a christmas message

i was given a strange opportunity this past christmas eve, and i am uncertain how to react to it, or process the experience. i was given the opportunity to teach at a modern church and share a postmodern message of christ. i was asked to give the christmas message as i was giving it to a postmdern/emerging group, and to be honest i did not give it much thought until a few days later.

my message was on "christ in us" and i based it on colossians 1:27 and the switchfoot song "meant to live" and called the message "more then this world has to offer." it was about seeing christ in ourselves and seeing christ in others - it centered on how when we allow christ to move in us, our lives change and we start to do thing differently. it also had a call to the fact that we are all called to share our faith in christ - if we are believers, we share our faith. as part of the message, i mentioned that we needed to be more then one hour christians, and that we needed to put our faith into action - well, as i found out this past few day (via the modern gossip mill), that did not go over very well with some of the "older" people - here is what i heard was "wrong" with my message:

1) i mentioned the word "tattoo." i guess this is the worst sin that i committed. i have been told by the pastor that one elderly women was very upset that i mentioned that a tattoo was a sign of being committed to something. she was "offended" that a pastor would ever say it was ok to get a tattoo.

2) some of the other older people had problems because one of the pictures of jesus i used during a slide show was black (african) - and this was "very offensive." they felt that showing such a picture was an insult to jesus - when i asked the person who told me a person was upset, "is the insult that jesus was black?" i was hit with the, "you know what they meant" answer. so i said, "yes, i do know what you mean. seeing jesus as black pushed them past their comfort zone and that bugged them. they are unable to process a jesus that is not blonde haired and blue eyed." i was told i did not understand the "bigger picture" and that i was one of those "liberal ministers" who wanted to change the true jesus.

3) but the jesus slide was not the only one to cause a problem. some of the other slides i had used were of homeless, poor, unkept, unclean and unwanted - some felt that by my showing the pictures of "those" people i was "making fun of jesus and insulting why jesus came to earth." i guess, for this white, old, middle-class church the idea that jesus came for the hurting and the sick was not part of the way they saw things. i guess, jesus came to save the white-middle class only.

4) a few were upset because i used a song that was not a "christmas hymn," and (as i heard one person claimed) was not even song by christians, in my message. i thought about this and felt that if they had no idea who swithcfoot was, and they did not see the message of christ in the song - i could not bring them to seeing the message.

5) a few people were upset because i suggested that when we are walking in christ we desire to put our faith into action. i was told that one elderly man said that "we are not saved by works, only by faith." when i tried to explain to the person who mentioned this little fact was that my message was not "on salvation" but one that calls us to ministry, and action - the conversation turned to why my message was not calling people to salvation. this conversation was a crazy one, and it confused me to no end - finally, i thanks them for their words and i moved on.

6) some were upset with the fact that i did not use the luke narrative and speak on how cute and cuddly the baby jesus was. i did mention that one of the traditional hymns did not register with me - because it had jesus laying in a manger with a cow in his face and it says "and no crying he did make" - what? show me a baby that would not be screaming his little head off - that was not popular because it seems jesus never cried, never pooped, never gave mom and dad a hard time, and was just the perfect little baby. the idea of a human jesus was just no in the room.

the funny thing of all this, was that out of all the people who complained only two actually were at the service; and non - none - came to me directly. the others were simply going on their words.

yet i do need to express hope in all this. out of all the people who attended the service, i received more comments from people who thought the message was great - some of the people that were there even commented on the fact that it challenged them to move in faith and move into action.


true emerging community please

i got this email the other day (december 26, sunday) from a person living in southwest pa (washington area). in reading it, i was broken by the hurt and pain expressed - the expression for community, yet the non-movement of the "church" to developing that community. i think it's best if you read their words:

"I'm sick of so called churches that say they love people, that say they are reacing this generation, yet do nothing outside of the context of a program or something planned. I have attended Carpenter's Home Church for 6 months now, people would greet you and talk to you at church giving you a hug and what ever, asking how you are. They would invite me to dinner after church but not much more - I saw them calling each other on their cells and going to each others houses - I gave my cell number,to people at the church and to the "pastors". the only calls I ever got were pre-recorded messages about what is going on at the church. I shared some struggles with a pastor who told me he would be my accountability partner - he has not once asked me how I am. My job recently changed and I have missed church for 3 weeks after never missing in 6 months - no one has called and asked if I'm ok but I still get the recorded messages! I'm sick of all the BS - where are the people

who will really love you? Who express genuine community? not in South west PA thats for sure! I was off today but decided who needs it - several would come up to me with a line of BS that they missed me - even though they never tried to contact me. I hear all the stories of true community on Gink but can't find it where I live and I'm fed up! I want to be in relationship with other people but with people who are real and really care - is there such a thing?"

i am broken by all the emerging churches out there that are simply younger versions of a modern church. this idea that we "express" community but not "live" community is wrong. as an emerging community of faith we must - must (not an option) welcome all into that community - regardless of anything we can think of to limit. if we are to honestly claim community we must do more then talk the game, we need to play the game.

"servants" need to show that community is more then lip-service, more then just a "cool thing" to say - we (we are all servants) need to truly be in community - seeking out the hearts of those who are with us, and connecting to people as christ connected to people. we need to model what comunity is, how it is shared and mostly that it is open to all people.

if you know of a place in the washington/waynesburg area, just put it in the comments area.


i hate the term "born again"

i hate the term "born again" that is my opinion and it is one i stand with. For me, the term “second life” is far more expressive and meaningful. while i think others have the right to use what ever term they desire i also believe we need to start developing terms, metaphors, theologies and expressions of those in new ways. for me, a “second life” is found in believing in christ, and is not “proved” by evidence of any “gift.” the idea that “being born again” can only be “true” if certain gifts are expressed, violates scripture on many levels. i believe we need to take a new stance on many of the “doctrines” of the church and ask ourselves with all honesty and grace, “do we believe this because scripture teaches this, or because tradition teaches it?” let me explain it like this:

i stand firm on the fact that in order to truly be moving ahead and deconstructing one needs to get rid of old terms that carry baggage and form new ones without the baggage (they will, over time create their own baggage) - no matter who it offends. if we are truly to express the faith in a relevant way, simply taking the terms used by evangelicals will simply show we are evangelical and nothings changed - to take the terms used by the contemporary church, means we are simply the contemporary church and nothings changed.

i believe we need to find new words, new metaphors, new expressions - and if that is "either/or" well, i am at a lose - but as brian says, we will not truly be postmodern if we simply use modern terms to express our faith - so, the task at hand for us all is to, in my opinion, seek to find new ways of expressing our faith - and not the old ways.

i am not striving to push a button, but the idea that "either/or" should stop us from forming alternative expressions is not a valid argument - we have to not let the "either/or" debate stop us from developing terms that hold true to an emerging people. if we do, we are allowing moderns to dictate our growth and terms - if a person desire to use "born again" fine, so be it - but in a emerging expression "born again" carries too much baggage and can never be "redefined" - so, we need to find a way that expresses that idea (or one close to it) with different words. i think we have moved away from our desire to express our faith in new ways and settled on letting those outside an emerging mindset determine how we express our faith. i am sure others will think that i am “wrong” by not accepting the expression of others, and that is not the case. You can have the expression you desire, but when we are talking about certain things, remember to define your meaning. remember that your evangelical, modern expression of faith does not express my heart.

without developing a “conspiracy theory” i believe there is a movement afoot to stop us from forming new theologies, new expressions of faith, new metaphors, new terms - and, while not "collective" in any way - that movement is trying to stop us with the "both/and" debate - the "both/and" is a valid reality - but in that i believe, modern expressions of faith have no place in forming a postmodern/emerging expression of faith. they can have their theology, and that is fine (both/and) but that theology is not expressed in an emerging reality -

here is one that I am working on developing: (let me know what you think)
love is a sacrament – historically we have defined a sacrament as something either christ did, or commanded us to do. For example, baptism is a sacrament of the church because jesus “did” it – he was baptized. Communion is a sacrament because jesus commended us to do it in remembrance of him – so, since jesus commands us to love, love is a sacrament – still in process, but you get the idea.


bring it on

jason clark writes the following, and i agree - it's a coming

"We have been told that a few high-powered conservative evangelical voices have targeted us for critique. We have expected this for some time, and have so far been impressed by how generous and restrained critique has been. That restraint may end soon. When it does, we need to be prepared to keep a sweet spirit about critiques, and not become distracted by them. In many cases, the critiques will be based on issues that are relatively unimportant to us; in other cases, they will be unfair. In some cases, they will actually help us, as they help make clear the differences between emergent and other approaches, so people can make intelligent choices about where to invest their energy. We don't want everyone to join us, and we are glad that some non-emergent leaders will succeed in steering some people away from us, as they will be happier and more productive elsewhere."

well, all i can say is bring it on. i believe all people have a place and can express their faith in ways that are meaningful to them - and i will never condemn a person for holding fast to that faith - and i would pray that those who desire to find holes in my pockets will have the same eye towards grace, love and freedom. while i am not a bridge builder, i am not a bridge burner either. i live quite happy on my side of the river, and if you want we can visit the other side - we might get a bit wet, but the camp fire at homes is warm and stoked - dry cloths are also available.

over this year i have experienced this first hand, and it has been draining - but i still stand. i have had "fundies" join the message board on ginkworld and attack me personally over some very silly issues - while i will admit to being dragged into some of the debates, i have learned not to fight with people desiring blood.

while i will support any emerging voice that speaks out (because i believe in the community), that voice must know that they do not speak for us all - ginkworld does not speak for all, the ooze does not speak for all, emerging village does not speak for all, emergent does not speak for all - no one voice speaks for us all - at best, one voice speaks for that one voice. it is not one voice, but a collection of those voices - from the radicals (like me) to the "bridge builders" that can form a voice - but a voice formed with simply the bridge builders will not speak to the more radical of the family - to truly be a voice heard, we must be willing to listen and then speak.


some good questions

thor-einar krogh asks some pretty good questions on his blog - you should check it out, and give him a hand


santa claus wears a red suit, he's a communist...

i am not 100% sure where i heard it, but i am kinda sure it was in my father's collection of weird music. my dad had the weirdest collection of music i ever heard; some of the songs still ring in my head - and they still whorp my reality at a core level :) if i had anything i would blame my father for, it would be my desire to hear whacked music - anyway, i digress :)

i remember the song about santa - and i think it went like this; "santa claus wears a red suit, he's a communist. santa claus has long hair and a beard, so he must be a pacifist. And what's in the pipe that he's smoking? Santa Claus comes in your house at night. He must be a dope fiend to get you up tight."

the song is funny, and eye opening. funny, because when i mentioned this to a third grade teacher, she got all up set - how dear i, or anyone, make fun of santa? the funny part of this was it was at a school board meeting where they were discussing the need to seperate "church and state" - the teacher just got done speaking on how we need to keep "christiany" out of the school room - she had just given a rant on the abuses of christianity and that jesus had no place in the lives of third graders. eye opening, because people just don't get it.



i refuse to accept any killing

why is peace outside our grasp? why is it that we find it easier to kill then to forgive? what is in our hearts that darken our thoughts to the idea that taking a human life is acceptable? the hard part for me, is no that the world thinks this way - but that those of us who claim to be christian feel that way.

war is not part of our faith, or at least it should not be. it seems that we have accepted war soon after we became the official religion of the roman state. when the christian faith became "the faith" we started to gain power, and that power corrupted the teachings of christ to fit the needs of man gaining power. war is wrong, no matter how you define it, no matter how you justify it, no matter what you use as logic to defend it - all war is wrong. the idea that anyone would take the life of another seems so far beyond my reasoning, so far beyond my scope of the faith that it blinds me to ever seeing a valid point for war.

what good would come from killing? taking the life of another will not solve anything, it just keeps the cycle of hate running wild. my stomach turns when i hear of people being killed just because they were in the area - but the part that burns my spirit even more, is is that those who claim to follow christ writing off this killing as "the cost of war." instead of speaking out against the killing, they sit back and give excuses for the killing, they strive to "explain" it as just something that happens - well, i am disgusted and i refuse to say nothing. pastors fear speaking out because they do not desire to offend those in their congregations that have fought in wars - well, i do not fear such actions - war is wrong, taking a human life is wrong - christ's teaching to us is to live in love and forgiveness - learn it and live it.



Scientists Crack Chicken's Genetic Code

well, there goes the chicken dinner [click here]

humm, gives a new meaning to becoming a veggy :)