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Showing posts from October, 2008

Cigarette Butts & Sonny's Blues - Toward an Emergent Theology of Sacraments and Worship

Several years ago, in the midst of setting up the church sanctuary for the "emergent" worship gathering that I led at the time, I was confronted by a church member who didn't understand the concept of hands-on worship.  She attended the traditional worship service at the church where I was serving as associate pastor.  Our alternative worship service, which met one evening a week, utilized multi-sensory worship stations to enable people to experience God in new ways.  She wasn't digging it at all.  "What does an art table have to do with church?" she asked.  "Why do you need all of these candles?  Is it really necessary to make such a mess in the house of God--a mess that someone else has to clean up?" (reality check:  I was the one who cleaned it up each week)  She then went on to point out some wax on the carpet from melting candles and the chalk dust in another part of the floor from one of our art tables.  She warned of the dangers of the wate…

The Jesus In Me--An Emergent Christology Tale

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As part of my ordination process a few years ago, I was compelled to complete a course in a Clinical Pastoral Education program. This was not something that I was particularly thrilled about, to be honest with you. Seriously, I muddled through three years of seminary, a field study program, four ordination exams (one of which I had to take twice because I left off four very important questions) and countless steps in the Presbyterian process, only to discover that I would not be able to attach the prefix "Rev." to my name until I became a hospital chaplain for three months.  For me it was like the equivalent of approaching what you believe to be the finish line in the New York City Marathon only to discover that some committee somewhere had changed the distance in all marathons to be 29 miles instead of 26.  Funny.  It ended up being both the best and worst thing that I have ever done.  Almost all of the really important lessons I have learned in life have been ones that I …

Pure Kingdom - Finding an Emergent Eschatology

I was born with glaucoma, an eye disease that can result in blindness that typically only afflicts the elderly.  I read once that only 1 in 100,000 infants have the propensity to be born with glaucoma.   Pretty slim odds, to be sure.  Still, I was born with it.   When the genes and chromosomes of my parents joined forces the resulting union contained a blight, and that blight nearly left me blind.  The surgery to save my sight was very new in 1969, and only two doctors in the United States were doing it.  Funny.  It's outpatient surgery now, but then it was pretty serious and fairly experimental.  After all was said and done, I ended up legally blind in one eye---which is better than how things could have turned out, but not ideal.  Though I am legally blind in my right eye, I  can still see things like shadows, colors and shapes that I can sometimes identify.  It's a whole lot better than nothing, I suppose.  Because of its blindness, my right eye tends to wander a bit, and w…

The Offering: An Emergent Theology Tale

I have had more than my fair share of days when I have questioned my call to be a pastor.  I read somewhere how a young man, who was thinking about becoming a pastor, asked his mentor---a pastor of many years---"When did you feel the call to go into ministry?"  The older man didn't bat an eyelash and replied, "This morning."  I completely get that.  There are days when I feel like I need to hear the call every five minutes just to assure me that I am doing what I am supposed to do with my life.  Even when people tell me things that should reassure me, I struggle to believe that God would actually want to use someone like me for such an important task.  I once heard that the great reformer, Martin Luther, used to feel as though the earth was going to open up and swallow him whole each time he rose to say the Mass.  That comforts me a bit, really.  If Martin Luther felt himself to be unworthy of his call, then at least I am in good company.  Martin Luther also sw…