Posted: December 5th, 2010 | Author: Peter | Filed under: God, Jesus, church, community, emergence, emerging, fellowship, future, holy spirit, light, make the world better, stuff I like, synchroblog | 5 Comments »
Something is coming! And someone has come! And all this will continue…
This month’s Synchroblog is about the journey of advent, as we enter this season once again.
ADVENT – THE JOURNEY -
Advent is the dawn of a journey that leads us not only to Bethlehem but potentially to a new understanding of our relationship to God and his beloved creation. Share your thoughts about the journey of advent during this inspirational season.
Growing up in non-liturgical churches, for me the advent season manifested as a calendar with chocolates hidden behind each day’s door.
Over the last few years, I have participated through the United Methodist Book of Worship. This season, I look forward to experiencing Episcopal liturgies.
What has struck me more in recent years is how we cyclically repeat the anticipation of the one who has already come. We enter into a time and space that is no longer linear – participating in the angst and hardship and sorrow of the world before the advent of Christ.
But Christ did not begin in Nazareth, two thousand years ago. Christ has been, from the beginning.
Today, creation still groans, experiencing the tragedy of ongoing sorrow. Jesus didn’t bring an end to suffering. But with his birth, birthed hope. The one who came has come, and continues to come, and through us, may be manifested in our broken, beautiful world.
* * *
I heard a Russian Orthodox priest explain icons last year: worshipping in the presence of these images reminds us that we are literally in communion with all of the saints who have come before us. As we pray, we pray with them. As we fellowship, we fellowship with them.
In a similar way, British author and Inkling Charles Williams used the term coinherence to describe a number of spiritual phenomena, including ways in which human beings are connected spiritually, across geographic distances, and time (including beyond the boundaries of death).
As we participate in various advent liturgies (from attending services at our churches, to opening the Starbucks Advent Calendar) I suggest we explore ways of spiritually connecting with the saints who have come before us, with St. Mary, Mother of God, with St. Anthony, St. John Chrysostom, St. Theresa Avila and countless others… then let us look forward, praying for (and with) all of the saints yet to be born.
Don’t let my use of the word “saint” limit you to an exclusively Christian endeavor. May we share communion with all of humanity, where God is at work everywhere – among us and in us – through all of time.
Don’t miss the other participants in this month’s Synchroblog!
John C. O’Keefe – The Season of Adventure
George at The Love Revolution – The Weak Ghosts of Advent
Peter at Emerging Christian – Expanding Our Experience of the Advent Journey
Beth at Beth Stedman.com – Experiencing Advent With A Toddler
Alan at The Assembling Of The Church – Walking Through Advent Today
Steve at Emergent Kiwi – Am I Traveling Well?
Wendy at View From The Bridge – Yearning For a Lived Theology
Annie at Marginal Theology – Limping Along
Christen at Greener Grass – Advent – Expecting and Un-Expecting
Jeff at My Adventures – Journeys and Destinations
kathy at carnival in my head – making room for the unexpected
Sonja at Calacirian – Road To Nowhere
Steve at Khanya – Advent Synchroblog
Beth at The Virtual Teahouse – Clear-Eyed Gaze of a Stranger
Phil at Square No More – O Antiphon #1 – This is the first of nine antiphones.
Peggy at Abisomeone – Wandering With The Waiting Abbess
Cathryn at Love Fiercely – An Advent Prayer
HeySonnie at A Piece of My Mind – Christmas WILL Happen
Liz at Grace Rules – Advent – A Journey of Awakening
Posted: December 3rd, 2010 | Author: Peter | Filed under: Jesus, culture, fear, future, light, make the world better, oppression, weakness | No Comments »
It’s a hard reality to face. It’s one that runs in stark contradiction to the ethos of the present day. We assess cost, risk, profit and loss of every endeavor. And I feel uncomfortable and (sometimes) embarrassed to talk about fighting battles, because I’d like to be a peacemaker. In some areas of my life, I am a peacemaker. Elsewhere, I stir things up unnecessarily, and polarize people who could probably find common ground. I’m still learning…
Today I’m thinking about battles that are worth the fight, even when it’s a losing battle. MLK Jr. and Gandhi didn’t live to see the fruits of their labor. Neither has the work Martin Luther King Jr. did come to full fruition.
If you could go back and tell them their efforts would end in death, do you think they would have changed their minds? Probably not. And that’s not so radical. Terrorits are that committed, too. But here’s the bigger idea: if their efforts had failed completely, and you could warn them, would it have changed anything?
Some battles are worth fighting, even when we lose. Maybe it’s okay to realize it’s a losing battle, and maybe it’s not insane to keep fighting.
I hadn’t originally thought of this, but the House just voted to extend middle class tax cuts and let tax cuts for the wealthy expire. They’ve been accused of posturing, performing, and playing politics, because there’s no way it’ll clear the Senate. But sometimes it’s worth making the statement that you believe in something, and to demonstrate that there are people willing to take a stand – even when it’s a losing stand. Okay, it’s dangerous to go too far with that analogy, because I might be tempted to complain if the roles were reversed (it’s just that reversed roles wouldn’t be about advocacy for the poor and middle class).
What’s really on my heart is all the social issues that still have so achingly far to go. There are strongholds of misogyny, racism, homophobia and classism in our society, still powerful, defiant, and – in the foreseeable future – impermeable. Some of those strongholds are wolves in sheeps clothing, wearing progressive accoutrements, talking the talk, while maintaining the status quo. These are corporations, governments, churches, schools, clubs and anything in-between.
Individuals who stand against them – especially individuals who are themselves from a marginalized group – are going to get crushed. It’s reality. Institutions self-protect. But it doesn’t mean the battle wasn’t worth the effort.
But can you handle the cost? Can I? Fighting losing battles takes immense and devastating sacrifice. Jesus lost his battle. But the truth has an upside-down sort of logic: losing is a different kind of victory, with a different kind of result…
Posted: November 14th, 2010 | Author: Peter | Filed under: Emergent, George Fox, God, choice, emergence, emerging, evangelical, fellowship, fundamentalism, future, heresy, holy spirit, light, prayer, truth | 3 Comments »
Making sure I don’t renege on my commitment to more positivity:
There’s a blog that has (sadly) not been active since 2009 called The Quaker Buddhist. It’s a fascinating exploration of the parallels and convergences of Quaker and Buddhist spirituality. I highly recommend it, although it can be somehow depressing or maybe empty-feeling to read a blog that’s no longer “in service.”
If the idea of convergence between Christian and eastern spiritualities is attractive to you, I’d recommend checking out the Quaker Universalist Fellowship. Their website reads:
The Quaker Universalist Fellowship is a gathering of Friends who work to foster understanding among people from the diverse spiritual cultures which flourish in our globalized human community. The Fellowship draws inspiration for its work from such traditional and respected statements of Quaker faith as are represented by the following:
|“Walk cheerfully over the earth answering to that of God in everyone.” – George Fox
|“There is a principle which is pure, placed in the human mind, which in different places and ages hath different names: it is, however, pure and proceeds from God. It is deep and inward, confined to no form of religion nor excluded from any, where the heart stands in perfect sincerity.” – John Woolman
|“The humble, meek, merciful, just, pious, and devout souls are everywhere of one religion, and when death takes off the mask, they will know one another though the diverse liveries they wear here make them strangers.” – William Penn
The work of the Quaker Universalist Fellowship expresses Friends’ belief that there is a spirit of universal love in every person, and that a compassion-centered life is therefore available to people of all faiths and backgrounds.
It’s amazing how progressive, and in many delightful ways, heretical, the founders of Quakerism were. They actually believed God was accessible outside of religious structures! They actually believed there was an inherently good spirit, accessible to all people.
I wrote this brief post on Buddhist Quakers back in 2008.
Recently, I’ve become online friends with Michael Hawkins, a jhana yogi, practicing Buddhist, spiritual ecstatic, and former Protestant and Pentecostal. He’s a gracious, energetic, captivating guy to dialogue and I think you’ll love his blog! Like so many of us, Michael is both cynical of and wounded by the Christian church, but simultaneously compassionate, gracious and compelled to interact with it on some level.
I like exploration!
I like blurred boundaries!
I like openness and grace and fearless spiritual desire!
I like rejecting fear of hell and condemnation, and living as if I was actually, truly, literally, unconditionally loved, known and accepted.
You might like these things too…
Posted: January 17th, 2009 | Author: Peter | Filed under: future, light, postmodern | No Comments »
A concise article at Wikipedia on “Post-Postmodernism” reads:
Since the late 1990s there has been a widespread feeling both in popular culture and in academia that postmodernism “has gone out of fashion.” However, there have been few formal attempts to define and name the epoch succeeding postmodernism, and none of the proposed designations has yet become part of mainstream usage.
Funny how predictably we in Christianity follow the trend of being “late to the party.” For the last 5-10 years hipster Christians (ahem, like me I guess) have been popping the pomo-pill like nobody had heard of it before.
I’m reminded of McLaren’s Church on the Other Side instructing: “Looking ahead – further ahead!” We so rarely really look further ahead. We look ahead to what the world was looking “ahead” at yesterday. And we call that the “future.”
Light travels around 186 thousand miles each second, and our sight is merely interpretation of that visible light bouncing off the world around us. Fast as it may be, light doesn’t reach us instantaneously.
However subtly, everything we see has already happened. We live our lives viewing the past. In the same way, we hear the past too. And the farther we look toward the horizon and beyond into space, the further back in time we’re perceiving.
Only by touching, feeling and tasting do we experience immediacy of the present. We touch Now, even if we see Then. Proximity matters – it’s a first step.
Only the Light of Christ shows us the future. And that light manifests by touching the world. Being in the world. We don’t see the future from inside our cloistered communities; we see the past.
As Christians we are taught to be in the light (“as he is in the light”) and we automatically visualize luminosity. Children of Constantine, we worship light imagery: suns, stars, glowing halos, bright white flowing robes, pale white saints visibly gleaming in the dark.
By giving ourselves over to light of the past, rather than Light of the World, we’ve sold out to the Has Been.