OK, I admit, I have been the poster-child of a blogworld AWOL...
This winter/spring has been filled with so many gracious and challenging events —
• Finishing a manuscript for Zondervan: "The Church in Transition: The Journey of the Existing Church into the Emerging Culture" (it will be out in Jan 2006)
• Getting approval for our emerging culture initative that has developed into a missional community/church plant in Durham, NC and beginning the development of this community that we now call "Emmaus Way"
• Managing a health scare in our family. For those who know, my wife Mimi had a tumor on her thyroid removed last month. Graciously, it was mostly benign and she has a great prognosis!
But I'm back....
I want to post over the next few days about the values of our mission, Emmaus Way and describe a bit more of the story of this community. As many know, our dream is forge a community that embodies the life of Jesus in our postmodern world and relates with intentionality to an existing church (the Chapel Hill Bible Church which has gracious funded this effort). We seek to be a community that continues to learn from the historical church while also acting as a scout for the church as begins to collide with the emerging culture.
“Community” at Emmaus Way
“Community” has become one of the most overused words in our vocabulary — we use it to refer to almost every form of relationship and association in our culture. Some common uses of “community” include “people who are like me or agree with me,” “persons who help me accomplish my goals,” or simply “times when I’m comfortable around others.”
When we dream of community at Emmaus Way, we seek an embodiment of relationships that challenges some of our culture’s comfortable reductions of community and seeks to express Christian community with honesty and humility in a vastly changed culture.
Our understanding of community has been forged in our passion for and exploration of hospitality. Henri Nouwen, one of the great voices of Christian spirituality in the 20th Century, defined hospitality as the radical combination of “receptivity” (being truly open to the presence of others on their own terms) and “honesty” (being vulnerable, humble, and authentic with one’s own heart and perspective). So many times in Christian community, one of these poles of hospitality is practiced without the other!
Several extensions of hospitality have become passions and goals for our community:
• Divine Hospitality: Being a community that is open to the presence and God on God’s terms and agendas…Being shaped by spiritual practices that enhance our ability to hear God’s voice.
• Relational Hospitality: Living with kindness in all our relationships.
• Cultural Hospitality: Recognizing that God speaks outside of our overly delineated notions of the sacred and secular…Listening for God’s voice outside of the church and throughout the cultures that surround us…Worshipping God as Creator by acknowledging that our whole world is created and loved by God…Learning from other cultures and expressions of Christianity…Seeking and honoring the beauty around us.
• Communicational Hospitality: Practicing and valuing the art of dialogue…Learning by listening
• Environmental Hospitality: Loving and protecting all of God’s creation.
The greatest teacher and embodiment of hospitality was Jesus. He defied the norms of his day by inviting cultural aliens and his own people, “sinners” and “the righteous,” scholars and the uneducated, paupers and princes, and women and men into his friendship and the embrace of God. We hope to practice the way of Jesus in all of our relationships.
Our name, Emmaus Way, comes from a scene of hospitality extended in the narrative of Jesus’ life. It is an Easter story. On the day of Jesus’ resurrection, two of Jesus’ disciples traveled the road to Emmaus. With lingering sadness and incredulity at the reports of Jesus’ resurrection, they were joined by Jesus himself. Despite his rebuke of their lack of faith (hadn’t he promised them personally that he would rise from the grave) and extensive explanation of the Jewish Scriptures, they still do not recognize him. As the day wanes and they reach their destination, the stranger appears to be intent to travel on into the night. Graciously, they invite the man who has rebuked and taught them in for the evening. While breaking bread and pouring wine in an event that recalls the last supper and anticipates the Christian practice of Eucharist, Jesus is revealed them. Though Jesus’ teachings were not lost (some scholars teach that the core of the New Testament was revealed in Jesus’ traveling explanation to these men), it was an act of hospitality that yielded recognition of the risen Christ. At Emmaus Way, we seek to embrace and practice the tradition of this narrative in our acts of community.