Please Bear With Me (In Transition)

I fully recognize that this blog has slowed the pace in recent weeks.  I really did not realize how many people I was reaching with it.  Most don’t give me direct feedback.  I have a number of friends – some international – with whom this blog is my primary form of contact, and even they seldom give feedback.  However, I have received multiple messages via email and text message expressing concern for the silence here (it seems).  Yet, I am making a number of changes just now that require a slow down.  This post, then, is meant to explain that.

If you are really interested, please read on… I sense this post is somewhat administrative after a fashion.  I had not intended to post this stuff at all, just merely employ some changes.  But to mitigate fears (if the concerns actually rise to that level), I want to say that I am okay.  And if that is all you need, then skip the rest of this post.  If you want more explanation, read on.

A number of things are surfacing for me personally just now that call for a change in gears.  My professional life (now in the law enforcement field) is demanding more of my time and attention – especially as I adjust to the new routines and demands.  I get stressed easily, especially in the professional settings, and yet I have never lost sight of the fact that ministry is my real vocation.  And, yes, I blend my job with ministry as much as I imaginatively can while keeping it all low-profile and un-offensive.

Also, Mrs. Agent X and I are transitioning our home-ministry so that it no longer focuses solely or even primarily on street-homeless people.  Instead, we are becoming foster parents – officially.  This means we must document and regulate who enters our home with an official vigilance.  And though this provides relief from some forms of stress (after all, when you invite street bums into your home to eat, shower, and sleep, you make yourself vulnerable to mostly unknown factors), the limitations it brings with it on that account are also accompanied by tons of training, paperwork, meetings, and home inspections among other things.

That said, this is not an abandonment of homeless ministry, but a transition.  Foster children are homeless too, just not street-homeless.  A fine example of the many different kinds of homelessness that pervades our culture.  I expect my own vocation among street-homeless to continue full speed ahead, but now it will be dissociated from my own home.  Thus I will continue primarily blogging as the main expression of that part of the ministry.

As a side note, I would confess that my street ministry in recent months has dropped off significantly.  If you are a street-homeless person in Lubbock, chances are you saw a lot of me being with you on the streets and in the alleys in years gone by, but over the course of the last six months, you probably have not.  I wish this were not so, but I continue to verbalize what I can where I can – mostly in this forum.

Back to the chase, I also sense that I am largely repeating myself on this blog.  Sure it gets nuanced differently here and there, but more than half the time, I am stating and restating “OPEN THE DOOR, CHURCH(es)!!!”  I keep quoting Matthew 25 and Revelation 3:20.  I keep holding communion services in alleys, streets, parks, and in front of locked up churches and/or writing about such prophetic acts.  I feel like a broken record!  I am tired of it.

Of course I recall that brilliant story of the missionary in South America (seems like it was credited to Juan Carlos Ortiz) who, after decades of preaching and leading the peoples, was invited to be the key speaker at a nightly revival event for a solid week.  It was a huge event with thousands in attendance – people who respected the old missionary devoutly.  And he got up and preached a powerful sermon the first night, whipped the people into ecstatic joy.  But then on the second night he preached the exact same sermon.  Yet out of respect, no one wanted to criticize the old man and suggest that he had lost his memory of preaching the same sermon the night before.  So, no one said anything to him.  But then the third night he preached it yet again, and the people began to worry about him.  Still they said nothing – you know, out of respect.  But on the fourth night, after preaching the same sermon yet again, and fearing that the revival was losing it’s steam from the first night, the critics finally interrupted the old missionary to tell him that he had already preached this sermon three times this week, perhaps he should get on with the next one in the series.  At that, the old missionary announced, “No.  I will keep preaching this message until it takes hold!  When you people finally get it, then we can move on!”

The key difference here is that I am no respected missionary, I am a prophet.  I earn a prophet’s wage.  It was a prophetic message the old missionary gave, but he was respected, and that is a key difference between his story and mine.  And, so, I am the one bored and tired of it, and yet I have this fire in my bones! (Jer. 20:9).

That said, I will not abandon the message.  But I do want to enhance this blog a bit.  After all, I am coming up on the first anniversary of this blog.  (I have blogged many times before on other blogs – mostly deleted now, but) this one is ripe for some new enhancements.  I want to interject some new emphases.

Fat Beggars School of Prophets has always emphasized Proph-O-Drama – prophetic acts – over preaching per se.  In fact, I wrote a book on it.  (If you are interested in obtaining a copy of Proph-O-Drama by Agent X, please send a request to Vandelia Church Attn: Fat Beggars School of Prophets, 2002 60th St, Lubbock, Tx 79412 with your address clearly printed on it.  I will send it to you free (unless I get overwhelmed with requests (seriously doubt that)).  This blog recounts a number of those Proph-O-Dramas, but even recounting them is not the same as doing them.  Prophetic acts are but one kind of prophecy.  The other kind (other main kind) is oracles – prophetic preaching.  Just talking about Proph-O-Drama is actually more of the later than it is the former, and that is what this blog really does, and what the whole ministry is almost reduced to given the present circumstances.

And so… I have begun thinking about moving more purposefully into prophetic oracles (perhaps we could call them “Proph-acles”??? (Idk… open to suggestions actually)) and to equipping others for both kinds of prophecy via this blog.  After all, in recent months, I have discovered – largely through the blog-O-sphere – other street preachers and prophets.  They influence me, and I might just influence them in the exchange.  One can hope.  After all, if you are willing to humble yourself before the Lord and play the fool before the world, you might be looking for insightful ways and content with which to present his message.

FBSOP has always put the meal Jesus gave us on center stage.  I do not expect that to change.  And I only mention it here now because I want to acknowledge that other messages are useful and fruitful, but I rarely pursue them.  On the other hand, the meal Jesus gave us is usually either ignored or treated as an after thought – even amid most outreach ministries.  Yet it is through the meal that Jesus is most potently revealed (Luke 24:30-31).  Israel still commemorates the Exodus with the Passover Meal to this day, and it was that meal that Jesus transformed into Eucharist.

Thus, if ministry were like mining for Gold, the meal would be like California in 1849 to the prospectors.  Ministers should be selling all they own, abandoning their comfort back east, and investing all they have in this venture: discerning that WHO YOU EAT WITH (AND HOW YOU EAT WITH THEM) DETERMINES HOW THE WORLD IS ORDERED!  Even Walter Brueggemann rightly observes that the Civil Rights Movement came to a head at the lunch counter!

It is with these things in mind that I am retooling and rearranging many things in my life, my ministry, and this blog.  Please bear with me in the transition.

Meanwhile, I invite you to pray for this ministry.

Thank you,

Agent X

 

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One comment

  1. BrookeM · May 13, 2016

    Agent X,
    I have gained a great deal by following your blog and will be praying for you in this season of transitions!

    I recently read a book called Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle and was reminded of you by the following passage. I’m pasting it here because I think you’ll enjoy it:

    “Once the homeless began to sleep in the church at night, there was always the faintest evidence that they had. Come Sunday morning, we’d foo foo the place as best we could. We would sprinkle I Love My Carpet on the rugs and vacuum like crazy. We’d strategically place potpourri and Air Wick around the church to combat this lingering, pervasive reminder that nearly fifty (and later up to one hundred) men had spent the night there. About the only time we used incense at Dolores Mission was on Sunday morning, before the 7:30am Mass crowd would arrive. Still, try as we might, the smell remained. The grumbling set in, and people spoke of “churching” elsewhere.

    It was at about this time that a man drove by the church and stopped to talk to me. He was Latino, in a nice car, and had arrived at some comfortable life and living. He knew I was the pastor. He waxed nostalgic about having grown up in the projects and pointed to the church and said he had been baptized and made his first communion there.

    Then he takes in the scene all around him. Gang members gathered by the bell tower, homeless men and women being fed in great numbers in the parking lot. Folks arriving for the AA and NA meetings and the ESL classes.
    It’s a Who’s Who of Everybody Who Was Nobody. Gang member, drug addict, homeless, undocumented. This man sees all this and shakes his head, determined and disgusted, as if to say “tsk tsk.”

    “You know,” he says, “This used to be a church.”

    I mount my high horse and say, “You know, most people around here think it’s finally a church.”

    Then I ride off into the sunset.

    Roll credits.

    The smell was never overwhelming, just undeniably there. The Jesuits figured that if “we can’t fix it, then we’ll feature it.” So we determined to address the discontent in our homilies one Sunday. Homies were often dialogic in those days, so one day I began with, “What’s the church smell like?”

    People are mortified, eye contact ceases, women are searching inside their purses for they know not what.

    “Come on, now,” I throw back at them, “what’s the church smell like?”

    “Huele a patas” (Smells like feet), Don Rafael booms out. He was old and never cared what people thought.

    “Excellent. But why does it smell like feet?”

    “Cuz many homeless men slept here last night?” says a woman.

    “Well, why do we let that happen here?”

    “Es nuestro compromiso” (It’s what we’ve committed to do), says another.

    Well, why would anyone commit to do that?”

    “Porque es lo que haria Jesús.” (It what’s Jesus would do.) [sic]

    “Well, then…what’s the church smell like now?”

    A man stands and bellows, “Huele a nuestro compromiso” (it smells like commitment).

    The place cheers.

    Guadalupe waves her arms wildly, “Huele a rosas” (smells like roses).

    The packed church roars with laughter and a newfound kinship that embraced someone else’s odor as their own. The stink in the church hadn’t changed, only how the folks saw it. The people at Dolores Mission had come to embody Wendell Berry’s injunction: “You have to be able to imagine lives that are not yours.” (72-74)

    Liked by 1 person

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