Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Significance of By the Way. . . by Luke Bouman

By The Way has nourished me online for the past few years in some surprising ways. This has been more than simply a place of rest, but a place of refreshment and invigoration. As always, the seeds of thoughts sewn here have germinated in my mind and life in one way, but I have always imagined them coming to fruition in other minds and lives in other ways. As I reflect on this, what I realize is that By The Way has in some sense anticipated the future of the church not because it used new ways to imagine what it means to be community in Christ together, but that it has adapted some very old ways to a new point in time. Here are some of the seeds of the old that have come to fruit for me.

By The Way has never been about the experts. This is a place where all thoughts were carefully considered together and thoughtful people did not need some kind of training in order to contribute. The kind of humility and grace required to pull this off is unusual, but it is what makes BTW so refreshing. This is liberating for all who are oppressed by the tyranny of expertise, both novices and "so called" experts alike. The Christian community of the past meets the future when those with training honor and serve those without, and not vice versa.

By The Way has been a community where the questions are honored as much or more than the answers. Honesty requires of us as a community that we be clear about what we do not know, and reflect together in THAT kind of clarity rather than being clear about what we know and try to convince others that we see clearly what they do not. The Christian community of the past meets the future when we honor our questions, failings, and doubts in such a way that we can be surprised by the presence of God in the midst of such things.

By The Way has been a place where the journey is much more important than the destination. Where we will end, finally, is God's gift and is in God's hands alone. But how we get there is a different gift from God, one that allows us to share in the decisions and the direction. When we simply live the journey together, out of the values of inclusion, grace, and mercy that Jesus lives as he walks among us, we discover the joy and peace in community that we were intended to share together. The Christian community of the past meets the future when we delight in the journey as well as the destination, especially for those who walk together.

By The Way has been a place where the "holy" has not been sought in special places of "holy ground". Instead BTW understood that the "holy" finds us wherever we happen to be. This allowed BTW to be a transcendent community, not because it met online, but because wherever meetings happened, they happened in the presence of the "holy" in such a way that space and time were not captive to the here and now. Though I was never there at any of the gatherings in person, I was there none-the-less. The Christian community of the past meets the future when gatherings have this very tangible yet indefinable experience of transcendence as a part of them.

In ways such as these, and too many more to list them all, the seeds of By The Way have been sewn into the world and among far flung communities and places. The above "peaks" of my experience with By The Way remind me how to be in community in Christ in any place, whether traditional congregation or online meeting. Of course, faith communities who follow this way are taking huge risks, mostly because everything cannot be controlled. But the fruits of this work outweigh the risks, in my mind. I am hopeful that, because of By The Way, many more people might experience this "once and future" community, not only online, but perhaps even in places where buildings are shaped around chairs, and water, and bread and wine, reminding us of community, birth and renewal, and refreshment for a journey together.

Though today's blog entry marks the end of an intentional journey together, the thoughts and lives of those who have shared together By The Way will continue to shape our future journeys, and in that way, this journey is only, once again, being transformed. It does not end.

My overall sense is that if congregations learned some of the lessons of BTW, they would be much more vibrant communities of faith as well.



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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"by the way" makes "Top 50" blogs list

Welcome!  Bread for your Journey is a posting tool that has been used by by the way  community. 

On Nov. 8, 2010, theologydegreesonline listed both this blog and "by the way" community's blog in their "Top 50 Lutheran Blogs".  If you have come here because of that recommendation (or for any other random reason!) , please check out  by the way's blog .  We are an open community talking about what's going on in the world, in our lives, and what may be going on in the heart of God. 

No matter where you are in your journey, you will find welcome, respect, and insightful conversation with "by the way". 

You can find us on facebook and twitter (btwnh) as well.

Peace to you,

Kari Henkelmann Keyl

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

High on Glory / Googling God

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Luke 9:28-36          

28-31About eight days after saying this, he climbed the mountain to pray, taking Peter, John, and James along. While he was in prayer, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes became blinding white. At once two men were there talking with him. They turned out to be Moses and Elijah—and what a glorious appearance they made! They talked over his exodus, the one Jesus was about to complete in Jerusalem.

32-33Meanwhile, Peter and those with him were slumped over in sleep. When they came to, rubbing their eyes, they saw Jesus in his glory and the two men standing with him. When Moses and Elijah had left, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, this is a great moment! Let's build three memorials: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He blurted this out without thinking.

34-35While he was babbling on like this, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them. As they found themselves buried in the cloud, they became deeply aware of God. Then there was a voice out of the cloud: "This is my Son, the Chosen! Listen to him."

36When the sound of the voice died away, they saw Jesus there alone. They were speechless. And they continued speechless, said not one thing to anyone during those days of what they had seen.
(The Message)


Google Super Bowl Commercial from Jerry West on Vimeo.
Signs and Wonders
Signs and wonders lead the dancing from the heart God frees from fear:

wings of angels greet the maiden, and God finds a dwelling here;
boldly may we lift our hands, bow the head, and voice Amen;
thus does glory shine at midnight: open hearts invite the starlight…

Cast aside all fear and hiding; hand in hand we dance the round.
God is with us, Christ, abiding, and the Spirit’s gifts abound.
Called by God to holiness, let us boldly serve and bless;
and to hearts that sigh and hunger
may our lives dance signs and wonders.

from Signs and Wonders by Susan Palo Cherwien
Evangelical Lutheran Worship # 672

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Service of the Longest Night

Living God, we come to you during this pre-Christmas season, just as we are, each of us with our own kinds of sadness and loss… each of us with our own strengths, our own measure of resilience. Come and visit us, God, through the words of our readings and songs and through the prayers and presence of one another. In your name we pray… amen.

First ReflectionFeel  by Chicago

So everybody's pulling you in all directions
You don't know how much longer to take it
So you've learned how to fake it
That smile on the outside's fading fast
Like the things that you thought for sure would last
But they didn't
You know something's missing
Is it your life you're not living?

Your heart is cold, your soul is numb
You don't like who you've become
You played the game and paid the cost for long enough
So grab the reins, yeah, take the wheel
Lose what's not and keep what's real
It's not too late,
Just close your eyes and feel, feel

You can't tell if you're happy or sad
Can't tell the good from bad
It's senseless
To waste your senses
Maybe stop thinking with your head
Start using your heart instead
Just try it
You just might like it
Aren't you dying to start livin'?


Every breath that's going thru you
Take each day that's given to you
To love back the ones who love you


You can't tell if you're happy or sad
Can't tell the good from the bad
Feel and stop thinking with your head
Start using your heart instead

Lord Jesus, you were born into our world feeling all the same emotions we feel, suffering all the kinds of losses that we suffer. And you know how we tend to bottle up our negative stuff so we can function our way through the day. Give to us a safe place to feel now what it is that we need to feel… whether that is loneliness or fear or anger or confusion… or peace and strength and gratitude… or just a wild mix of emotions. Thank you for songs that give us permission to feel and for those who write and perform them. In your name we pray…amen.

Second Reflection:  Pre-Christmas Grief a la Psalm 42
 by Kari Henkelmann Keyl
As a deer leans forward, aching for water,
     so am I thirsty for you, O God.
I so need to know that you haven’t dumped me.
     I have to somehow see your face.
I’ve sobbed myself dry; still relief eludes me.
    I ponder good times, but they feel far away.
Christmas songs in the air
     leave me breathless with loss.
Deeper I sink, ‘til there’s just nothing left,
     nothing but you, God, nothing but you.
I grope in the darkness, some presence is there.
     I remember you once were a rock in my storms.
I’ll give trust a try; I’ll peek out of this hole,
But you, God — oh please, God —
     must make a move, too.
Hum your tune as I sleep,
     so I’ll wake warmed with song.
Let me feel my wounds healing,
     and I’ll know you have come.
Confident once more,
     I’ll have hope for tomorrow,
My whole life a prayer, to the God of my soul.

Like that thirsty deer, O God, we are leaning toward you. We need to know that you are here… that you are here for us. Refresh us with your Spirit. Energize us with your healing. Give us courage to lean further, into a hopeful future, with you by our side. In your name we pray… amen.

Third Reflection: Matthew 11:28-30 
(from Eugene Petersen's The Message)

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

Friend Jesus, sometimes we can't handle all that weighs us down. Do as you have promised in your words. Help us to breathe freely. Give us your kind of peace… so we'll be strong enough to care for others. Amen.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Simple Lessons

Reflections 1:

Luke 3:7-18 (The Message)

7-9When crowds of people came out for baptism because it was the popular thing to do, John exploded: "Brood of snakes! What do you think you're doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to deflect God's judgment? It's your life that must change, not your skin. And don't think you can pull rank by claiming Abraham as 'father.' Being a child of Abraham is neither here nor there—children of Abraham are a dime a dozen. God can make children from stones if he wants. What counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming? Because if it's deadwood, it goes on the fire."

10The crowd asked him, "Then what are we supposed to do?"

11"If you have two coats, give one away," he said. "Do the same with your food."

12Tax men also came to be baptized and said, "Teacher, what should we do?"

13He told them, "No more extortion—collect only what is required by law."

14Soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?"

He told them, "No shakedowns, no blackmail—and be content with your rations."

15The interest of the people by now was building. They were all beginning to wonder, "Could this John be the Messiah?"

16-17But John intervened: "I'm baptizing you here in the river. The main character in this drama, to whom I'm a mere stagehand, will ignite the kingdom life, a fire, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He's going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He'll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he'll put out with the trash to be burned."

18-20There was a lot more of this—words that gave strength to the people, words that put heart in them. The Message! But Herod, the ruler, stung by John's rebuke in the matter of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, capped his long string of evil deeds with this outrage: He put John in jail.

Reflection 2:


(a guide for Global Leadership)

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.

These are the things I learned:

• Share everything.

• Play fair.

• Don't hit people.

• Put things back where you found them.

• Clean up your own mess.

• Don't take things that aren't yours.

• Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.

• Wash your hands before you eat.

• Flush.

• Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

• Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

• Take a nap every afternoon.

• When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.

• Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

• Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.

• And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all - the whole world - had cookies and milk at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

Reflection 3: Keep It Simple by Van Morrison

Mocked me when I was singing the songs
Trying to get back to something more simple than we have
They mocked me ?cause I told it like it was

Wrote about disappointment and greed
Wrote about what we really didn’t need in our lives
Make us feel alive and whole

Illusions and pipe dreams on the one hand
And straight reality is always cold
Saying something hard edged is off the wall
And it might seem too bold

Mocked me when it got out of hand
Nobody tried to understand
Now we got to keep it simple and that’s that

Illusions and pipe dreams on the one hand
And straight reality is always cold
Saying something hard edged is off the wall
And it just might be too bold

Well, I’m down here on the running board
Where I’ve been many times before
But we got to keep it simple to save ourselves

Mocked me when I tried to get back
Said the train was completely off the track
And we got to get back to something simple to save ourselves

Whoa, we got to get back to something simple
Just to save yourselves
Well, got to get back to something simple
Just to save yourselves

Well, you got to keep it simple
Keep it simple just to
And that’s that

Whoa, you got to keep it simple nowadays
And that’s just that
Whoa, whoa, you got to keep it simple nowadays
And that’s just the way it is

And you got to keep it simple these days
‘Cause that’s the way it is
Well, you got to keep it, keep it simple
And that’s that

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful Thoughts

As you may know we are not gathering today for Bread for your journey, but I thought it important for me to express my thanks to all of you and put some readings to munch on here.  So as I began my search I am putting my top favorites here and then commenting as we often do on the

The Best Thanksgiving Post of the day comes from Episcopal Cafe, Speaking to the Soul.

The second reflection is a poem I found on a Thanksgiving website:

Giving Thanks


For the hay and the corn and the wheat that is reaped,
For the labor well done, and the barns that are heaped,
For the sun and the dew and the sweet honeycomb,
For the rose and the song and the harvest brought home --
Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving!

For the trade and the skill and the wealth in our land,
For the cunning and strength of the workingman's hand,
For the good that our artists and poets have taught,
For the friendship that hope and affection have brought --
Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving!

For the homes that with purest affection are blest,
For the season of plenty and well-deserved rest,
For our country extending from sea unto sea;
The land that is known as the 'Land of the Free' --
Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving!

The third reflection is from 1Thessalonians3:9-13 CEV

Dear God we thank you this day for all you have created. From our lives, to the lives of loved ones, to the people we do not know. We thank you for all your creations big and small and for how you provide for us. May this day of thanksgiving be filled with love and kindness. Amen

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Friday, November 20, 2009

reverently attending to closure

Reverence: the Practice of Paying Attention
by Barbara Brown Taylor  (from An Altar in the World, pp. 21, 24)

Reverence is the recognition of something greater than the self—something that is beyond human creation or control, that transcends full human understanding. God certainly meets those criteria, but so do birth, death, sex, nature, justice, and wisdom…

Reverence stands in awe of something—something that dwarfs the self, that allows human beings to sense the full extent of our limits—so that we can begin to see one another more reverently as well…

The practice of paying attention does take time. Most of us move so quickly that our surroundings become no more than the blurred scenery we fly past on our way to somewhere else. We pay attention to the speedometer, the wristwatch, the cell phone, the list of thing to do, all of which feed our illusion that life is manageable. Meanwhile, none of them meets the first criterion for reverence, which is to remind us that we are not gods. If anything, these devices sustain the illusion that we might yet be gods—if only we could find some way to do more faster.

Holy God, you invite us to open our eyes and really SEE, to perk up our ears and really LISTEN… to pay attention to all that is greater than us. Slow us down in this moment… to pay attention to you and your Word with reverence… that we might also learn to revere the holy in one another… and in each person, each creature, we encounter. In your name we pray… amen.

John 18:33-37 (Contemporary English Version)

33Pilate then went back inside. He called Jesus over and asked, "Are you the king of the Jews?"
34Jesus answered, "Are you asking this on your own or did someone tell you about me?"
35"You know I'm not a Jew!" Pilate said. "Your own people and the chief priests brought you to me. What have you done?"
36Jesus answered, "My kingdom doesn't belong to this world. If it did, my followers would have fought to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. No, my kingdom doesn't belong to this world."
37"So you are a king," Pilate replied.
"You are saying that I am a king," Jesus told him. "I was born into this world to tell about the truth. And everyone who belongs to the truth knows my voice."

Teacher Jesus, when the powerful tried to cut you down to size, you taught them of God’s kind of power. And when you gave your life for the world, we were connected forever to God’s kingdom. Draw us now, into your kind of power. Teach us how to hear your voice above all other voices. In your name we pray… amen.

Come, Lord Jesus    by Madeleine L’Engle

Come, my Lord! Our darkness end!
Break the bonds of time and space.
All the power of evil rend
By the radiance of your face.
The laughing stars with joy attend:
Come, Lord, Jesus! Be my end!

Lord Jesus, there are so many different endings that we face, losses that have left us without closure: lost employment, the deaths of loved ones, relationships that are on rocky ground, dreams that didn’t come true. And then we have endings that feel right, like we know it’s time to move on and start again. Fill us with confidence in you. Help us to trust that you are there at all our beginnings and endings, giving us the courage and strength we need. In your name we pray… amen.