Letter to a Friend

Lately I’ve been thinking about your first visit, that time you and your wife drove up from Texas to spend the weekend.  We were all standing in the kitchen and you were easing us into your story.  I remember something about a train, and foreign living–English teacher was it?  I remember you telling me that you had this notion of grandeur, the confirming presence that real existence lies somewhere above the perfunctory protestant life.

I was standing at the sink scraping crimson pearls from the center of a pomegranate.  They fell into a glass bowl filled with water so that the pith would rise to the surface.  No one likes a mouthful of pith in their pomegranate.  At least that’s what Amber said. I couldn’t actually recall eating pomegranate pith and neither did you.
You told us of that day when you stood on the beach throwing rocks into the ocean.  Something about the promise in an infinite circle of ripples.  Something about dying, falling in tandem with the baptism of the rocks.  Something about meeting Jesus in a metaphor that was meant for you.  Amber stood in the corner and cried “amens.”  Matt and I stood still, quiet.  I looked down into the bowl to make sure the pith was rising to the surface.

The kitchen was a sanctuary that morning, quiet and brimming with good food.  I skimmed the surface of the glass bowl, pulling off the inedible innards and washing them down the sink.  The water spiraled counterclockwise, east to west on a compass dial.
Sometimes a kitchen is just a kitchen.  Sometimes it is a sanctuary for the Church.
Thank you for your story.

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That Which is Spoken-The Bread of Life

On Fridays, I want to post scripture readings from those spending time on the collective. If you have a text you’d like to share, record it and send it to me (uploaded YouTube link will work nicely, as will any video format file).

This week, because it seems to have been the theme, I read about the Bread of Life. The passage is John 6:47-58.


Send any reading submissions to seth.m.haines at gmail.com.

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Hashing It Out–On the Breaking of Bread

I’ve often wondered what would happen on a blog if someone gave a simple topic in a post and said, “let’s hash this out in the comments.”

Today I broke bread with a friend, a member of the local body.  I confessed that I need a bit of balance in my life, that I desperately desired respite in community.  I need accountability to peace.  He asked if I was finding an Acts 2:42 expression of faith.

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Does this scripture work itself out in your community?  If so, how?  How does it bolster your spiritual life?

Hash it out in the comments (even if there are only 2 or 3 of you right now).

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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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