The Jesus Creed not only reshaped my perception of spiritual formation, it also reshaped our life. I spent very little time traveling and speaking prior to Jesus Creed, but we can’t express the joy it has been for us to get to travel to churches all over the USA to speak now that churches have discovered Jesus Creed and Embracing Grace. Yesterday Kris and I traveled down to Olympia Fields, IL, to speak at The Emmaus Community (of hospitality).
Operative word: hospitality.
Last summer I spoke at Emmaus Community about Jesus Creed, but this time they asked me to speak about The Real Mary, and they prepared for it in part by renting out a theater and watching The Nativity Story. Last summer pastor James King (Pastor J) was not there; pastor Alise Barrymore (Pastor A) was. This time we met James King but Alise was not there. Next time, we told them — we want to see them both! (Alise is a former colleague at North Park and we all miss her.)
Emmaus Community is special for us — an emerging (mostly) African American church that is growing in leaps and bounds in all ways. Worship — outstanding; singing — off the map; fellowship — just as outstanding. They lit the second Advent candle — with a cute little guy providing the reading.
But we have to say their hospitality is out of this world. Ira Rounsaville — the one I wrote about last summer who makes a wonderful barbecue sauce — met us in the parking lot to make sure we parked as close to the door as a guest should. From the moment we entered Emmaus’ building, we were treated like royalty and family all at once. A kind woman kept her eye on us to make sure we had whatever we needed. Kris spoke so often today about how welcoming and warm her hostess was.
Emmaus has an opening time of worship and then they take a break. Just before the break I was interviewed and James asked (very kindly) if the subtitle — Why evangelical Christians can embrace the mother of Jesus — applied to Emmaus Community. Ouch! “Evangelical” for many today — especially for those in missionally-shaped churches — connotes right-wing politics rather than “convertive piety” (Stan Grenz). I confess that the subtitle is open to misunderstanding. The book is designed to get Protestants to embrace Mary.
I raced through the life of Mary as a life of developing faith in a Messiah who altered the meaning of the idea of Messiah: I began with Mark 3:21 (feisty faith), went on to her challenges of Jesus in Luke 2 and John 2 (tested faith), then back to the Magnificat (courageous subversive faith), and then back to Mark 3:31-35 (new family faith), to the cross at John 19:25ff (faithful faith), and then into Acts 1–4 (flourshing faith).