

Thirty members of the organization, 10 of them from Minnesota, had been arrested by midday.

The 18-month investigation, dubbed “Operation Somalia Express,” culminated in indictments announced this morning in New York City.

…Once the khat was sold on the street, the proceeds from the sales were laundered through “hawalas,” informal networks used in Africa and the Middle East to transfer money.

200px-Catha_edulis.jpgI don’t know much about the affects of khat. However, I find it interesting that Somali folks would embibe khat but still frown upon alcohol consumption. The big question that this incident raises, however, is this: Since khat is a very social drug (very similar to drinking beer is to the typical American), if I were given the opportunity to socialize with Somalis through the use of khat, should I say “yes” in order to receive hospitality or “no” in order to honor the law?

I think I already know how I would respond, but I thought that this would be an interesting case study for incarnational ministry.

Generica Revisited

July 26, 2006

suburbia.jpgI’ve been engaged in some pretty intense discussion in the Crisis in Generica post. I thought I’d bring the discussion out of the shadows of the comments section into the light of day. My debate is with CP, who is a suburban Lutheran. And in our discussion you can find tensions between Lutheran ecclesiology and anabaptistic ecclesiology, between suburban and urban. It is some pretty good stuff:

CP Says:

A couple of initial thoughts from a suburban Lutheran Christian:

This post is offensive to me in many ways. Surely you must know how self-righteous this all sounds. I?m glad that you now look at “generica” with compassion (though it certainly doesn?t sound like it) - but has it ever occurred to you, as someone who lives in an intentional community - what you call a monastic life - that you are as guilty as those you accuse of using home as a sanctuary, refuge and escape from the world? Worse, it is obvious by this post you aim to create the “us and them” - the fractured community - you say that you despise.Truth is, there are many things which distract God?s church from its primary purpose (which is to worship God). It is true that Satan is alive and well in the suburbs - but also alive and well in the city and even among those who would take pot shots at other Christians, simply because of where they live. City Christians are not immune from the sin of consumerism or from any of the other sins you mention. Luther said it - and I have quoted it recently: “We are all beggars”.
God is worshipped in truth in the suburbs, too, and God will be found wherever God is honestly sought.

Read more

Question(s): Feedback Required

July 26, 2006

I hope some of my lurkers come out of the shadows and weigh in:

Is church growth a justifiable goal? When is it a worthy goal? When is it not?


just had to share this

July 25, 2006

A couple weeks ago I preached at a church a northern suburb of the Twin Cities. I find it difficult to preach outside of my own community, but I do it to build relationships with other communities (and also as a way of fundraising). The pastor of that church just shared some of the feedback he received, and it was probably the most encouraging feedback I’ve ever received in my life:

“In all my 25 years of being a Christian I have never been challenged so much to change in one service.”

The sermon was centered around Matthew 25:31-46, the infamous “Sheep and Goats” passage. I picked it because it is one of the most intimidating passages in Scripture, it is a structurally important passage in Matthew (basically Jesus’ final teaching), and it is one of the most overlooked passages by preachers.

If you’re interested, the audio for the sermon is here.

Zoho Writer

July 25, 2006

I don’t often talk about tech stuff on my blog. Others are better at that. Nevertheless, I thought I’d tell you about a particular application that Missio Dei is using that I find helpful: Zoho Writer. Zoho writer is an online word processor. It allows you to create documents–just like you do in Word–yet it allows you to share that document with others, so that you can engage in easy group-editing. I know that Google is creating a similar project based upon Writely, but for now Zoho seems to be the best online group word processor.

Why do I mention Zoho? Missio Dei is currently developing its own prayer book. We wanted to have a book of prayers based upon a 4 week cycle that reflects our own contextual spirituality/theology. This is a practice I recommend for many emerging communities. Zoho would also be a good tool for writing other church documents (constitutions, values statements, position papers, etc.)

Relief for the Crisis in Lebanon

July 24, 2006

From World Relief:

“A humanitarian disaster is unfolding in Lebanon. Already, over 700,000 children and families have fled their homes in search of safety. Of the over 300 dead, one third are children. World Vision staff are on the ground providing emergency assistance to those trapped in this desperate situation.

Your gift today will help provide food, shelter and other urgently needed care to children and families in need.”

You can give by going to World Vision’s website.

Patron Saints…

July 20, 2006

I’ve been reflecting about church history lately. While I have no doubt that the era we are in is a unique one, there is no doubt that there are MANY lessons to be learned from those-that-have-gone-before. Some heroes have lessons for us in such a time as this. A historian friend is writing a book for postmodern folk that looks at past saints and shares the lessons they have to teach us. In this spirit, I offer a few suggestions of my own, and ask you, my readers, to share some heroes of your own:

Irenaeus of Lyon (his theological insights are proving to be much more compelling and biblical in a postmodern era than the tradition which grew from Augustine)

Aidan of Lindisfarne (in a time in Northern England that Christianity was declining, Aidan walked from village to village and spoke of Jesus)

200px-Francisbyelgreco.jpgFrancis of Assisi (in a time of war and growing affluence, he showed the church the simple way of Jesus)

Shusaku Endo (Many folks would probably put C.S. Lewis on their list. As much as I like him, he doesn’t get into the dark corners of the faith–the places of anger and doubt–enough. So I’m puting Shusaku Endo on my list as the “token” writer. Shusaku Endo is like Graham Greene in that he goes into those places. Shusaku Endo is a Japanese Catholic, and his faith infuses everything he writes. But his faith is a marginalized, fragile faith.)

Just a few of my own…who would you add?

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