Friday, September 30, 2005



Through the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit the communal interpretation of the Bible continues to evoke and constitute a new people, a people who embody or enflesh the living Word of God. Such communities are not consumers: using the Bible for self-defined needs or interests.

They are not tourists: exploring distant and exotic, yet ultimately, irrelevant territory. They are hearers, readers, and doers of the Word: embodying within their common life and shared ministry the transforming love of God as shown forth in the ministry, cross, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Thus the authority, interpretation, and use of the Bible, while drawing upon experts and concerned with personal experience, finally rests with the "performance of the text"—the obedient discipleship of missional communities.

I had an interesting discussion with another methodist blogger yesterday concerning the authority of scripture. Like many modernists he sees one role of scripture as "gatekeeper"- an authority that tells us "who's in and who's out". Unfortunately both liberal and conservative Chrisitans tend to play this game (usually one group is playing the role of marginalized at the expense of the other). Instead of being a "gift" to the community, scripture becomes a weapon to divide the Body of Christ.

Inagrace here offers an alternative way of seeing scripture which I find helpful.



In a surprise announcement earlier today, Focus on the Family ended their long, tumultuous association with the LORD GOD, a.k.a. Adonai, due to what they are describing as His hidden gay agenda. Spokesman Lad Eesman claims that from Genesis to Revelation there is a shocking emphasis on the goodness of the whole creation.... read the rest of the article here.

article taken from - The Wittenburg Door

Thursday, September 29, 2005


This post comes in response to help that my buddy Gavin needs after a rant with a fellow UM'er. Here's some fuel for the fire Gavo, now go get'em!!!!

Are you sitting back fuming over that comment that someone posted on your blog? Are you looking for the right words to say to that liberal/conservative @#$@ who has a thing or two coming to him/her?

Look no further- today I have a gift: the biblical curse generator!
Check it out here.

"Biblical Curse Generator, which is pre-loaded with blistering smackdowns as delivered by Elijah, Jeremiah and other monumentally angry saints. Simply click the button below, and smite your foes with a custom-made curse straight out of the Old Testament!"

button below

Here's my favorite: "I hope you will be as welcome as a fart in the queen's bedchamber, O thou love-child of Methuselah!"



embodiment of the gospel through communal interpretation and witness will not fit easily within the identity and vision of most congregations. Influenced by their Christendom hangover which includes demands for service and relevance (to individuals and/or to society), the church has allowed its life, ministry, and mission to be defined by something other than the gospel. All too easily we forget that according to human wisdom the message of a crucified savior is not good news but a stumbling block and foolishness. Thus as the church declares the gospel in the midst of the brokenness of the world, it must both engage and critique the concerns and ways of the world.

Participating in God's mission does not preclude or discount humanitarian activities, but it does challenge the church to clarify how the core of its identity—the gospel of Jesus Christ—both shapes and is shaped by these undertakings.

I don't have a reflection on this today as much as a questions t0 stimulate thought.... feel free to engage or add your own.

1. What does engaging the world look like for American Christians?

2. If the American church is so tied to the powerful of society (just look at how the rel. right uses it's faith as leverage in politics) then where is space for the "prophetic voice" in our culture?

3. If the church is so interwoven into the fabric of society through governmental politics (ie rel. right) how can we be in a place where we can critique our part of the world?

I know I picked on the rel. right a little bit in this. This isn't to say that there aren't other Christians who are in places of power. Our living in the US puts us in a place of power. I use the rel. right as an example because they use their influence in America in such a way that others either don't or do not have the clout to do. As far as Prophetic Christianity goes- I'm thinking that the closest organized prophetic voice out there is the Sojourner's Community- who critiques both the right and left. It can critique both sides because it's role of PARTICIPATION is not one of power but of siding with and speaking from the margins.

It is my opinion that participating from the margins is as close to the Jesus Ethic as we might get as a culture. I dunno.... any thoughts?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


This is what you might see as our agenda when the TN metho-bloggers are leading the meeting.


My band, treefinger, has a new song posted on our website. Check out "Chimes of the Hour". It's a downtempo trance/ambient type song.

Sorry that it can't be downloaded but it's going to be on the upcoming Worship Feast: Prayer Stations project by Abingdon Press, due out next July.




The gospel is communicated to the world not only through ideas, beliefs, or ideals but through reconciled and reconciling communities of people—communities formed and transformed by their "indwelling" of God's new reality. In other words, the gospel is not only that by which the church lives, the gospel itself lives through the life and witness of the church.

God's vision of shalom- the harmony, beauty and peace that God imagined in the original creation- is the vision that ought to forever be in the forefront of Christian's minds and hearts. It is the vision out of which we strive to live out and embody now. In this way we model to the rest of the world what the world "might" look like.

This kind of evangelism is embodied in the community and lived out not by being a people of power but by being a sacramental people who live nonviolently in the world living out the love of Christ.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Inagrace on Christianity:

"The distinctiveness of Christianity, from a biblical perspective, is not that individual Christians believe in God, affirm correct doctrines, live good lives, or engage in good works. What is distinctive is the forming of a particular people who listen to particular stories, discern a particular reality, and live their lives by particular words. The message of the Bible is that through the history of the people of Israel, the story of Jesus Christ, and the outpouring of the Spirit, God calls into being a new people."

My thoughts: There is a lot of talk in postmodern circles that in order for The Church to be relevant in postmodern culture it will have to become "strange" again. Right now many unchurched people are turned off by Christians and Christianity becuase they feel that Christians are hypocritical, irrelevant to their lives and sometimes just plain mean.

I think Christians have forgotten what it means to be "odd" in the world. We want to be the ones in power- whether we're conservative or liberal. And we feel like that if we can have the majority of "our kind" in power within the political sphere we'll MAKE THE WORLD LOOK like God wants it to look.

By claiming our particularity and practices that make us "odd" to the world- honoring the body, radical hospitality, God's economics, knowing how to say "yes" and "no", keeping sabbath, testimony, discernment, shaping communities, forgiveness, healing, worship and praise, and dying well (examples of Christian practices from we form a peculiar people that although live in the midst of the world begin to look very different and operate quite differently from how the world operates.

When we read scripture together it is to help us see the "alternative vision" which is the Kingdom of God that we are invited to engage and imagine and then to discern how as a community we live that vision out, empowered by the Holy Spirit.


Last week I had the pleasure of attending a day long workshop for up and coming clergy in the canidacy process. Our bishop, Dick Wills, led the morning devotional/prayer time. He talked about the need for Christian practices to feed our souls and promote a healthy spiritual life.

I really appreciated the fact that he seems extremely concerned about the welfare and nurture of pastors. Here are some of his thoughts on what he "expects" pastors to do:
1. A daily time of reading scripture and allowing it to be what we live "out of". (I'll come back to this one)
2. A weekly sabbath time. He encouraged pastors to take at least one day off every week, no matter what.
3. A 2 day retreat (48 hours apart and away) from church, once a month to focus on spiritual growth and rejuevenation.
4. A 1 month sabbatical with pay once every quadrennium.

I thought his ideas sounded great and I am definitely in favor of them (who wouldn't be?). Although some "soon to be pastors" said, "Bishop, this sounds great but if we have 3 point charges with pastoral care responsibilities."

The Bishop followed up by stating that each one of us has to work within our on contexts and look for ways to incorporate these practices into our lives. He used the word "habit" quite a bit too- that forming spiritual habits help to inform the way we live our lives for God and others. I thought that was a great remark.

Now the thing that I really liked more than anything was THE LIFE JOURNAL. The Life Journal is something that Bishop Wills has been doing for years. In it is a one year reading plan for the entire Bible with daily scripture readings and then a formula for journaling called the "S.O.A.P." method.
S-scripture: you write down a small section of the scripture that speaks to you.
O- observation: what you saw in the scripture
A- application: you write down how you will live out the passage today in your life
P- prayer: you write a prayer asking for guidance and then scan your prayer list.

The SOAP formula seems to be very close to traditional lectio divina, which I think is why I was really impressed by the Bishops plug for this journal. I bought one that day and today I used it for the first time. I'll let you know what I think about it in a few weeks.

Monday, September 26, 2005


Since "A Week With Hauerwas" I've been considering who to "spend a week" with. It ocurred to me that most of the thinkers that I have written about and showcase on my blog have tended to be men. I have not done this purposefully. In fact many women thinkers have had a profound impact on my theology and spiritual formation. Some of the women thinkers that I've been very interested in are Nancy Murphy, Sally McFague, Catherine Pickstock, Rebecca Chopp, Kathlene Norris, and Norvene Vest.

But this week I'm focussing on a voice that I'm really impressed with and have much respect for: Inagrace Diettrich. If you've not heard of her, you need to!!

Inagrace T. Dietterich is an ordained United Methodist minister who serves as the Director of Theological Research at the Center for Parish Development in Chicago, IL. She is a graduate of Wartburg Theological Seminary and has a Ph.D. in Christian Theology from the University of Chicago Divinity School. Reflecting a continuing interest, her Ph.D. dissertation was entitled "Toward A Theology of the Holy Spirit."

Inagrace's research and writing form the biblical and theological foundations for the Center's consulting and teaching processes. She has participated as part of an ecumenical team from the Gospel and our Culture Network for the writing of two books published by Eerdmans: Missional Church: A Theological Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America and StormFront: The Good News of God.

Inagrace is married to Paul Dietterich, the Executive Director of the Center for Parish Development, and together they have six children and ten grandchildren.

I'm excited to spend a week pondering her words and exploring what they have to say to our Church.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Which Bible Hero Are You?

It would seem that I am Simon-Peter. Who are you?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


This week's "Centering From the Center" guided prayer is up.

Download it here
sit back... turn your lights down... turn your life down.... light a candle...

Sunday, September 18, 2005


This Tuesday, Sept. 20, any bloggers who come from the Wesleyan traditions and are in the middle Tennessee area, are invited to the Alektor Cafe for fellowship and lunch- 12-2pm.

We'll be getting to know one another face to face and although I don't have much of an agenda for this time together, I feel the direction being that of how bloggers have a unique way of being bridge builders in the Wesleyan tradition.

I hope you might be able to make it out if you're in town. I did invite our bishop for the TN Conference, Dick Wills, but he already has a committment for that day. We will be getting together with him in the very near future. And I did get a sneak peak yesterday at his blog that should be up and going within the next week or so.




Friday, September 16, 2005


I usually don't connect the words "silence" and "workshop" together. But yesterday and today those words definitely go hand in hand.

Today I'm in a workshop all day on HOW TO PLAN AND LEAD TAIZE WORSHIP; offered through Scarritt Bennett Center.

In Taizé, France, the Brothers of the Community of Taizé lead ecumenical worship services consisting of meditative singing, meditative readings, and silent meditations. This unique and deeply moving form of worship seeks to unite and inspire people of all ages and Christian faiths. In the summer months, young people from all over the world gather in great numbers at Taizé to deepen their spirituality and rediscover a fine human hope in God.

Scarritt Bennett offers Taize Worship twice a month and it is so nice to show up to a gathering of silence and singing and not have to be in charge of anything. I find myself feeling completely embraced in God's presence. The singing is more like chanting, some songs in english and some in latin.

Last night at Scarritt we held prayers around the labyrinth, and it was quite amazing. As I walked the labyrinth and sang "Adoramus te O Christe" (We adore you, Lord) over and over, I felt myself going deeper and deeper into the heart of God. It was wonderful.

I got to the middle and just sat in silence and heard those words all around me in harmony and it was beautiful.

After the gathering the participants in the workshop talked with the musicians and leaders about the music. I made the comment that taize music is like "medieval jazz". Gavin got a good chuckle out of that one.

I'm looking forward to today's workshop and what it will bring. Last year our youth group planned and led several taize worship gatherings on Sunday nights. I'm hoping to begin doing that again with the group. Maybe the workshop today will give me some further insight on how we can enrich what we do together.

labyrinth pic borrowed from Gavin's blog. Thanks Gavo!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


I have great news!! I have started a podcast (of sorts)!! I don't know if its actually a podcast in the true sense of the word, but it's a downloadable mp3 of my newest medium- "CENTERING FROM THE CENTER". CFTC is going to be a weekly 10 minute guided meditation that one can use for personal prayers. Each week will focus on a certain prayer practice, or will be guided meditation through poetry and liturgy. It's all set to soundtrack music and I think once I get all my tech stuff up and going, it'll be pretty good.

So check out week 1 right here, which is a guided prayer on the practice of silence and solitude.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


"Theologians Under Hitler" Documentary
This documentary from Vital Visuals and producer-director Steven D. Martin examines how three of the most prominent German theologians in the 1930s capitulated to and helped promote Nazi ideology.

Today I was blessed to be able to sit in on a preview screening of an upcoming documentary, "Theologians Under Hitler". The director, Steven D. Martin, is a United Methodist elder here in TN. The premise of the documentary was that although we like to think that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was the model for church leadership and Christian scholarship in Nazi Germany, most church leaders and scholars were supportive to Hitler and the Nazis. The question this documentary poses is, "How could something like that happen?" and "Could this happen again?"

It was a strong film, focusing on 3 theologians- Paul Althaus, Emanuel Hirsch, and Gerhard Kittel.

The really interesting part of the screening came, for me, after the movie. There was a panel group for discussion who had great insights into Nazi Germany, these theologians and contemporary America and the state of politics and faith today.

The comment was made how easy it is for us to look at Hitler and the Nazis and say, "Wow, THAT WAS EVIL". But to live in Nazi Germany after WWI, hoping for revitalization, and traditional values- Hitler and the Nazi way of life seemed very enticing to most of the German people. The statement was made that we look upon history in black and white (literally through old news footage) and it all seems so cut and dry. But like the present day- what seems like black and white, for those who live in it- it's very gray. The gray area is where these pastors and theologians were and Hitler and his ideology of strong nationalism appealed to them.

One figure on the panel group stood out to me- Lee Camp, professor at David Lipscomb University, a Church of Christ College here in Nashville, and author of Mere Discipleship. Lee made the statement, concerning, "Could this happen again?":

The film opens up making us feel that the support of Hitler was the fault of the liberals, but then as the film continues we find conservatives and keepers of a flawed "traditionalism" to be to blame. But what this film is really about is power. The Church since Constantine has maintained or done it's best to maintain power. The liberals and conservatives of the Church do what they can today to continue to control and maintain power in the Church. We in America need to really look at the role our Churches are playing in being part of the catalysts for national identity and not an identity rooted in the Kingdom of God.

In one respect, since 9-11 we have moved further toward a nationalistic church that if not careful could move us closer to an unfortunate answer in "could this happen again?".

I've paraphrased what Camp said (and have not said his words as eloquently as he did) but it was a strong statement.

One person said that what he likes about the film is that in using a historic film, he thinks it will open up dialog for his congregation to talk about today's issues concerning nationalism and ecclessiology in a non-threatening and non-polarized way.

I'll probably buy the DVD and study guide and use it at Blakemore and West Nashville.
Click here to see a segment of the documentary

Monday, September 12, 2005

Alt.Worship Methodist Style pt.5

From Hamburg, Germany

We're now a stand-alone English-speaking congregation of the North Germany Conference of the United Methodist Church. We've started something called 'FifthSunday': we hold it every 3 months of course - so far an international Harvest ,an Africa day, when 60 people gathered, including Zimbabweans (with lively unplanned Shona songs!) and Ghanaians, and an Asia day. You can get more information about this and other English-speaking groups in Germany at

E-mail contact:
Phone contact: Jim Dwyer 0049 40 562255

Some of alt.worship and the emerging churches desire for congregations to look and feel like the kingdom of God's richness of diversity. The gifts of the spirit are fresh and and creative- bringing dynamic cultural expressions of worship to build community.


Sunday, September 11, 2005


I typically use the lectionary readings for my devotional readings in the morning. This has been a practice of mine for a few years now and I've come to really enjoy using the lectionary. I base my youth programs around it, devotionals for group meetings usually, and even when I'm looking ahead at retreats that I'm to lead- I'll even choose the lectionary passages for that weekend (ok that's just dorky I know).

As I was reading yesterday morning from Romans I felt the words just jump out at me! I read the words again and again. "Oh", I said to myself, "if only all we Christians would read this passage and put it in our own contexts!!"

I find myself continually dismayed at how polarized the church has become by playing the same partisan political game our country engages in. If only we could find it in ourselves to look for a different framework out of which to define who we are. Maybe Romans has strong words for us:

Romans 14:1-12 (The Message)
"Cultivating Good Relationships"
1Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do. And don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with--even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.

(wow, lets put the confessing movement, ird and rmn in a room together and have them read this 100 times)

2For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume all Christians should be vegetarians and eat accordingly.

(or maybe some Christians feel that a homosexual couple can live together in a monogomous committed relationship while others feel that it is wrong...hmmm, and yes those in Jesus' time ,and just after, did not think it would ever be possible for gentiles to be Christian because of their diet- scripture and traditions still condemned their eating "practices")

3But since both are guests at Christ's table, wouldn't it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn't eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. 4Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God's welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.

(When it comes down to it- Christ invites all to God's table. We all come to the table as God's children- brothers and sisters. We should not let family quarells get in the way of being family)

5Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.

6What's important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God's sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you're a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. 7None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. 8It's God we are answerable to--all the way from life to death and everything in between--not each other. 9That's why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.

10So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I'd say it leaves you looking pretty silly--or worse. Eventually, we're all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren't going to improve your position there one bit. 11Read it for yourself in Scripture:

"As I live and breathe," God says,
"every knee will bow before me;
Every tongue will tell the honest truth
that I and only I am God."

12So tend to your knitting. You've got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.

Wow this passage just blows my mind!!! May God bless you and keep you.


Friday, September 09, 2005


Here are a few thoughts from a theological perspective including: Chris Seay and Marva Dawn.

Alt.Worship Methodist Style pt.4

From Saltash circuit, Cornwall

"One of our members planned a walk round the circuit's 11 churches during the holiday season, with a brief stop for an act of worship at every one. In total, the 5-day walk was 50 miles. At times there were only 2 walkers, but about 40 of us managed at least some of it! 500 copies of 'The Son' were given out as we travelled. Ages ranged from 12 to 90+, and the smaller chapels were certainly encouraged. We met people on the road and explained it was 'a walk of faith'.(Slide show available in Devon/Cornwall) "

E-mail contact:
Phone contact: Keith Nutton 01759 382334

To use an acronymn that methodist author/speaker/emerging church guru/theologian Leonard Sweet coined- this prayer walk was E.P.I.C. Alt.Worship:

it was
Experiential: the prayer walk involved the senses- touch, smell, hearing, and seeing. The participants experienced God not just by sitting in a pew on Sunday morning but they actually became pilgrims on a journey and saw God not only in the churches they saw as they walked, but saw God through God's creation.

Participatory: the prayer walk involved people from all walks of life and all ages and all were involved in this walking prayer. Although someone obviously planned the walk and facillitated- the prayer involved a community of people (even only 2) who shared in the participation.

Image Rich: During the walk, pilgrims read from devotional material, saw images of the churches they passed, and saw fellow pilgrims and strangers along the way. All this connected to their faith pilgrimage and became a story they could share with others.

Connected: The pilgrims walked together in community with one another and even met strangers along the way. From start to finish being connected in community was at the center because God- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit the ultimate expression of Community was at the center.

Alt.Worship takes serious the need to build a Christ centered community and is not afraid to try it in new (or very old) ways. Although this worship experience seems very ordinary, it is very much outside the box when it comes to the question- "how do we do worship together?"

may the peace of the prince of peace be with you:


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Sexual Ethics and the Practicing Bishop

Today I attended the first of a two day "Sexual Ethics/Safe Sanctuaries" workshop for clergy. This workshop is one of those wonderful workshops that I'll be able to cross off my list of things to do in the canidacy process. It wasn't a bad program today, especially since Brentwood UMC (the location of the seminar) has wireless!!!

The best part of the day though was a segment that our Bishop, Richard Wills, led. He talked about the need for clergy to be spiritually fit. He remarked that being spiritually fit is done through practices. In fact he stressed the importance of daily disciplines in one's life that builds the strong foundation for a whole pastor. He then went on to say that pastors needed to think of practices in wholistic ways- health, diet, exercise, prayer/meditation, scripture, etc... I have to say, he was very compelling and seems to really be interested in the hearts and souls of clergy.

As I listened to him speak I thought of the wonderful response he wrote to the members of UM churches in response to the hurricane last week. So I decided to post it:

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

There is a time when the mission of the church is heightened. There is a time when support for our neighbors is placed even more directly in our hands. One of those times is now! Hurricane Katrina has stretched Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana to unimaginable levels. Recovery efforts will take years and volunteer help will be needed for the duration of the recovery.

Pastoral support is critical, and, as you well know, the key to passing along information is the local church. Therefore, I am writing to let you know what we believe to be the immediate needs of those affected by Katrina and how we can help.

Clean up and debris removal is the first priority. UMCOR has identified an urgent need for health kits and flood buckets. Several districts and the conference are securing trailers and trucks to transport these items to UMCOR’S Sager Brown at various points over the weekend and as time goes forward. Details will be available at the conference and district offices, through listserv, at and at

read the rest of his letter here

The Politics of the People of God

"...the New Testament also teaches that the kingdom of God is a thing unto itself. It is a community in the midst of the world and as such stands alongside the nations. It operates not so much in states as between them. Primary loyalty for the Christian is not to any nation, but to the kingdom of God. The New Testament spends a great deal of time preaching the virtues of a God-honoring life and being a good citizen. Yet it clearly distinguishes love for the world from love for God and his kingdom. It is amazing how little is said directly about or against Rome, even though the church's values clearly opposed Roman values..."
- from The Politics of the People of God at, by Darrell Bock

What is the role of church to state or church to world? Read the rest of this article by Darrell Bock here

In the book Resident Aliens, Bishop Will Willimon and theologian Stanley Hauerwas makes a similar statment about the relationship between the Church and the state and world. The Church in many respects is to be a people who are representatives of the Kingdom of God that have formed colonies in the world. These peculiar colonies of "resident aliens" have their own peculiar practices- such as radical hospitality, eating the body and blood of their founder, imitating their founder's way of living, prayer, and baptizing new members into the community.

Yes this peculiar colony of strange aliens often times don't seem so strange- living side by side their neighbors- caring for them, working alongside them, always trying to be the face, hands and feet of the One who came before them in hopes that the neighbors might want to become a part of the colony.

As we transition further and further away from modernity into the next steps of an era I'm afraid (and excited) that the Church will continue to shed it's imperialistic relationship with the empires of the world and continue to look more and more like the early church. We'll have to wait and see how it pans out because for now- here in the Southeast US, we're still looking like empire and not colony.



I'm really excited!!!

I've been putting together a new way to facillitate leadership within our youth group. Our youth council has worked well in the past but at most it has tended to be chaotic with not much structure- which is typically how we like it at Blake'Ville.

But I want the youth to feel more empowered to imagine, create and lead more of what they do. So I've developed a new model called FOCUS Teams. This is the abbot/monastic youth pastor coming out in me- I want to "focus" the kids into a "way of doing ministry" that is centered in practices.

Read more about them at the FOCUS Teams Blog.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


How well do you remember last week's religion-news headlines? Take this quiz to find out! I got a whoppin' 7 out of 10 correct. I'm up from last week.

this comes from


Exodus 14: 19-31
19The angel of God that had been leading the camp of Israel now shifted and got behind them. And the Pillar of Cloud that had been in front also shifted to the rear. 20The Cloud was now between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel. The Cloud enshrouded one camp in darkness and flooded the other with light. The two camps didn't come near each other all night.
21Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and GOD, with a terrific east wind all night long, made the sea go back. He made the sea dry ground. The seawaters split.

22The Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground with the waters a wall to the right and to the left. 23The Egyptians came after them in full pursuit, every horse and chariot and driver of Pharaoh racing into the middle of the sea. 24It was now the morning watch. GOD looked down from the Pillar of Fire and Cloud on the Egyptian army and threw them into a panic. 25He clogged the wheels of their chariots; they were stuck in the mud.
The Egyptians said, "Run from Israel! GOD is fighting on their side and against Egypt!"
26GOD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea and the waters will come back over the Egyptians, over their chariots, over their horsemen."

27Moses stretched his hand out over the sea: As the day broke and the Egyptians were running, the sea returned to its place as before. GOD dumped the Egyptians in the middle of the sea. 28The waters returned, drowning the chariots and riders of Pharaoh's army that had chased after Israel into the sea. Not one of them survived.

29But the Israelites walked right through the middle of the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall to the right and to the left. 30GOD delivered Israel that day from the oppression of the Egyptians. And Israel looked at the Egyptian dead, washed up on the shore of the sea, 31and realized the tremendous power that GOD brought against the Egyptians. The people were in reverent awe before GOD and TRUSTED IN GOD and his servant Moses.

I don't think I trust God enough. I want to look out at the world and get angry when things don't seem to be going the way I want them to. I write a blog post, I complain and even argue sometimes, but in the end God is right there saying, "You should have just trusted in me, I promised that I would take care of it."

It's odd how I am never content to simply be in prayer when I'm bothered by something (even when a friend and mentor tells me to simply be in prayer) and instead I act as though I can change a situation withough acknowledging that it is God who changes situations.

I really need to trust God more. I really need to pray more. Wow, I'm not feeling nearly as contemplative and prayerful as I want to. Maybe I should just trust that God is working through this to lead me to something.

Wow, that God sure is crafty.


Alt.Worship Methodist Style pt.2

The Alt.Worship of Rugby Methodist Church Centre in Rugby Town, England

"Nothing startling, but we reckon we've got a good thing going. Not everyone goes to the local library or bookshop, but we wanted to encourage people to read easy-access Christian books – biography, novels, some 'study' but mainly'lighter' reading, with 20% aimed at children. It cost £500 to start. We have150 books, and we keep adding – 10 books this month. By word of mouth and notices we've publicised it to groups using the premises. Our congregation browse it after services, and free-access borrowing has worked well."

E-mail contact:
Phone contact: Rev. Christine Dybdahl 01788 576929

As you can see, in Alt.Worship there's nothing complicated going on. Just a mindset that within our context we have to find creative ways to connect the "traditions" of the church and love of Jesus Christ in new and approachable ways to "seekers" and postmoderns. The churches in Britain are innovative in very ordinary ways since, unlike my context in the southeast US, they are in a post christian culture. Connecting the traditions of the church (whether it be through a church library with good Christian reads, or a room of 24 hour prayer with contemplative and interactive prayer stations) to those who have not been raised in the Christian faith is important in a place like the UK. It will be quite important, I believe, in another 25 years for us here in the SouthEast US (we're already seeing the effects of postchristian culture in other parts of the US and Canada).

Alt.Worship and Emerging Church- just a fad? I don't think so- it's a real response to the changing landscape of culture.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Alt.Worship Methodist Style pt.1

What might alt.worship look like in the methodist tradition? Well it may or may not look like what other churches are doing but here's an example of one Methodist Church in Knaresborough England, that is missionally minded and offers alt.worship to match it's vission.


We created a prayer room for a 24/7 prayer session over 2 days. It contained lots of written aids to prayer, but we added candles, CDs, DVD images, and a'prayer tent' draped with fabrics, plus floor cushions, a pebble pool for concerns, a shredder for confessions, a graffiti wall, a mirror, local and worldmaps – and plasticine, partly for the children!

The atmosphere was so special that many took off their shoes at the door, and people who'd been apprehensive at the prospect of an hour to pray alone found themselves surprised when time was up.

E-mail contact:
Phone contact: Liz Akroyd 01423 863982

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Alt.Worship? or Emerging Church?

Before there were 'emerging churches' there were churches over in the UK and various other European nations doing 'alternative worship'. Is there a difference in the two terms?

I seem to think so and so does Steve Collins of Small Fire. I tend to connect more with the missional ethos of the alt.worship movement and somewhat fluid nature of alt.worship more so than I do with the emerging church. Although I really like most of the things the emerging church (US) is doing and want to continue to be a part of the network and conversation. Collins expresses that Emerging Churches and Alt.Worship although quite similar have some elemental differences. Check out Steve's article on the subject here. His website Small Fire is a terrific resource, as well, for alt.worship.


Friday, September 02, 2005

St Phransus: tinkering with different medium

I'm considering doing some sort of podcast type of post once a week. I want it to be a niche' that I would be comfortable recording (which means that soundtrack music would be involved). Here are my thoughts, let me know what you would be interested in hearing:

IDEA #1: A Lectio style guided meditation on the week's lectionary gospel- could be used as a prayer time, meditation, centering prayer, etc etc...

IDEA #2: Prayers set to soundtrack music- prayers that would follow the Christian season, would be sort of an ambience meets beat poetry.

IDEA #3: Random Thoughts For the Week- just whatever is on my mind at the moment

IDEA #4: Thoughts on Spiritual Disciplines/Practices- cover a different practice every week, consider quotes from different contemplative writers and such...

IDEA #5: add your ideas, cause that's all i have

let me know what you think

Thursday, September 01, 2005



In these early days after a disaster of this magnitude, there remains a state of emergency. Communication with the affected areas is difficult and details continue to be uncertain about persons and places connected with the United Methodist Church. But even as the official rescue efforts are occurring, UMCOR is engaged in the planning and strategizing for long-term recovery.

Early reports from the affected annual conferences are still unclear with many areas not yet heard from. UMCOR Disaster Response executive Tom Hazelwood will arrive in Jackson, MS, Thursday to tour the coastal areas with Bishop Hope Morgan Ward and to initialize the Mississippi Annual Conference disaster response efforts. UMCOR consultants are being deployed to the Louisiana Annual Conference and the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference on Friday to undertake the same tasks. Alabama-West Florida reports that the damage from Hurricane Katrina is much more severe in Alabama than from Hurricane Ivan last year. This compounds the damage in those areas which have not fully recovered from Ivan.
UMCOR Disaster Response is a three phase process. The emergency stage is the present stage and is anticipated to last for up to 10 days. During this time rescue efforts and infrastructure repair are carried out by official agencies.
In the second phase, the relief phase, assistance is provided to home owners who need to "muck out," assess damage, receive emotional and spiritual care, and begin their long road to recovery. During this time the local churches are very active, acting as shelters and support areas for the community.

The third phase, long-term recovery, involves a holistic approach to people who have suffered losses, covering everything from seeking them out in their neighborhood to providing information and advocacy about their federal and state assistance rights. In coordination with other religious bodies and community service agencies, UMCOR will participate in repairing and rebuilding of homes, and assistance with living expenses.

Tomorrow night our youth group is having a lock-in. We typically have a "Back To School" Lock-in every year. Last night as our congregation sat around tables after dinner we discussed what we as a church could do in these beginning steps toward helping those affected by Katrina.

The youth decided that they want to have a "Flood Bucket Scavenger Hunt". We're all going to bring money to the lock-in, split into small teams, divide the $$ equally and go out with a list and see which team can make the almighty dollar go the furtherest. Then when we get back we'll assemble our flood buckets/health kits and get them to UMCOR.

Our youth group never ceases to amaze me at how they can creatively express their compassion. The lock-in is a night for them to unwind and just have a good time together, but now they have turned it into a Kingdom moment. In the words of Napaleon Dynamite, "YESSS".

Kits to Sustain Everyday Life


I am a U.S. Army chaplain, have served a tour in Iraq, and proudly wear the uniform of my beloved country. Yet I have never felt comfortable participating in “Patriotic Sunday” services around the Fourth of July.

The mixing of the symbols of God and country always remind me of the frightening photographs of German clergy proudly displaying the swastika in their churches and rendering the Nazi salute during the Third Reich. I have always wanted to avoid even the appearance of such a diabolical marriage of church and state in the United States.During Sunday worship the week before Independence Day, I became convinced that such patriotic displays during the worship hour are nothing less than idolatry, i.e., the praise and adoration of something other than almighty God.

Thank you for having the courage and insight to speak a prophetic word to the evangelical community at a time when our faith and our political persuasions are again being inappropriately commingled.

Scott A. SterlingColumbia, South Carolina (in a letter to Christianity Today Magazine)

This comes from Bishop Will Willimon's most recent blog post, "Patrotic Thoughts". Willimon raises some interesting thoughts on being a Christian first and citizen second as the God of Israel relates to America. It's worth the read.