So, here's an unofficial sneak peek at two songs from the just-released worship CD from our church, Imago Dei. I had the distinct privilege of laying down the electric guitar on the first two tracks, Divine Embrace (title track) and Descend. I really love this CD (especially the tracks I didn't have anything to do with. Ha!) It's so good to hear Sabrina Fountain's voice again. Also, be sure to check out the song "You've Kept Me." The slower "You Alone" features beautiful string accompaniments and backup vocals by our own Laura Gibson. Josh Butler's creative genius shines throughout the CD, and, in my mind, is most evident on his song "Glory." Also, Josh came up with a fantastic guitar lick on Jeff Marsh's "Child." If I were a jealous man, I'd be jealous of this guitar lick for sure.
In a bold ecumenical move, DC presbyterians sent a piping emissary to the First Baptist DC church (rumored to be President Jimmy Carter's former place of worship). While the piper requested that his real name be withheld, he prefers to go by John Piper for cross-protestant gigs. Mr. Piper notes that while he still gets the occasional odd look from Baptists, he says, "It's usually the 'blue-haired' Baptists and not the young nu-Baptists that don't know what to think of a man in a kilt. If we can just convince Baptists to meet us on neutral territory, such as a pub for beer, the inter-denominational dialogue could be significantly furthered."
Local bystander Eric Johannson, a 16 year-old Catholic skateboarder, suggested that the two denominations could perhaps unite if Baptists would "lighten up on the whole no-alcohol thing" and the Presbyteriians would abandon their "weak" ways of Baptism. "I mean, who really thinks that a sprinkle is really sufficient?"
Whatever the motivation behind the good-will gesture, it is a piquant example of the sweeping current-day Presby-Bapti ecumenism.
:: peder ::
Community. This has got to be one of the most currently overused Christian buzz words. It seems like everyone is talking about it. How do we create it? How do we encourage it? How do we grow it? How do we spread it? How do we do it? At a, you guessed it, Home Community leaders' meeting last night, we were asked, "What, in fact, is c o m m u n i t y?
Merriam-Webster defines it the following ways:
1 : a unified body of individuals: as a : STATE, COMMONWEALTH b : the people with common interests living in a particular area; broadly : the area itself c : an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location d : a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society e : a group linked by a common policy f : a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests g : a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society
2 : society at large
3 a : joint ownership or participation b : common character : LIKENESS
c : social activity : FELLOWSHIP d : a social state or condition
Within a spiritual context, a foundation of shared crucial beliefs along with a geographical closeness are necessary requisites for intentional, effective, community. I believe that without these two elements, a group of believers can have no effective positive impact on the world (read: people, culture, environment, etc) around them.
What does this mean? I think it means a restructuring of the American Protestant church. Akin to the Catholic parish system, there needs to be more of an emphasis on geographical closeness as a key ingredient to a healthy church body. Currently, the decision on where to attend church is often based more upon the pastor's charisma or the worship music style than a desire to serve (and worship with some of) your physical neighbors - those people we see more often and are called to love. The current mentality is a result of our consumer culture and focus on our own needs and personal asthetic rather than obedience to God's call and grander plan for our lives.
I'm not saying that I'm much different - we drive 15 minutes to our church (Imago Dei). However, we made an earnest effort to attend the churches within walking distance from our home but kept feeling called to attend Imago. End conclusion: these decisions are not black and white but do require ears to hear and eyes to see.
What I do know, is that life-changing community is built by people who tend to live close together, share common values, love each other, and are honest and open with each other about their ups, downs, sins, blessings, etc. This happened to us in Kansas City when we were a part of an amazing small group that arose from Jacobs Well Church. All the above ingredients were present, and many of these people remain some of our closest friends - an eternal family. And, we were only with them for one short year.
So, with a hopeful heart and love, we embark on this strange love-journey with our west-side PDX home "community."
So, as so often happens, I had an epiphany as I was in bed talking to Holly, peparing for the highly-anticipated slumber…
We were catching up with each other (time with each other since returning from Hawaii has been severely limited by my need to complete a presentation for a conference this weekend in Sun River, Orygun). She was sharing some intimate, (very) deep, personal spiritual insights and thoughts about what she was learning in her spiritual formation class (intense) at Imago. It is amazing how much she has learned about herself and her relationship with God within just a few weeks. She was relating about how most of this new learning was coming about via a lot of purposeful introspection and quiet reflection. As she was telling me this, I became quite morose. However, I didn’t know I was morose, yet. What I felt, suddenly, was “The Funk.”
The Funk, as you may know, may be defined one of many ways, including that syncopated afro beat made famous in the 1970s by Herbie Hancock, Bootsy Collins, Curtis Mayfield, and George Clinton. The funk I’m talking about, though, is that sudden, seemingly unexplainable, temporary feeling of depression, loss, or longing. Its etiology is usually just… out of reach. Perceptible but frustratingly intangible. This time, though, I was able to pinpoint the causitive factor: timelessness.
After some thought regarding the matter, I realized (lightbulb anyone?) that I have been suffering from a lack of reflection. I’ve always wondered (with some cynicism no doubt) how the average American, who watches 4 hours of TV per day, has time to effectively reflect on current events or politics, let alone delve into more important existential issues. I thought I was “ahead of the game”, since I don’t watch the tele at all. I oft thought aloud proudly, “I have an extra 4 hours a day to be a better, reflective person, not just one of those ‘reactive’ American types.”
Instead, much to my chagrin, I’ve succumbed to the same “busy-ness” of which most other people around me are victims. I have filled my evenings with an extraordinary time on the computer, including researching current events, reading blogs, reading thoughtful theological articles and critiques, responding to a gizillion emails from friends and Classic Jazz Corner listeners, et cetera ad nauseam. I desperately need more time to think. How can this be done, when so many of the things listed above are relative needs for me right now? I’m pulled from many directions - family, God, work, personal interests (fewer and fewer hobbies), exercise, etc. Maybe I’ll sleep less. Maybe I’ll give up blogging (rarely do it anyway). Should I give up the jazz broadcast? Unfortunately, the solution is the problem: time to think. Ack.
:: Peder ::
I’m proud to say that our church has an incredible new website that has just launched. Check it out!
The best part of it, is that there’s an online forum for the members. You can be sure that that my rogue nature will be found out when controversial topics are covered. Yippee!
Oh, and did you notice who the guy with the black plastic glasses in the background is? I’m famous! Hehe ;)
:: Peder ::
Sometimes, intentionally contemplating an image for a length of time stirs unexpected emotions and thoughts.
Like this image for instance. At first, I was thinking about how nice and spiffy it would look with a new set of Restoration Hardware (link purposefully not included) hinges and some Sherwin-Williams paint slathered on it.
Then, I was thinking how cool “old-skool” is, and that this is another example of how “old” can be “new.” Some painted antiques are left that way- with peeling and chipped nasty-looking green paint rather than refinishing it. Interesting.
Then, of course, it happened. If you think (or write) about an image long enough, transcendence (not in a Kantian way, though) is bound to occur. Funny how that happens.
So, here it is. I’ve been introspecting a lot lately secondary to the book I’m reading, John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart. It’s definitely popular Christian pulp. However, ignoring the generally poor diction and organization and broad/hasty generalizations, I think this book has a lot to say to men about manhood. I’ve found that the book’s subject (not the content itself) has caused me to think.
We men look to fights, our fathers, sports, woman(en), and/or our careers (etc, etc, you get the point) to validate our masculinity. The above will never truly validate us. What is relevant, however, is that I realize that God the Father looks upon me as beloved AND a man. This is revealed through the Word and through fellowship with godly men (e.g., the guys in my Impact Group). This is difficult, though, since it requires me to absolve myself of further attempts to rest on my own laurels and endless striving to “prove” myself.
It is interesting, though, that this “striving” seems to be a part of the work ethic that drives the productivity of our culture. Could it be that our culture, through mass entertainment and diversions, stays us from introspection, thus perpetuating our endless-striving while never knowing what really drives us? Hmm.
So, I’ve opened this door of introspection. Shall it never close?