Sunday, January 25, 2009

Time

What is time? We pass through it, yet we do not change it. We are shaped by its passage and yet it is in many ways intangible. How do we measure it? With ticking clocks or flashing lights, with beating of hearts and heavy eyelids. Everything with a constancy to it, a constancy unchanged by time, allows us to carefully mark out its passage.

How often we cling to the regularity of time; how often we bemoan its passage! During exam week, I remind myself "only a few more days and these things will pass" and I am comforted knowing that the relentless passage of time will bring an end to things I find challenging. Not an hour later, I might exclaim, "if only there was more time in this day!" How paradoxical are my attitudes towards time.

Since Einstein, time has been delightfully impossible to measure. We can imagine a spacecraft traveling past us quickly. To us it would seem that their clocks were ticking slowly. We move through space at a tremendous speed on this little blue and green ball, cartwheeling with our galaxy in a great dance of motion. At what speed does time progress, then, in other parts of the universe? How does God measure time? Sometimes I am astounded by this aspect of his creativity.

~This was taken from a recent journal entry of mine. I hope to explore this topic more in further posts, especially looking at the relationship between our lives and our view of time. I may also look at a bit more of the strangeness in our world that physics attempts to explain :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

on Sunday afternoons...

I smile warmly at my friend as I sit down with them in the dining hall. "How was your Sunday morning?" I ask, by way of conversation.
"Well," she pauses, almost reluctant to go on, "you might say I went to the Bedside Baptist this morning". She gives me a sheepish grin.
As I try to hide my disappointment, I reprove myself for judging and wonder again if church really consists of going to a service every Sunday morning.

My mind fills with images: I see magnificent stone cathedrals with glowing stained glass, a strange mixture of beauty and solemnity lifting the soul upwards - empty. I see wood slatted shutters pulled across windows to hide furtive worshipers who meet at night to sing and pray and learn more about the Word become flesh. I see drum kits and PowerPoints and someone who stands and sings, awkwardly wondering if he should raise his hands like the person in front of him. And what about those conversations with a friend, each of you sharing your fears hopes, praying with so much care that the tears become part of your praying? Or those long walks when the shared delight in the beauty around makes conversation into something that includes as many silences as words?

Yes, church is much more than Sunday morning. But you could have told me that. The real question is, how do we live intentionally as part of that church? My last post looked at one group of people seeking to answer that question. Whether we are part of the "emerging church" or not, however, we must consider the question. Doesn't being part of the church necessarily involve helping to meet the needs of others, spending time regularly in prayer with fellow believers, spreading the good news, sharing the sacraments, and simply living in loving community with other believers? And how does this all tie into what we do on Sundays, and every day of the week for that matter? I hope and pray that I may be more open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit where change is needed in this area.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Emerging Church ... a summary of what I have learned so far.

Sometimes I get so interested in a topic that I forget that all I have to do is write a short essay about it. My assignment on the emerging church (or the EM, for Emerging Movement) last year was such a topic. And, since it seems that the EM is a popular blog topic I thought I’d share a bit of what I learned, for what it’s worth. If you want a more thorough discussion, read my complete essay.


Characteristics of the EM

  • It is a movement of protest: the EM stems from dissatisfaction with the way church is practiced (spiritual isolationism, marketing the gospel, divisions, etc). It is also a movement away from abstract theology. McKnight states that “The EM is driven by a reaction to […] theology that is often abstract, systematic, and rooted in logic and reason.”

  • It is a movement largely driven not by theological reform, but by a change in focus with an emphasis on praxis: As McKnight writes on his blog, “the Emerging Movement operates with a praxis and orthodoxy model rather than an orthodoxy model: in other words, it believes that orthodoxy is practiced […] as much as it is articulated” (www.jesuscreed.org).

  • The movement embraces an ecumenical focus: McKnight writes, “The EM prefers global theological affirmations and the classical creeds rather than denominationally shaped theological creeds” (www.covchurch.org).

  • The movement is closely tied to culture and to postmodernism. Much of this centers around the age-old question of epistemology. Truth is not denied, yet the means of understanding such truth and the extent to which it can be found is more deeply questioned. There is also a significant emphasis on the importance of experience. Without further study, I would flounder in a more in-depth analysis of the relationship between post-modernity and the emergent church. Suffice it to say, one can’t really understand the EM without attempting to understand some of the complexities of post-modernism.


In Conclusion…

The EM is for me both an exciting and scary thing. McLaren says of his vision for the movement, “It’s not about the church meeting your needs, it’s about you joining the mission of God’s people to meet the world’s needs” (www.culture-makers.com). This is an inspiring vision. The movement as a whole does seem to carry with it the tremendous possibility of renewal, of bringing discouraged Christians together in a more authentically practiced Christianity. It is a movement driven by and focused on the church; that excites me.


Yet it seems appropriate to also include a word of caution. The movement is both trendy and intellectual, two things that can be tempting. It could allow us to feel that we are using our intellects to do something, to feel good about the way we practice our faith without really being open to the unexpected ways in which God works. No one movement can ‘fix’ the church. Much of the time we have to work with what we’ve got; it’s clear that God hasn’t given up working in many ordinary churches across North America – could we possibly loose more than we gain by abandoning these churches?



I am very interested in this 'movement' and would welcome your comments and insight.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

But you have come

You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: "If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned." The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, "I am trembling with fear."

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Hebrews 12:18-24

This passage excites me. It also challenges me when I pause to consider what that church of the firstborn looks like, or to ask what it means to live in light of the "judge of all men", the "new covenant" and the "sprinkled blood". These questions are ones I hope to consider in this blog.

The possible double meanings of the phrase "but you have come" intrigue me. There is the sense that one's presence may speak of an intent or desire that is not always expressed in words. Physical presence often bespeaks commitment or interest; online presence is now taking on its own meaning as well. We would do well to understand this distinction, especially in the relational context. Thank you for coming.