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prayer, meals and sabbath

November 1, 2009

These three community practices – morning prayer, shared meals, weekly sabbath – form the bass line of my life. I’d like to take each in turn and spend a little time exploring them more deeply for they are loaded with spiritually formative potential. Before looking at them in more in depth though I need to pan back a bit for the wider context.

if you know me at all you’ll know that I love Dallas Willard’s book,  The Divine Conspiracy. I place this book in my top three contemporary books and in the rare air of being among the masters of christian literature of all time alongside Bonhoeffer, Theresa of Avila, Thomas A’Kempis, Charles Wesley i.e. the heavy hitters and the Big Dogs. There was one major disappointment though. When I got to one of the final sections called “A Curriculum for Christlikeness” there wasn’t one. There was no curriculum. There were some guidelines, some parameters, some ‘must-haves’ but there was no clearly spelled out “this is what you need to do now” curriculum. I was disappointed because I like to be told what to do and then do it. I’d make a good dog. I can roll over for a treat. I can follow commands. I can do as I’m told. But Willard (wisely) refused to do this. In retrospect I’m glad he did because it taught me something very important…

There is no one, all encompassing “Curriculum for Christlikeness.” There are certainly ‘curriculums’ (note the obvious: little ‘c’ and plural). And in that there is much freedom and room for exploration. There is freedom to build one (of course within certain parameters) and there is room to explore what others have built. So we can look at Benedict’s rule for his monks and see a genius example of a curriculum (and an environment I might add) that has stood the test of 1500 years and counting. Or more recently one might look at Charles Wesley and see how he formed disciples and leaders to form and sustain an ecclesial and social movement.

So I am now pursuing what a curriculum would look like in this era, in my context (west Norwood, the Brownhouse). I will be drawing heavily on historical examples already noted within the broad and generous parameters that Willard laid out.

And I know already that these three practices (fixed hour prayer, shared meals, and sabbath keeping) will be major players… to be continued…

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Christa Harness permalink
    November 1, 2009 2:45 pm

    Looking forward to reading your thoughts on this! Thanks for sharing what you know and/or are learning!

  2. November 2, 2009 11:39 am

    reminds me of a comment michael frost said in a talk i saw: he said some guy came up to him and he had read is book with alan hirsch (the shape of things to come) and he couldn’t find a model for this missional church-thing. Of course, because there is no model, replied frost.

    i do think there are trajectories in which to direct people, like willard does, like frost and hirsch does, like many of the sages from the church over the centuries have given us, but we have to know that context and translation is key to so many factors…i’m looking forward to “Rain’s rule”…

  3. Jay Arnold permalink
    November 19, 2009 11:27 pm

    I had the same exact reaction to Willard’s book. Finding the book was like finding the Holy Grail in some respects, except that it didn’t deliver the curriculum it promised.

    Well, you can hardly fault Willard for that. The destructuring and rebuilding he’s eattempting to do among contemporary American evangelicals is staggering, and it will likely be left to someone else to consolidate what he’s set in motion.

    But listen, I’m serious about this curriculum for Christlikeness business. Like, not even just serious, but desperate. So I’ll be checking in on what you’re doing. And feel free to contact me.

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