Thursday, July 27, 2006

Missional texts

I am working on a project: a missional reader – a set of texts – Biblical, liturgical, blog and book – that might nourish the journey of a missional learner. I am wondering about the potential of a shared set of texts, shared among missional learners in different contexts, offering a sense of communal learning on the missional journey.

Such a reader would best emerge from texts already used in community, grounded already in the local and particular. So I am currently field-testing some Biblical texts with a class. Every week for 14 weeks we are committing ourselves to dwelling in a different Biblical text (Yes, I know that the emerging church is rumoured to not take the Bible seriously:)). We will be reading the text and letting the text read us; listening to the text and listening to the text through each other. Here are some of my more poetic reflections on text 1: Genesis 28:10-19.

10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran.

on the run
posting distance
post-family; post-fight,
post-modern Jacob, we set-out, post-faith of fathers

11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep.

exile and refuge
alone and alienated,
resting hard-headed angst

12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

no matter how strange the rocky dis-placement
no matter how new the contours of escarpment and scape

your will be done
stairway to heaven
on earth as in heaven
divine echoes

13 There above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.

Oh strange text
Oh contested Holy Land
Oh holy power

Do you demand such practices of power?
Did you give to oppress and colonise?
Did you dream the displaced would displace?

Is there another way,
a new kind of stairway to heaven,
Neither descending give or ascending take

14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.

Oh God, really?
bless with bomb on Hizbollah, flesh torn off offspring,
abundant rain of rockets for rubble and dust

15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Oh God, really?
Is this your kingdom come
Thine be the power and the glory
On earth as in heaven?

16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

Misseo dei
God’s gate
swings open in strange land

18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.

Was barren space
Now peopled place

Urban altar etched as
missional marker

our pilgrim on

Posted by steve at 02:50 PM


  1. Please, please, please don’t do Luke 10. It has run dry and there is nothing left.

    Comment by Andrew — July 27, 2006 @ 6:44 pm

  2. I think this is a wonderful idea… some of our key texts… Acts 17, 1 Thess 2, Matt 13 (yeast), Luke 10 (No it has not run dry.. God help us if scripture ever runs dry! We have found people have been amazed when we have told them stories of the real people of peace that we encounter (the majority of who are not and have never been Christians – or believers of any sort) and who have resourced us in Mission in their communities)… we are also looking at Abrahams Tent at the moment (going where God leads, pitching your tent in the ruins of community, living light on the land and being a place of hospitality to all all points of the compass etc.)

    Of course theres ton’s of stuff around the Desert/Exile that is inspiring too.

    Comment by Mark Berry — July 28, 2006 @ 12:27 am

  3. I am trying to work through a similar thing for my church community, i’d love to see the texts you are using for this…

    Comment by Todd — July 28, 2006 @ 1:27 am

  4. keep coming back Todd, I am hoping to do a text a week for the next 14 weeks, posting them one by one as we engage with them as a learning community.

    Comment by steve — July 28, 2006 @ 7:05 pm

  5. last night we spent some time looking at The Abram narrative… The calling out of the inherited culture and familiar place, The covenant which sees Abram (and his decendents) as a conduit for the blessing of all peoples, the dynamic of movement – with places of worship and rememberance (thin places?) at each stage of the journey (often built in hostile and ruined places e.g. Bethel) and living lightly on the land (something about being prepared to go with God at a moments notice and maybe even somthing about how we use/abuse the planet too?), The role of servant and advocate of the community (hospitality which sees him give up his best and then serves it to the visitors – not eating himself but simply serving them, pleading with God on behalf of all that is good in the community – no matter how small it is may be in comparison to all that is corrupt)

    Comment by Mark Berry — July 28, 2006 @ 8:14 pm

  6. Steve, thanks a ton. that will be fun to watch and see how this goes for you. Trust me, i’ll be lurking..

    Comment by Todd — July 29, 2006 @ 4:53 am

  7. Thanks Steve.
    That wa, for me, a really fresh way of looking at (hearing and absorbing) text.
    I continued to ponder the text during the week, esp while watchnig bombs drop and children die half a world a way.

    Comment by Paul Holmes — July 31, 2006 @ 9:23 pm

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