Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Moving to New Location

Rather than work with this again, I decided to take another route . . . and the new blog can be found here (http://web.mac.com/disciplesfellowship/iWeb/Travelers/Journal/Journal.html or by clicking on the title of this post)

NOTE: this is different than the last address i gave yesterday (if you happened to be here!)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Holy New Template, Batman!

Wanted to post something . . . you know, insightful. Comment worthy. Earth-moving, even.

But then I updated to the new version of blogger . . . and now I am distracted by the appearance of the new template. To be fair, they warned me that i would lose format changes I had coded into the old template. I just didn't think my choices would be so limited.

Oh well, I'll have to write in a third column for my other stuff.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

New Start

New year and a new computer . . . I guess I'm set to blog again.

Thanks to the gracious brothers and sisters at DF for the new mac, which is an excellent machine. I am enjoying learning how much easier everything can be.

So what's been happening within our fellowship? I believe that we are learning more about inward, centered-on-God worship. It is not hyped, staged, or presentational. I think we are discovering more about how to create a worshipful space within our selves . . . heart, mind, and spirit . . . so that we might engage in the adoration of God within his grace and love.

Some of our initial attempts have focused on incorporating a Taize-style of contemplative worship within our gatherings. The emphasis is on peacefulness . . . quiet, inward reflection, having a focus on God, and a simple use of songs and words to create an unhurried way to love God as a congregation.

Somehow it has been easy for many of us to be Christians for years without learning how to simply, peacefully, and reverently enjoy being in the presence of God in worship.

With a similar intent I plan to have us pray through the transfiguration tonight through reading each section, praying a simple prayer, and then leaving space and slience for each person to engage that thought. Here's the plan:

Praying the Transfiguration – Luke 9:28-35

Read vs. 28- "Lord, take us with you to pray, as you took Peter, James, and John. Teach us to enter prayer with you."

Read vs. 29- "As you appeared on the mount, help us to see your glory, your radiant holiness. Let your glory overwhelm us."

Read vs. 30-31 "May we love your glorious redemption, spoken of by the prophets, and given us in the cross. Your grace and love is beyond our understanding."

Read vs. 32-33 "Forgive us when we say the wrong things, think the wrong things, and do the wrong things - which we confess now . . ."

Read vs. 34 "Remove our fears, of the future, of our failures, of all things . . . and envelope us in your comforting presence. May we not fear you"

Read vs. 35 "May we always hear the voice of your beloved Son, and conform our lives to his love in the strength of your grace"

Finish with the Lord's Prayer.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Two Good Posts

Brian blogs about he and Bobby's trip to visit the nuns here.

A post on being incarnational and the matter of having a building here.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Why We Need a New Way of Being the People of God

One of the greatest needs I see for our current situation, is for a new ecclesiology. That is hard on my own denominational heritage (back to the roots idea of the last post) because so much of that identity was in matters of ecclesiology. The emphasis ended up, even if no one originally intended it to be this way, on forms concerning church gatherings for worship and church polity.

So when there arises a need for a new ecclesiology, that shakes the foundations of a denominational identity that is rooted in how to structure a church, what to call it, and what to do in its plenary gatherings. Put all your eggs in a basket of how the church is expressed (even effectively and redemptively) in a particular time and place, and you are likely lose all your eggs when the times change.

But the need for a new ecclesiology is not, in my opinion, due to the shortcomings of my own particular heritage. The problem stems from the fact that modernity and its monolithic confidence in objective, scientific data is losing out to something that is not modern. Instead, this new world is pluralistic, less certain, and thankfully less shallow. Little is as shallow as the empiricism and humanism of modernity. I remember the Time article several years ago that explained all human love and our appreciation of human beauty as a drive to find the most fertile and healthy mate to bear our genes.

We are determined by our chemistry. Modernity has no room for poets. Modernity is a type of scientific hyper-Calvinism devoid of human creativity, choice, and asthetics. Choice is illusionary. We do as we are forced to act by our genes and chemical processes. The anthropology of modernity is miserable and dehumanizing.

So why a new ecclesiology? A few initial thoughts come to mind . . .
  • We need to be more humble.
  • We must learn to be less certain of ourselves, though still certain of God.
  • We must avoid slapping simple answers on complex problems.
  • We have to find ways of being more communal in a less communal world.
  • We must offer an alternative to consumerism.
  • We can no longer trust the social sciences to handle all but "spiritual" matters.
  • We cannot use leadership models that are not Trinitarian and thrive in God.
  • We must learn to co-inhabit this world with others as aliens rather than rulers.
  • Our evangelism must be less imperialistic and formulaic.
  • We must not agree to be a figurehead chaplain who words meaningless invocations and benedictions at our culture's events.

It is not having a new ecclecsiology for its own sake, but finding how the ways in which we are the church may reflect a clearer sense of our real mission.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Church Roots

Leroy Garrett writes about changes within his denomination, the Churches of Christ, a group with which I once identified exclusively. I say exclusively because it is not that I do not identify with those churches today, it is just that I also find my identity with many others as well. I am not finding my home with fewer churches, but with more.

However, due to the demands of exclusiveness that are intrinsic to much denominational thinking, and very true of Churches of Christ, having a Christ-identity which embraces many denominations is sufficient to have one excluded from many groups.

In discussing what is happening among some Churches of Christ, Leroy praises one congregation in Fort Worth for not leaving that particular heritage "and becoming rootless." He talks about other congregations taking generic names and leaving the restoration.

However, I would suggest that there are not only these two options: 1) persisting in a restoration tradition, and 2) going generic and becoming rootless. In other words, is every congregation which doesn't keep a particular name and identify with a certain line of teaching and thinking necessarily rootless?

I am not accusing Leroy of believing in only two options. I don't know what he would say, but I am merely reflecting on my impression of his thoughts. I agree that many seeker-sensitive, mega-church wannabes do opt for a very generic and lowest common denominator type of ecclesiology, if not theology. Many do try to cater to people's consumeristic desires and apparently become rootless, even if unintentionally.

But let me say that I do think that there is another option - becoming rooted in historical, creedal, orthodox Christianity in a way that is not exclusive. Rather than becoming a rootless community, perhaps some congregations might leave the more distinguishing externals of Churches of Christ (or other denominations), not in becoming what some have called a-historical, but to move more thoroughly within historical Christianity.

If there is at least this third option, it is the one I aspire to follow. I certainly do not want to say that to preserve my "roots" I have to adhere to certain particulars of denominations in which I may have grown. I also do not want to simply reject those roots and be the church of now.

What if sometimes staying rooted means losing some exclusive aspects of an identity that comes with that particular heritage? Certainly seeking renewal within a denominational identity is admirable. One may also seek renewal within Christianity as a whole, and embrace the largest history of all believers.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Incarnation and Understanding

A synopsis of Sunday's meditation:

God did not become man so that he could understand what it is like to be human,
but so we could understand what it means to be like God.

God did not become man so that he could understand what it is like to be human,
but so we could know for certain that God has always understood us.

I suspect that God is not more understanding of our condition after the incarnation than before. I think being the Creator and Sustainer of all things enables God to understand intimately our condition, and that of the whole creation.

However, we would likely doubt God's understanding had we not the clear demonstration of the incarnation to prove God's empathy. Having been tempted in all ways like us, can we argue God doesn't understand?

Conversely, can we claim that we don't get what it means to be called to live on this earth like God?