Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Advent of Advent

Every year it seems that Christmas starts earlier. With all the warm weather we have been having I found myself in shorts running into a store to grab Alecia the materials for baking a pumpkin pie and to my surprise the employees were transitioning the isle of special dedication to Santa and company. In my head I thought ‘oh no Christmas already.’ It’s not that I am against Christmas, in fact I love the stories of the first Christmas in scripture and even more the advent season in which the church anticipates God’s incarnation during the four weeks leading up to Christmas but what bothered me in the store that day was how businesses and culture are already anticipating the season of anticipation. The closer Christmas gets the more I realize that I am not anticipating God’s coming to us, the coming of the one who brings peace on earth, goes first to social outcasts (shepherds), excites foreigners (wise men), scares the political head into killing (Herod), and brings God’s promise of hope for all creation. I am anticipating a two month tear of rampant go-go-go in which I spend more time, energy, money, and focus on culture’s consumer based Christmas and not the Christian Christmas. I always hope to get the Jesus story into the season’s business but it is difficult to have the Jesus story, the story of peace and anticipation of God’s coming to history define the way I live through the season. While stores and society are preparing to celebrate consumption, I want to find a way to consume less and give more to the poor. While culture speeds up the pace of life’s rhythm, I want to slow down enough to be a friend, husband, and father (in a few weeks) who journeys with and beside. While my ears will again be bombarded with familiar songs and these ancient stories and my eyes with flashing lights, I want to find a place as silent and as dark as the shepherds’ field where I can hear the angel’s song and see the glory of God’s messengers. As the world around us hyperbolizes things as they are, I want the hope of God’s coming to turn the world upside down.

who was incarnate in a no-name peasant Jew, born under Political oppression and Religious suppression, may you grant us the courage to be not distracted, mystified, and seduced by a reality foreign to your advent. Lead us not into the temptation of relational malnutrition and consumption celebration but deliver us with the gift of faith, faith that indeed you have and are coming to our world, its oppression and suppression to establish your peace and your kingdom on this earth. May the advent season be a time where you find room in our hearts, minds, and souls - may you work a work of transformation and create in our community a community of witness to the new hope the world has in your arrival
Come Lord Jesus

Friday, October 19, 2007

Moltmann's Eschatological Panentheism

"In the end, however, the new heaven and new earth will become the 'temple' of God's indwelling. The whole world will become God's home. Through the indwelling of the SPirit, people, and churches are already glorified in the body, now, in the present. But then the whole creation will be transfigured through the indwelling of God's glory. Consequently the hope which is kindled by the experiance of the indwelling Spirit gathers in the future, with panentheistic visions. Everything ends with God being 'all in all.' The Trinity and the Kingdom (104-105)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Communion This Sunday

This was the first time I lead communion in my sweet robe and stole so I tried to come up with a liturgy that would break it in good. Here it is. I combined a Kenyan liturgy, the Didache, and some original material.
Call To The Table

It is good and our delight indeed to give you thanks and praise, Motherly Father, Fatherly Mother, living God, Holy Love, supreme over the world. Creator, Provider, Saviour and Giver. From a wandering nomad you created your family; for a burdened people you raised up a leader; for a confused nation you chose a king, for a rebellious crowd you sent your prophets; for a broken world that can not save itself you gave yourself and offer the gift of God’s Reign; for every person created in your image yet trapped in sin you seek reconciliation and offer the gift of eternal life. At this table we find ourselves having been pursued by you whose nature and name is Love. May all come and receive the gift of God.

Elder prays for Communion

We thank thee, our Gifting God, for the life and knowledge which was made known to us through Jesus your Son. As this broken bread was once scattered on the mountains, and was gathered together to become one, so may your Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom; for thine is the glory, and the power, through Jesus Christ, for ever.

Eat Bread - Sit down

Stand - Encourage the Cup

Receive the gift and be transformed by the God who made you, knows you, redeems you, and promises to journey with you through this life into the next.

We thank thee, our Gifting God, for the holy vine of David, which was made known to us through Jesus Christ your Son; to thee be the glory for ever.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Deacs

Last night I went to the Wake Forest \ Florida State football game and it was awesome. The ACC better recognize that Wake is for real again. Check out the ESPN highlights.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Prayer from 10-07-07

Creator, Scared Artist of life and beauty meet us here today
We find ourselves gathered and reflecting on art and its role in our lives as your people
Let us not be tempted to keep you disembodied
for you came to us fully human and in the flesh
Let us not be tempted to limit your revelation to mere word
for Christ made sacred all of life, the trivial, the pain, and the joy
Be here and challenge our hearts to dream of new ways to express your love for all creation
Continue your masterpiece of redemption among us
Just as your Word, your revealing masterpiece, became flesh in the person of Jesus
Embodied love not limited to things simply spoken or seen
May we too find our identity by embodying your love
Creator, Sacred Artist, do your work in us

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Tony Jones Agrees, John MacArthur is a Gnostic

Tony Jones has made my day. In a sermon last Sunday, which you can hear here, he not only responded to the Yoga bit on CNN I posted a while ago but called MacArthur out as a modern day Gnostic. I have thought this since May when I went to a luncheon with him here in Winston, but never posted something about it. I will think of how to tell the story while you listen to Tony. Emerge on Tony.

UPDATE: Tony has a sweet new blog post that pertains which i enjoyed.

The Serpent, Conversation, and the Truth War

A friend from SEBTS asked me how I would respond to the theological challenges Driscoll brought up in his lecture at the Convergent Conference. I told him that if you assume as much as foundational to the Christian Faith as Driscoll does it is hard to respond other than to say, 'you don't speak for all Christians, but you do a great job as a cool beer drinking fundamentalist from the Reformed tradition.' So my goal here is just to point out how one might have a different framework for thinking that can lead to Driscoll-judged 'heretical conclusions' while being a committed Christian and attentive reader of scripture. I had list of different possible entry points but it is hard to pass up on Driscoll borrowing ammo from John MacArthur about the 'danger' of the emergent 'conversation.'

I saw both Driscoll and MacArthur attack the viability of the emergent conversation because it was a dreaded 'conversation' that lead to the fall. Basically they look at the story of Eve and the Serpent (not Satan in Genesis) where she ends up eating the fruit in disobedience to God and sharing it with Adam which results in a bunch of fractured relationships between Eve, Adam, and God. On the surface this looks like a good reason to avoid theological conversation, especially if the theological dialogers are either a women or a reptile, because in this text a conversation leads to the disobedience that has been cursing us ever sense. After making these observations the assumption, at least how I understood it, was that the emergent conversation is similar to the conversation of Eve and the Serpent and should therefore be avoided by all sanctified people. MacArthur went as far to say, (and I am quoting from my napkin when I attended a luncheon with him) "you need to realize we are in a war, the truth war, and it began not with an invasion of an army but with a conversation." The point both Driscoll and MacArthur want to make is having a conversation is a threat, not a fertile ground for truth. If they are right then the emergent conversation is a really big mistake and we should just get our bibles and John Calvin commentaries out and work them until Jesus comes back. I think this idea (not the people) is not only stupid and impractical but actually an impoverished reading of the Genesis text. I think the story of the relational breakdown in Genesis 3 would have benefited from more conversation and not less. In fact, if this story is telling us how we got to be in the situation we are in, namely in a matrix of fractured relationships (God, Self, Others, Creation), then the opposite is true and truth needs conversation.

I don't want to talk forever, so I am going to just point out some conversations that should have happened and then you go read your bible and see if you think I could be on to something.

#1: Adam should have been honest and told Eve the truth about God's command. In Gen. 2:16-17 says to Adam pre-Eve "‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die." Then when Eve answers the Serpent's question about God's command she says in Gen 3:3 "You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.” So what is different in how God gave the command to Adam and how Eve presumably heard it from Adam?
- First, she doesn't know what the tree is but only where it is. The command of God given for a good redemptive purpose is turned into command without a reason though Adam kept the divine threat.
- Second, Eve's rendition includes a command not to touch the fruit. Why would God's command have changed? Did the fruit grow cooties or did Adam punk out from having a real conversation with his partner and instead just built a legalistic shelter around a command of God to avoid having to explain its life giving purpose and God's good intention for the command. Instead of having a real and honest conversation about truth, meaning, God, values, and the world they lived in Adam apparently said, "Don't eat, Don't Touch, or Die."
- Lastly an observation. How did Eve get suckered in by such a stupid question, "Did God say, “You shall not eat from any tree in the garden?" Other than the question was on a topic Adam should have been conversing with her about it doesn't make sense why you would take this question seriously. I imagine Eve, the Bible's first theologian, was looking for a place to have a conversation and wasn't finding it with her partner so she entered into a conversation with the no good crafty serpent at the first sign of open space to actually converse about truth. If Adam had started an emergent cohort or simply told his own faith experience instead of building legalistic ethical bunkers then Eve would have said, "You sneaky serpent we only avoid eating from one tree, for this reason, it serves this purpose, and is a way I honor and connect to my loving God."

#2: Adam should have entered the truth war by conversing with Eve while the serpent was present. In the text you have Eve decide she wants knowledge (something Adam didn't do much talking with her about) and so she first touches the fruit and then eats it. If Adam had said when she touched it, "Eve we need to talk, I didn't tell you the truth about the fruit. We can touch it just not eat it and here is why....insert conversation.....gaining of knowledge.....because God loves and desires the best for us....will you forgive me for not being honest and eliminating conversation about truth in our relationship" then maybe things would have gone differently. Instead Eve disobeys Adam's made up rule and God's without knowing the truth of the situation, all in her search for knowledge. This could have been avoided by a real theological conversation with Adam. See Adam was the one 'in the know' and his desire to avoid a conversation set up the conditions for disobedience. The point here is that while Eve disobeyed the command first, truth was absent because of a lack of conversation not because of conversation.

Well read the bible and let me know what you think.

There is a more detailed discussion about the Genesis 3 text over at The Flaming Heretic? (a super sweet moravian theo-blogger)

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Driscoll Train and The Invite Person or Dude

Steve Knight posted a giant summary of the responses to Driscoll rolling around the internet. Also a little FYI, The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina has canceled their invite of Doug Pagitt to an event later this month. Outside of not being surprised, thinking they are still going the way of the buffalo, and desiring to avoid using bad language I want to say something to whomever initially invited Doug. I am glad you are still in the NCBSC. I am also glad you thought about trying to get new voices in. I am sorry your attempt failed because Driscoll called out your invite of his heretic friend, who is probably out a couple thousand for the canceled speaking engagement, during his guest lecture at SEBTS. I am glad that you are there invite dude. If you are down right now remember the 'p' of tulip and keep on chooglin. (p=perseverance of the saints)

UPDATE: here is a great post by Tony Cartledge that explains what happens. also, steve knight was right the invite person was apparently Chad Hall and he is no longer a NCBSC employee......