I know that I’m super late on posting this, but wanted to follow through on my promise. Below are the pics and text from my opening remarks at emergentia. These in many ways, I believe, came out of the attitude there more so than breathed into the attitude there. I’m trying to add in the pics as well via SlideShare. You’ll note the words in ALL CAPS in my notes indicating where pictures change.
1. We are at an interesting turn in our ecclesiology within the Nazarene denomination. Many are finding this time upsetting like when we first go out to sea (or first return to land). The ground feels shaky. We struggle to find the correct wording to describe what we are feeling. So we too are finding the language of what to call this event and this kind of group a struggle.
2. As we begin together this weekend can we agree to use this word… “we”. We must remember in these conversations that this is not about “us” and “them”. We must remember that every one of us is part of something bigger, we are all standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before. We are representing others and it is not division that we are after here. So instead of saying “us” and “them”, can we make every effort to use the word “we”? Madeline L’Engle in her “Wrinkle in Time series” records the following encounter…
”Progo!” Meg asked. “You memorized the names of all the stars–how many are there?”
“How many? Great heavens, earthling, I haven’t the faintest idea.”
“But you said your last assignment was to memorize the names of all of them.”
“I did. All the stars in all the galaxies. And that’s a great many.”
“But how many?”
“What difference does it make? I know their names. I don’t know how many there are. It’s their names that matter.””
-A Wind in the Door
May we remember that there are names and faces to all the people we encounter and that we can only do them justice by remembering them as “we”. The “we” in reference here is the joining of us with those in past who have faithfully and courageously walked where few would so that we can stand here now. It is also those brothers and sisters from around the globe that we are remembering and embracing as we have these discussions. It is also those who are in our local communities that we represent in our conversations today. It is also those in the future that belong to “we”. Let’s keep “we” in the forefront of our language and hearts today.
3. Let’s start with what we know… We know that we want to approach ministry in this new and challenging time with “ARMS WIDE OPEN”. Even with a leaning into the unknown future, ready to embrace what God is already up to and the ways in which he might use us.
4. We know that we want whatever God is up to, to start from the inside of us and OVERFLOW to the outside community. We mean this first for ourselves. This is about embracing something new for all of us. Some of us are more comfortable here than others, but we understand that all of us at times may feel like Jonah, called to a land that is not our own and is unappealing, but that God can work through the overflow of our hearts and allow his grace and love to overflow into the local community that is closest to us and even to the broader community of the world as a whole. We look at this in two distinct but connected ways – one as individuals (in true modern form) that God works in us and our souls specifically – and two as communities of faith (in true postmodern form) that God works in our local communities from the inside out as well.
5. We also understand that we’ve been allowed to GROW in the SHADE of those who have gone before us. They have, like this larger tree in the picture, allowed us to grow and to thrive where we would not have survived alone. They have provided protection, shade, and nourishment, indeed even planting the seeds from which we rise. And so too do we dream that we might provide shade for those who come after us, that they might not only live, but thrive in the new soil that they are planted in.
6. We also understand that this road is steep, it is hard, it is UPHILL. In many ways it is to adopt the old hikers motto: “one step in front of the other”. It is at times quite strenuous
and feels quite surreal and lonely. But it is at other times quite thrilling, beautiful and awe-inspiring to embrace the uniqueness of the call and the times.
7. And we pray that as we transition from one cultural world to the next that we not GET STUCK in the process, being frozen for all of time by settling for our first assumptions, our first observations. We pray that God would give us strength, courage, nay His Spirit to go before us and to go with us as we transition together. Indeed it is our hope that no one gets left behind, stuck in the process.
8. We also don’t want to think too highly of ourselves, to pretend that we can WALK ON WATER, or that we somehow can achieve what others have not. We don’t want to put others on such a pedestal either. We want rather to
9. LET GOD’S LIGHT SHINE THROUGH us and through our hearts so that His Kingdom will continue to unfold and that we may all be inviting others to join it!
10. We want to FOSTER GROWTH, to be horticulturalist, pointing out what is healthy and good in people’s lives around us and helping people protect those things while at the same time helping them spot the things that are not healthy that they might gently remove them.
11. We understand that we are not the ones doing the growing here, but we are trying to help WATER and resource the seeds that God has planted through those who have gone before us. So that they might grow into full health bearing fruit.
12. And so as a NEW DAY IS DAWNING we recognize that words like “GROW” and “MERGE” really are appropriate for there is a coming together of people for the sake of the Kingdom and the sake of ministry in this new culture and context. Perhaps that’s what this event is at its heart and MERGING of people and their stories as they encounter a different world, a different culture, but the same God and His Kingdom in exciting and new ways.
13. It is together that we stand with ARMS WIDE OPEN squinting through the refreshing but strong winds of change across a world ripe with opportunity for joining in God’s kingdom, learning form others and inviting friends into this best kind of life.
14. It is to emergentia that we have come together – emergentia – an unforeseen occurrence – where we are joining with God as his gospel rises up and comes to light in new and exciting ways. We all bring with us stories from our journey. Our hope is that you’ll make space and time during our time together to hear the stories of those around you and tell the stories to which you belong. Our hope is that you’ll be who you are and share with us those places where you disagree or agree, that you’ll foster the natural connections through shared story and relationship and that you’ll engage in the conversations with arms wide open to receive what God may have for you and us.