About Keith

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Welcome to my web site. My name is Keith Jagger.  I am Lead and Teaching Pastor at Grassroots Church in Thunder Bay, ON.

This is my personal blog. It focusses on Christians finding a way through post-modernity.

My Top Posts

If you are new to my site, click here for a starting page of well-liked blog posts.

About Keith: The Short of It

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Pastor, New Testament Scholar, Community Developer

I lead a faith community in mission in Northern Ontario, emphasizing unity and holiness, the formation of faith, hope, and love, Jesus’ authority, and anticipating new creation. We are neither conservative or liberal, progressive or traditional. We are working out modern distortions of Christianity in a post-Christian culture. With a lean towards the contemplative tradition, I want to help people experience the power of the early Christian movement and find a way through our post-modern times nourished by our ancient faith.

About Keith: The Long of It (for those interested)

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Thomas Merton, the famous 20th-Century Trappist Monk, struggled for years with needing more solitude. I like Merton. He had this undeniable draw to the life of a lonely monk, finding God among streams and trees and in a well-tended cottage.  And yet, as his ministry of writing blossomed, God allowed Merton to gain an international fame. A famous monk with a worldwide reach—I can barely imagine it.  All in one day Merton could be found in manual labour at the Abbey of Gethsemane near Bardstown, KY and hours later he would be writing a letter, condemning the horrors of modern war, for a world-wide audience.

Later in his life he found some peace amidst his solitary influence. Reflecting on the Virgin Mary’s gift of contemplation, how Jesus’s mother would treasure up for herself all that she had seen and heard, Merton writes of Mary: “She comes bringing solitude and society, life and death, war and peace, that peace may come out of war and that my solitude may place me somewhere in the history of my society. It is clear to me that solitude is my vocation, not as a flight from the world but as my place in the world.” He found out—about solitude—that it has nothing to do with isolation and everything to do with a sense of his world being right, at peace––whatever his situation––for the sake of God’s Kingdom. “For me,” writes Merton, “to find solitude is only to separate myself from all the forces that destroy me and destroy history, in order to be united with the Life and Peace that build the City of God in history and rescue the children of God from hell. Christ is to be born. He is the hermit who is the center of history.” Solitude is never ultimately private. It frees us to enter danger zones and rescue the distressed.

Merton’s reflections help me see that my own love of lonely places can also mean being socially present. I can find the peace I often look for in cedar groves and in crowds.

A Bit of My Past

Similar to Merton, the simple life of homesteading inspires me.  My childhood memories cluster with adventures in wooded bluffs overlooking the Upper Mississippi River Valley. I spent summers and winters bush crafting and collecting enough merit-badges to be called “Eagle Scout”.  I also have a deeply-sown sense of God from Saturday afternoons lost in the woods and Sunday after Sunday of devotion in Roman Catholic Mass.

Then society made me a scholar. And God drew me into the fellowship of European Protestants. I studied world religions in university with a focus on the beginnings of Christianity and have now finished a PhD in Christian Origins. I studied Luke’s version of Jesus’s baptism scene, and its stress on God’s presence on earth—a dove descending in bodily form—within the research frameworks of my supervisor, N.T. Wright.

At every step of the way, during these last 12 years, God kept me focused in local ministry in one form or another—sometimes a volunteer, other times a short-term missionary, sometimes an administrator (movement-maker) within a North American seminary community, other times a writer of church curriculum, sometimes studying the art of spiritual direction, other times leading small groupings of men and women in the formation of faith, hope, and love.

I’m not sure what this all makes me. Easily distracted, maybe. Or spending a few too many years needing to prove myself to the world.  I regret some of what seems like wheel spinning. But life’s given me some treasures along the way. I have been a student, a community developer, a retreat leader, a New Testament scholar, and a pastor. I think what I hope this all amounts to­ is an ability to help our world find its way forward, through post-modernity, with the faith of our ancient ancestors in tow.

Stationed in North America, I want to help guide the people of faith through the deep questions of truth and God and human flourishing. I believe that we have yet to imagine what kind of world we might steward where modern technology meets the living and transforming faith of the ancients.

What You Might Want to Know About Me Today

Currently I get to lead a community who calls me pastor. They took a chance with me and are helping me figure out how to be a shepherd in Jesus’s name.

If you had to put this together in one Mosaic, here’s how it looks: I lead a faith community in mission in Northern Ontario, emphasizing unity and holiness, the formation of faith, hope, and love, Jesus’ authority, and anticipating new creation. We are neither conservative nor liberal, progressive or traditional. We stand resolutely against racism and aspire to keep a rigorous personal ethic. We take social evils seriously and submit ourselves the authority of scripture. We are fighting for the awakening of human reverence and justice and want to share Jesus with the world. We emphasize God’s love, seek a life of rich prayer and want to stay on mission. We are working out modern distortions of Christianity in a post-Christian culture.

As a student of the early Christians, learning to see them in living colour and a lean towards the contemplative tradition, I want to help people experience the power of the early Christian movement and find a way through our post-modern times nourished by our ancient faith.

Christians wanting to make any movement through post-modernity must be in tune, profoundly I believe, with what inspired the first Christians. We must understand their faith and the stories that they believed they were bringing to climax and the character of the king they sought to follow with all their hearts. We must be courageous enough to measure tradition against scripture critically, and masterful in drawing secularized men and women into the presence of God.  I’ve tried to learn everything I can about all of these things, and I find solitude whenever these threads interact and weave beautifully.

So I invite you, if searching for the future of Christianity, to come along. I’d love to hear your thoughts and meet fellow navigators. You might find me these days in the woods of the Boreal Forest. But what better a place to meet.  Email me, or drop a note some other way; I’d love to learn from you and encourage you.

 

My Contact Information

You can email me at keith.j@grassroots.church

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