One of the many things about Mission Year that is a continual
blessing and struggle is Curriculum. As a team, we are asked
to read specific books and then sit down and discuss the books.
I both love and hate curriculum. The book we are currently
reading is The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. It is
surely one of the best books I've ever read. I'm fairly
certain that I mostly like it at first because my parents
used to call me a Ragamuffin. I had the silliest messy hair
and the most crooked cartoon-looking teeth. The term ragamuffin
was fitting. and I'm still a ragamuffin. I'm not sure if its
the dreadlocks, the holes in my shoes, or the fact that most
everything I own came from the Goodwill or the Dollar Tree,
but I didn't not grow out of this title...
Just yesterday, I was telling one of my best friends about
this book. Her first question was, "what's a ragamuffin".
Not knowing how to verbalize how silly I looked as a
child, I consulted someone that I knew would be able to
tell her what a ragamuffinis: Merriam Webster.
a ragged disreputable person, poorly clothed, often dirty.
It wasn't until I looked up the word that I really got what
this book was about. the ragamuffin gospel. The life-giving
good news for the ragged, dirty, poorly clothed, disreputable
people. In a world full of feel-good books about
christianity and shallow, unapplied theology, Brennan
Manning starts his book trying to convey ragamuffins to readers.
"The Ragamuffin Gospel was written with a specific
reading audience in mind.
This book is not for the super spiritual.
It is not for the muscular Christians who have made
John Wayne, and not Jesus, their hero.
It is not for the academics who would imprison Jesus
in the ivory tower or exegesis.
It is not for the noisy, feel-good folks who manipulate
Christianity into a naked appeal to emotion.
It is not for the hooded mystics who want magic in their
It is not the Alleluia Christians who live only on the
mountaintop and have never visited the valley of desolation.
It is not for the fearless and tearless.
It is not for the red-hot zealots who boast with the rich
young ruler of the Gospels, 'All these Commandments I have
kept from my youth.'
It is not for the complacent who hoist over their shoulders
a tote bag of honors, diplomas and good works, actually
believing they have made it.
It is not for the legalists who would rather surrender
control of their souls to rules than run the risk of living
in union with Jesus.
If anyone is still reading along, The Ragamuffin Gospel was
written for the bedraggled, beat-up, and burnt-out.
It is for the sorely burdened who are still shifting the heavy
suitcase from one hand to the other.
It is for the wobbly and weak-kneed who know they don't have
it all together and are too proud to accept the free handout
of amazing grace.
It is for the inconsistent, unsteady disciples who's cheese
is falling off their cracker.
It is for the poor, weak, sinful men and women with
hereditary faults and limited talents.
It is for the earthen vessels who shuffle along on feet of clay.
It is for the bent and the bruised who feel that their lives
are a grave disappointment to God.
It is for the smart people who know they are stupid and honest
disciples who admit they are scalawags.
The Ragamuffin Gospel is a book I wrote for myself and anyone
who has grown weary and discouraged along the Way."
I don't know about you guys, but this is me. He really hit
the nail on the head with "burnt out" and "inconsistent,
unsteady disciples whose cheese is always falling off their
cracker". I think I epitomize an inconsistent and unsteady
disciple and truly, my cheese is always falling off my cracker.
Its always good to be reminded that Jesus came to heal the sick,
not the well. Jesus came to love the ragamuffins, the
failures, the "prostitutes and tax collectors". I feel like
we hear that too often and we forget the social stigma
associated with prostitutes and tax collectors. These people
that Jesus spent histime with and whose lives He changed.
They've lost their meaning. Maybe if we called them hookers.
strippers. dirty cops. drug dealers. We might understand that,
rather than elevating religious officials, Jesus took the
"worst of the worst" and gave them value. I think we, as a
body of believers, slip into becoming the academics. the
Alleluia Christians. the red-hot zealots. the complacent and
the legalists. We forget that God's amazing grace is a free
gift for everyone because we are ALL the earthen vessels
with feet of clay, the sorely burdened, the bent and the
bruised whose lives sometimes feel like a disappointment to God.
"When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes.
I believe and I doubt, I hope and I get discouraged, I love
and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty
about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious.
I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a
rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible
capacity for beer." -Brennan Manning
Love and Affection.
PS. Don't forget to go to missionyear.org/donate/jennifermusic
Please feel obligated to pledge....