Monday, December 22, 2008

The Great Emergence

So, I've been reading this book, The Great Emergence, and have been totally blown away by it! The basic gist of it is that every five hundred years or so, the church has what she calls a "rummage sale" and through that ends up spreading and becoming more relevant. Go back five hundred and you find the Protestant Reformation, five hundred before the Reformation you are at the Great Schism, before that Gregory the Great and the plunge into the dark ages, and five hundred before that the Great Transformation (Jesus and the apostles).

Right now we are in the middle of another one of those "rummage sales." This one is being called the Great Emergence. It's happening as our culture enters the post-modern era, and as the Reformation's motto of sola scriptura, scriptura sola (only scripture, and scrpture only) has been found wanting as an answer to the question of authority. We are asking again: Where now should we place our authority?

That is a loaded question that neither I nor the emergent thinkers have resolved. It is the task of the next twenty to thirty years. There are those who are called to start something new, and those called to reform the old to be relevant in a new culture. I feel called in a strong way to the latter. I look forward to figuring Methodism in a postmodern context, and discovering how God can use our Wesleyan heritage to relate to a radically different world.

If you want to read more about the whole postmodern/emerging church thing here are some books I like:

A New Kind of Christian by: Brian McLaren
The Challenge of Jesus by: N.T. Wright
Postmodern Youth Ministry by: Tony Jones
The Emerging Church by: Dan Kimball

Monday, December 15, 2008

Peace Devotion

Today is the day that my devotional entry appears in our church's advent devotional guide. So, if you don't go to the church, or you do but forgot to read the devotion for today, here it is!

If there’s one Hebrew word you know, it’s this one: shalom. We generally understand peace as the absence of conflict; although, this is a pretty accurate definition of the English term, it is far from accurate in regards to the Hebrew. Shalom is much more. Shalom means wholeness and completeness (in every way: safety, soundness in body, welfare, health, prosperity and connection). Shalom is the presence of God’s goodness in the lives of his people.

One Jewish theological understanding of shalom says that Shalom was created in the Garden as we had perfect connection with God and each other. When sin entered, shalom was lost, and the whole of scripture illustrates the quest to regain the shalom lost in the garden.

Jesus came to restore that which was lost in the garden. Not just peace, but shalom… the presence of God’s goodness. Another verse puts it this way: “Make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life” (Psalm 51:10 MSG). Jesus came to repair the break in our relationship with God so that we could once again be wholly, completely, and shamelessly connected.

In this time of advent, as we await the birth of something needed and new, remember that Jesus came to reestablish the kingdom of peace in the world. As members of that kingdom we must be agents of peace in a world where brokenness and separation is King. We must live lives of connection with God and others so that the peace of God invades the world around us, a world that is crying out for the one thing it cannot create: Shalom.
Today, forgive, apologize, heal, connect and bless others as you have been blessed, be a peacemaker in a broken world.

May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and the love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord: And the Blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be amongst you and remain with you always.

God fill me with your shlom, and allow me to be an agent of your shalom in my world today. Open my eyes that I might see your opportunities all around so that I can bless others as I have been blessed.