Today was the first gathering of what I’m dubbing the Ohio River Emerging Church Cohort in Cincinnati. I didn’t make it; I was on the verge of passing out at a soccer tournament. I imagine Lilly will post a roundup in the next couple days. Until then, here’s the original announcement over at Lilly’s Pad: (link)
Michael Howes is making his notes and resource list available on the web. In addition, he is willing to mail a CD-ROM of his slideshow to those who ask. (Link: Scroll to the bottom; PDF links are in the last paragraph)
I did not attend his workshop, but here is the description from the materials handed out at WALP:
Across denominations, some of the most adventurous leaders are engaged in church planting. You have a different, equally worthy dream: leading the established church you serve to new places of openness to God and spiritual health through worship change. But the landscape is strewn with wounded ministers who have attempted liturgical renewal and paid a high price. In this workshop, you will acquire some practical strategies to help you lead your church in seeking worship renewal without martyring yourself.
Can’t get enough? Heed the call from Willzhead:
There’s gonna’ be a Blogapolooza in Nashville.
If you are going to be at the Nashville Emergent Convention and you are a blogger, then the place to be for lunch on Thursday is at the Blogger Forum. So as not to be totally biased, there are other choices. Read about them here. But if you are a blogger, would you want to be anywhere else? (link)
Reflections on the conference from John Mortensen, whose songwriting session I sat in on. He shares his thoughts on the Song Culture of Emergent.
WALP was fantastic. I went without detailed expectation, only wanting to hear and enter into the conversation in a physical sense. I leave having had the cup of both hopes filled to overflowing. For example, there were enough voices from the Dayton/Cincinnati/Columbus/Indianapolis area present, that we may have the beginning of a cohort. (I met Darin from Indy at lunch today with the Lewin’s.)
For those of you on the edge of the conversation, I encourage you to join in. The final Emergent/YS convention is coming to Nashville next month. There are regional cohorts popping up around the country. (See emergentvillage.com for details.) And the Blogdom is always on-line. If you lurk, comment; if you comment, email; if you email call; if you call, come; when you come; converse.
May God the Creator, God the Redeemer, and God the Sustainer, bless us all as we proclaim the Cross of Christ, the Glory of his Resurrection, and the depth of his love for us. Amen
PS #1: The new emergent international website is www.amahoro.info. It doesn’t appear to be live, yet; I’ll add a link when I can.
this was, perhaps, the highlight of the week for me.
reason #1: claude’s presence and voice. while the gathering was nearly equal in terms of gender and far more diverse in regard to age and denominational affiliation than i expected, we were still almost exclusively white. the fact that claude was not only present, but also given a plenary speaks loudly about the desire for a truly inclusive conversation and the willingness to actively work toward the achievement of that desire. some may say, “small steps,” but i say, “steps forward nonetheless.”
in saying the above, i hope i am not marginalizing those non-white brothers and sisters who came. their courage is essential, for it must begin somewhere. i spent a fair amount of time chatting with brian mitchell, who has been a part of the conversation for a number of years. during that time he has been (or at least felt like) the token catholic at the table. this week, he said, it seems that the catholic presence has finally arrived. i hope that the african-american and asian-american, and latin-american presences aren’t far behind. god bless those courageous few who have gone ahead of the others to prepare a place at the table.
reason #2: worship and eucharist with corey nelson: his liturgy and homily on 1 corinthians 12 (who is our body?) brought me to tears. i’ll surely be writing more about it later. briefly, let me share this song before getting into claude’s message:
n nung yay dah
n nung yay dah, oh-oh
n nung yay dah m ma bia
n nung yay dah
i believe, o
i believe, my mother’s child
i believe) proclamation of belief within our common identity and parenthood.
THE JUST WORSHIPPER
- “for I, the LORD, love justice” (isaiah 61:8)
- the entirety of the church message was: repent, for jesus is coming soon. nothing was said about the huge disconnect between this message and the reality of injustice in the surrounding world. “don’t worry about the problems here; jesus is coming soon.” deal with the problems by denying/ignoring them.
- false choice presented: the church (jesus is coming; just be ready for heaven; stay in church and be like your elders) v. real world (poverty, wars, famine; prepare to deal with this reality; get educated so you can get a job… and maybe even make a difference)
- quote: “if eternal life is on both sides of the grave, [then to ignore the dreadful conditions on earth is wrong.] heaven and hell begin here and now, both for individuals and nations…” such an eschatology is warped (un-christian?)
- review of churches failure in rwanda.
- quote: “love thy neighbor didn’t stand up in the rwandan genocide!” (general of united nations’ security force in rwanda reflecting on the churches failure to resist, failure to the extreme of co-participation)
- justice and acts of charity are integral parts of jesus worship. (jesus’ proclamation in luke: “I have to to proclaim…freedom…justice”)
- prophet amos spoke into the israel’s situation, and there is a parallel to africa: in the midst of a religious boom, a plethora of injustices continued and were ignored.
- “i hate, i despise your feasts… take away from me the noise of your songs… i will not listen. but let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an overflowing stream.” (amos 5:21-24)
- there is no seeking after god that is not, at the same time, a seeking after justice. songs are not a substitute for justice. justice must be a regular part of worship for worship to be whole.
INCORPORATING JUSTICE INTO OUR GATHERED WORSHIP
- our tradition and texts betray a dichotomy between worship and justice. justice appears to be an add on to worship, not and essential part of and expression of worship.
- worship is a cry to god for justice in the midst of injustice, a call to god’s people to practice justice, and a proclamation of god’s coming justice
- when justice is part of our worship, our worship service is just.
- quote: 11 am sunday morning is the most segregated hour in america (mlk)
- when justice is a part of our worship, the worship service compels us to do justice. we should leave our services not only singing, but also inspired to do justice.
- when justice is part of our worship, we care to do justice and not to outsource it. if the extent of our participation in justice is a partnership with some other organization (though this is good), then we have fallen short. it is not the mission boards job to engage in justice on behalf of the congregation. we would not outsource our singing; why do we outsource our justice?
- when justice is part of our worship, charity is only the beginning.
- charity alleviates the effects of injustice; justice eliminates the cause of injustice.
today begins with breakout sessions. we are in the liturgical chapel, a beautiful small room set up on the round.
- for whatever reasons, poetry has been banished from the realm of public worship (with the exception of “biblical poetry,” which fails as poetry to our ears b/c it has been translated.)
- poetry has the ability to “cut to the chase,” to get quickly to the heart of a matter
DEFINITION OF POETRY
- not a science: imperical, causal, measurable
- it is art: vivid, memorable, concentrated language
- the realm of poetry has been transferred in our world to the realm of music.
- poems compress
- poems a subject to rules and convention: meter, rhyme, stanza, etc.
- caution: be aware of the tone or attitude in a poem: humorous, anger, sarcasm, joy, etc.
- caution: don’t assume the “i” of a poem is the author of the poem. be aware of the “poetic mask” or “persona”
- power is found in the particular: imagery is the source of particularity
- quote: archibald mcleish: a poem should not mean, but be
- metaphor, simile, symbol: building blocks of poetry. translation/interpretation is essential. this is work and it challenges the reader to slow down and put forth effort.
USE OF POETRY IN WORSHIP
- we ought to engage the full realm of human experience. don’t be afraid to express, for example, doubt or fear.
- poetry, in particular its rhythm, has the ability to convey the human spirit.
- the early church drew heavily from the psalms having carried them out of judaic worship and into the church. (don’t forget the other sources of o.t. poetry: prophets, wisdom literature, sections of the law)
- early church also composed its own poetry: john 1, phil 2, scattered in luke
- as early as 100 AD, the early church sang and recited poetry in its worship.
- the concern of poetry of the first 500 years focused on the nature of christ and the trinity, both the orthodox position and the heretical positions. some of these early hymns remain in main line hymnals.
- roman authority clamped down on the creation of new poetry in the 6th century, limiting its use to the psalter and a few approved hymns. this seems to be the mindset that continues to prevail (noted exceptions: the bursts of hymnody that came out of the reformation and the wesleyan movement)
- the present age has much in common with the age of the early church (see webber)
- recapture the story, particularly the nature of christ and the trinity
- write from the margins: the church has been pushed out of the limelight and is once again uniquely positioned to write from here.
- address the ills of society with honesty and completeness, continuing thru to the resolution offered in christ.
- wrestle with the difficulty in naming god
At the end of the evening, Brian McLaren brought a few guys (I must use the word in a gender specific way.) up front to highlight some of the things happening in emergent around the globe. Doug Pagitt, Jason Clark and Mark Pierson (of Cityside) covered the US, UK/Europe and Australia/New Zealand respectively. All had similar things to say about the conversation growing.
Of local interest (to me, at least) is the focus on regional cohorts. Lilly Lewin and I, quite independently, thought, “We need one in southwest Ohio.” There are a few attendees preparing a church plant in Columbus who seem to have interest, so the critical mass may form quickly. I’d gladly welcome a regular dialogue in my neck of the woods. The Blogdom is great, but so is flesh and blood.
Of even greater interest, particularly to those who don’t live near southwest Ohio, is the conversation developing in Africa and Asia. Claude Nikondeha, who will be giving tomorrow morning’s plenary, is from Burundi. In the last year he oversaw the first “emergent” gathering in Africa which involved participants from five or six sub-Saharan countries. In addition, McLaren mentioned Sivin Kit in Malaysia, who is taking a lead in Asia.
Finally, emergent will be debuting a new international website in the near future. Wonderfully, it will not be under the emergent name, but rather under an African name. (Here I show my true nature as a rookie conference blogger: I didn’t write the name down, so I’ll have to add it later. Grace, please.)
[UPDATE: I jotted down the name: www. amahoro.info. It doesn't appear to be live,yet; I'll add the link when I can.]
Rejoice! You who are living vicariously throughout the Blogdom of God.
Rejoice! For our God is good.
God has heard your cry for conversation and inclusion,
And the hand of compassion is being extending.
The five plenary sessions are being taped; all six will be made available. [Selah]
Seek them on the net; Seek them at emergentvillage.com
Seek them in a short while and you will find your heart’s desire.
Rejoice! You who are living vicariously throughout the Blogdom of God.
Rejoice! For our God is good.
(I’ll put up a direct link when available.)