Sunday, July 21, 2013

Trust, Faith, and Synchronicity : or Winter is Upon Us.

The past year or so things with the community have been a little out of sync.  We have been going through a number of transitions: members leaving, new members coming in, working on developing a Student in Residence program, needing to move and becoming the first and founding House of an ecumencial religious order.  The transition from a single independent intentional community to first house of the Order of Jesus Christ, Reconciler has been in process since 2011, as forming a religious order just takes time.  Other things came unexpectedly, and were simply following opportunities that presented themselves, like the request to help a degree program at a local university to develop a student in residence program with intentional communities in chicago.

All of that would be enough stress on a community, if things were working out.  What has happened is that things just have been out of sync.  Nothing's been lining up.  A house was offered to the community but we'd have had to move in at the worst possible time, and back out of agreements we'd made.  Just then as we searched for other properties just as we thought we'd found what we needed things have prevented our getting those properties.  And of course what space we get affects our ability to take on any potential student's in residence.  Nothing is lining up nothing is working out or fitting together easily.

This lack of synchronicity and failure for things to work out has been an occasion to wonder what was God's call, was it time to move on? This might have been a temptation.  I don't know.  We are continuing on. Though, due to very recent turn of events, now the smallest we've been since our first few months as a community.

This has me thinking about time, timing, and that the realm of the Gospel and of God that Jesus announced  is it's own time (Barth I find argues for this quite well in the Church Dogmatics).  The community is seeking to live into and as our Rule says be a parable of this other time.  When there is synchronicity of various times and timing, I am confident of God being at work.  It's easy to see and trust when the times line up.  Not so easy to trust when everything is out of sync.  Difficult when God's time the time of the Gospel and the realm of God is out of sync with my won time.

Things are out of sync, it would be easy to conclude, even reasonable to do so, that this means that the community is doing something wrong, or even that we should give it up, move on to other things.

Yet..., even while nothing is lining up, and things are dwindling, people are affirming the ministry and witness of the community.  This feels contradictory, and admittedly it is confusing.  It's difficult to discern what to do, or what is the correct path.    Here is perhaps the place for the virtue of steadfastness and perseverance.  When things line up and all is clear, to push forward to maintain the course isn't a difficulty, doesn't really require steadfastness or perseverance.

Things are happening, but it looks like the community is definitely entering into a period of deep winter, of cutting back and pruning, and of no growth.  It looks bleak.  I'm reminded of the scene in the Secret Garden, when they first enter the garden and the girl asks, is it dead, and the boy replies no it is quick and he cuts a branch to reveal green and sap in the branch.  There is life here but it has been slowing down, and many external signs of life are fading away.  It looks like a long and potentially harsh winter ahead, but I trust God has prepared us for this winter.

I've written a more personal reflection on this same theme and priestlygoth.org

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Revised Rule

For the past year we have been working on a revision of our Rule, as various changes have been taking place and as we are preparing to become the first House of the Order of Jesus Christ, Reconciler.  To read the revised rule go here.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Christmas Sermon

Bellow is the sermon Prior Larry preached at the shared Christmas Day service with Immanuel and St Elias:

Nativity of Our Lord Year B Proper III

A Christmas Sermon: Beyond Speach
Today God returns to Zion in a most peculiar way, by becoming human.  Today God joins God’s self to God’s creation.  In this God proclaims peace. In this God speaks to us in order that we may be freed from what burdens us.  This word, this speech, is light in darkness.  God comes that we may see, and not stumble around.  But the God of the entire universe, the source of it all, comes in a most peculiar way – like every other human being, as an infant.
There is a mystery here.  Mystery, meaning not just that this is beyond comprehension or something we must attempt to puzzle out, but something upon which we are too contemplate.  This is something that should arrest our attention like a painting or work of art.
Think of the earth, with its forest and deserts, oceans plains, mountains, rivers and lakes. Think of all the animals and planets - the intricacy of the habitats.  Think of the food you eat, what sustains you and gives you life.  Just this planet and the life here is amazing and beautiful. Think of the moon that affects the tides that lights up the night, and then think of the Sun its warmth and light that makes life possible on this planet that orbits the sun.
Think of the other planets that orbit this star we call the sun.  Our solar system is simply one of many that make up the Galaxy in which we live, which we see in our night sky as the Milky Way. Then think of all the Galaxies in the universe, the images our telescopes bring back to us of what is out there in this vast universe.  Think of all that was spun into existence out of the big bang, as our universe began.
Think then of the one beyond all that, the one before there could be a before, the Beginning. Think of this one who spoke all into being, the very reason for existence and life.  This one we call God who exerted no energy but created energy, the one who made all ages and things, the very universe.  This one wants to speak to us. This one has spoken. This one wants to enlighten us; this one wants to free us from our burdens, our sin.  This one beyond all time and being and existences, comes to our aid, in our darkness and confusion and speaks softly with caring. This one doesn’t come to crush, doesn’t come in terror but comes with words of peace.
This one beyond all things, source of all things, the one who is the speech that spoke all into being, comes and becomes what this one created, by becoming Jesus of Nazareth, joining God’s self to God’s creation, forever.  This is the one who is source and sustainer of all things, joins what this one created and sustains.
Does that arrest your attention, isn’t this something worthy of a life time of contemplation, and rapture. This should turn all our thinking on its head, that a baby 2000 year ago in a back water territory of the Roman Empire, was the incarnation of God.  The one beyond all thought and being and power, the very source, the very life of all things, is joined with matter.  This one comes in this way to be with us to enlighten us to lift our burdens, and say you are not alone, I Am.  Come into my light, step out of your confusion, you don’t need to stumble around and hurt yourself and others.  And yet we still do.  We in various ways turn aside from this light from this astounding thing that the God who spoke all things into being is joined forever with matter, with human flesh.
Yet this changes everything. God has become one of us in Jesus Christ.  This one born of the Virgin Mary is laid in a feeding trough.  This one was from conception the Son of God, the Word, the light of light, the very intimate speech of God to God’s creation. Listen, attend here is the beginning and the entirety of wisdom, our enlightenment and liberation. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Rule of the Community of Holy Trinity and "Occupy Walstreet (or other place name) Movement

The Community of the Holy trinity is formed under a Rule of life.  This Rule of life not only shapes how we are to live together as persons under the Rule, but also shapes our orientation in and to the world around us.  Five years before the current financial and economic system came crumbling down and ruining the lives of those who had put their hopes, lives, savings and housing into its hands this system the community formed as an attempted alternative, a small point of resistance and rejection of the system that crashed around us but still continues on.  We aren't the only such community, there are certainly communities who predated us by decades.  I wonder about the connections between these communities of withdrawing resistance and the active resistance of the "Occupy" (Wallstreet, Chicago, DC, everywhere) movement.

Our rule opens with Scriptures and Sayings from the Early Church, and this statement of intention:

Following the example of Acts and nearly 2000 years of ascetics, monks and nuns, we turn aside from the individualism and self-reliance of the world, resolving to hold real property in common for the purpose of service to Christ in, through, and for the Church and the world. We have chosen to live in community, in part, to speak to the current economic system, attempting to remove from ourselves the fetters of economic necessity. In doing this, we no longer trust the economy focused myopically on the creation and accumulation of wealth for individualistic benefit. We seek an economy of mutuality and the sharing of personal wealth and talents for both the common good and personal development, an economy beyond individual ownership and beyond all economies: the economy of the Kingdom of God. We come together sharing real property and other goods so that, through the joining of individual resources for the sake of the community, individuals may have not only what they need but also the means fully to express their selves and talents.
The community formed under this Rule exists for Christ and for others, not for itself alone. It is not a local church nor a replacement for a local fellowship of believers but a community of witness to the possibilities of the Kingdom of God, through its common life of discipline, communal living, hospitality, prayer, art, and seeking justice and mercy in the Church and world.
We acknowledge that God has called us to a life of common service, prayer and property according to the following Rule. In so doing we offer all to Christ in Love of God and of neighbor.
On one hand I hope communities like ours and Reba Place and Jesus People USA, and Simple Way etc.(to name only three of many more that I could list) may be something of an inspiration for those in the movement. I also hope it can be encouraging to know that there are those who have been living within the system in alternative ways as resisting the system while withdrawing from it (in part).  I also, hope that there might be ways for finding actual connection and solidarity even if there is also tension.  

I will not speak for other communities that may fall under the current moniker of New Monastic, but for myself and the above portion of the rule, there is a particular spirituality that grounds a particular act of withdrawal from and within the system that is a proclamation to those in the system.  There is a calling out of it.  Granted this is not a direct confrontation with the system, nor an attempt to reform, change, or take over the system.  This way of being in the world is one that can't shrink from the contradiction of a withdrawal that continues to remain in commerce with that against which one is objecting through a particular way of life.

It leaves a community like that of Holy Trinity in a peculiar position, objecting to and rejecting the system yet never fully disentangled from it, nor actively working against the system to change it so that we are no longer entangled and implicated in injustice.

Thus I could see some activists maybe even those of the Occupy movement seeing that we have done nothing. We are perhaps weak and hidden - ineffective.  These little communities have not attempted, and certainly Holy Trinity has not sought to do so, to demand access to the halls of power for the sake of the poor and oppressed, or the bottom 99%.

I as prior of the community feel a tension,which I think is good, between the Rule of life we live and are committed to and the "Occupy" protests and movement.  On one hand our Rule of life simply and straightforwardly claims the current systems of economy and power are broken.  The point of the alternative is in the very least that this brokenness is that the system or systems claim to cover everything but overlook a great deal and this community is for those who in various ways and for various reasons find the current system untenable.  But it also is a critique of the system, and a rejection of its understandings of wealth and power.  In this sense a community like Holy Trinity stands in solidarity with and is a predecessor of the Occupy movement. It might be seen by some that we have done and do too little, there is a weakness in the face of the problems of the world and the powers of the system have not trembled.  This weakness may be the point though from the perspective of a community founded to serve Christ the Crucified in the world.  It is by the weak and foolish things of the world that God confounds the powerful and wise of the world.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Interested in Joining the Community of Holy Trinity?

This fall we moved into an additional living space an apartment in Immanuel Lutheran's bell tower (there are no bells in the bell tower).

With this new space we have two immediate openings for anyone interested in joining (either 2 single persons, or 1 single and a couple). Immediate means beginning the process of joining with probable move in date one or two months after beginning the process. We will also have openings in early 2011 for anyone who may be looking but not in the immediate position to join in the next two to three months.

The process begins by contacting the community, see contact page for our contact informaiton.

Prospective members then will be contacted by Prior Larry Kamphausen, or the current member assigned to reception of new members. in order to schedule a visit to the community and explain the process of being considered for membership (also outlined in our Rule). One can read the Rule found here. The first question asked of any prospective member is whether or not one is lead to live under the Rule of life. After having read the Rule and visiting the community the process from that point depends on a number of factors, including prospective members situation.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Monasticism, Community and the Island

Recently saw the Russian film, the Island. (not to be confused with the 2005 sci-fi action movie of the same English title.) It is about a monk and an Orthodox monastery on an Island off the coast of the North sea. It is a beautiful depiction of monasticism, community and the struggle of the spiritual life. The story revolves around hte character of Father Anatoly, and the abbot Father Filaret and Father Job, a younger monk who is also in charge of much of the daily functioning of the monastery. Father Anatoly is troubled by a grave sin he committed before he found himself in the monastery, but people come to the monastery in search of him, believing he is a holy man and attribute miracles to him, and one whose prayers are especially efficacious. But Father Anatoly is not an easy man, and usually pretends that he is the aid of Father anatoly. Father Anatoly also plays pranks on his fellow monks and doesn't always pray in the church with the monks but prays the set prayers and psalms either in his cell or out in the steppes away from the monastery. He is also the monk who tends the boiler of the monastery and lives in the boiler room. Overtime we do come to see through the harsh treatment of those who come to him, the pranks, and isolation that he is a holy man, a holy fool, and probably a Saint. In a sense through being a fictionalized account we have a story of a holy fool that is not a hagiography, and can experience the challenge of Christian holiness without the aura of knowing for sure who Father Anatoly is.

I think there are many lessons people who live or seek to live in intentional community can gain insight about the nature of intensive communal living, even if not strictly speaking monastic. The Island shows that monasticism isn't retreat from struggle but is retreat to struggle. Even that monasteries aren't the place of the perfect but of sinners, who struggle with deep rooted and often hidden sins. It also beautifully portrays the frustrations and the beauty of being tied to those who are truly other in manasticism and intentional Christian community. Living in this way with others whose quirks, sins and bodily presence, the whole person, can simply rub against ones own person in ways that can make one acutely aware of both the others failings and ones own. The temptation then is to focus on the others sins and failings ignoring ones own. or as in the case of Father Anatoly to be so convinced of ones own failure that one cannot see how God is at work in your presence in the community.

I appreciate that the film in its short vignettes of monastic life and in the depiction of the relationship between the three main characters, shows the reality and the holiness of this form of life: a holiness that does not come from the perfection of the monks but the ongoing struggle over each monks own sins and failings and of accepting God at work in each person for the good of all both those inside and outside the monastery. Things we who look to monasticism and seek to live out the Gospel in this intensive and communal way need to keep in mind in our attempts to serve God and the church in living in intentional Christian community.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Letter to Friends of the Community

Dear Friends,

By now, you are probably familiar with who we are, on one level or another. To you, we may be members of your family, or longtime friends; maybe we are partners in faith on the Immanuel campus; it is possible that you have worked with us, collectively or individually, to help make a difference in the world; perhaps we are simply known as “The 'Nidge”, a gathering place for an increasingly diverse group of friends. Really, we are all of those things, and more.

The Community of the Holy Trinity was begun in 2003 by current members Kate and Larry Kamphausen, and two friends, who have since moved on. The community was formed to provide a space for Christians, especially those who are artists, social activists, and social workers, to come together in mutual support of God’s calling and living out the Gospel. For us, this means holding property in common in a life centered on the daily rhythms of prayer and an environment of hospitality. Our inspiration has been the monastic tradition of the Church, as well as specific communities like the monks of Taize, and the Reba Place community in Evanston. At the writing of this letter, we currently have six members, who are all artists, musicians, activists, and writers, all with the passion, talent, and determination to help make the world a better, safer place, free of oppression and violence. The community's common purpose is prayer and hospitality, and joining together in mutual support of each others's callings.

By the end of this calendar year, The Community of the Holy Trinity will be coming under the umbrella of an organization called *Culture is Not Optional ( or “*CINO”). *CINO is a group which seeks to encourage and support Christian engagement with all aspects of culture -- the arts, sciences, politics -- and to do so with an open but distinctly Christian perspective. The organization, like Holy Trinity, is ecumenical, though its founders all come out of the Christian Reformed tradition.

In order to support our members in their pursuits, and to fulfill our desire to extend hospitality to those in need, we need your help. Our immediate need is to help support two of our members who are called to social activism full time, one of whom suffers from chronic health problems and is uninsured; longer-term, our goal is to help support any of our members who desires to follow their callings, as well as provide a place of retreat, respite, and healing for members as well as guests. The Community is also exploring expansion, as we have three people who are currently considering membership, and in order to be able to accommodate these people, we need to find more space.

In order to meet our immediate needs for this calender year and to lay a good foundation for the coming year we are seeking to raise $9000. Your donation will be tax-deductible, and in early 2010 you will receive a Year-in-Review letter that will let you know how our budget breaks down, and the activities of our members as they are able to put your donations to work in the world. We invite you to partner with us as we continue to live into and expand the work that was begun six years ago.

Cash, checks, and money orders may be sent to: Community of the Holy Trinity, 1510 W Elmdale, Chicago, IL 60660.

We look forward to this journey together!