Community: Notes from David Janzen Workshop Part 1 (Sorry, it’s long)

Here are my notes from the first bit of David’s workshop last Saturday. Any mistakes and lack of clarity are due to my bad note taking!
Some of it is in point form, but I hope you can get the idea…

Our first tendency is to try and look at the wounds of community, and look at the blessings, and examine the cost benefit ratio. This is a consumerist attitude.  Best buy for least cost.  We want to get away from wounded people.  The result is no community.

Jacob wrestling an angel.  How is wound and blessing linked?
What had Jacob been up to?   Exile from his family.  Family betrayal.  He is coming back to meet his brother.  Coming home.  Re-entering community. He is successful in his personal endeavours, but is entering into the crisis of his life.

Wounds are nasty but they open us up

Wound is a lot more immediate that his blessing.  Long suffering.  Walk into the blessing by faith

Wound comes about because he is striving with God. God loves to wrestle with human beings.

Jacobs wound marks his change in identity

Jacob and Esau meet.  Esau comes with blessing and forgiveness.  To see your face is like seeing the face of God.  Work through the wounds.  Step into something more powerful that means something to the descendants.

David went on to share a story in his book about Olivia, a child who experiences a mishap/wound in the context of community.

In the story Olivia has processes her pain. There is comfort, care, good information, support from community.  Enough love in the moment to cover it. She told her story long enough and was listened to, so the love void is filled.
Then he contrasted it with the experience of so many others. Being berated, punished, in the place of their wounds, instead of finding healing, the wound becomes a place of trauma.

The wound has within it a longing for God.  How do we empower people with disabilities to be fully themselves.  Some wounds are transformed into blessings.

What wounds lead us to community?
– Loneliness.  We already love you, stop trying so hard
– Growing up in a family that didn’t honour feelings
– Growing up in a mixed race community where there are no people like us
– Rejection of difference.  Longing where self is loved and confirmed
– Seeing injustices of world.  Wanted to be a part of putting things right
– Longing for words of affirmation

In Community
– We are loved and that gives us courage
– The disparity between public and private persona is eliminated (or reduced)

What wounds happen in community?
– These wounds will drive us apart unless we become disciple of Jesus
– Love absorbs the pain around and within us
– We’ve tasted a little bit of healing we know there’s more
– Wounds cause us to act in ways that drive people away

– The logic of anger.  Wounded animal who turns on the anger to make sure others stay away so they can be safe.
– We will have angry people among us.  We will be angry
– By His wounds we are healed.

What about the introverts?  
– A smaller circle of relationships. 5-6, not 20-30.  
– Introverts are most drawn to communities.  
– We need those long term deep relationships

The secret of L’Arche.  
– Community gathers around the core of people with disabilities.
– Catholic workers around people who are homeless/addicted.  
– They embody the wounded ness and weakness of Christ.

There is a kind of wisdom that grows up in a community that keeps us wrestling with God and one another

Down Here

I’m reading Brian Walsh’s book Beyond Homelessness; Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement

And I came across this fragment of a poem by Bud Osborn

on downtown east side sidewalks
glows fresh crimson
like rose petals fallen
From ransacked gardens of the broken hearted

I visit the downtown east side of Vancouver every year, and spend time there with my urban monastic buddies from the 614 community (love you! Miss you!)

DTES is blocks by six blocks approximately, housing 10,000 addicts.

The poem rings true.

But it could also be speaking of Barton




Pray for your street tonight. That God will draw near to the broken hearted…

Many Streams Make One River – Bob and Gracie Ekblad coming to Hamilton

In just over a week, from January 25-30, GOHOP will be hosting Bob and Gracie Ekblad. Bob and Gracie will spend their time building up the GOHOP community. They will be visiting with with Mission Services, The Living Rock, Barnabas Prophetic group as well as meeting with a number different leaders in the Hamilton community.

Who are they? Bob is bridge-builder. As a pastor, practitioner and theologian, he weaves together different streams of the Church: the charismatic, contemplative, academic and social justice. He and his wife, Gracie, have given their lives to bring “the good news of God’s love and liberation in Jesus to the poor and outcasts.” His work includes, prison and gang outreach, teaching graduate students, running New Earth Refuge retreat centre, preaching, running a recovery house, leading English and Spanish services and running a family support centre. He is also the founder and director of The People’s Seminary and Tierra Nueva, a multi-faceted ministry in Honduras and Burlington, Washington. Having experienced work of the Holy Spirit in life-changing ways, Bob and Gracie’s work is profoundly infused and empowered the by the Holy Spirit. They seek healing, deliverance and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit wherever they minister. Bob also teaches internationally on hearing God’s voice, reading the bible with people on the margins and on advocacy. He lives with his wife and three children in Burlington, Washington. For more information about Bob, visit www.bobekblad/about/.com.

Come to Spaghetti Tuesday on the 28th and have dinner with Bob and Gracie, and stay tuned to hear where and when you can meet them over the course of the week.



The intentional community workshop.

I sat as near the front as possible, so that I could photograph any PowerPoint slides. I’m a compulsive note taker, and my Evernote app lets me insert pictures as I go (coooool technology!)

There was a man sitting in front of me.

He had kind eyes.

When he saw me taking pictures, he asked if I could send him any pics that I took. I realized then, that I was talking to our workshop speaker, David Janzen.

I’m a big fan of his book, “The Intentional Christian Community Handbook; for Idealists, Hypocrites, and Wanna Be Followers of Jesus. Frankly, he had me at the title, but the rest of the book is pretty awesome. David combines decades (yes I said DECADES) of experience in intentional community with visits to and interviews in the context of another thirty communities throughout the USA, and has gathered together their collective wisdom.

Over the next week or so I will unload some of my compulsive notes from the event, but I wanted to start just talking about my interaction with David.

He was present. Even though he was just about to start leading the workshop, and could have had his attention zinging off in a bunch of directions, he spoke to you like you were the only person in the room. He asked lots of questions and was genuinely interested. Deeply encouraging and affirming. I found myself at rest in his presence – the Presence of Jesus in him, really. Isn’t it great when you can’t tell where we end and God begins?

Just in our five minute conversation, he created community.

I know he’s going to read this because he wants to keep in touch, and I said my blog was likely a better way to find out about us than our ancient and desperately needing updating website (workin’ on it!).

I got to know him well enough to know that he would likely be uncomfortable about my singling him out in this way, and try to bring focus to the group gathered that day, the community, and our shared experience. Sorry David!

But I think it’s important. It’s been said, mostly by me but by other much smarter folks too, that we teach what we know, but reproduce who we are.

As David travels all over strengthening intentional communities with the Nurturing Communities Project, may his life and ministry of presence continue to be fruitful.



Party On!

Yesterday we had a birthday dinner for my friend Denni. We have been buddies for a looooong time and have had many excellent adventures! We’ve been to both heaven and hell and back together, weathering many storms and dancing in the sunshine.

She was on the core team with GOHOP for something like 7-8 years, and then was promoted into national prayer leadership. I miss working with he every day, so really really really enjoy the opportunities we get to hang out. Denni’s birthday is on Boxing Day, and often sits in the shadow of Christmas. So this year I wanted to make sure she felt properly celebrated.

I made her presents. A felted piece of art. Denni oversees a prophetic ministry in the city, and is often seen as a mama eagle, nurturing the eaglets, so I made a nest, eggs, and the talon of the mama (I know my felting skills have not yet advanced to where I can pull off a whole eagle).

And I made cookies. Nest and egg cookies! They are super cute.

I just really wanted to bless her in a creative and personal way, and celebrate how God has shaped and is using her.

I spent the afternoon cooking, and served up super yummy shepherds pie and quinoa salad with goats cheese. An a totally kick butt decadent chocolate gluten and dairy free cake (so I could eat it with her).

We ended off dinner with prophesying over Denni and giving her a recording of our words.

Richard Foster, in Celebration of Discipline includes celebration as a key spiritual discipline. We celebrate the goodness of God as we celebrate one another.

Party on!





Discernment and Centering Prayer

The other day in GOHOP’s staff meeting, we embarked on a discernment process regarding our ministry goals and activities for the new year.

We began the process with a time of centering prayer, which is a form of Christian meditation. Don’t worry everyone, we weren’t at tuning ourselves to the vibrations of the universe, or chanting ohms. But why should the New Agers get all the good prayer methodologies? We’ve got to reclaim what is ours, and has been ours for millennia. Centering prayer is an ancient monastic practice.

In centering prayer, we sit quietly, usually feet firmly planted on the floor, and back straight (no slouching!). We pick a simple phrase (often a short scripture passage), quietly attune ourselves to our breath, and then “breathe our prayer”. When we become mentally distracted (which for me is usually about a nanosecond in), we just bring ourselves back to our breathing prayer. For those who practice regularly, it is recommended you practice it twice a day for 20 minutes each time.

The goal is to quiet our hearts before God and to be attuned to His presence within and around us. To present ourselves before Him and commune with Him quietly.

The breathing prayer I encouraged our staff to use this time was “Abba, I am Yours alone.”

Why that one?


I wanted us to position ourselves before God in the posture of a child, beloved of the Father. When thinking about and planning for the future, it’s easy to get caught up in other identities, and to find ourselves driven by tasks and goals rather than drawn by grace. If GOHOP were to close today and we were no longer urban missionaries, what would we be? Simply His children, His beloved ones. I want our team to live and work out of that belovedness, not out of their job descriptions.

I am Yours alone

I’ve been thinking a fair bit about consecration these days, as we embark on a new year. We are not our own. We have been bought with a price. We belong to God. What would it look like for me, for our team, to be fully and freely given over to Him? Holding nothing back? What would it look like for us to discard ego attachments to our positions, our accomplishments? I would love to find out.

After fifteen minutes of silent centering prayer, my phone alarm went off (I set it so I wouldn’t have to watch the clock). “Just like the ancients!” My friend Matt quipped.

Then we transitioned into the prayer of indifference, but more about that in a post to come…


Experiments in Spiritual Disciplines

In our Studies in New Monasticism internship, our interns are reading Richard Foster’s classic book, Celebration of Discipline. I love the way Foster moves us away from spiritual disciplines as a “to do list” to be good Christians, and invites us into a perspective of the practice of spiritual disciplines as a means of “putting ourselves in the path of oncoming grace”. God has so much he wants to pour into our lives, and we can actively position ourselves to receive it. Exciting!

For their assignment this month they are choosing some of the Christian disciplines and creating experiments where they will be exploring them in new ways or with a new focused intention.

Here are some of their experiments. Maybe they will spark some of your own!

Going for walks by myself (solitude and silence)

Deleting my Facebook account (gasp! fasting)

Giving away one evening of my time each week to help someone (simplicity)

Making myself accountable to one of my co-workers about my attitude and language towards my boss (confession)

Volunteering at church (service)

Having a dance party at my house every week (celebration)

Picking a Scripture each morning to think about while I’m at work (meditation)

Letting go of my desire to be right all the time (submission)

Not hanging out with my friends for a week to make room to talk to God about my life (guidence)

Going to church every Sunday (worship)

What about you? How would you like to experiment with Christian Disciplines?