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Emergent incarnates hope & dangerous dreams

Emergent Gathering reflections 4

image by LNakedGun

When there is an established “norm”, a status quo, an institution in any domain and new ideas bubble to the surface and begin to take serious form, it’s natural that there is a process of purging negative feelings. There is almost a grieving process and then having to work through a variety of feelings involved in moving from one place to another. It’s a forest of chaos that is inherent in change. We must go through the forest, not turn back, not get stuck in it. Life is a series of these forests, not just in Christianity but so many areas of life in general.

It was expected when Emergent Village/the emerging church/missional started taking clear form that this process would occur in our midsts - and continue to occur as new voices join the conversation.

I think it has been unfair of certain critics to suggest that this is ALL we are capable of. They seem to forget where they come from and that their chosen denominations and cliques at some point went through the same process.

At the Gathering, I honestly did not get the sense that people are stagnating in deconstruction and negative stereotypes about conservatives or evangelicals or fundamentalists or whatever. In the conversations I participated in, there was a lot of forward thinking and hope-filled dialog about where we are headed as the Body of Christ.

There was a lot of talk about the hope people had for their existing established congregations - contrary to the accusations that we’re all leaving our churches and trying to do something completely separate from anything else that’s been done.

Mike Clawson put it so well when he said this:

That’s why I like to talk about “convergence” as much as “emergence”. It’s not just an emerging out of old ways of thinking, it’s also a coming together of many different streams of faith. We’re all learning from each other and contributing to the larger conversation. But it doesn’t really matter who gets to claim what part of it. If it’s good and true, then I’ll take it for my own, regardless of whether it’s evangelical or anabaptist or mainline or Catholic or whatever.

I know it’s hard to understand but the heart of Emergent is not to “move forward” in the sense that we’re leaving everything behind. It’s more and idea of merging into the center. Picture for a moment a blank piece of paper. Take in your hand a tube of paint and squeeze out a circular stream on the paper. Then take a different color tube in your hand and move out a little from the circle you made and squeeze out another circular stream. Continue with several different colors of paint. Then take your finger and drag it from the outer most ring toward the very center picking up each color as you go, then stop at the center. This is an overly simplistic and somewhat crude yet relatively accurate picture of what emerging Christians are working toward - moving toward the center which is Christ and allowing their lives to “pick up” the beauty and hope of a variety of Christian traditions and all the while allowing the Spirit to move in new and fresh ways as well. Now, if you drag your finger through those rings at many different points, you’re going to get “dots” in the center that all look slightly different, that would be each individual person or group within the conversation - all together, all working toward and looking back upon the same hope, striving to dwell in Christ but all looking slightly different because they all come from different places.

This was the image I saw at the Gathering. And it was beautiful. It was messy and awkward and flawed and glorious. Contrary to what some insist on believing, Emergent really does incarnate hope and it’s my desire that we continue to work forward in the hope we have in Christ as his Body.

These types of gatherings are breeding grounds for dangerous dreams - dreams of new and exciting projects like the one I and a few others are working on (a new print publication), dreams of what could be, what should be, what might be, dreams of personal spiritual formation….dangerous, scary, messy and chaotic dreams. These are the stuff the future is made of. This is the God stuff, the “hip out of join wrestling with God” dreams. And if people are incapable of or unwilling to see the beauty in it, I feel sad for them…because this is the stuff that manifests God’s glory.

And a final aside - yes, we did actually do yoga on the tennis court. I wish I could have gotten a picture of it. A handful of emergent types doing yoga at a southern baptist retreat center a mere days after Doug Pagitt and John MacArthur shared their dissenting views on the topic on a CNN show…classic!

David, Shayel and myself all did it together - Shayel was awesome too. Shelley Pagitt led us and it was fantastic. Yoga outside in the sunshine is so different than yoga in a room somewhere. David got hooked. I hope to find a family yoga time somewhere in town soon.

Previous Installments in this Series:
Part 1 How I lost at Pac-Man and defeated big Bible hill
Part 2 Sprouted bagels, knit caps and communities called Seven
Part 3 Tony Jones is a real person…I think

Next and final in the Gathering installment:
*art, incarnation and artifact

[tags]emergent gathering[/tags]

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  1. Jonathan Brink — October 23, 2007 #

    Thanks Makeesha. Love your insights.

  2. Mak — October 23, 2007 #

    thank you Jonathan :)

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