Saint Patrick's Church Schola

Lenten 2006 Class -- Classical Spiritual Disciplines

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

I am blogging to recommend a new coffee that comes from the hills of Rwanda. It is "Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee(LTHC)." LTHC is grown in Rwanda and shipped to a small plant in Atlanta that is a minstry of an Anglican Church there. A pound costs $10. It is free trade, so the profits go back to Rwanda. The farms that grow the coffee are made up of both Hutus and Tutsis.

A central aim of the farms is to foster reconciliation between these groups as they work together in the aftermath of the genocide in 1994. Beyond this, $1 of the price of the Coffee foes to the PAUL RUSESABAGINA HOTEL RWANDA FOUNDATION. Rusesabagina is the man who was spotlighted in the recent film Hotel Rwanda. He saved 1200 lives by offering refuge in the Hotel he managed. His foundation serves orphans of the 1994 massacre. Another dollar of the cost goes to the INYAKURAMA MICRO FINANCE FUND. This fund was developed by Bishop John Rucyahana -- one of the leaders instrumental in the formation of the Anglican Mission in America. If you are new to micro-financing, this is a way of giving small loans to to individuals and families to launch there own businesses. This model has emerged as one of the most effective ways to spur development and provision in global south nations. This fund specifically supports widows of the 1994 massacre.

Here is the website: http://www.landofathousandhillscoffee.com/

Check it out -- you can order it online.

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Thursday, May 12, 2005

MISSION COMES BEFORE THE CHURCH

I am finally, after over a month, inspired to post again. My friend Alan Creech is posting on his blog about what it means to be a missional church (very good stuff -- check it out).

I have been pondering this idea again. In the process I read a quote from Geoff Maddock of Communality -- a missional church in Lexington, KY. In an article about the emerging church Geoff said this, "...mission comes before the church. It is when we go into mission together to love and serve the world that the church is born."

"Mission comes before the church." I think this is spot on. Think of the book of Acts. St. Paul did not set out to plant churches in the sense we think of. He did not go out to form communities. He went to do kingdom work -- preach the gospel, make disciples, serve the poor, be a witness for justice, etc. What emerged from this work was communities of faith. The communities existed to sustain the mission of the Kingdom.

The Kingdom is bigger than the church. The kingdom is what God is doing in the world. The church -- the people of God -- exist to be a sign and witness to what God is doing, i.e., to the Kingdom fo God. That is what it means to be missional.

I/we at Saint Patrick's are trying to figure out what this looks like. Here are some examples:

-Example One: A guy in our community discovers a neighbor who plays banjo. The St. Pat's guy is guitarist and fiddler. He goes next door to jam. The St. Pat's guy begins a friendship -- treats the neighbor like a, well, a neighbor. He brings the presence of Christ and begins to discern what God is already doing in that home. He is a sign and witness of the Kingdom of God. That is mission.

-Example Two: A group from St. Pat's discover a need in the neighborhood. A man who is confined to a wheelchair needs a spring cleaning done on his apartment and needs a ramp built so he can get into his apartment. A group plans to do this work on a weekend morning. Some will clean, some will build, some will watch kids, some will bring food for a common meal after the work. Mission and community coming together. That is mission.

The church moves into the world to do mission. As people join the mission the church expands. This is what it means to be missional. It is not a fresh way of doing what has been done for centuries in North America. It is re-framing of the whole concept of how the church relates to the Kingdom. Of course, I would argue it is what is envisioned in the New Testament.

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