As to what I meant in the first post concerning the “gritty, ancient ordinariness of missional living.” I will tackle this with two answers, a “bible-answer” and some reflections from my personal journey. “Bible answer” first.
I think you could go back to Luke-Acts and catch a glimpse of the ancient ordinariness of missional living. Jesus taught daily in gatherings, specifically the Temple (Luke 4:15; 19:47; 21:37) and so did the disciples (Acts 4:42-44; 5:42). Jesus fellowshipped with the poor (Luke 7:21-23; 12:33) and so did the disciples (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37; 6:1; 9:36). Jesus embraced table fellowship (Luke 7:34-50; 9:16; 22:19; 24:30) and so did the disciples (Luke 10:7; Acts 2:46; 20:7). Jesus proclaimed the kingdom and went about doing good (Luke 4:41-43; Acts 10:38) and so did the disciples (Acts 8:12-13).
This brief sketch highlights the practice of presence through word and deed; proclamation and demonstration. Consequently, missional living is a way of being in the world that necessarily translates into a different way of doing life in the world. Central to this particular way of being and doing is gracious hospitality. After all, our church fathers and mothers seemed to choose gracious hospitality as their way of being in the world. They were faithful to the pursuit of hospitality and welcoming one another as Christ had welcomed them.
Now for some examples from my own journey. I believe that practicing the ancient ordinariness of missional living begins by learning to see one’s self as a gracious host in all relationships at all times. More practically speaking, it is about offering your undivided presence with anyone at anytime in any way to listen and serve. It can look like meals, coffee breaks, grill outs, parties, helping the old lady across the street, cutting her grass–serving folks right where they are because you’re an ambassador of a different new age breaking-in. If you are me, it looks like asking your introverted wife to bake her scrumptious chocolate chess pies for your neighbors (she is an introvert) while you deliver them (I am less introverted). It looks like visiting your neighbor’s father in the hospital after hearing he fell. It looks something like getting others in your faith community involved in preparing meals for your pregnant co-worker so you can take them to her the next day. It looks like finding out what your co-worker’s favorite snacks are and surprising them anonymously at their cubicle. It might look like you and your missional community getting together to replant a neighbor’s garden that died with her husband. Either way, the ordinariness of missional living is both gritty and simple. It is hard, but not complicated.
The ancient ordinariness of missional living also looks like maintaining a posture of listening and less talking. It looks like coming together in your faith community to ask and discern questions like, “who might God be calling me/us to love” and “who might God be calling to love me/us?” It looks like believing that no one is lost on God and that He is faithfully at work in His world.
I would suggest that the ancient ordinariness of missional living can be described most succinctly by rooting one’s self in a beloved community committed to do the hard work of living into the “one another” texts of Scripture. Self-giving love, gracious hospitality, forgiveness, reconciliation, humble confession, honesty, encouragement and hope become the guiding values of a life lived together in Jesus’ name. Even when the days are long you still choose to show up wherever your community gathers. Even when everyone’s kiddos are buck-freaking wild, including your own, you press on together. When your brother in Christ believes something completely off the kingdom wall, you learn to love him in honest humility and fix your eyes on the common life you share, not the differences you bear. Yes, the gritty ancient ordinariness of missional living will often look like wrestling together, sometimes with one another, about what it means to be citizens of a kingdom that is breaking-in while living among other competing kingdoms and doing so in such a way that God’s kingdom becomes tangible to all in, through and among you.
Then who knows, the ancient ordinariness of missional living might grow into looking like a group of you stepping down into the woods, befriending a homeless man and together walking with him from homelessness to self-sustainability. It might grow to look like 20 intellectually disabled men and women recently asked by a few other churches to not come back finally finding a home with your church family.
None of this is sexy. It is all messy. It is gritty. It is real. It is hard, but not complicated. It is simple. Because of God’s grace it is possible. It aligns with the missional impulses of the ancient faith from which we were born. After all, we did not invent the mission of God nor can we manufacture it. We are only participants who have discovered life with a holy trinitarian God and it changes how we live. No longer are we focused on self-assertive independence, rather we embrace self-giving love in and through beloved community in the gritty ordinariness of every day life.