Sunday, January 17, 2010


This poem was posted as a comment on the blog "Pretty Good Lutherans" today by someone named Timothy. It was too cool not to share (and I wish I had it for worship today!). It's related to the Gospel lesson for Epiphany 2c: John 2:1-11 about Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana.

Yes, God’s grace is enough!
It looks weak
Dangling by a thread
Held up by rusty nails of a cross

This morning we heard what happened on the Third Day
In an impoverished hick town called
Cana in Galilee

All the residents beaten down
Party over way too soon
Ran out of wine
Joy down the drain
When one momma told her Boy
You gotta do somethin’

And what the Cana of Galilee-ites saw
Revealed the mind and heart of God
Grace, grace, and more grace
180 gallons of swiftly, flowing, moving grace
This was the first clue
Evidence of the identity of Jesus

The ultimate clue was still to come
Third Day resurrection
Following messy, nasty, earthquake death
Yes, grace is enough
And grace will win!

And the ELCA
She is at her best
When the grace she has received overwhelms her
And spills over and drenches others regardless of who they are

Graced people, grace people
And it must be believed in order to be seen

Friday, January 1, 2010

The demise of the Emergent Church?

I posted this as a comment on Tony Jones' blog, but realized it was long enough to be its own blog post, so I'm reposting it here. Tony Jones and Andrew Jones (aka Tall Skinny Kiwi or TSK--also no relation) were having a blog conversation about the "demise of the Emergent Church" that started with TSK's post to which Tony responded.

When I read TSK’s post the other day, my sense was that he wasn’t talking about something “dying” but more like a major shift–and it seems like that is something that you (Tony) seem to be recognizing as well. The question seems to be “How will whatever this new thing that has emerged emerge in another generation of leaders/communities?” I think this is a key one if the Emergent/Emerging Church is to be more than many critics claim it to be: a “style” based moment that appeals to hipster 20 somethings. And to be fair, many churches have (as Joshua Price so aptly commented above) have taken the style and pasted it on top of the same old substance–hardly an example of “emergence”. But other’s have taken the substance and incarnated that in ways that seem a far cry from the hipster model–and yet share so much in common.

I wonder of the “death of the emergent church” and its so-called coopting (where that means something other than a style cut-and-paste) has more to do with the big shift Phyliss Tickle talks about in “The Great Emergence”. The reason the frontliners are seeing the movement as “dead” is because in many ways it has actually worked. The Great Emergence has begun, and those who have blazed the trail have opened up the whole wilderness for the rest of us to follow. But the trouble is, we’re not going to do it the same way as the originators–the radical badasses who confronted opposition at every turn. Perhaps someone more versed in feminist theory than I am could draw comparisons between the generational “waves” of the feminist movement as it shifted from the suffragettes to the bra-burners to the power-suits to the choosing-to-be-stay-at-home-moms. Movements evolve (emerge?) and to have deep societal impact by nature have to morph over time. Even when they go in directions the trailblazers never intended. But, we must remember, the Church (emergent or otherwise) is not ours, but God’s–and we are only players in God’s great drama. Who knows what it is that God intends this whole experiment to turn into? (and, really, only God gets to say “its over”)

This is why I’ve come to like the term Alan Hirsch uses in The Forgotten Ways: “Emerging Missional”. I’m seeing in both the mainline and evangelical circles I’m in, a refocus on mission that I believe has been sparked in a huge way by the Emerging/Emergent movement, much in the same way that the charismatic/holiness movement of the early 20th Century brought the Holy Spirit back into the forefront of American Christianity across denominations or how Vatican II opened up liturgical renewal way beyond the Roman Catholic Church. But in all of these examples what this looks like in actual incarnated forms in communities is so amazingly different its hard to see how they are all connected–but I believe they are.