To The Women Who Know Their Place

[tweetherder text="A woman should know her proper place."]A woman should know her proper place[/tweetherder]--a statement for which I will make no apology. On Easter, the proper-placed woman sat in her whitest white, ladylike, hands folded, hem near the floor. Unadorned, Corinthian-quiet, unassuming, it could be said that she was born straight from the pages of Scripture. He eyes attuned to the men--reading Scripture, leading prayers, leading congregation in Psalmic recitation. She stood on cue, sat when sitting was ordained by the prayer book.

When the time came for the Easter homily, she crossed herself and took small steps to her proper place. "May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart be acceptable," she said, then shared her darkest days, her pain, her rescue by the risen Lord. She was Mary Magdalene, first and best witness of the resurrection. Mother-tears in her eyes, rose-cheeked and smiling, she invited me to the empty tomb, allowed me to believe in the magic of resurrections, even after all these magicless years.

"The peace of the Lord," she offered, then moved to the baptismal font, to the waters of new birth. Under the flicker of the Paschal light, she pushed babes through the waters of new life, nursed them into the divine family. Quiet, quiet, quiet--all things pointed to life; no things pointed to femininity, or masculinity, or the ceaseless works of the striving strongmen. Even to tell this now feels holy, still hushed. Even to remember her reminding us--the disciples--that she'd seen the Risen Lord brings a spark of hope. This was the first Easter sermon I've ever believed, the first embodiment of resurrection, best celebration of new birth.

A woman should know her proper place--a statement for which I will make no apology. And to the woman whose proper place was the Easter Sunday pulpit, allow me to extend this small sentiment: thanks.

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A Confession, A Liturgy, And the New Ancient Way

This is a multimedia post. Please take the time to listen to the pieces as you read along.

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This is a thing about which I have not written much. It’s a thing of shame, of hot regret. Lord have mercy.

Fifteen years ago, I was employed by a burgeoning mega-evangelical monster in the heart of the midwest. It was a conservative denominational church, one which touted its full orchestra and hymn-driven worship services. We were put together with buttons and ties, and the lot of us considered ourselves the guardians of the Old Old Story. We were not welcoming to those seeking God, or being drawn by God, or coming to God one way or another. (Soteriological semantics aside.) This is the kindest way I know to describe us.

It was the turn of the millennium, and the American church was progressing past the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition—oh, the politics of the faith—and was transitioning into a sort of widening. The seeker-sensitive Bible churches were on the move, and the people were flocking to hear those pastors who donned jeans and sported less rigid hairdos. They were hip churches, churches with cool bands, and good lighting. They were adding hundreds, sometimes thousands in very short spans of time, and we lamented this in the office of the Old Old Story. The church was going the way progress, of liberalism.

Nothing brings a family together like a common ideology to oppose, and this new seeker-sensitive church movement became ours. The chief offenders were two. One will go nameless. The other was the booming mega-church of Illinois, Willow Creek Community Church. The common attack went something like this—the folks at Willow Creek were too loose, too permissive, too culturally sensitive, and they were willy nilly in their steering of the broader church.

Thank God we were not like them.

The truth is, we were a church in the middle of a building campaign, and I wonder how much this had to do with our criticism of Willow Creek. After all, if seeker sensitive services became the modern mode of the church, if it became the primary expression, it might lead to a loss of congregants, to the exodus of those who’d signed pledge cards. This might sound crass, or counter-judgmental, but I was there. I know who we were.

It’s interesting how we clung to all those judgments born from so much fear. It was the fear that drove our judgment, our pride, the assumption that we were the put-together ones. There was no room for confession, or imagination, or humility. There was no room to celebrate the work of our brothers and sisters in the modern movement of the church, especially the work of the folks at Willow Creek.

It's been years since I was on staff at that conservative mega-monstoer, and I left all that self-indulgent fear behind some time ago. I hung up my certainty in certainty, pastured the non-essential points of theology, or doctrine, or dogma. Amber and I walked in a different direction, and for a season I hated the stewards of all that conservative fear. Sometimes, I the old hate still crops up. It’s part of my own human condition.

Can’t we all admit together we’re not fine?

The story behind the story can wait for another day, but let me be clear in saying it this way: I’m still actively repenting from my participation in the power matrix of fear.

Active confession, active repentance: aren't these the foundational stones of the true and ancient faith? Isn’t this the way of The Way?

It’s ironic, really. All those years ago we lambasted a church in Illinois that we’d never attended. We had no connection with its staff. We had no interaction with their congregants or the products of their theological outworking. And last night, nearly fifteen years later, I sat at my office desk and listened to music created and produced by one of Willow Creek’s musicians. It’s called a "A New Liturgy" (the music attached to this post), and it pointed me to the ancient way.

What is the ancient way? Recognition, confession, repentance, belief in the abiding presence of Christ in our daily lives—these are ancient. The church has been celebrating these since the tongues of fire at Pentecost.

The music pushed me deeper into that ancient story, and if this is the fruit of Willow Creek’s ministry, I’d say it like this: it’s good. And if you asked me to put it another way, I might say it like this: this is the clearest proclamation of the Gospel I’ve heard in music.

I'm not saying that Willow Creek has it all together, or that the conservative church of my way-back-when had it all wrong. Neither is the be-all-end-all. Life rarely works in these sorts of all-or-nothing dichotomies, see. But here's what I can say. For so long, I clung to systems all white-knuckled until those systems turned to ash in my hands. Open handed, the ash blew away on the wind of the Spirit and I was left with nothing except an open hand. Maybe that’s the point.

Now, I see the beauty in the Gospel story as presented by some of my mega-bible church brothers and sisters. I see  it in the beauty of the liturgy of my Anglican brothers and sisters. I see it in the orchestral performance of "The Old Rugged Cross." It's not all or nothing. It's not us versus them. It's only the Gospel, wherever I find it.

In time, and in humility, grace changes things. It covers a multitude of sins—pride and dogma included. It opens our eyes to see how many of us are trying to live and share the Gospel message the best we know how. The best we know how is all we have.

Oh to grace! It cuts the crap and leads us in the way everlasting. Doesn't it?

Amen.

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This is a small story, a story about how I've found myself out of sorts with my earlier systems of belief. Sarah Bessey has written her own book about this very thing. It's titled Out of Sorts, and I do hope you'll FOLLOW THIS GREAT BIG LINK AND PRE-ORDER IT TODAY.

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And if you'd like to support the musician who cobble together A New Liturgy, you can find their music here.

***TINY LETTER***

Cover.FrancisThanks for stopping in! If you enjoy reading here, sign up to receive my bi-monthly Tiny Letter. In my most recent edition, I'm discussing the discovery of "The Quiet Sober." Sign up and receive access to my serial eBook, Dear Little Brothers.

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The Places I've Been

Oh, hey there. It's been a crazy season here in world Haines, and if I went about the business of explaining it all, I'd bore you to tears, or at least to clicking off to your favorite online retailer. There's business to be done, children to raise, and a to-do lists that stretches from the Ozarks to the Rockies. In all of that (and more to be sure), it's the little things--like keeping up this little writing space--can fall by the wayside.

But in 400 words or less, allow me to catch you up on team Haines. Take a deep breath. Ready?

Amber took a break from raising children and chickens to birth her debut book, Wild in the Hollow. We threw a raucous book-release party on the hottest day of the summer; the air conditioner was on the fritz; everyone sweated buckets while Amber read. There was cake, though. Cake makes everything cooler.

Friends

girls

 

Music reading Cake

Good folks came in for the book release, so there was a weekend of entertaining. We sat around the big table and talked life. We laughed a little too hard, which is always good medicine. Austin listened to his wife without interjection or contradiction, only love. The world could use more conversations like the ones we had.

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A week later, our little church gathered on a Sunday and sent a girl to college. She was our first to fly the coop. God bless her. Everyone cried, especially her mother and father.

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In all this hustle and bustle, Amber and I bought a house. Ironic? Sure. (You understand this irony if you've read Wild in the Hollow.) But hey, things change. Right? To everything turn, turn, turn. Those Byrds (and King Solomon) had a few things right.

Under the cover of night, my little book, Coming Clean,  started its own giveaway on Goodreads. It was an awkward move on its part, and we had a little conversation, the book and I. "You can't go launching yourself to the world without my permission," I said. "Watch me," he said. Looks like I have a teenager on my hands. (While you're at it, though, would you consider entering the giveaway?)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Coming Clean by Seth Haines

Coming Clean

by Seth Haines

Giveaway ends October 06, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Amber wrote about the Ashley Madison scandal, but not before calling to make sure my name wasn't on the list. (Hey, we're all human here.) It was a gutsy article to be sure. Take a gander. I wrote a few words about doubt, and boy did they hit home. I followed up that little Facebook post with a TinyLetter on the same subject. "A TinyLetter?" you ask. Yes. A TinyLetter. You can sign up here (or click the photo to redirect to my TinyLetter). 7a082db7-48c1-48ec-b33e-d99f897eeb7c We're running, running, running, and I'm not sure whether we're going or coming. At least we're still breathing, which is some testament of grace. What kind of grace? Who knows. But we're living into it. I'll be back regularly next week. It'll be September, which is National Recovery Month. I might have a few things to say about that. Thanks for reading along, and carry peace today. While we're all here, let's shut this down the way we shut the Wild in the Hollow release party down; shall we?

  Closing down the #wildinthehollow book party. Thanks for a special evening, all.   A video posted by Seth Haines (@sethhaines) on

***SIGN UP FOR MY TINY LETTER***

 

Cover.FrancisThanks for stopping in! If you enjoy reading here, sign up to receive my bi-monthly Tiny Letter. In the first of edition of the July newsletter, I'm discussing growing young. I'm also giving away Chapter 3 of Dear Little Brothers, a serial eBook. Sign up in the box below to receive Chapter 1 and look for the July Tiny Letter in your inbox to download the other chapters!

 

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Jump Starting Hope (Featuring Velynn Brown)

I met Velynn Brown--slam-poet, writer, and speaker--at a writer's conference in Portland, Oregon. It was early spring, and the cherry trees were shedding their blossoms on the parking lot of Warner Pacific College. Velynn and I shared a retreat conversation, one in which I praised the beauty of the cherry-blossom carpet and the pink-skirted azaleas. She spoke of nature, too. [tweetherder text="'God is crying with us.' @gospelrainsong"]"See the black sap tears on the fir? God is crying with us."[/tweetherder] Velynn stood in the shadow of Ferguson, in the fresh grief of the brutal detention and subsequent death of Freddie Gray, and she asked me, "do black lives matter?" Sure, we've all seen the hashtag. But when your sister looks you in the eye, when she removes the "#", inserts spaces, and slaps it with a question mark made for you, the equation changes.

Velynn is a poet and passionate social justice advocate. She's a joyful psalmist and a modern incarnation of lamentation. But more than any of these things, she is my sister. I trust her. I've invited her to share words with us via my Tiny Letter, and she's offered a piece of poetry. Sign up to receive the Tiny Letter by clicking this link, and I'll make sure you receive a copy of her words. They're powerful and good.

If you get the chance today, check out Velynn's work on her blog and at the Mudroom. Follow her on Twitter, and join her Facebook community. She is one of the good ones.

***TINY LETTER***

Cover.FrancisThanks for stopping in! If you enjoy reading here, sign up to receive my bi-monthly Tiny Letter. In the first of edition of the June newsletter, I'm giving away Chapter 2 of Dear Little Brothers, a serial eBook. Sign up in the box below to receive Chapter 1 and look for the June Tiny Letter in your inbox to download Chapter 2!

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Building the Church: Dear Little Brothers

If you've been keeping up with my monthly Tiny Letter, you know I've been exploring the life of St. Francis through my serial eBook, Dear Little Brothers. St. Francis was the saint who was called by God to rebuild the church. Part 2 of Dear Little Brothers, describes this call in greater detail, and you'll receive a FREE copy (of Part 1 and Part 2) by signing up for my bi-monthly Tiny Letter here. Periodically, I'll send additional Chapters of Dear Little Brothers, but only to Tiny Letter subscribers.

Do you want a little taste of this month's Tiny Letter? Read below and enjoy!

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Building the Church

We're a small band of believers. A mishmash of misfits who gather on Sunday for scripture and sacrament. We pass prayers, pass the peace, and pass the bread and wine. On Wednesdays, we pass potluck plates of chicken, pass smiles, pass stories at the tiny farm house.  We pass pieces of ourselves one to another.

On Sunday a young family carried their legacy before our small cloud of witnesses. Creamy skin reflecting white gown, he was the baptismal baby--blue-eyed and giggling. The church stood, shoulder to shoulder, together in the most unifying of moments. We'd been learning to live life together over these last months, and this was the next step.

The priest asked whether we would shepherd this young one's faith, whether our body of belief will hold belief out for him. "We will," we said, and the conviction in the response steels spiritual bones. Father held baby over basin, and the water was poured over the child's head. This was his initiation into the church. It was our initiation into family.

Read carefully. This isn't so much about the theology of infant baptism (or the lack thereof as you might believe). This is about something bigger.

Sign up for my Tiny Letter to read the rest of the piece.

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Cover.FrancisThanks for stopping in! If you enjoy reading here, sign up to receive my bi-monthly Tiny Letter. In the first of edition of the June newsletter, I'm be giving away Chapter 2 of Dear Little Brothers, a serial eBook. Sign up in the box below, to receive Chapter 1 and look for the June Tiny Letter in your inbox to download Chapter 2!

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