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Monday, January 07, 2008
Rising From the Ashes: Rethinking Church, week 2
By (our very own) Becky Garrison

Rising From the Ashes is an easy book to pick up, read a few snippets between activities or in the bathroom. Each interview question and response is pretty brief, so you can take a substantive quick bite and have something to chew on for a while. If you haven't already, go ahead and pick up a copy. Alot of emphasis is on sacred space, ritual, the creative process and the trend toward a more collaborative, bottom-up approach to worship. This book especially emphasizes engagement with emerging ideas and Anglican/Episcopal tradition.

As an explanation for bringing symbols and materials from the real world/everyday life into worship, Johnny Baker explains:

So living in London I am interested in how everyday life can be re-infused with God's presence. This is part of the journey of alternative worship -- use the stuff of everyday life and culture in church and God's presence will be noticed when those everyday things are encountered in the real world. (p 114)

1. What aspect of life is hardest for you to include in your awareness of God's presence?

2. What symbolizes this aspect of life for you?

3. What ways can you imagine incorporating this symbol into worship in order to sanctify that area of life for you?

Brian McLaren offers this cautionary note about technology in worship, based on the scholarship of Marshall McLuhan:

...when you invent the wheel, your legs become weaker. When you invent the television, your ability to become present becomes ewaker. When you invent the amplifier, your voice becomes weaker. We need to reflect on this powerful insight and ask, In what ways is technology subtracting or amputating just at the moment we think it's adding and empowering? We should always remember that Jesus modeled personal incarnation, not projection and amplification. (p157)

Nadia Bolz-Weber (Yeah, Nadia!) does her Sarcastic Lutheran thing describing her opinion:

"A room full fo worshipers who stare for an hour at a huge video screen (not unlike the rest of their lives) with Tom Cruise film clips and vapid "Jesus is my Boyfriend lyrics: evil."

Yet, Nadia also talks about how her blog and internet community has opened the way for prayer and friendship on a profound level. ..."the prayer part is just as central as the checking their blogs part." (156)

This was a good reminder for me. I can easily get sucked into viewing and writing blogs and find myself disaffected from my actual life.

Here's a quote from an interview with Patricia Hendricks that spoke to me. Patricia is writing about the experience of young people but I think it applies to older adults as well:

Most busy themselves with school, work, extra-curricular activities and a social life. They are tempted by the trappings of a popular culture. They are in constant communication via today's technology, and rarely do they experience quiet...Ritual invites a person to slow down, to be quiet, to look to the mystery. (p 119)

4. What is the most significant ritual in which you participate or would like to participate?


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posted by Jemila Kwon at 11:34 AM ¤ Permalink ¤


6 Comments:


  • At 1/08/2008 12:43:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Kwon

    For me, prob the hardest part of life to include in my awareness of God is when multiple people are making demands of me, someone is crying, someone is whining and someone is trying to shout above all that...while I am trying to change a diaper or put on jackets. So perhaps I need to incorporate some of Lamentations, overlayed with little kid noises and Taise rhythms into my liturgy :)

    I like communion alot, if it is done well.

    As a family we've started an advent ritual that's meaningful to us. We light a candle, read a thematic story, express a gratitude and sometimes a challenge, say a blessing for ourselves, our family and the world, blow out the candle and open our advent calendar, followed by a piece of chocolate or some eggnog. It is simple and wondrous. I believe most during such times.

     
  • At 1/10/2008 09:25:00 AM, Anonymous Becky

    Two interesting revies with ample food for thought:

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/januaryweb-only/102-32.0.html and http://tallskinnykiwi.typepad.com/tallskinnykiwi/2008/01/becky-garrison.html

     
  • At 1/10/2008 01:51:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    Jemila, you stole my thoughts! Not surprising as we both have three young children.

    The most difficult area for me to consider sacred in my life is balance, or lack thereof, of children, husband and myself. Multiple voices, various demands and the inability to think in the midst of it all. My teapot would actually be the best representation of this for me...specifically, the point at which it boils and begins screaming in such a way that I cannot ignore it!

    I take a cup of tea most afternoons, especially in winter. The time after school and before dinner tends to be the craziest time of the day, so maybe I'll have to make myself a cup of tea and allow myself to realize God's presence in the midst of the chaos as I sip my tea.

     
  • At 1/11/2008 12:28:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Kwon

    Amy -- I like your tradition. I'm gonna go pour myself a cup of tea :)

    Becky, thanks for the links. What would you say was the most surprising theme you discovered in your interviews?

     
  • At 1/12/2008 06:39:00 PM, Anonymous Becky Garrison

    A few surprises:

    1) Many of the people in the book (especially the women) do not self-identify with "emergent church."
    But their ministries reflect a global spirit that I have experienced in my travels over the past few years most notably when I spoke at Greenbelt and Soularize in 2007. I did an Ooze posting (out January 27th) that touches on this topic.

    2) It was pretty easy to compile a book that was about 1/2 female voices, with three of these voices being women of color. So perhaps in planning conferences, gatherings and the like that organizers can use this book to start thinking more outside the box.

    3) The interview format seems to be an ideal way to tell this communal story of what s happening in the trenches. In this capacity I'm the hostess instead of some emergent church expert. This follows the model similar to how Jonny Baker and Jon Birch developed Proost UK -- this is an artists collective that has a communal vibe sans the slick star power that turns me off from most of Christian music.

    4) The death of the mainline churches has been greatly exaggerated.

    My New Year's Resolution is to focus on "what works" and this book seemed to be a good way to get me focused in a positive direction (though expect the occasional emergent church satirical aside from me in the Wittenburg Door and in the New Atheist book).

     
  • At 1/12/2008 07:05:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Kwon

    Thank you Becky!

    You make an excellent point about the ease with which you found women leaders doing incredible things,with the implication that going forward it cannot be a dearth of possibilities that would preclude a robust representation of female voices at emerging/alt worship/theology conferences.

     

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