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The Body

“For are we not about to receive the Eucharist wherein we come to Christ Himself, and begin to reign with him forever? The Eucharist is our daily Bread. But let us so receive it as to be thereby refreshed, not in body merely but in mind. For the power which we know to be therein is the power of unity whereby we are brought into union with His body and become His members. Let us be what we receive….” St. Augustine.

After dipping our fingers into the basin of holy water and genuflecting toward the altar, we filed down the aisle and into pews.  Because I was not allowed to partake in the Eucharist, Sister Christy asked me to sit in the most interior seat so that I wasn’t required to excuse myself when the Catholic children exited the pews for communion.  This was the particular seating arrangement for all protestant children.

The Liturgy was predictable. We knelt, stood, and sat on que. We returned the peace of Christ to the priest and each other. We watched the consecration of holy bread. We moved en masse to the silent crescendo–that moment when the wine and wafer were said to become the body and blood of Christ. 

Rows were one-by-one excused and children made their way to the altar, forward to the cross of Christ hanging in the apse. Sometimes if I were close enough I could hear Monsignor Galvin identify “the body of Christ” before placing the holy wafer in the cupped hands of child-like faith.  My classmates responded, “amen,”–let it be so.

If my eyes had been awake in that moment, would I have seen what Isaiah saw? Would I have known that the unleavened bread burned red-hot? Would I have sprung from my protestant place, eyes chalice fixed, sprinting to the cup of salvation?

“This is the Body of Christ,” he would say, and longing to live in the midst of that holy metaphor I would respond, “Amen.”

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Welcome to November

The first week of November is my favorite in the Ozarks.  This week, the maples and oaks will stand tall, on fire in their last stand of the glory of God. 

I am presently watching the children play under this process of glorification  They climb the lowest limbs first and stand upon them triumphant.  It is just-barely-sweater weather, and my middle child stomps shoeless in the dust to prove a point–he is tougher than the fall. 

The wind is blowing down the breezeway and carries with it the smell of dust and falling leaves.  The neighbor’s petunias have given way to pumpkins and strangely shaped gourds.  We are all poised on the edge of harvest, even here on the edge of the interstate.

Here at the Collective, we will explore certain themes from time to time.  This month, we will explore two separate themes–the local church and food.  I know these themes don’t seem to be related, but it is the season of Thanksgiving and we all have to eat, right?  Not all of the posts will touch on these topics, but I hope to weave a very loose thread this month, something that can serve as a type of fabric for both contemplation and inspiration as we gather around the cornucopia.

As a starting point let us know: when has God interacted with you in the breaking of bread with others; how has God interacted with you in and through the local church?*


*If you’d like to share your story, please let me know.  There is space here.  seth.m.haines @ gmail dot com.

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That Which is Spoken

Reader: Amber Haines

I hope you will choose to share spoken words with us on Friday. Please record a reading of that portion of scripture that has been shaping you lately and email it to me. I will post new readings every Friday.

*What scriptures have been chiseling away your rough edges lately?*

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On Human Experience (Part I)

“Nobody tells you when you get born here how much you’ll come to love it but how you’ll never belong here.”–Rich Mullins

Because I’m a part of the human experiment, I play songs in the fall and pretend that my life is important enough to warrant a sound track. I think that it’s typical for some. For me, sometimes it’s Land of My Sojourn, sometimes it’s Jesus Christ.*

The other day I was with a friend, a good man, starched shirt and all. He was driving our afternoon coffee break and as we talked about nothing in particular I noticed his head swerving left to right. He shrugged it off as nothing until I asked, “you’ve picked out some bug guts on the windshield and you’re pretending to dodge them in and out of the broken lines on the road, huh?” He sputtered before fessing up, trying to retain some modicum of thirty-five year dignity. Suffer the children and all; it’s what we do.

I don’t do reciprocity well unless, of course, it’s eye-for-eye. God made rules about justice because I am manifestly un-so. Grace is as hard to return as it is to bestow, so He told me to leave the gleanings of our fields for the poor. If songs about the gleanings sell well for sub-cultural-gen-y-er record executives, they don’t make for very good personal sound tracks. I need a more self-absorbed score.

Three or four children will contract some form of cancer every year in our community. Our nature demands that we heave relief upon relief when the doctor informs us it’s not our child. And then I forgot to breathe “kingdom comes” over the parents who will not be so lucky. Instead, I sprung for Jude’s ice-cream, a reward for being called clean.

It is an awkward place in which my God has chosen to walk with us, with me. But prone to wander, I am grateful.

*If you want to listen to the songs, follow this link to “play all.”

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The Creative Battle to End the Long Night…

This is not a political statement. 

Yesterday I struggled with this piece, with the meaning behind the poetry in the oration.  If you love mercy, seek to act justly, if you wish to walk humbly, may this move you today.

It will take 12 minutes and 30 seconds. I hope you take the time.


I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. “And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid.” I still believe that We Shall overcome! — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Is there something you’ve read or heard lately that moved you?

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