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Eucharist And Mission

Closing Reflections on Eucharist And Mission

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Last Sunday night marked the end of our Eucharist and Mission series at The Practice. Part of that night was spent in the practice of remembering and reflecting on where we’ve been and how far we’ve come. Enjoy this special edition of The Practice Podcast that includes our closing reflections on what we’ve learned and where we’ve been this past six weeks together.

 

 

“5 weeks ago our community embarked upon a journey to explore and deepen the significant connections between Eucharist & Mission. Through a freight train of incredible information, preaching, advocacy and wisdom, we have been invited into the significance of this table and the different connections between what happens here, and in our day to day lives and in our world.

Together we have journeyed a great intellectual and emotional distance. Together, I want to take just a moment to recap each step of this journey as we once again approach this table.

Our journey began with Scot McKnight, who gave us a foundational theology of the Eucharist. In it, he pointed out that the Eucharist, like Passover is in fact a liberation meal, given for an occupied people. We learned that through participating in this table we become connected to the liberation offered through Jesus.

For week 2 Jonathan Martin reminded us that: Absolutely everyone is invited and welcome to the high and glorious call of the table. Whosoever desires to loose their life, submit to the mysterious presence and power of Christ at this table – is wanted and is welcome.

For week 3 David Fitch taught us that the postures we practice here at this table, of are actually shaping us for the tables of fellowship and of mission in our own lives. If we can learn to attend to the presence of Christ here, in this moment, we are being shaped into kingdom people who can recognize and attend to Christ in the world.

What happens around this sacrament of Christ’s blood and body that was broken open for us, breaks us open. We don’t go forth in mission for any greater reason than what happens right here. The love and sacrifice of Christ becoming broken open for us is what breaks us open for the sake of the world. Therefore in the weeks to come, we looked at how to practice Eucharist and Mission in our own lives.

In week 4, Austin Channing Brown shared how the Eucharist breaks us open for the sake of reconciliation. To resound with the cry of injustice, to flip the homogeneous tables that bind us to the imperialism of the world so that we may be prophetic voices in the shape of Christ, protesting with our very lives, showing that we are for everything this table stands for. God reconciled himself to us – now we are to be reconciled to one another and to the world.

And finally through the beautiful and compelling story of Lynne Hybels, we saw how the Eucharist breaks us open for the sake of real, radical, costly peace. Through this table, this incredible sacrament that represents the lengths Christ went to, to make peace with us and with the world, we are beckoned to make peace in his name.

I think we can all agree that this has been quite the journey.”

I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite parts of this experience in my own life, have been the amazing stories that have been popping up all over my life connecting what happens here at The Eucharist table, with the other tables in my life. A few weeks ago, my husband John and I had the pleasure of sitting around our table in fellowship with a dear friend from The Practice, Sarah, who many of you have seen serving communion week to week. The connections Sarah has been making between Eucharist and her life are so incredibly moving and powerful, and as I listened to her I thought to myself,

Waow. I want that. I want to know the real, radical connections between what takes place here and what takes place in my life, and in the life of the world… I want to be broken open by this powerful practice of Eucharist for mission and the sake of the world.

It is my prayer for you that as we move forward from this journey that we would all give thanks to God for how we’ve been seeing the connections, and that we would continue to say, yes Lord show me, the vivid, beautiful connections in my life.

Blessings and peace to you,

Jenna Perrine and The Practice Team

We’d love to hear from you, what connections have you seen? How has this series deepened your understanding and practice of Eucharist And Mission?

Mother’s Day Liturgy

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For those of you who joined us for Mother’s Day a few days ago with Lynne Hybels, you know that we began with an opening liturgy about our God Our Mother–reflecting on and celebrating the many ways in which God is revealed through scripture in mothering images.  We’re very excited to share the liturgy:

Download the 05.10.15 God Our Mother liturgy.

Listen to the live liturgy below or subscribe here

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The song “God Our Mother” is from The Liturgists. Absolutely stunning…

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Part of this liturgy includes a beautiful original Mother’s Day Litany that draws us into prayerful worship with God as revealed in mothering images. We thought it would be helpful to create a visual of that litany for you to enjoy – you can grab it from below or download it here.

Mother litany

 

Grace and peace,
Aaron and The Practice Team

Sunday Reflections, May 17, 2015

By | Eucharist And Mission, Kingdom Practices, Reflections, Sunday Reflections | No Comments

Our time of worship, prayer, and Eucharist last night, ending our six-week journey called Eucharist and Mission, left me feeling encouraged and strengthened both in faith and in community. Like so many things, the closeness we all felt as we left is a bit of a mystery, but my sense of it was that really listening to the story of healing in a person’s life and heart and body like we all did as Sarah so courageously and openly shared, reminds us that restoration is happening all around us all the time whether we know it or not. And this is such good news for us because maybe, just maybe, it’s happening to each one of us slowly and by God’s gentle hand through our gathering, our worship, our prayer, and our receiving and remembrance of Christ’s body and blood.

As Jenna shared the recap of where we have been this last six weeks, I think we all stood in awe of how much we’ve learned, yes, but also how our eyes have been opened to Eucharist’s urgency and relevance in the actual world, not just in buildings on Sundays. One of the images I can’t quite shake this morning is all of us standing and singing May Your Kingdom Come as we watched the pictures of deeply loved people so often enemies of one another, or suffering greatly from sudden tragedy or chronic poverty and pain, move across the screen. I would love to practice the kind of prayer we practiced together last night more often, refusing to be numb to the constant barrage of pictures of suffering, pain, and conflict and instead humming in prayer over each life, whether deemed a sufferer or an oppressor: “May Your kingdom come, may Your will be done. May Your kingdom come in us. May Your love be shown, may Your nearness known. May Your kingdom come through us.”

If you’d like to incorporate this prayer practice in your life, here is the framework we used last night:

  • Collect a series of pictures of events happening in the world today or this last week that show faces of actual people (many news organizations have “pictures of the week” that they post);
  • Review the faces seen and unseen in the picture and the broken or beautiful systems and governments that make the scene depicted a reality;
  • Pray
  • for each person, deeply loved and made carefully by God in His image, that you see in the picture and for those unseen, but represented in some way;
  • for the broken systems and governments that underlie what is depicted;
  • for the way God’s kingdom is and will break through in the midst of the suffering, pain, or conflict represented in the picture; and
  • Seek God’s mercy over the situation:

Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.

We will meet again in three weeks, on June 7th, and, in the meantime, may you practice Eucharist in the world.

Grace and peace,
Kellye Fabian

Sunday Reflections, May 3, 2015

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Broken Open for Reconciliation

I’ve realized between last night and today that you don’t hear a whole lot about what people are “for.” Mostly, we hear about what people are against. In fact, you are much more likely to know what your friends and family are against than you are to know what they’re for. Sadly, this is especially true among Christians. I’m sure you’d get more answers from the man or woman on the street about what Christians are against than what they are for!

So it was with great urgency that Austin Brown taught us last night about living lives that are for the things God is for, and specifically lives that are broken open for reconciliation, the fundamental marker of the kingdom of God. What truth Austin shared when she reminded us that the tables at which we typically find ourselves (dinner, coffee, board, executive, leadership) seat people who look and think just like us. Our tables reinforce over and over what we already believe to be true about people who are not like us and the issues of our day. So when we see things on the news about unrest, protests, riots, and violence, we become uneasy and fear disruption, causing us to retreat to the circles and tables filled with the people who will reaffirm what we believe whether or not it is accurate, fully formed, or one-sided.

To call us to something more, something that reflects God’s character and heart, Austin walked us through the time Jesus entered the temple courts in Jerusalem and turned over tables with a fire we don’t often associate with Him. In this story, we find three learnings:

  • Jesus declared first his vision for what should be. He said, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations…’” (Mk 11:17; Mt 21:13)
  • Jesus identified how the people had fallen short. After his first statement, he said, “But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Mk 11:17; Mt 21:13)
  • Jesus modeled what he said. Just after making these declarations, Jesus invited the blind and lame – the untouchables – to come to him in the temple. (Mt 21:14)

Out of this poignant and relevant teaching, Austin invited us into the practice and lifestyle of protest. (Although the word protest has come to mean “against,” it originally meant to declare or testify. For example, people accused of crimes would “protest their innocence,” meaning “declare their innocence.”) In other words, she asked us to model Jesus in the temple courts by declaring with fire what we are for, identifying the ways in which we have fallen short of that vision, and modeling what we declare with our lives.

Jesus broke himself open to reconcile us, in the midst of our brokenness, to God. He has called us to do the same: to break ourselves open to be reconciled to each other.

This week, I’m sitting with the handout we received last night, with its large-print, fill-in declaration: I am for ___________.

And, I’ll be praying for God’s guidance with these two prayers:

God, what is the gap between my desire (what I’m for) and my actual life?

God, what is one step I can take this week to begin bridging that gap?

I hope you’ll join me in this.

May you disrupt your tables in protest, to declare what God is for and take a step to reconcile what is broken and in need of healing.

Grace and peace,

Kellye Fabian

 

For those of you who weren’t there or would like to listen again, you can listen to Austin’s message here below or on The Practice Podcast.

Sunday Reflections, April 26, 2015

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Tending to the Presence of Christ

It makes perfect sense that experiencing the presence of Christ at the Lord’s Table could have a significant impact on the way we live our lives. If I am intentional about remembering Jesus’ sacrifice once a week in communion, I will remember to love others throughout the week. But, to be honest, remembering Jesus’ sacrifice hasn’t actually allowed me to love more or better. In fact, even as we read through 1 John 3:16-24 in the opening liturgy last night, I kept wondering how to really do what Jesus commanded. The call to love others seems so high sometimes given my selfishness, susceptibility to fear, and desire for comfort and safety.

I almost stood up during David Fitch’s teaching last night to yell out, “Oh! I get it! I see!” His thesis: the Lord’s Table shapes us to recognize Christ’s presence here (the place we are receiving the bread and wine) so that we can recognize Christ’s presence out there (in our homes, neighborhoods, and beyond). David showed us in the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus that though Jesus was present with them, the disciples did not discern his presence until they were at the table and Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to give it to them. (Luke 24:13-31)

So, David asked: What happened that allowed the disciples to discern Christ’s presence in that moment? And what happens at the Lord’s Table that allows us to discern Christ’s presence? David proposed that when we come to the Lord’s Table in the following four postures, we are able to discern Christ’s presence:

  • A posture of submission: we come submitting to Jesus and to each other.
  • A posture of receiving: we come with gratitude and openness to whatever God might do.
  • A posture of ceasing striving: we come with a quieted ego and letting go of our desire to control.
  • A posture open to forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration: we come to receive again the forgiveness of Christ over our lives and to receive the renewal of the Holy Spirit.

You can listen to David’s message here or by subscribing to The Practice Podcast.

 

The beauty of David’s teaching was that it didn’t stop at the Lord’s Table. Instead, he challenged us to take these four postures into our lives, to our own tables, and to every table where we eat and drink. In this way, our participation in Eucharist allows us to tend to Christ’s presence in the world. What would it look like for us to have dinner with our families in a posture of submission? Or of openness and with a quieted ego that has released its desire to control? What would it look like for us to tend to Christ’s presence not just on Sunday nights, but at our every meal? And what if we took these postures with us to Starbucks and McDonald’s or wherever we may find ourselves sitting down with friends or strangers for a meal?

We practiced these postures during our seed-packing after our gathering. Many families across the globe will be able to grow gardens for food and income over the next year because of that packing. And, we were able to practice taking the four postures David taught us beyond the Lord’s Table and into our individual conversations across the table from one another, tending to Christ’s presence as we packed seeds.

I am so grateful that David opened our eyes to these postures at the table. I can’t wait to put them into practice at all the tables I find myself this week. I pray you’ll join me in putting what we’ve learned into practice.

May you take the presence of Christ with you every place you eat this week and tend to His presence there.

Peace and grace,

Kellye Fabian

Introducing David Fitch

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This Sunday, we welcome guest speaker David Fitch to The Practice to help us make the connection between Eucharist and Mission.

David is a missional church planting coach who we have a lot to learn from. A self described “Missional Church planter”, David was the founding pastor of Life on the Vine Christian Community in the northwest suburbs, has his Ph.D. from Northwestern University, and is also the BR Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology at Northern Seminary, (like Scot McKnight, he’s not dumb). David explains about himself:

 “I have spent most of my adult ministry/academic life asking the question Why Church? How do we lead church into the challenges we are facing including pluralism, injustice, post Christendom, postmodernity, alternative sexualities. The questions “What is the gospel? Where is the Kingdom? How does God reveal Himself? What is conversion? need to be asked anew. I have written on all these subjects in one form or another. Above all, I seek to reimagine church as a way of life under the Lordship of Christ and His mission in the world.”

Recently, David has been working on a book in which explores the relationship between The Table and the tables of our lives, Eucharist as the breaking open, and how this opens us up in mission for the world. This Sunday evening, he’s going to be exploring that very topic as we continue our series on the Eucharist and Mission. In the meantime, check out his blog or some of the books he’s already written to get pumped!

Our prayer is that our gathering will begin the crucial and necessary turn from talking about the Table, to talking about how we live the Eucharist out in the fabric of our lives. We hope to see you there!

Blessings,

The Practice Team

The Whole Story

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order (1)

Now that we’re Podcasting the Sunday evening messages, our team has become increasingly aware of the limits of the spoken word. Teaching plays a huge role in forming our theology and inviting us into practice, but it’s not the center of our gathering. The Lord’s Table is at the center.

Unfortunately–for technical and copyright-related reasons–we can’t include the whole 90 minute gathering on the Podcast. So if you missed Sunday night, you’re only hearing a part of the journey. Like reading the middle two chapters of a ten chapter book.

So as a small way to invite you into the full story, here are the “Order of Practice” liturgies from the last two Sundays…

04.12.15 Order of Practice
04.12.15 Communion Liturgy
04.19.15 Order of Practice
04.19.15 Communion Liturgy

Grace and peace to you all,
Aaron

Sunday Reflections, April 19, 2015

By | Eucharist And Mission, Reflections, Sunday Messages, Sunday Reflections, The Practice Podcast | 3 Comments

Everyone Is Welcome at the Table

I have not ever thought of the table (the Lord’s Supper or communion) as a scandalous place. A reverent place, yes. A place of great mystery, for sure. As I consider it now, I realize I’ve even thought of communion as a bit tame.  Everyone lines up neatly, and quietly waits to receive. Or, we silently and politely pass bread and wine down rows of well-mannered, good-intentioned church people.

But, last night, Jonathan Martin reminded us that Jesus was constantly getting in trouble for eating and drinking with the “wrong” people – tax collectors and sinners. Just look at Luke 5:27-32. There was nothing neat or tame about his table. He invited everyone, anyone.  All were welcome. At the Last Supper, the one that inaugurated our practice of communion, Judas, who would betray Jesus, sat at the table. Peter, who would deny Jesus, sat at the table. The remaining 10 apostles, who would each abandon Jesus, sat at his table. Everyone is welcome at Jesus’ table.

You can listen to Jonathan’s full message here or by subscribing to our podcast.

 

More than anything, Jonathan’s message got me thinking about what a scandal it is that I am invited to Jesus’ table. Really. Sometimes it is all I can do to even hold my hands out to receive the bread not only because of things in my past that still haunt me, but also because of things I thought or did just hours before stepping into the Chapel. I am utterly unworthy. It is shocking, scandalous that I am invited and welcome. I come to the table humbly and hungry, though, and when I do, I am overwhelmed by God’s grace and the mystery of Christ’s presence. It makes me long for God to expand my heart and give me courage to open my table to the “wrong” people, people who don’t receive invites, are seen as unclean, or are deemed unworthy.

Would you join me this week in identifying the person or group of people you have consciously or subconsciously deemed unwelcome at your table?  And once you’ve identified that person or group of people, would you invite them into a conversation or to have a meal?

May you hear the invitation of our Lord Jesus that you are invited to and welcome at his table.  And may you practice the scandal of Jesus’ table, inviting and welcoming the wrong people to your table.

Grace and peace,

Kellye Fabian

Practice Resources

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A Theology of The Eucharist: Recommended Resources

What Every Christian Needs To Know About Passover: What It Means And Why It Matters
By Rabbi Moffic

This Past Sunday, Scot McKnight challenged us to understand the deep connections between our practice of the Eucharist and the Jewish practice of Passover. Who better to unpack these connections more for you than our dear friend Rabbi Moffic. You may remember him from his last visit to The Practice teaching on Sabbath – such a helpful and enriching perspective. His new book literally just came out this past February, and is written in a helpful and clear manner to Christians to help them better understand Passover. What a gift in light of Scot’s message this past Sunday! May this bless you in your learning of the Eucharist.

 

The King Jesus Gospel: The Good News Revisited
By Scot McKnight

If you really enjoyed Scot’s teaching and are wondering which of his books would be worth starting with, we have to recommend his pivotal work The King Jesus Gospel. It’s a wonderful vision of community, culture and the gospel, that will give you new eyes for gospel theology and its impact on evangelism.

Contemporary evangelicals have built a “salvation culture” but not a “gospel culture.” Evangelicals have reduced the gospel to the message of personal salvation. This book makes a plea for us to recover the old gospel as that which is still new and still fresh. The book stands on four arguments: that the gospel is defined by the apostles in 1 Corinthians 15 as the completion of the Story of Israel in the saving Story of Jesus; that the gospel is found in the Four Gospels; that the gospel was preached by Jesus; and that the sermons in the Book of Acts are the best example of gospeling in the New Testament. The King Jesus Gospel ends with practical suggestions about evangelism and about building a gospel culture.

The Story of the Lamb
Sermon By Tim Keller

In light of Scot McKnight’s exploration of Passover, we are excited to recommend this helpful sermon by Tim Keller drawing connections between the Passover Lamb and Jesus as the Lamb of God.

One of the major narrative plot lines of the Bible is the story of the lamb. It runs all through the Bible, beginning with the story of Abraham being asked to kill Isaac, continuing with the Passover in Egypt, and running through the Passover supper with Jesus and his disciples. In all of these cases a lamb is offered as a sacrifice for a debt. In John 1, John the Baptist tells us to “behold the lamb of God,” meaning to soak in and understand who Jesus is and the debt he paid for us with his death.

If you didn’t already know, our good friends The Brilliance have a wonderful song that is worth playing on repeat as we dive into our Eucharist and Mission series…

 

Introducing Scot McKnight

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As most of you have seen and heard through the foray of social media, prolific New Testament scholar and theologian Scot McKnight will be joining us at the Practice this Sunday to share the first step of our journey into Eucharist and Mission-a theology of the Eucharist.
Scot first came into my life while I was attempting my undergrad in biblical studies and “required” to read his book The Blue Parakeet for a course on studying the bible. In the book, Scot encourages Christians to embrace the full bible, not just what’s comfortable or easy to read but to be challenged and convicted by the complexity, the ambiguity, the beauty and the mystery of God’s Word. Being a sophomore at the time with a multitude of questions, I remember with every page I read having this feeling of utter relief- here finally was a respected scholar of the bible acknowledging the difficult questions that can arise and yet still pushing further up and further in to the depths. wonders and joys of our Christian faith. Since my first encounter with Scot’s work, he has been a trusted guide on a host of other issues- from his examination of what the Gospel truly is in his book The King Jesus Gospel, to his powerfully clear explanation of Jesus’ call to discipleship in The Jesus Creed, to his most recent books about the church and the kingdom entitled Kingdom Conspiracy and A Fellowship of Differents.
If you too have longed for someone who understands some of those great looming questions, and yet hoped that there might still be a way forward for faith, hope, and love then I would love to encourage to check out some of Scot’s work (we’ve tagged a few resources below to help get you accquainted). Even more, if you’ve ever wanted to dive deeper into the Eucharist, to take a Sunday to swim in the stream of this magnificent and vitally important practice of both our community and the entire Christian faith, then please come this Sunday night to hear and practice the Lord’s Table with Scot McKnight as our guide.
We can’t wait to see you there!

Grace and Peace,

John and the Practice team