“Grown & Gathered” at Open Table

Friday 15 November 2019 | Open Table


Bouncing off Genesis 1:29 and Matthew 13:31-32, we’re pleased to host actor and historian, eccentric educator and effervescent green-thumb, not to mention all-round good-guy, Chris Chapman, to share with us his experiments in cultivating organic gardens in suburbia, and urban foraging around Brisbane (e.g., Horst’s Edible Brisbane: Public Fruit map). This follows on well from our Open Book series learning from the wisdom of Indigenous cultures to Tread Lightly.

Co-hosted by A’Rocha Australia, all are welcome, so cajole your friends along for a taste of how Christians practice creation care (also here, with a previous Open Book series on Care for Our Common Home here). And if you haven’t found sufficient goodies along the road on the way to 155 Burbong St. Chapel Hill, bring a MAINS &/or DRINK to share, with dessert provided; come with a story to tell in response to the stimulus on the topic of “Grown & Gathered”. 

In Chris’s words, Grown & Gathered is about “getting free food from garden plants and wild weeds for those too scungy to go and buy food like normal people do.Cheap as I am, I’m sold. But, what’s your experience on this adventure?

 What’s your favourite bush food?
Any ethics surrounding ‘scrumping‘?
Given your gardening efforts, what colour is your thumb and why?
How, if at all, does your worldview shape how you cultivate the land and consume food?
How might horticultural wisdom (weeding, watering and fertilising) inform holiness and pursuit of a healthy and fruitful life? 

Following Jesus’ metaphor, in what sense is God’s Kingdom a humble seed planted in a field, a home for the wandering birds looking to alight?


Held at Andrew and Liz Nichols’ house (155 Burbong St. Chapel Hill). Welcome from 6:30pm, official kick off at 7:00pm. Features a 50 minute talk from Chris, then stories and dialogue on the theme thereafter, all over dinner. Any questions before the night? Call/txt Dave on 0491138487.

Art/Poem     | Michael Leunig, “The Summer Palace


Text & Reflection   |  Genesis 1:29 and Matthew 13:31-32


Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. (Gn 1:29)

Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.” (Mt 13:31-32)

All welcome, whatever your faith or none.

Open Book 2016: Community & Growth

The old has gone, the new has come! Okay, Christ’s Pieces isn’t as exciting as the eschaton! Still, we hope that through this experimental Christian community at Open Book, faith is deepening and you are discovering a foretaste of the transformation God has in store for all of his creation.

2015 laid a great foundation with book studies of Desiring the Kingdom and Kingdom Calling. Together we’ve explored how to leverage our everyday habits to align with and experience the reign of God. We’ve also discovered how to reframe our daily grind as a God-given vocation through which we seek first the Kingdom.

Each fortnightly gathering we’ve shared in the combination of rich liturgy (Taize songs, Northumbrian prayers, creative Bible reading), open discussion, reflection on art, and the designing of rich practices and habits to reinforce our identity and calling in Christ. In our first cycle for 2016 (starting Thursday 4th February) we follow up with a natural and pressing question:

Beyond solo efforts, how do we grow together in Christlikeness and grow up in mission as the community of God?

Forming new life-rhythms and integrating our faith and work is not meant to be an individualistic pursuit. Jesus came to redeem and reconcile humanity as a family. He brings disparate members and even enemies together in one body. This is the “church”. 

And yet, today we are seeing vast numbers of Christians leaving institutional expressions of the faith, and setting out on their own spiritual voyage of discovery.

That’s why we’re taking a semester to sit at the feet of a sage. Jean Vanier , an internationally celebrated humanist, philosopher and theologian, formed the L’Arche community in 1964. It was a simple and yet revolutionary expression of Christ’s love, as people with and without an intellectual disability lived together in genuine, reciprocal relationship. (You can hear him share this vision here and here.)

Jean crystallised his thoughts in his book Community and Growth, expanded upon in the 1989 edition which is available on amazon.com here. Over 10 sessions we will dialogue with the work of this wise writer. We will re-imagine what it means to be the church–the community of God–in terms of unity, commitment, mission, growth, nourishment, authority, gifts, welcome (inclusion and hospitality), gatherings, rhythms, and celebration.

While few of us have a diagnosed intellectual impairment (I’m counting myself in on this, where PhD means ‘permanent head damage’!), we are each special in our own way. We each must learn to love and be loved precisely in our difference, weakness and even pain. In so doing, we may together grow and become more fully human, bearing God’s image collectively in our community.

Check out the calendar below for key dates, and pdf links to carry you through until you get your own copy of the book.

We have a soft-start from 6:30pm–feel free to rock up early and eat your dinner or share a cup of tea. At 7pm sharp we get into the night, finishing each night by 9pm with supper together and an unrushed chat over coffee. OPEN BOOK includes some basic spiritual practices and prayer, before unpacking the pre-reading scheduled for that night.

For each week, it helps to think through how the reading provokes you in 4 ways:

1) Questions: what didn’t make sense?

2) Challenges: what did you think was wrong?

3) Implications: if this is true, what does it mean for being the church today?

4) Applications: what does it look like for you to live out of this vision as part of the community of God?


February 4 | Community & Growth [CG] #1: Restart Open Book … Exploring the theme by sharing our stories of the good, bad and ugly of Christian community. We’ll bounce off the pre-reading from CG xiii-12 (Preface + Introduction)

February 18 | Community & Growth #2: UnityCG 13-60 (Ch 1)

March 3 | Community & Growth #3: Commitment and Mission … CG 61-83 (Ch 2) + 84-103 (Ch 3)

March 17 | Community & Growth #4: Growth … CG 104-164 (Ch 4)

March 31 | Easter celebration meal and open conversation … perhaps we could tie in with the Brisbane chapter of L’Arche here?

April 14 | Community & Growth #6: Nourishment … CG 165-204 (Ch 5)

April 28 | Community & Growth #7: Authority and Gifts … CG 205-239 (Ch 6) + 240-264 (Ch 7)

May 12 | Community & Growth #8: Welcome and Meetings … CG 265-283 (Ch 8) + 284-296 (Ch 9)

May 26 | Community & Growth #9: Rhythms and Celebration … CG 297-312 (Ch 10) + 313-328 (Ch 11)

June 9 | Community & Growth #10: Integration toward transformed lives … CG 329-331 (Conclusion)

July 28 | Restart semester 2 with a new book and theme … t.b.a.

Hope to see you there!