From June 27-30 I was away in Parksville at a Diocesan Clergy Conference. Our sessions were led by Alan and Eleanor Kreider.
As is often my habit, I took extensive notes on my handydandy Asus Notebook. I posted my notes each day from the conference and, have now gathered them all below in reverse order, starting with the last day and concluding with day one.
THURSDAY MORNING. Notes from Alan and Eleanor Kreider FINAL SESSION #6:
Going to be dealing with some retrospections. But first we are going to deal with hospitality. Then we are going to go into small groups and ask what you have received. What do you say yes to? What do you have on-going questions about?
in Wolverhapmton is a big house every other Sunday evening there is a gathering for worship. Church at table, church in the house. This was supplemental to regular parish worship.
Baptist Bill Phelpps who lives in Chapeltown. He is an eco-freak. He is the only one to have a solar panel in his village. Their kitchen is a holy place.
Prayer Street Mennonite Church in Elkhart, inner city area owns a house next to church. They are growing vegetables all around the house. They have a meal Wednesday evenings and invite all the neighbourhood. This house is the porch of the church.
Our neighbourhood was comfortably middle-class but is now on the edge of lower class. It is now extremely interesting. We are on a cookie journey with the children of our neighbourhood.
By the front door of our house is a sign that says “The Eighth Day,” which is the name we had for our house before we had our house. It gives us a reason to talk with people who ask what does that mean? It is the day of new creation, the day of the kingdom, of baptism, of resurrection. It is a beautiful puzzle that poses questions for people and lead to good conversation.
When we have guests at our table, we always begin with, “Happy are those who share in the kingdom of God; you are welcome at this table.”
Hospitality is incredibly important in the New Testament, in the life of Jesus and in the early church. The role of being a guest. Jesus is perpetually someone’s guest, in situations he doesn’t control. Living with Luke 10.
It is really important to eat other peoples’ food.
Jesus got in trouble for eating with the wrong kind of people. He models being both host and guest. Christine Pohl – “Christians who have not nurtured a common life among members will find hospitality for strangers difficult.”
There are potential conflicts. If we want to develop a living common life we must learn to share with each other. The tendency when people do this is to become self-enclosed and not be welcoming to others.
The development of the church as a culture of friendship and hospitality in which we welcome one another but then are open to new people, listen to the new person, to incorporate them into the circle and discern the degree to which they want to be incorporated. There are some people who have special sensitivities to hospitality. This should be recognized and acknowledged.
We like to think of churches as cultures of hospitality. Matthew 25 – Christ is present when we offer hospitality.
What have you encountered this week you would say “yes” to, and what do you still have questions about?
- mission is not so much about bringing people into the church but finding where God is at work out there and being alert to that and participating
- reaffirmation that worship is more about God than about us
- still captivated about question of what success looks like, how do we define ourselves beyond Christendom?
Christendom had its models of success.
- for me the very word “success’ is problematic, asking the question what is success doesn’t work for me right now
- why doesn’t it work for you
- “success” is not a concept that works in post-Christendom. It has a business orientation.
- but that’s why we’re asking the question. What should the church be trying to do?
- would you be more comfortable with a word that is process than a word that is goal.
- what does the living church look like?
This is something we are going to have to spend a bit of time with.
- the church grew most quickly when only full members could get inside the building. How do we engage that and bring people to know God and commit to God before they come into the building? I tend to think in terms of service which is fine but narrow. How do we engage people in such a way that makes people want to seek God?
That is an early Christian model.
- maybe its impossible to engage the wealthy when we ourselves are wealthy. Maybe some of us have to seek out a poorer area which involves kenosis and outpouring
What forms of ministry are genuine and authentic on Vancouver Island?
- the Yes is about hospitality which I think is very important, but I still think it is a further thought for us when we talk about going to another area but often we forget to look around the corner. There’s lots of hospitality we could do in our own neighbourhoods
- this is a very a-type personality list, or J’s in Myers Briggs. Where’s the church for introverts and mystics?
- you say the worship in which we engage reflects the nature of the God we worship and the stories we tell shape who we are. If we look at ourselves as to where we are as a life in community, what does that say abut the nature of the God we worship and the stories we tell? How do we need to look at and understand God who is active every day in the world? Very often we lose our religious certainty and develop the language of “cause.”
What are the authentic stories that animate us and how do they relate to the biblical metanarrative which causes us to ask questions about the stories we tell and put us in situations where our stories are redefined? Whatever our deep stories those are the stories that will dominate our worship.
- what troubles me is that we are the story and the kind of people that we are becomes the story that others read and hear. That’s where I see the real challenge, for us to be transformed and become a different story.
I view this as a process of sanctification. We are being changed from one degree of glory into another. Older people who have perpetually compromised the call to wildness will have a significantly more difficult time entering into a new story
- there probably is a God so enjoy and stop worrying. Christians are so worried about ASA – I am not so sure in my parish that if you walked in you would get such a sense of joy that you would want to walk in in the first place and come back.
- listening to two people from a denomination which hasn’t been a dominating church and your non-anxious presence has been wonderfully helpful. We are so tied up in what we have lost that we are anxious all the time and feel we are not cutting it and getting back to the way it apparently has been, although that is a myth.
- I find what you have shared about your life personally very hopeful and helpful. I find in you a model for post-Christian community, small intimate communities where risks can be taken and new things can be tried. They are humble, simple. But I can imagine that that is similar to the early church in terms of the personal outreach to people.
- the yes for me has to do with really receiving a sense of confirmation and affirmation about who I am and what my life is about. It is really making me reflect reaching out and going into the community. It makes me wonder what happened to me. In 1980 I was going out into the pubs of Kitsilano and talking with people. I bought into the church and I’m waiting for something to erupt that I can join.
- in the visions of post-Christendom Christianity being practiced what sort of structures are we giving birth to that will support and give future to… I have a love hate relationship with the structures. We have to have some kind of structure to make these things happen.
- when I was young I loved the church the way it was. But I found I was changed by the church. The whole point of worship and mission being combined is true. We already have success in Jesus. How do we proclaim that? We are never going to build the New Jerusalem. We are always going to be hopelessly compromised. Bill Easson Dancing With Dinosaurs. I am one of the dinosaurs. I hear a lot of anxiety. Take a deep breath. This is the church which created us. There is a lot of good about us. God’s in charge and there’s a mission.
- it is very hard for me to be the Benedictine listening ear. I am always in contact with people in the community. When I explain I am a priest I get three responses: 1. some memory of the church that is really negative 2. I am spiritual but not religious 3. nostalgia. What a wonderful privilege to get those stories.
Where are the introverts in all of this. I’m an introvert and have to steal myself for an event like this. I have discovered what is really important is the daily office in which we can allow for flexibility and others in the world we really live in. The importance of retreat for us all. To somehow in the retreat ponder what we have experienced in life and what God’s call is in light of all this. Praying believingly for our situations, for our culture, for our communities is the place where we are going to open ourselves to the Spirit of Christ. It’s happening. He is there.
I think there’s a future for the Anglican tradition. But you can’t rule the world from Canterbury.
I long for mixed economy among you, ragged edgers.
When meal and Spirit are reunited, worship will be renewed.
Diagram of what we care about. God’s mission in the centre. God’s big vision and love, the dynamic movement spiraling out through the diagram and beyond it. The picture is in two parts: 1. assembly where God and we are active; 2. the world and mission in which God and we are active. A dynamic cycle through assembly in worship and out into the world and back into the assembly.
In 1955 Igor Stravinsky was taken to Vatican Library shown manuscripts of Mantuan composer Jesualdo Renaissance composer. Shown responsory for Pentecost which praised God for pouring out seven fold gifts of Spirit. Each voice was printed on separate sheet but the seventh sheet was missing, so couldn’t be performed. So Stravinsky wrote the seventh sheet as the first part.
The interweaving of necessary voices, none more important than the other, but all vital. What might be the excluded voices? What is necessary to sing God’s song. We do need each other. When we sing together we must be confident in our own voice but listen carefully to the other voices. All of it together is the complete song.
Confidence and sensitivity are essential. As people who are gifted in worship and in witness, trust that and receive from others. In some providential way we need each other.
Bishop: I am delighted that I took the step to call you and bring you here. What you have been able to say to us in a way that because you are outside our context is to take three deep breaths; see what you have; rejoice in God in what you have; chuck some of it look; at some of it and use it and be what God creates, redeems, and calls you to be.
July 2, 2011 at 12:22 am
Thank you very much for a wonderful set of notes. That the Bishop was able to take away from this that what we need to do now is “take three deep breaths; see what you have; rejoice in God in what you have; chuck some of it look at some of it and use it and be what God creates, redeems, and calls you to be” is very encouraging.
It suggests a move away from dogmatic central control and an insistence on trying to measure everything. Instead we seem to be moving to a new dawn where we are called on to have the courage to experiment and explore what God calls us to be. I hope I am right in this for the Diocese as a whole. I have always felt that was the case in our parish – it has been one of things that has kept me joyful and in this church.
WEDNESDAY EVENING. Notes from Alan and Eleanor Kreider SESSION #5:
This evening we are going to be bringing the outsiders into church. But we are going to be reminding them about enculturation.
The Gospel is always inserted into culture with two dimensions:
1. native – indigenizing. It is contextual and graced.
2. stranger – the gospel will encounter friction, tension, opposition. From the vantage point of God and God’s kingdom the Gospel will be pilgrim. There will be a dimension of critique from the vantage point of the long strain that enters culture across centuries. It is trans-cultural. It is also cross-cultural – it brings elements from many cultures. It is also counter-cultural.
It is not enough just to ask if people feel comfortable when they come to worship. There must be unconditional welcome but there will always be challenge.
This evening we want to look at the way the early church handled issues of culture. Seeing how it drew upon and challenged elements from Greco-Roman culture.
Christians pray in ways that reflect local surroundings. Christianity has always expressed itself in terms of the surrounding culture but has also critiqued that culture.
Why might an outsider want to come to worship?
They might be curious. Rumour goes out something interesting or attractive is going on.
Someone invites someone. In England survey asked why did you come to church, overwhelmingly the answer was friendship. Someone said, “I’m going to church and it is so important in my life.” It is not pressure but embodied gratitude.
Inchoate longing. People don’t quite know what they are looking for. Church is another thing on the list to check out.
There are people who really want to check out God. There is a hunger for God’s reality that draws people. The rumour gets out that “God is there.”
There is a desire some people have to be prayed for. They will be drawn towards a church in which prayer is offered for people.
Surfing the web.
I Corinthians 14 – Paul had concerns for outsiders
1. comprehensibility – outsiders need to comprehend what is happening
2. can’t participate
3. may confuse what you are doing with non-Christian worship of Cybel instead of Christ
4. character of God must be exegeted correctly – God’s character must be clear by what the church does when it gathers
5. the worship must speak to the people who come so that their deepest concerns are addressed
How will the people be addressed and where will we be in a position to invite them?
Liminal space – it is frequent in post-Christendom that people have a deep antipathy to Christianity. How are people who have real problems with Christianity going to be able to make the journey to a churchy place. Christians need to enter liminal spaces, threshold places that are not in our control, places that we are not in charge of – peace demos, working on a Habitat for Humanity building project. It is out of relationship that people are able to move into a church about which they are suspicious. We need to spend time in their territory.
In these liminal contexts we need to know what we desire, what we want to reveal in our lives, the hope within us, the sense of the presence of God within us, the vision of that shalom arc. We would like to be people who communicate hope because it animates our lives by God’s gift. We would like to be asked why we are hopeful.
To many people church will seem a strange world. If I were to go into a casino, I wouldn’t know what to do.
We need to recognize the challenge of bringing the outsider into our space.
We don’t stop doing what we normally do when outsiders come. We want to worship in such a way that our worship glorifies God and edifies us, but we do it in such a way that we are aware of the need for hospitality towards the outsider. We want to receive guests in such a way that they will become friends.
- I had a lady die a few weeks ago. After she died, the family decided they didn’t want a funeral for her. They had just celebrated her 100th birthday but they recognized the church need some kind of opportunity to grieve. So on Sunday we decided to hold a requiem for her. But a lot of the community has been asking why there is no funeral for this woman. But the family is disactive in church. My sense has been you kind of have to wait. They may be getting it wrong, but you can’t force them into something they don’t want. I was taking a lot of flak from the community for why we aren’t having a funeral for this faithful Christian woman. So when you talk about bringing outsiders in, I wonder what to do.
- we had a nice story. Around Christmas there was a request for a kid-friendly service in the afternoon. So we did and all kinds of people came. The next year there were even more. This time, I spotted a First Nations family. I took a native drum and drummed and sang a welcome to the congregation. The response was amazing and the mother and son who were brought there by their father and they have now been baptized. It seemed to work.
Welcome is absolutely essential. How can we make people feel we want them there? We want them there very much. We must communicate that in such a way that does not offend them. We must not fall all over them. We need to intuit what kind of welcome is right for people.
Some people don’t read very well. If reading is essential, what are we saying about the class configuration of our church?
We are sending messages to people.
Go through everything you do with the imagined understandings of the outsider. What comes through about the God who is being worshiped here?
What do people intuit when the come into church? Are they feeling at home? Will the outsider intuit that we feel at home in our church? Are the people relaxed and comfortable in the church? Is there a sense of humility and acceptance? Is there room for questions? Are answers dispensed? Or is there room for reflection?
Is there flexibility, listening, possibility of people being on a journey? Is there emotion? Or is the emotion held strictly under control? Is the upper lip able to quiver? Is it ok to laugh or to cry?
Is there a sense of beauty and delight in colour and light?
Is there any evidence that the people eat together? Is sharing food important? Is the eucharist expectant and joyful?
Who holds the power in the church? Does one voice dominate?
The outsider is asking, could I be at home in this place and do I trust these people?
What happens when people come to worship?
- music is like language and I tend to go where I hear my language that I speak and understand. How does that fit in with what you see in your experience?
The question “Why?” has to be asked of every piece of music. It has to have a liturgical reason. You have a lot of people with different heart music.
We are parents and our son is very musical whose musical tastes are different from ours. We must acknowledge the development of a tradition over time. We must make sure there is an appropriateness but also that there is attentiveness to the heart music of various people.
Do a variety of things. Develop my taste so I can like a broader perspective.
- using the metaphor of language – people always say, “Can we sing this or can we sing that?” But it comes from a language that we don’t want to sing in the service. Hymns with militaristic language. It is not the image of God we want to perpetuate. That’s where people learn their theology. They learn their theology from the hymns that they sing.
- people don’t pay any attention to the words in hymns. It is just a matte of whether or not they like the tune.
- one of the things common particularly to Anglican clergy is that they have attended some liturgy in which the music just dragged them right in and made us what we are today.
- music is a minefield. I am thankful I have broad taste. My disappointment is that in my musical colleagues I have rarely found people with my breadth of interest. In western Canada most peoples’ experience of music is passive. Live performance opportunities for musicians are diminishing. We have some anachronistic practices. On Sunday morning most people can’t read music. We are dealing with a passive musical culture.
- we are also dealing with the most fragmented passive people ever. You have classic rock, light rock
What we are saying is that the outsider will come in and experience the music that we have but will be more alert to the relationship that brought the person there in the first place. They might be able to put up with some Anglican chant.
- when an outsider comes in you don’t want to stand there singing “I’ve been redeemed by the blood of the lamb” which sounds bloody gruesome to them, that’s not a winner either.
- the question about eucharist is the high point of the service and you’ve talked about in your book and it would be interesting to have a conversation about Open Table in light of your comments about welcome. This conversation for us leads for us into this issue. What are we saying about God in that instance?
Someone told us about using the Iona invitation before communion.
- in the discussion you need to distinguish between open table and the communion of the unbaptized. Some traditions close the table and you need to be visited by an elder before you can come, as opposed to open table which means everyone is welcome. Is it an open invitation that everyone comes. In the invitation we give in our church it is for everyone who is attracted to Christ. The invitation is for those who love him, those who want to love him, and those who want to love him more. When you talk about open table it is for those who want to experience the love of God.
This is a big subject. It is worth discussing seriously. There are layers of hospitality. It is a tremendously important decision. The boundaries are going down. Inclusion is becoming our society’s highest value. If we are turned away from anything, we feel offended.
Boundaries are to be respected as well as challenged.
WEDNESDAY MID-DAY EUCHARIST HOMILY:
The Apostle Paul has recently been re-discovered by agnostic atheist continental European philosophers as the ground for a-theology. They are focusing on how dramatically Paul challenged the religion of the Greeks and Jewish thought.
The striking thing about Peter and Paul is how human they were and how they did not get along. Jesus said to Peter – “you’re rocky and on you I will build my church.” But the New Testament has great ambivalence about Peter.
There is the story about Peter denying Jesus. In the end Peter ran away. He really was wishy washy. It was almost as if he saw himself as a natural born leader.
James the brother of the Lord who took over the leadership in the church in Jerusalem, was a conservative.
Paul was on the far left. He had persecuted the church but then proclaimed the Gospel to the Gentiles. Paul was roundly criticized for his stance by the earliest church.
In the early church the Eucharist was a full-blown meal.
Peter was happy to take the Gospel to the Gentiles. But then he pulled back.
It is so easy to separate, to break up because of principles. The real good news is about healing and reconciliation. We share the body and blood of Christ and we become what we share.
There is a strong connection between Eucharist and food.
So, whatever a-theology philosophy says, Peter and Paul still have relevance for us today. They were united in death, in the ultimate identification with Jesus.
May the same Spirit inspire us to die to the things that hold us in this world and don’t allow us to realize resurrection in our lives and in our communities.
June 29, 2011 at 9:43 pm
Brilliant stuff, eh?
What I think I may have said was, “There is a strong connection between justice, Eucharist and food.” The breaking down of communion weakens our ability to do justice.
The continental philosophers I referenced are Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek.
June 29, 2011 at 11:58 pm
Okay people help me out here [or has everyone seen this post for the obvious bait that it is?], there is the makings for a great pun no?
I just don’t have the mind required to put the ingredients, Peter, Paul, [add just a dash of Mary] together and somehow come up with Michael row your boat ashore.
I suspect Christopher would have done so but it is possible his email is being monitored and was too risky.
All kidding aside [for now], thanks for these great notes Christopher.
June 30, 2011 at 9:45 am
Reading through the New Testament without Calvinists breathing down my neck has made me read Paul differently, He is great. I am glad he is being rediscovered.
WEDNESDAY MORNING. Notes from Alan and Eleanor Kreider SESSION #4:
Orthodoxy Orthopraxy Orthopathy
Two dimensions of involvement in God’s mission:
1. our affections
2. our actions
What has happened to us that effects the way we go into the world.
Isaiah 11:1-9 – The Peaceable Kingdom; Colossians 1
God’s mission is to make a world in which there is reconciliation between predator and prey.
God has done wonderful things in our time: The fall of the Berlin Wall, reconciliation in Ireland, the end of apartheid in South Africa, a father forgives the driver of a car that kills his five children, kidney donor, church reaches out for renewal of local school, Bernard Misrahi – Jewish atheist socialist who saw Christian peace marchers and started attending their church, baptized just before he died.
God has worked in the past in such a way as to give us encouragement today.
We must pray and work for God’s healing and reconciliation.
When Christians do odd things occasionally people notice and ask why.
- Something in me goes wow, something in me says none of that is happening locally, some of me says I need to do a reality check and see what is happening in our communities. We need to create space in our worship where things can emerge.
- I think we have to open our eyes relinquishing a sense of monopoly on God’s working. We’ve tended to miss places where God is at work because it does not have our stamp of approval. We have believed God is only present in churches.
- in South Africa during apartheid the only way to cross racial barriers and lines was through worship where the authorities wouldn’t dare to intervene.
- there was movement in a lot of churches in this part of the world to boycott South African products. There was lots of backlash against that until we knew that ordinary South Africans were willing to bear the hardship of the boycotts.
- in our own context the challenge is to discern what is the risky or odd thing that would stand out here as a witness to the community. What would be a dramatic representation of restitution?
We face as Christians the challenge to respond with incarnation, action, witness, and being – bearing testimony to what we have seen and touched, what is part of our experience.
The response will be how we live as walking sacraments in the way we behave, the way we are in the world.
We talk about the missional God reconciling all things and this seems unreal. When we talk about witness, a lot of us feel we don’t have much to bear witness to. We read the newspaper we don’t make connections with our faith and if we do it so sounds spiritual. We seem to live pretty much like everyone else.
How do we witness?
There are three stories in any church community – the story of:
the insiders/the adults
Problem with the adults is that our lives are not believeful – they are regulars at church, faithful attenders, insiders to the faith. But inside they are struggling with doubts. They want to respond with authenticity and integrity.
Some have completely lost a believable faith. They have inwardly accommodated to a dominant culture but are still attending worship. But inwardly they have become outsiders. They are functional agnostics. They can put a damper on things at times.
Insiders come in two forms
1. Stoic Christians and 2. ahistorical Christians.
1. Insiders are stoics – sensible, moral good, they have a spirituality of endurance, stiff upper lip, you just hang on. In face of death or difficulty you just endure but you do so at the expense of joy. It is the ethical core that is left after a living faith is gone.There is order and decency with no overflow. There’s realism but no room for the cross or resurrection. Blessing, laughter and praise are missing. They have morality without doxology.
2. The ahistorical Christians in our midst have doxology without reason. They have no vision of cosmic reconciliation. There’s no room for shalom arc. For them its just “Let’s just praise the Lord.”
These two strands do not meet each other too well. Both need to be complemented by something else.
Ahistoricals cannot see that God is working for a moral purpose.
These both can make it difficult for Christians to respond creatively particularly, in a culture of fear.
God is at work in small things and big in a way that calls forth praise. And God is working for a moral purpose.
Worship is the place where affections and actions embrace. In worship there can be a synergy and something better will come out of it. Worship shapes religious affections, referring to our motivating feelings, the underlying stream of motivation, the deep habits of our hearts out of which our actions flow. Dispositions of the heart. These affections shape our worship and are shaped by our worship.
Pentecostals have helped us understand something of the dispositions that underlie supposedly rational discussions.
Gratitude, Compassion and Courage are shaped in Pentecostal worship. What affections are shaped by worship in our own tradition?
Mennonite worship: Humility, Compassion, Hope
What three affections are characteristic of your worship tradition?
- Compassion, Hope, Joy
- it depends on how we are worshiping. The BCP is: sacrifice and submission
- my adult Christian journey started in a Pentecostal environment. In Anglicanism the eucharist pulled me towards something much more subdued – hope, joy, thanksgiving
- mystery, beauty, community
Be alert to the affections underlying your common life
2. Worship also shapes actions. It is the way God treats us that we are then called to pass on to others.
You treat others as God has treated you. Receiving a gift that is an invitation into the giftedness. God is at work in the world inviting us to join.
Outsiders look at Christians and say “Why are they doing this?”"
The life of work is the primary mission frontier – being involved in the ministry of God bringing reconciliation wherever you are.
Find ways of pointing to Jesus in the midst of the malestrom.
Epistle to Diognetus c. 150
Christians cannot be distinguished from the rest of the human race by country or language or customs. They do not live in cities of their own; they do not use a peculiar form of speech; they do not follow an eccentric manner of life . . . Yet, although they live in Greek and barbarian cities alike, as each one’s lot has been cast, and follow the customs of the country in clothing and food and other matters of daily living, at the same time they give proof of the remarkable and admittedly extraordinary constitution of their own commonwealth. They live in their own countries, but only as resident aliens (paroikoi). They have a share in everything as citizens, and endure every thing as foreigners. Every foreign land is their fatherland, and yet for them every fatherland is a foreign land. They marry, like everyone else, and they beget children, but they do not cast out their offspring. They share their food with each other, but not their marriage bed . . . They love all people, and by all are persecuted. They are unknown, and still they are condemned; they are put to death, and yet they are brought to life. They are poor, and yet they make many rich . . . They are reviled, and yet they bless; when they are affronted, they still pay due respect . . . To put it simply: What the soul is in the body, that Christians are in the world. Epistle to Diognetus, 5-6 (mid 2nd c)
- image of breathing in and breathing out is helpful
- I don’t recognize in my context very many poor Christians. We practice a subtle form of prejudice by vehicle. The parking lot says something about who is welcome and who isn’t
- the highschool parking lot is a real sign
- what is this saying about being in, being present in the world but not of it. We try to be so much part of something so that we are almost unidentifiable. This is saying we are identified by our presence, our being and our doing in the name of the risen Christ and our willingness to be that, do that, and say that makes the difference.
- to what extent are we distinctive and unique? To live authentically we must live off the grid. We keep hearing if we identify with our culture we will get the crowds. We have trouble doing that and it is probably misplaced
- I have been waiting for us to take up Wally’s question – what does success look like. Is Diognetus hoping that the church is going to be built on Sunday? And I’m sensitive to the need to balance a real paradox between the in and the out. The failure of Christendom has been a sort of dualism. Whoever put their finger on the fact we have a pre-Christian culture. Starting with a false dualism for anyone under forty is so transparent. The dualism that Christ is not at work in the world, that Christ is somehow waiting to be born if only the Christians would get it right, or get everyone else’s ducks in a row. That is a seductive and wrong-headed approach to the question of evangelism and Christian presence.
If you look at the implications of these statements they are very radical – no infanticide. A child did not have a life until named by a father. A second daughter would be taken out to the dump. The Christians went out and reclaimed these abandoned children.
Notice they are poor yet they make many rich. They shared with and cared for one another in an unusual way.
- it presents a wonderfully ideal picture to strive towards, but it is not the reality I experience.
- the phrase that has stuck with me is that they are unknown but still they are condemned. I see that in the university where there is a barrier where Christians are viewed as oddballs
- I am still thinking about what Ernest said. We really are living in a post-Christian era. This letter was written in a pre-Christian era. It was a much more brutal life than now. The values we take for granted are generally expected. We have human rights, many of which have been derived from Christendom imposing these ideals. The reason students at UVic would throw this on the ground is that Christians are seen as so arrogant. That’s a real struggle because our faith is being judged by its own values. In some ways our society has bought these values.
- I think what I hear in this is those of us who have had conversation with people visiting diocese from Myanmar, it is variations on this that they talk about evangelism. They go to a village where there is no school and they set up a school. They don’t mention Jesus. But they answer questions that are asked sometimes years after they have arrived. The intent is to grow the church, get bums in pews for a reason.
The church is growing through all this and increasing the sum total of shalom in society. What can Christians do to live in ways that are distinctive?
What would be provocative behaviour?
Early Christians provided burials for everyone, they provided food for everyone, rescued babies off the dump. What would be distinctive behaviour here?
Forgiving enemies, being committed to an area and staying there, carbon consciousness, Christian peacemaker teams, paying off debts for the poor, Christians on the street
- Centre for Studies in Religion at UVic refugee sponsorship
- so many of our congregations don’t have babies and children in them, would it be so hard for churches to adopt children?
Can I do that? Offer our lives and hospitality.
- in our region almost all our churches are washing the feet of the homeless and giving them food.
- recently there was a sad death of an infant in Nanaimo our Premier said that every child deserves to be raised in warmth and love and I felt “Yeah nice warm words,” but what are we doing? We default to the government.
- we often look for dramatic things, what about simple things like providing rides for grads who have been out partying
- in many quarters there is sometimes surprise that faith communities would want to be there and sometimes real suspicion
What is happening can lead to reportage, reports from the front, testimonies within our congregation just before the offertory. Our stories become part of what we are offering
- there are a couple of parishes in the diocese where at the offertory portions of food come forward, new shawls come forward to be placed on the altar
In Corinth they started with the meal and after the meal they had the post-meal entertainment/ the symposium. Sacrament preceded word. When you read Justine (c. 150) their numbers had increased and there was pressure on the Christians in their evening meeting so they started meeting in the morning. So they had to be careful they did not meet too long. So they switched to word first and sacrament second. The word was fewer words uttered by fewer people and the meal was reduced. You moved to a monologue.
Archbishop Rowan talks abut mixed economy churches. How can we have churches that find new flexibility?
TUESDAY EVENING 7:00 p.m. notes from Alan and Eleanor Kreider SESSION #3:
When we worship God we ourselves are formed and changed.
The early church’s worship could not be missional because it was not open to outsiders. People were not drawn to the worship services in the early church. There were deacons at the door who were bouncers. And yet the church was growing like mad.
Why was it growing? The role of the worship was to form the Christians to be people in the world, to be people that people in the world would want to be like.
How did the worship form somebody outsiders would want to associate with? Is it true that worship shapes us as people and as communities?
People are drawn to Christ and the church by Christians they meet, their friends and colleagues they find attractive, intriguing, provocative, and alive.
Things we are doing in our worship and how they shape us.
Role of ritual in shaping the character of people.
People in the US are very shaped by their affection for the US flag. Through highschool children all daily pledge allegiance to the flag in their classroom. If you do something every day for 13 years, it changes you. It trains your reflexes.
Americans are being liturgically formed by a daily act of allegiance. Worship in the Christian tradition is an act of counter-formation in a world whose values have gone seriously a-rye.
The US is a country in which there is constant formation by culture industries. Much of the formation is towards fear. We receive constant messages that we should be afraid. We are surrounded by incessant catechesis.
We are being constantly formed by people who prey upon us unceasingly.
What kind of people is God calling into mission? God is calling people who are buoyant and who are convinced God is bringing the kingdom now, people who are full of belief and expectation.
How do our practices in worship form our community? How does our worship equip us to see and enter into what God is doing in the world? How do our actions and practices glorify God and edify us in sharing in God’s work?
Eating was central to the life of early Christians. The banquet was from the beginning central to Christian practice.
Paul took the Greco-Roman banquet and infused it with Christian values.
I Corinthians gives the fullest description of the New Testament Church at worship. What can counter-formation be like according to Paul.
I Corinthians 11 – the church is in trouble. There dare not be anything that diminishes the people who come to share in the supper. There is injustice at the table. Paul is reminding them of the one whom they worship who ate justly at the table. Paul is saying remember this one.
They are not unworthy. But there are those who are eating and drinking in an unworthy manner. “Without discerning the body of Christ,” means failing to discern Christ in the people.
Theirs is a meal marked by injustice, unfair sharing of resources, customs that recognize economic differences in the community.
I Corinthians 12 – long praise and analysis of a God who gifts the church in the Spirit with the manifestations of the Spirit for the common good. There is a gifted multi-membered body.
At the end of a Greco-Roman banquet they would have the “symposium”/ entertainment – poetry, exposition of virtues.
I Corinthians 13 is an after dinner speech honouring one of the virtues that is central to its life.
I Corinthians 14 is the after dinner entertainment. Outsiders were confused by what was going on with the use of gifts. Outsiders must be able to understand. What happens here must be edifying to the community – “upbuilding.”
The concern is that what is going on in chapter 14 is confusing and disorderly. It must have been chaotic, people all speaking at once; it gave the wrong impression. Looks like the cult of Cybel, a mystery religion. What is the solution for the after dinner entertainment?
We have a community of 30-50 people gathered in a home. A multi-voiced worship was still possible in which they could bring spiritual gifts beneficial to the entire group, share a testimony, a word from the Lord, a hymn, a report about what was going on in their lives, or a prayer. They did not have one priest who can do it all for you. Instead Paul said take turns. Allow the Spirit to be free. Allow your own experience to come into the community.
There is a sense of real presence. God is really among you. Outsiders are present. They are looking on, observing what is going on – the “secrets of their hearts” are exposed.
What are the values of these chapters that might have been squelched in the Christendom era?
1. the role of multi-voiced worship in which many people speak, at times without pre-meditation.
2. Testimony and prophecy. Prophecy = words from God about life or about a specific situation one is facing, unanticipated in-breaking of the Spirit’s work.
3. Room for surprise – structure with spontaneity.
4. Power of the shared meal. The meal was absolutely central.
5. Attentiveness to the outsider.
Eucharists took place in homes with strong participation of the people. You had the meal then symposium. Sacrament then word order became reversed. Originally took place in evening. But gradually word and ministry became disconnected as service of word moved to morning.
The Passing of the Peace = common practice in the early church, brought back into the church. It enables us to extend the peace of Christ to one another. It can build a sense of common participation and bring unity to that body, instilling shalom and peace into the body.
God has been choosing to use a particular aspect of worship to form us into a community.
The early Christians pointed to Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5 – leave your gift before the altar and first go and be reconciled. If I’m having a problem with you I could go and say, “I’m sorry.” Deacons needed to find people in conflict and bring them together. The job of the Bishop was to make sure relationships in the church were right.
What if worship shaped us to be a people who are at peace and who know how to say forgive me and I forgive you?
What has been your experience of the peace?
- the peace sowed the whole service together for me when I came back to my roots in the Anglican church
- when it was first introduced people resisted it. People are very conscious of their space. If you now tried to eliminate the peace there would be hell raised in most places. When SARs was a scare a few years back, there was some talk of eliminating the peace but instead we introduced hand sanitizers.
- young person when it was being introduced stomped out of church saying, “I do not come to church to be touched.”
How do these practices shape us?
1. When you worship, you gather. What is the formative power of gathering?
2. You engage in praise. What is the function upon the worshiper that you praise God?
3. What does singing do to the singer?
4. The Eucharist
1. How is gathering forming us?
- To do announcements as part of gathering is to be exclusive because it is “in house stuff.”
- my parish has a particularly noisy gathering, but the majority want to talk. I like people coming to church excited and gathering with energy.
- in the process of gathering we are talking about something that creates our identity. The use of silence helps ground us
- passing peace is more now about communicating a sense of welcome for strangers, giving them a comfort that leads on to greater sense of relationship, rather than the reconciliation of relationships
- some people begin the service with the passing of the peace
- have asked people to debrief as they gather then ring a bell that calms people down
We come as people who are different from each other. We are an odd gathering explicable only in Christ.
We are a community which gathers together. Gathering is formative. We gather in a way that shapes us. How could it be better?
- being good Anglicans we had trouble distinguishing praise from hymnody.
Praise is associated with thanksgiving. As Mennonites we are deeply challenged in praise. We need to have space to do it.
- the whole service is praise
- when I lead the intercessions there is always silence if I leave space to offer thanksgivings
- it changes the priest’s whole life
- I have a congregation that wants to have lay led Eucharists, perhaps it is because they want to be formed
- the Eucharist is the connector with God
- hard to articulate how you have been formed. I speak from time to time to my congregation about developing our sacramental vision of the world. We hired a youth worker from the baptist tradition; it has been a huge struggle. She is completely without that sacramental tradition. There are all these intuitions and expectations and ways of speaking that we have that she doesn’t.
How might this eucharistically shaped community share in the mission of God? The community is shaped by God’s eucharistic action to become bread for the world.
- to have a sacramental vision of the world is to learn to live in mystery. Part of that is to learn to stop and be silent in a world which wants to fix every problem as quickly as possible, to actually pause and wait for something else.
Testimony is one of the things we did not ask you to talk about. But it is very important to our understanding. We bring reports from the front. We talk about the specificities of what we encounter. Testimony needs to be taught.
In conclusion – we want to say worship really does shape us and what it shapes us to be like will depend on the kind of God we worship. It gives us a voice. When we come to a gathering in which we learn to speak, we are given a voice we can carry out into the world.
TUESDAY MORNING 9:00 a.m. notes from Alan and Eleanor Kreider SESSION #2:
Listening is a useful posture for Christians today.
Remembrandt’s etching of Jesus with the woman at the well. Jesus leans towards the woman. In the background people are watching them, judging. Jesus is in a posture of conversation.
The desire to embrace the new. There is something new coming up in our lives, particularly among young people. At the same time there is a longing for the old for the comfortable. Can we harness these together, bringing the treasures from the old, while incorporating the energy of the new?
What is our context? What characteristics do we see around us? We need to observe our own culture. This is Cascadia, a culture in which people share a certain common view of life.
What are the characteristics of the context in which you find yourself where the gospel must enter?
Answers from the audience: –
- sense that we have everything. Why would we need God or the church?
- rampant consumerism
- lots of self-soothing behaviours, rise in addictive behaviours, health spas, more masseuses on Salt Spring Island than bats
- vast array of spiritual approaches, consumer spirituality
- real pantheism: you can choose the lake, the forest
- area that is overwhelmed by beauty
- anger especially among older people especially against what people perceive the church to have done to them
- the desire for spirituality that is non-religious. The word “religious” is negative. Our language alienates.
- vast majority of people have come here from somewhere else, having chosen to move away from our families
- lot of focus on leisure time activities and travel
- still clinging to the British Empire, sense of loss that this is gone
- hostility between US and Canada
- changes in forestry and fishing industry over the last twenty years
- Canada remains a resource based economy
- we are a petrol, pulp, political entity. This is the dominant religious culture.
- we have no real sense of the holy in connection with creation even if it brings on warm feelings
How does the Gospel address and connect with these realities?
Want to look at principles for looking at culture. We have two dimensions to look at culture:
1. Native – indigenizing, involved in context of a particular place The Gospel is inserted into a specific culture. This is something in which blessing is found because God is already at work there. It is affirmative of culture.
2. Stranger – Jesus is not only native. He is also stranger. So there is a pilgrim dimension. Society is not only graced; it is also “disgraced.”
How do you fit these together?
The Nairobi statement talks about the contextual challenge but also brings a cross-cultural dimension. We are part of a bigger story. When we become Christians we become part of a movement that binds us to people on the other side of the world.
The Gospel is also counter-cultural. God in Christ is pointing to deeper realities. The bearers of the Gospel always get in trouble.
How do we fit the consonance and the dissonance together?
Andrew Walls – “Western culture is so compromised we need world Christians. We need the witness of others to correct ours. Others have been more aware of the dangers of syncretism than we have.
JG Davies – Worship and Mission solved the problem. 1962 responding to missio dei theology.
Way in which worship and mission debate is posed today. Lot’s of people are deeply concerned about the fragility of the church.
George Hunter – understands the problem. “The big problem church is facing today is the culture barrier. People do not want to become Christians because they do not want to become like Christian people…. Why are Christians always artificially polite?”
If there is going to be a future for our worship it must be enculturated. It must be translated for the sake of witness. This is true but painful for us to hear.
Why do you do this? Why do you do it in this way?
We must be willing to sacrifice what is most precious to us in the interests of those people God is bringing to us.
Is it possible that our worship might change us?
Emphasis in Scripture is that you are a light to the nations, a city set on the hill, a holy nation, aliens and strangers, born into a living hope through the resurrection, a people who are filled with hope. Outsiders should see that we are intriguingly odd. People of hope is who we are.
Worship and evangelism in the early church – after 70 AD, you could not enter Christian worship unless you were baptized. Outsiders were not present. There was fear of persecution. Early Christianity growing despite persecution, but not because the worship was attractive to outsiders.
Early Christians were asking “Who is the God we worship?” “What was Jesus calling us to?” “How does the worship of God affect us?”
Christians became unlike their neighbours but attractive because they were different. We are not saying we must be instrumental about this. The shaping that happens is an outcome, not the purpose of worship. Worship is about God. It is ascribing worth to God.
Three words for worship:
latreia – cultic acts of a sacrificial nature – Presbyterians
leitourgia – the work of the people, public acts of church – Anglicans
proskunesis – falling down, the affective – Pentecostals
English word “worship” = ascribing worth. When we worship we are saying with our whole being who is most important to us. Worship says what we think is really most important.
Idolatry is ascribing worth to things other than God. Jesus – “No one can serve two masters.” Point of worship is to focus on the one treasure.
If worship is about God, how do we do it?
We all know the Bible is about God and comes to us in narrative form. It is a great arc telling a story that is not complete. At the end the story is still underway.
There is a huge metanarrative. Metanarratives are usually seen as intrinsically oppressive; but this is a liberating metanarrative.
We improvise our part now in light of the huge story in light of that which is yet to come.
Matthew 8 – Jesus had this incredible sense that God is at work. Jesus entering Capernaum, meets centurion with a sick servant. Jesus sees the big vision of the banquet, the final consummation. The direction of history is that all will be gathered into the same feast. There will be reconciliation.
We are under the shalom arc aware that God is moving towards reconciliation and we are part of that story. God wants to move us and all of creation to point where God’s desire to reconcile all things in Christ will be consummated. God’s main concern is not what will happen to people when they die. This is too small a story. God’s story is bigger.
Jesus was seeing God’s mission at work and entering into that mission.
When you talk about mission, people think about people going to another country. But the “Mission of God” understanding sees mission differently.
Classic mission – “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them” (Matt. 28:19,20). The sender is the church or a mission agency. Mission is out there. It is conducted by specialist Christians who are missionaries. The goal is to bring salvation (to save individuals) and to build the church.
Mission of God understanding (missio Dei) – “I can only do what I se the Father doing” (Jn. 5:19) “As the Father sent me, so I send you.” (Jn. 20:21), Reconciling all things (Cols. 1:20), the wolf and lamb reconciled (Isaiah 11:1-9) God is the sender. IN all areas God sends. God does not coerce, force or induce. The mission is everywhere. Every Christian is part of God’s reconciling mission. The goal is to reconcile all things in Christ.
Classic mission often did not start as partnership. Over time our pride has been humbled and we have realized there are sisters and brothers working there for God’s kingdom. Partnership is a good thing.
We don’t want to drop mission, a word which has to do with sending. We think sending is important provided it is everybody who is being sent.
How long does something have to be in a culture before it can be viewed as being part of a culture?
In our churches there is a belief that the job of the parishioners is to work and make money to pay the clergy to do the work of the ministry. How do we deal with this?
The task of the church is to re-invision the mission of the church in which some people are immersed in the culture for Christ’s sake.
Worship is going to change us. It is going to make us a new people. It is going to make it hard for us.
All must see themselves as called into not only the sacraments but the sacraments seen missionally. We are outward signs of inward grace. This is what is meant to happen in worship. Anglicans sing the “Magnificat”. But when are we going to start believing it?
The story changes us. That’s the hard part. It makes a claim on our lives. Welcome one another as you have been welcomed. Freely you have received, freely give.
We are meant to be transformed by our worship.
Where do people have their voice? Testimony is very important.
Question – Where do we who are ordained listen to the voice of the people, when we are always trying to change things and people are resisting change wanting things to go on as they have always been?
We can’t cope with constant newness. We can’t cope with promiscuous change.
“The power of the provisional” – try something new and try it for two months, then talk about it. If people feel they have a voice in the change it can be handled, provided you are dealing with perpetual provisionality. It is like Jazz.
Our morning ended with a celebration of the Eucharist. In the homily the celebrant said:
I believe Jesus is a glass half full kind of guy. He always looked for the positive and the light. Sometimes that was pretty tough to find.
Jesus wants us to know that even a little bit of a pin of light gives light that cannot be extinguished.
Jesus believed in the light and its power to overcome the darkness.
We have the opportunity to be filled with light. We can look for the positive.
It is often too easy for us to fall into darkness. But the light can always grow.
June 28, 2011 at 11:03 pm
“This is Cascadia, a culture in which people share a certain common view of life.”
If by Cascadia we mean the stretch of the west coast of North America from Alaska in the north through British Columbia and Vancouver Island to Washington State, Oregon and California in the south, then I do not think this is true.
If it was true, it would be easy to summarise in a few sentences just what this common view was. About the only thing we are sure to agree on is that we differ.
The corporate church is not very good at accepting differences. Individuals are much better at that – perhaps because they do not go into intellectual paroxysms when they meet their neighbour, but just see Fred, Janet, Judith or Peter – people with whom they pass the time of day. Its all local – you minister where you are. Our corporate church does not seem to accept this view and believes we cannot minister to one another or to the world unless we are bundled together in groups of 400.
CLERGY CONFERENCE #1
I am away in Parksville/Qaulicum at the Diocesan Clergy Conference. There are at least sixty of us here. We will spend the next three days worshiping, eating, and talking together, and listening to Alan and Eleanor Kreider speak about the church in a post-Christendom era.
Here are my notes from last night.
We began with dinner followed by Evening Prayer which included reflections on Luke 22:52-62 by the youngest and most recently ordained member of the clergy. He said,
It is easy to castigate Peter for denying Christ and to say we would have done differently. But every time we see someone in need and don’t care for them we do deny Jesus.
Peter repents of his denial. Our stories don’t end with our betrayal. We have all denied Christ and we will all be forgiven.
Following Evening Prayer the Bishop introduced our speakers. In his introduction he said,
We have been acting as if, if we get the right liturgy, or say the right prayers, or get the right program, or stand on our left foot, we can get the church to grow. Some of us have been receiving this message and some of us have been saying, “I have tried it all and not a thing has changed.” And there has been a level of frustration. And some of us think this is a frustration just in Anglicanism. But it is bigger than just Anglicanism.
Then the Kreiders began their first presentation:
We are going to explore the relationship between worship and mission in a post-Christendom setting.
1. We need to acknowledge the joy of worshiping God. Everything arises from that privilege of worship in which we see our true selves and are drawn into God’s heart.
2. Our worship is not a means of achieving any end other than glorifying God. But we become like what we praise. In worship we are transformed into the character of God. And God desires to heal relationships. We are changed because we praise and glorify God and tell God’s story.
3. Christendom is that period when the church upheld a world of beauty and order. The church was dominant and there was a separation between clergy and people. In Christendom there is a de-emphasis on shalom.
Now church attendance has fallen and plural awareness has risen. In response the churches in England fought to keep shops closed and sports banned on Sundays. But the churches lost. Church no longer controls culture. We must be leaven.
We are in a new missional situation.
The church, in order to do something missional has to find God at work already in peoples’ hearts and relationships and name God at work and enter into what God is doing in ways that prompt questions.
What mission is about is listening to people and eating their food.
How can we take our part in the work God is doing in the world?
At the end of the evening, the Kreiders invited questions from the floor that participants would like to have addressed in our time together:
How do we help people “own” mission?
What does mission look like in a pre-Christian culture where the stories are no longer known?
How does one do primary evangelism among the unchurched?
How do we deal with those who describe themselves as spiritual but not religious?
How can the church be a reconciling force?
What would success look like if we were missional?
How does church interact with surrounding institutions in our society?
Where do the 93% of people who are never in a place of worship construct meaning for their lives?
What kind of church am I mentoring a young leader to give leadership in?
How do we manage the volume of questions that are imposed upon people in ministry?
At the end of this presentation, the Bishop made a concluding comment saying,
When we were changing the Canons in this Diocese, someone said to me, “This will be your legacy.” I am still waiting to see the church change.
What I really enjoy is presiding at the Cathedral on Christmas Eve with 1100 people in attendance and the mighty organ playing and all the pomp and ceremony. I feel like that’s how church ought to be. But it isn’t. I need to acknowledge that I don’t like the way things have changed.