Monday, June 9, 2008

The Missional Order and The Abbess

Last October, as I drove up to Seabeck with Brad and Rick, I had no idea what to expect. Neither did they … and neither did anyone else, as we all soon discovered! This did not bother me at all, this ambiguous tension. I had been waiting almost two years for God to reveal the next steps in the plan for implementing the vision he placed in my heart. All I knew was that I was supposed to come.

I knew nothing of “orders” or “rules” – being a low-church minister – but the story I learned about the Northumbria community resonated strongly in my heart. I have been unable to find two better words for what I seek in a community than their words: availability and vulnerability.

And the “The Daily Office” was just as new … and I was pleasantly surprised by the way Northumbria presented their version of this discipline. One of these days I will get it in a book … because I just cannot have my computer available to me at all times and in all places. I’m wondering whether I can get a Kindle and download all my stuff. Hmmm….

In the wake of this gathering, my little coracle has been bouncing about on a journey that could only be guided by the currents of God – reading and pondering and writing … and blogging. One of the most unexpected results of the Seabeck gathering was the birth of my blog: The Virtual Abbess. In it and through it I have learned many things and have begun to share the vision for CovenantClusters – which I recognized immediately as a mix of a missional order and a discipleship training center. Interesting that God should show me a vision two years before explaining the ancient components.

* * * * * * * * * * *

…this is how I began to respond to Len’s post: The Birth of a Missional Order: From Seabeck Forward. But in the days since I began, my mind has been flooded with, well, stuff. Sigh … I can’t even elaborate on what the stuff is … yet … but we are just 9 days and counting until school is out for our three boys – when I’ll have NO free moments for thinking and blogging!

So let me just put up a small R2A2 notice for what follows:

Back in January of 2006, I believe the Lord gave me a vision for what he would like me to do to help in the Kingdom. As outrageous as it was, I have had that vision confirmed repeatedly. But I have also spent the majority of my time reading books and blogs that give me vocabulary to describe the various components of the vision. And I am looking to find some time to get away and let all the loose ends weave together. But more loose ends keep popping up, it seems, so that I feel a bit overwhelmed.

What I find remarkable, however, is that more than overwhelmed, what I’m feeling is that the Holy Spirit is at work moving across the Kingdom planting seeds in the hearts of those willing to get down and work in the dirt. And the seeds that are being planted are, well, different – depending on where “the dirt” is … if that makes any sense.

This means that the dirt where AbiSomeone is will receive a seed that needs this particular pH and organic composition and climate to grow like a native plant. It also means that I should not look for anyone else’s seed to be just like mine. I have to be willing for the Holy Spirit to make this seed grow in my heart and let it take root in my home so that it can spread to my neighborhood.

So, I cannot focus on all the books and blogs and terms and schemes floating out there. I can be (and am!) grateful for their action as “mulch” – knowing that their essential components will break down and serve as nutrients for the little seed growing here. (And what a great bibliography section I will now have!) But I no longer feel compelled to try to recreate anyone else’s story … because then it is no longer a story I can tell with any authenticity or authority.

This realization is a big deal … to me. And it has come to the surface as a result of the past few months of being involved with a missional learning community facilitated by fellow-Seabecker Rob Robinson. This group is a place where my husband and I have been able to “be” with others who are “adrift” in the ocean of the Body of Christ in our little coracles … but no longer shackled to the “mother ships” of the “institutional church” (IC). We come from many different backgrounds, but we have been a good example of what the Allelon folks refer to as “listening one another into free speech.”

And so I will begin to focus again on defining CovenantClusters and looking for how the Spirit will begin to make it grow and begin to take shape. And I will be aided by understanding things about “missional” and “orders” and “mDNA” and “APEST” and “rule of life” and “daily office” and look forward to how God will weave them all together – or should I rather say “graft” them in? – to what I know about cHesed and covenant and clusters of Christ-followers.

With a vision as grand as CovenantClusters, it is easy to get overwhelmed with the details. So I’m going to continue a step at a time, a day at a time. And today I’m going to remember to keep these things as the main focus for my journey:

  • The New Covenant I have joined in Christ Jesus calls for me to recognize my responsibility to be faithful partners with those brothers and sisters around me – so that we will be a blessing to our neighborhood – in however many ways that manifests itself.
  • cHesed is a term that describes faithful covenant keeping and it is most fully translated as a concept around this cluster of New Testament terms: love, grace, mercy, submit, serve, lead. Please take a look at my chart to get a grasp of the breadth and depth of this concept.
  • Covenant and cHesed are deeply relational concepts – CovenantClusters will, therefore, be a deeply relational branch on the Vine. The sense of commitment (to God and each other) will be huge (I hesitate using words like “total” because of the “cult” fears that they engender). This will be where the monastic flavors will emerge (very small pun intended) and will manifest themselves in a “rule of life” as well as a “rhythm of life”.
I believe and trust that the Holy Spirit will be faithful to continue to guide my steps along this path. It is comforting to know that there are many on the path ahead of me, blazing trail. Certainly, I look forward to Allelon and CovenantClusters continuing to journey together.

Be blessed....

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