The Naked Bike Ride to General Conference


Naked Bike Ride

In May 2016 the world is coming to my home – Portland, Oregon — a place where we proudly claim our weirdness and laugh along with episodes of “Portlandia” in an endearing way. We are into communal and laid back living, farm to table eating, free swaps and DIY on just about everything including our spirituality. We are concerned about the environment and recycle our food scraps. We love our LGBTQ brothers and sisters and even advocate for bike safety with our annual Naked Bike Ride through the streets of Portland. The coffee, beer and wine are always flowing and people who visit feel genuinely welcomed. Tolerance, understanding, diversity, natural fibers, life/work balance, communing with nature, good books, funky flavored ice cream and authentic conversations are important to us.

But frankly, we are having difficulty preparing for the General Conference delegates from all over the world who will be coming to our city for the quadrennial legislation of the United Methodist Church next May. You see, WE will tolerate differences as long as YOU tolerate differences.   We will welcome your expression of diversity as long as you welcome our expressions of diversity.

Here is our issue: We know you don’t want to welcome such diversity.

Here is our blind spot: We don’t want to either.

This is what all of us don’t understand: We are living out of different value systems (value memes) based on our particular life conditions and cultures. In order to be tolerant and understanding we need to respect your value system as much as we honor our own. Ouch!

Don Beck and Christopher Cowan, co-founders of the National Values Center and authors of the book “Spiral Dynamics” help to shed light on our impasse. The premise based on 40 years of research is that human nature changes as the conditions of existence change, thus forging new systems. We change our psychology and rules for living to adapt to these new conditions. When our values begin to collide with more complex life conditions we transcend the old and include the new. Both individuals and societies move along this evolutionary spiral of development. This movement pushes our capacities for compassion beyond ourselves to others in our tribe, ethnicity, religion or country and then to everyone in our world and finally to all life forms. Both personally and corporately we can’t jump levels of development; rather we have to go through them all.

Here are the characteristics of these color-coded stages along the spiral.

Beige – Basic Survival in .1% of world population. Uses  instincts and habits just to survive and get basic needs meet. Think of a newborn baby or the book “Clan of the Cave Bear.”

Purple – Magical Thinking in 10% of the world population with 1% of the power.  Shows allegiance to the chief, elders, ancestors and the clan. Think of tribal customs, animistic practices, and superstitions.

Red – Implusive, Ego-centric Power in 20% of the world population with 5% of the power. First emergence of a self distinct from the tribe. Lives without regret or guilt, conquers, dominates and is aggressive. Think of 2 year olds, rebellious teenagers, gangs, feudal kingdoms, terrorist groups, Tony Soprano, and the Wild West

Blue –  Mythic Order in 40% of the world population with 30% of the power. Life has meaning, direction, and purpose, with outcomes determined by an all-powerful Other or Order. This righteous Order enforces a code of conduct based on absolutist and unvarying principles of “right” and “wrong.” Violating the code or rules has severe, perhaps everlasting repercussions. Following the code yields rewards for the faithful. Think of the birth of all the major faith traditions, the ten commandments, patriotism, the protestant work ethic, and authoritarian regimes.

Orange – Scientific Achievement in 30% of the world population with 50% of the power. The self “escapes” from the “herd mentality” of blue, and seeks truth and meaning in individualistic terms. Societies prosper through the age of reason and science. Democracy, freedom, liberty, technology and competiveness are key. Think colonialism, “success” ministries, Wall Street, the emerging middle class, and shark tank.

Green – The Sensitive Self in 10% of the population with 15% of the power. Feelings and caring supersede cold rationality. The human spirit must be freed from greed, dogma, and divisiveness. This meme refreshes spirituality, brings harmony, enriches human potential. It is strongly egalitarian, anti-hierarchal, pluralistic, and values diversity and multiculturalism. Think of the Beatles, liberation theology, LGBTQ rights, national healthcare, world council of churches, and “Portlandia.”

Yellow – Integrative in 1% of the population with 5% of the power. This is the first value meme that can respect all the memes along the spiral as healthy and needed. Natural flows, flexibility, spontaneity, and functionality have the highest priority. People in this meme think and act from an inner-directed core and are able to access knowledge on multiple levels. Think of chaos theory, systems theory, and living systems.

Turquoise – Holistic in .1% of the population. Experiences the wholeness of existence through mind and spirit. Everything connects to everything else in an ecological alignment. Think morphic fields, integral theory, evolutionary spirituality, intuitive thinking, and cooperative action.

Much has been written and debated about our polity concerning the rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters to be ordained and married in our churches. There has been talk of division to the point of no longer being a “united” church. There has also been conversation about compromise.

This week the Connectional Table gathered to recommend legislation for a way forward that would allow United Methodist clergy to officiate same-gender weddings if they choose as well as allow Annual Conferences to ordain and support LGBT pastors and those who officiate same-gender weddings. At the same time the church would retain the historical objection to homosexuality.

If we looked at our world-wide United Methodist church along this dynamic spiral of value systems it could provide a way for us to engage with this recommendation in a helpful way.

It seems to me that our church encompasses purple, red, blue, orange, green and yellow value memes depending largely on where we live and our life conditions.

spiral dynamics

  • The United States — blue, orange, and green
  • Africa — purple, red, and blue
  • Northern Europe — orange, green and yellow
  • Asia — purple, red, blue and orange

Each one of these stages reads the Bible and configures church in a different way because we naturally insert our values into our scriptures, practices and polity. Each one of these value memes lives out of a response to the living conditions in which it finds itself.

Let’s look more closely to the blue value meme. The reason why the church is growing in Africa and Asia is because organized religion helps to bring order out of terror and chaos. John Wesley’s ministry did this well as he helped to lift people out of poverty and alcoholism in England through his preaching and classes. Many historians credit him for the rise of the middle class in England and the prevention of a revolution like the one in France. He literally helped to bridge the transition from a blue value system to an orange system as Methodism crossed the ocean into the new world. The gift of the church in the blue value meme is that it helps to provide safety and security, rules and morals. It is the backbone for further movement along the evolutionary spiral. Organized religion helps societies move from egocentric focus on me to an ethnocentric concern for people who share “our” values. It was the birth of monotheism that brought warring tribes together under one God and allowed us to progress along this evolutionary spiral.

If I grew up first knowing the belovedness of my tribe, its customs and spirits (purple) and then have been forced to leave due to famine, or war and pillage from outside gangs and warlords(red), I would long for protection, rules, law and a God who judges the evil doers (blue). I would need this for my very survival. The church and its polity would help me feel protected and safe. It would help to bring order out of chaos. I can have hope that our God will unite us around moral living rather than divide us among tribal customs. These laws give the clarity needed in order to rein in the impulsive and aggressive manifestations of the Red “Tony Soprano” value meme. These laws always include a strict moral code about sexuality. It is an integral part of the blue value meme.

Likewise, if I grew up in an orange/green value meme with all of my basic needs met and had access to science, technology and global information at my finger tips, I would begin to understand how interdependent we are as global citizens and would want to honor all life and all lives. I would understand that truth is relative depending on one’s perspective and experience. I would want to know your story and honor your truth. Spirituality for me would be found in deep listening, honoring experiences and discernment for where the Spirit of God is manifesting. I would want to join with others to help make the world a more peace-filled place where all can prosper as beloved children of God. If I can’t live out this expression of grace then I will find the church irrelevant, judgmental and hypocritical. (Hence a growing decline in religious affiliation in orange and green value meme areas.)

Neither one of these perspectives is wrong. They are just different due to the life circumstances we find ourselves in. Yet in the UMC we find ourselves stuck in this 35 year-old argument over LGBTQ rights. Both “sides” are expecting the other to change. That would be like asking a 4 year old to get a driver’s license or a computer nerd to survive in the wilderness with no technology or equipment.

Instead, what would it look like to honor both value systems? Could we allow rigid law and order in areas of the world where it is a matter of life and death? Likewise, could we honor a more world-centric perspective where my care and concern extends even beyond the doctrines of my church?

What would it be like to honor our life conditions and the value systems that support where we find ourselves? Wouldn’t that be the loving thing to do? If your heart is as mine, then can we join hands?

There is so much we can do together as a global church – let us join hands in this. But if we don’t honor our particular life contexts, the connectional church as we know it will wither and die.

If I could wave a “purple” magic wand in May 2016 I would hope that we could support the Connectional Table’s proposal because it honors both perspectives and leaves the LGBTQ issue to be lived out in our particular life contexts.

Now about that naked bike ride….

Progressive Fundamentalism?


I was recently visiting a church that is known as the progressive voice in their city. The majority of members are highly engaged in social justice issues and serve their larger communities in multiple ways. They are proud of their open and affirming welcome of the LGBTQ community, but also with how they have been in ministry with the local elementary school providing a free after school program for families with low incomes. The school principal, teachers, and parents love the partnership and the program has a waiting list of people wanting to be a part of it.

As I toured the church a key volunteer with the after school program turned to me and said, “We have this great program but our church is dying. Most of us are in our upper 60’s and 70’s and we won’t be able to do all of this good work forever.”

In further conversation I found out that, even though this after school program has provided love and care for children and their parents, no one has ever invited these families to be a part of the life of the church.


“Because we don’t want to offend anyone.”

We don’t want to imply by extending an invitation to church that, “We know your life would be better if you just joined our church.” After all, who are we to make such judgements?

This is a phenomenon that I have seen in many of our mainline churches that are known for its progressive witness in the larger community. I call it  “politically correct fundamentalism”. In our efforts to be open and affirming of all people and all truth we will go out of our way to not impose our beliefs on you.

But what about those families who have shared a part of their lives with these church volunteers? If I were one of them I would be wondering if there is something wrong with me? Am I not good enough to be a part of this church community? Why have they not asked me and my children to join them on Sunday morning or for a church dinner or to even help with some project? Is this church like a fraternity or sorority that will never ask me to pledge?

I am reminded of the story of the woman who begs Jesus to heal her daughter. Even as Jesus ignores her because she is not of his faith, she persists saying that even dogs get fed crumbs from their master.

Are we refusing to feed even the dogs? Are we abdicating our witness of God’s grace and peace when we refuse to extend an invitation for fear we will offend someone?

Martha Grace Reese who wrote “Unbinding the Gospel” found out in her Mainline Evangelism Project that the only difference between a declining church and one that is vitally growing is that members of the growing church are not afraid to share the difference that a life with Christ makes in their lives. They love talking about their church and inviting people to be a part of it.

As I walked down the hall of this progressive church, to my utter astonishment, I saw a poster advertising the evangelical mega church just down the street.

Guess which church is growing?



What do you not have enough of?    If you had enough, how much would that be?

When I was a working parent with young children I didn’t have enough sleep or time for myself.  I dreamt of being able to crawl into bed at 7pm and not worry about the dishes, the laundry and the bedtime routines.  At times I would lock myself in my bathroom and call it my “mommy time-out” just to get a few minutes by myself.  Now, that my children are older, I wish I had more time with them.

Then there is the issue of money.  I live in a well-to-do suburb in a beautiful home with overflowing closets and a stocked pantry, but I continue to wish for more.  Not because I need more, but because I have been shaped by a consumer culture that implicitly reminds me that I am not enough until I have more. I feel at times that I am held hostage by the lie that there is not enough of anything to go around, and it is my job to squirrel away as much as possible to ensure the security of my family.

But truly, is this what life is all about?

A few weeks ago my faith community pondered the story of Jesus feeding 4,000 people.  When Jesus suggests to the disciples that they had an obligation to feed these people who have had nothing to eat for 3 days the disciples respond, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?” In other words, “We don’t have enough to give to others.”

But Jesus cuts through that lie and asks, “How many loaves do you have?”  Jesus then takes what the disciples have — seven loaves of bread and a few fish, gives thanks, divides it up and gives it to the people. We are told that everyone had enough and it took seven large baskets to collect the leftovers!

Amazing story, yet in the back of our minds we think that this just doesn’t make sense. You can’t feed 4,000 people with 7 loaves of bread and a few fish, can you? That is not the way the world works.  But maybe Jesus is showing us how it could work differently if we trusted in the practice of abundance rather than scarcity.

What would it be like to trust that we do have enough?

That is how our leftover potluck experiment was born.  We decided to bring what we already had in our refrigerators and pantries to share for dinner together.  We brought our left-overs.

It was delightful anticipating who would come and what they would bring! We ended up with chili, cornbread, baked chicken, chicken marsala, a salad, a half full bottle of wine and a yogurt cake for dessert! It was a full meal that we hadn’t even planned ahead!  The best part was that no one stressed over bringing things. We trusted in the concept of enough.

We had a rich conversation around the table and when it was time to leave we even had leftovers to take home!  Granted we didn’t feed 4,000 with our leftovers, but we did experience the gift of abundance.

This experiment has captivated my imagination.  Jesus continues to ask me “What do you have?”  I am realizing that this is an invitation to discover that I am enough and that I have more than enough of everything that truly matters.


This is the Kingdom of God!

Today I glimpsed the kingdom of God in an inner city church name Mathewson Street in Providence, Rhode Island. My day began with about 300 people sitting around tables drinking coffee and eating a hearty breakfast while a dear soul  played the piano.

I sat with two men who shared stories with me about how they managed in the colder months to keep warm and dry, going from shelters to libraries to churches. They talked about their hopes, joys and struggles. We toasted to forgiveness as Rev. Jack Jones invited us to a love feast and offered prayers of and for the people.

Jack and Russ
Jack and Russ

I met a man named Russ who volunteers in the kitchen starting at 5am every Sunday morning to cook his famous eggs and potatoes. He told me about how he ended up on the streets after breaking 3 bones in his leg days before he was to start his new job as an electrician. He had no health insurance and no support network. He lost everything — his tools, his possessions, his dignity and his truck. He walks with a cane and still questions how he so quickly went from living a middle class lifestyle three years ago to surviving on the streets. But today he moves with joy and renewed hope.

I met Scott, who has come back to the church, finding a community that walks the talk. He has invited over 100 of his friends to be a part of the prayer breakfast ministry. Many of them are from his connections with families from his little league teams.

When I sat down at the second worship experience of the day I was welcomed by two women who have no homes. They helped me follow the order of the service and made sure I could find the right page in the hymnal as we sang. I listened to the prayers of the people as we prayed for the real needs of folks who live on the margins all over the world.

And then I saw it — the sea of saints coming to receive communion — a hunched over man who shuffled with a cane, another man from Liberia, several retired professors, social workers, dean of schools, a banker, homemakers, victims, addicts, children, mentally unstable folks, people with no teeth, and others of all colors, shapes and ages. I wept as I listened to the voices raised in hope in the midst of brokenness. This was the body of Christ broken for the world.  This was the beloved community.

After the service I asked the faithful members, some of whom had worshipped there for over 50 years, why they continue to be involved. One woman said, “I am changed by the encounters that I have as I serve.” Another said, “This is a messy place. The need and struggles can feel overwhelming, but I draw strength from the community and know that I am not alone.” Finally a woman who drives 40 miles every Sunday said simply, “This is the Kingdom of God.”

I, too, was changed today. I saw the power of a community of saints both past and present who have prayed the kingdom into reality on Mathewson Street. And today I join them in those prayers, “God’s kingdom come and will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Hallowed be your name!”

Let’s Get Real

According to the October 2012 Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life report, “Nones” on the Rise: One-in-Five Adults Have No Religious Affiliation, 1 in 5 adults are religiously unaffiliated. When looking more closely at the generational data, 32 percent of adults under the age of 30 fall within the same category. In 1950, the percentage of persons claiming no religious affiliation was a minuscule two percent.

Imagine Jesus showing up today saying to you and a few of your friends, “You will be my witnesses of God’s love in all of Jerusalem, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” What would you do? How would you go about sharing that good news that God’s realm is now? How would you go about helping people to be shaped and formed by that love and peace in your neighborhood?  Really…. without any pre-concieved notions of church or worship?

I think for many of us in the church we have done a good job of staying in Jerusalem, the denominational mecca where we tend to recycle Christians amongst ourselves. Our church planting strategies have focused around appointing a young handsome pastor to start a worship service with a highly skilled band and worship leader in a growing community. This requires big expenditures of money for staff and building rentals. The timeline for such starts to become sustainable is a mere 3-4 years due to funding constraints on the judicatory level. This strategy assumes that people already know something about church and are interested in learning more.

However, what we are finding out is that in our religiously non-affiliated culture we are setting ourselves up for failure with this model — unless, of course, we intentionally set out to reach folks who already have a religious background.

But what about in Samaria where they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics? What about those Samaritans who aren’t looking for a religion that would be right for them? How do we move from Jerusalem into Samaria?

If we look at the story of the original apostles in the Book of Acts, the diaspora into Samaria happened through persecution. Folks were forced out of their comfortable worshipping communities into a foreign land after Stephen was stoned by the denominational leaders. Simply put, the early disciples were forced out of their comfort zones for survival reasons. Maybe we could even say, they had to adapt or die.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could move out into Samaria without the threat of death?

One way we could do this is to encourage a few folks who are members of existing churches to be blessed and sent out as missionaries into their respective neighborhoods. This would take courage and trust not only from the folks being sent out, but also by those sending them out since they might just be the church’s most gifted leaders!

Imagine what this would look like in your setting — beginning with prayer and discernment about who those gifted folks might be, to inviting them into that possibility, to releasing them from church committee and teaching work, to blessing them on their way. I could imagine having monthly conversations with them about what they are learning and how the church could support them. I could imagine, just as the apostles reported back to the Jerusalem church, these folks reporting back to their home churches. I could also imagine in the process those same churches being stretched to move further and further into Samaria themselves.

Jesus shows us as he walks to Jerusalem through Samaria in the Gospel of Luke that this ministry is one of meeting people where they are and sharing stories that point to the ways of peace and love. It is a ministry of radical hospitality and inclusiveness where we scatter seeds of kindness and compassion, joy and delight. Simply put, it is about living our lives with Kin-dom hearts 24/7.  It is about helping people wake up to the sacrament of life with every breath we take.

We might not see the money rolling into the institutional church with this way of being, but if we listen deeply and trust in the Spirit’s unfolding, we will witness signs even greater than these!


About a year ago I was referred to a physical therapist for some right leg and hip pain. Basically the therapist told me that my right leg and hip area had fallen asleep and had lost much of its muscle capacity. I was dumbfounded since I had just finished my first sprint triathlon.

How could I have trained hard for 6 months with my right leg muscles asleep? The therapist told me that this is actually a common occurrence with many people who run. They don’t even know it until the pain sets in. So she set me on a path of healing through a series of exercises that got progressively more difficult with every week of therapy. I still do those exercises every time I run because I surely don’t want my leg muscles to fall asleep again!

As I was running the other day I thought about other places in my life where I have fallen asleep. You know what I am talking about — living my life on auto pilot. A day turns into a week that turns into a month and so on. Let’s face it, how many opportunities do we take throughout the week to intentionally wake up to life in all its glory — the good, the bad and the ugly?

There are all kinds of ways we can fall asleep — emotionally, mindfully and spiritually, to name a few. We can lose sight of our dreams, numb our emotions, and disregard our intuition without even being aware of it. Our highs and lows become kind of the same and TV even becomes boring. It is then that the zombie-effect takes over and we don’t even know that we are dying inside.

So how do we wake up those muscles again?

One quick wake up that I would not recommend is losing something dear to us — our source of income, our health, a loved one, or a relationship. When that happens we begin to ask questions like —

  • What is life all about?
  • Why am I here?
  • What is my purpose?

Sometimes that wake up is short-lived because those questions can be so uncomfortable to sit with by ourselves. Sometimes those questions are scary because if we really pondered them we would have to change some very comfortable zombie-like things in our life.

But this is what I say…..

YOLO Baby!  You Only Live Once!   It is time to come alive!

Howard Thurman puts is this way, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

I think that coming alive takes dedicated practice, just like my leg exercises.  I also think that living into our fullness allows us to navigate those crisis moments in our life with grace and peace.

One practice that I have said “yes” too is being a part of an intentional community that is not afraid of questions and seeks together to develop those emotional, mindful and spiritual muscles. We have discerned that our way to do this is to connect with each other, with God and with our neighbors in deep ways that take us out of our comfort zones.

We are just starting out and realize that we are inventing something new that has its roots in something ancient. And we feel good about that.

If you live in the Portland, Oregon area and are interested in joining us for this adventure in waking up we’d love to meet you. We will be starting 3 groups in September and October. Contact me with your questions.

If you live elsewhere, think about starting your own wake-up community because…

YOLO Baby!


Searching for… Welcome?

There is a story about a Celtic priest new to his parish walking along a country road. He saw a farmer with his horse and plow working a field, preparing the soil for planting. He hollered out to the farmer. “Hello sir, may a share a word with you?”

The farmer incredulous, looked over his field and said, “ My word for this day is to get this field plowed.”

The parish in which I find myself in Portland, Oregon is called the none zone — the spiritual but not religious zone where 9 out of 10 people do not attend church. In essence I live among folks who would rather have a root canal than walk into a church on Sunday morning.

That is why I love the story from the Gospel of Luke in chapter 10 in the New Testament where Jesus sends out 70 people as his advance team in Samaria, an unfriendly territory with a history of animosity toward the Jews.  Samaritans were known to have an indifference to God language and cool contempt for outsiders trying to preach religion to them.  And yet it is here that Jesus sends us out.

The first thing Jesus instructs us to do is to get on our knees and pray for workers because the harvest is so huge. Could those workers be us? Could he be asking us to pray for our own quest towards grace and boldness because we are like lambs in a wolf pack?  Could it be that this was Jesus’ way to shape and form his apprentices into a new way of living and thinking by jarring us out of our complacency and comfort?  Could it be that he is reminding us that we can do nothing without the guidance of the Spirit of love?

Next Jesus tells us to leave our baggage behind. Oh my!  Why do we have to do this?  And what kind of baggage is he asking us to drop?

For me it boils down to letting go of my ego needs and the ego needs of the corporate church. These include the need for control and power, affection and esteem, safety and security. These needs are manifestations of our false self reacting to a sense of scarcity in the world on individual, institutional and cultural levels. This is our wolf pack, our dark side, our barrier.  When we recognize this, we can begin to sharpen our listening skills and trust in our intuition, our home to Spirit.

Interesting isn’t it that Jesus addresses all of these through his instruction to the disciples in this passage! In essence he is saying, “You will not have control, power, affection, safety or security on this journey.  You have much to work through in order to go the distance. So who’s in?”

To nurture that interior life with God is to embark on a journey through a refining fire.  There is nothing like a boot camp in the streets of Samaria to bring up all sorts of fear and anxiety within!   It is as if Jesus is inviting us to discover our true selves as sons and daughters of God. Imagine!

It is exactly at the point of trusting enough to let go that we are able to truly seek people and places that will welcome us. And through that welcome we are asked to let go even more — eat whatever they place before you even if it is unclean!

In essence Jesus wants us to humbly meet people where they are. Listen to their stories, eat with them, laugh with them, weep with them and learn with them until we finally arrive at a sense of one-another-ness, interconnectedness, joined-in-the-common-good-ness. When that happens we become a healing balm for each other.

Then Jesus adds, before you go, tell them that together you witnessed the unfolding of God’s realm right before your very eyes. Tell them that the Kingdom of God is at work, is here, is within, is right now! Can you feel it? Do you see it?”

You see Jesus does not expect people to believe first! He turns our lived out church model on its head with a relational approach. Can we hang with you and will you hang with us? Will you welcome us into your world?  Will you allow us to sit at your table? Will you allow us to learn about you — your joys, sorrows, aspirations? And who knows maybe you will know we are Christians by our love, by the way we listen, by the light we carry within and just maybe in the process we will discover the Christ in each other.

I think Jesus is helping us to understand that we are not called to welcome the stranger; rather, we are called to be the stranger seeking welcome. Jesus invites us to listen deeply for the presence of God already in the world and to give witness to the sacrament of life unfolding around us with every breath we take.

The beauty of this approach is that it is light — it is not about heavy-duty programming or months of planning to launch something new. Rather it is organic.

As leaders of this paradigm shift in the mainline church it is important for us to practice what we preach. To be the change that we wish to see. Because as a student of John Wesley, I know the practice itself will teach us what we need to know.

When the 70 returned they were filled with stories that I think surprised even them. As they journeyed into the unknown they grew in their trust of the unfolding of the Spirit — that God was with them, even in times of fear and doubt. They learned that it is okay to shake the dust off and move on. They discovered that when seeking welcome we find the Kingdom of God as plain as day.

I know for many Christians this sounds risky. We have been brain-washed into thinking that church as we know it is the only legitimate House for God and that there is something wrong with people who don’t visit God in God’s house. And for those of us with paychecks and pension plans invested in a butts in seats model this new way of being is heresy.

But what would happen if we flung open the doors, dropped our baggage, stopped loitering in meetings and discovered that the whole world is the House of God — proclaiming like Jacob in the wilderness as he set up his stone altar, “Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it, this is none other than the house of God and the gate of heaven.”

Back to my story about the Celtic priest. After the farmer yelled back to him. The priest without missing a beat climbed over the stone fence, rolled up his sleeves and said, to the farmer, “How can I help?”

The priest and farmer worked side by side all day in the field, not saying much at all. At dusk the farmer turned to the priest and invited him in for dinner.

At table that evening after breaking the bread the farmer said, “Now about that word…”