Monday, April 30, 2007

DR. ROBERT WEBBER, 1933-2007

A dear hero of mine passed away this weekend. Dr. Robert Webber was a teacher, a writer, and creative voice within the Church. His ideas on worship and evangelism has been a wonderful gift and inspiration to me over the last several years as I have struggled through my own faith journey.

He is probably most known for his "ancient future" series of books. Its funny because he gets thrown into the "emergent" crowd a lot of times. Several years ago Gavin and I had a chance to hook up and talk to Dr. Webber while at an emergent convention. I was being my obnoxious self and going around and asking different emergent leaders if they could spell out the ecclesiology of emergent (be careful, i ask that of methodists too). It was my biggest criticism of emergent at the time. So I asked the question of Dr. Webber. And he laughed and said- "you know, I don't know what it is either! And that's probably the place where I part ways with emergent. What I'm trying to do is more convergent movement. I'm here teaching but I don't really get what this is all about."

We had a laugh over that and I realized what a wonderful, brilliant and quirky gift Dr. Webber was to the Church. Thank you Dr. Webber for what you contributed to the Christian faith of the 21st century.
you can read a reflection here from the chaplain of the worship institute of which Dr. Webber was a vital part.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Scott on struggles and victories:
"I work at Covenant House which is a shelter for runaway teenagers. Working with the homeless and learning from them and what they have to say about life has taught me a lot. The struggles of dealing with ghetto people and that whole mentality--because I don't have that mentality--living among them, that has been quite a struggle. That's been an exodus from my upper middle-class upbringing and my comfy-cozy life that I've been blessed to have. Then going into Philly and living there and hanging out with heroin addicts, people who are constantly manipulating you because that's the only way they can live, hearing gunshots in the middle of the night. The struggles of that have really helped me with my music and with my spiritual life and that's the key; the best place for art is also the best place for your spiritual life and that's amidst exodus.

I believe in this fallen world we are to be pilgrims. God created order out of chaos and he moved over the surface of waters and then there was light. I think that's kind of how art is. You go through the struggle and then you create out of what you experience from that struggle and there's that movement from pain to struggle to joy, it's that constant cycle. It's that cycle that we need to stay in, for art and for our spiritual life. So many of us Christians have such crappy art because we don't seem to be willing to struggle as much as we should. It's the same problem with America in general."

Listen to song: Turn Me 'Round

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Scott speaking on the original psalters from Old Testament times:

"They created their music amidst exodus and it was exodus with faith. They did not fixate in pain and sorrow and just stay there and not see hope. And they didn't stay comfortable and stagnant in praise and joy and pastels. They were in movement, they were in pilgrimage, they were going through the depths of the sea, and the wilderness and the desert. Their music had that passion and struggle in it.

In order to go into exodus you have to have faith. You have to have trust that God will deliver you. And if you read throughout the Psalms, there's this crazy lamentation, and it's honest and it's truthful. When they were in pain they admitted it and they talked about it and they struggled with it. They didn't ignore it. They said, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" But then, even in the midst of that struggle, while they were right in it, they would cry out in faith and say, "Praise you God." So I characterize it as a constant movement; struggle for righteousness with great faith."

Listen to song: The Lord's Prayer

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


There might be a temptation to view Easter as only one Sunday. It's sort of like we go through this intense season of Lent and then Holy Week things get REALLY intense. And finially Easter Sunday comes and then we take a breath and say, "shooo, it's over. another wonderful holy season."

But I would suggest that it's way more beneficial to the worship life of our communities that we observe the full Easter season that the Church has recognized for centuries. According to The New Handbook of the Christian Year, the Easter season also known as The Great 50 Days is “the greatest, most festive season of the Christian Year." But it doesn't always seem that way.

In her article, "What's So Great About the Great 50 Days", Erin Martin, suggests that "Maybe it’s because this “great” season begins in the doldrums of “Low Sunday,” the term used to describe the sparsely populated pews the week after the Easter crowd has gone home. Maybe it’s because as “flabby” Christians we arrive at the season already exhausted from the preceding Lenten demand of 40 days of discipline."

In Blair Gilmer Meeks book, Season of Ash and Fire: Prayers and Liturgies for Lent and Easter, she offers some refreshing suggestions for revitalizing the Great 50 Days. First, she points out that the number fifty calls to mind the year of the Jubilee from Leviticus 25, a time appointed to replenish the earth, free the slaves, cancel debts and spread God’s justice and peace throughout the land. Consequently, the season following Easter is for us a “Jubilee of days,” a time for rejoicing in the restoration we receive through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Great 50 Days is an occasion each year for the people of God to announce anew a time of God’s favor.

Also, Meeks explains that the Lectionary readings for the Great 50 Days are never a mere reiteration of the Easter narrative, but rather, they are a progression that flows forward from the narrative. In the eight Sundays that follow, the readings disclose more and more about the resurrected Lord and the God who sent him. As a result, the Easter story doesn’t get stale. Instead it gradually leads us into deeper insight into the risen Jesus and into the community of faith that will be left behind. By reliving the stories of resurrection through the lectionary we find ourselves moving with the disciples right into Pentecost.



Scott on why "The Psalters"...

"I read in a couple of books somewhere that the people who performed the Psalms back in David's time were called "psalters." They were people who praised God through music. What I wanted to do is glorify God through music and I wanted to do it in the way that they did it, not with the same sound or the same style or with the same rituals, but with the same philosophy, the same heart, and the same passion.

That was back in '93. Back then I couldn't play anything. I was talking to Karin Bergquist of Over the Rhine and I said, "I'm too old to start music." She encouraged me to go with it, and said, "When you make it, give me a call." Ever since I wanted to be in music, it was always the psalters project. The name is an identity, not a band name."

listen to song: Hosanna

Monday, April 23, 2007


If you happen to be in the Nashville area either May 22 or 23 you definitely should not miss The Psalters. These self proclaimed nomads travel around in their big black bus and share there creativity with anyone willing to listen- blending VERY organic world music with the ancient liturgies and creeds of the Church. If I had to put them into a category it would be something like- gypsy punk meets radical orthodoxy.

I am excited about both nights because on the 22nd they will be in East Nashville at The 5 Spot performing (which is my neighborhood) and on Wed. the 23rd they will be performing for our youth group's first coffee house night which is also a benefit show to raise awareness and support for the Darfur region. Our show starts at 6pm, no cover, just donations (half to darfur and half to our travelling gypsies).

So with that shared, I have decided to spend my next "week with" series with The Psalters, words from band member Scott Krueger and music clips from the band. Enjoy.

May the Lord bless you and keep you,



this just does not make sense

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Lorna Koskela


Gavin Richardson


Art Ruch


Jonathon Norman


Keith McIlwain


John the Methodist


Theresa Coleman


Allan Bevere


Abi Carlisle-Wilke


Which Methoblogger Are You?
created with

You are Lorna Koskela! You read, write, take walks, and no one knows the truth about what goes on in your basement!

Wow, I never knew that I was actually Lorna. That's kinda cool. And SUPER WOW, I'm more gavin than I am myself. Hmmmm.... I'll have to sleep on that one. Thanks John for helping me find myself.


who would you send back to the 5th dimension if you could?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I have become a big fan of google documents. It offers an online word processor and spreadsheet (basically an alternative to microsoft word and excel). I was excited this morning when I read that google will soon be adding the new feature of a "power point" presentations to it's documents. I cannot wait!! Read about it here.

Wed. Morning Prayer

Wednesday, April 18
The Morning Office To Be Observed on the Hour or Half Hour Between 6 and 9 a.m.

The Call to Prayer
The LORD is near to those who call upon him,* to all who call upon him faithfully. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;* he hears their cry and helps them. The LORD preserves all those who love him,* but he destroys all the wicked.
Psalm 145:19–21
The Request for Presence
Not to us, O LORD, not to us,* but to your Name give glory; because of your love and because of your faithfulness.
Psalm 115:1

The Greeting
Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens,* and your faithfulness to the clouds.
Psalm 36:5
The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
I will exalt you, O God my King,* and bless your Name for ever and ever.
Psalm 145:1
A Reading
After this, Jesus appeared again to the disciples, this time at the Tiberias Sea (the Sea of Galilee). This is how he did it: Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed "Twin"), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the brothers Zebedee, and two other disciples were together.

Simon Peter announced, "I'm going fishing." The rest of them replied, "We're going with you." They went out and got in the boat. They caught nothing that night. When the sun came up, Jesus was standing on the beach, but they didn't recognize him.

Jesus spoke to them: "Good morning! Did you catch anything for breakfast?" They answered, "No." He said, "Throw the net off the right side of the boat and see what happens." They did what he said. All of a sudden there were so many fish in it, they weren't strong enough to pull it in. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, "It's the Master!"

When Simon Peter realized that it was the Master, he threw on some clothes, for he was stripped for work, and dove into the sea. The other disciples came in by boat for they weren't far from land, a hundred yards or so, pulling along the net full of fish. When they got out of the boat, they saw a fire laid, with fish and bread cooking on it.

Jesus said, "Bring some of the fish you've just caught." Simon Peter joined them and pulled the net to shore—153 big fish! And even with all those fish, the net didn't rip. Jesus said, "Breakfast is ready." Not one of the disciples dared ask, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Master. Jesus then took the bread and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus had shown himself alive to the disciples since being raised from the dead.
John 21: 1-14

The Refrain
I will exalt you, O God my King,* and bless your Name for ever and ever.

The Morning Psalm
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with my whole heart;*
before the gods I will sing your praise.
I will bow down toward your holy temple and praise your Name,*
because of your love and faithfulness;
For you have glorified your Name*
and your word above all things.
When I called, you answered me;*
you increased my strength within me.
All the kings of the earth will praise you, O LORD,*
when they have heard the words of your mouth.
They will sing of the ways of the LORD,*
that great is the glory of the LORD.
Though the LORD be high, he cares for the lowly;*
he perceives the haughty from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you keep me safe;*
you stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies;
your right hand shall save me.
The LORD will make good his purpose for me;*
O LORD, your love endures for ever; do not abandon the works of your hands.
Psalm 138
The Refrain
I will exalt you, O God my King,* and bless your Name for ever and ever.

The Cry of the Church
O God, come to my assistance! O Lord, make haste to help me!

The Lord’s Prayer

The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Almighty God, you have surrounded me with a great cloud of witnesses: Grant that I too may persevere in running the race that is set before me, until at last I may with him attain to your eternal joy; through Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. †

The Concluding Prayer of the Church
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen. †

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I speak a lot about how the reason there is such a divide in Christianity when it comes to the "liberal/conservative" issue is that Christians have allowed themselves to be informed by the politics of the state and not the politics of Jesus. There has been a loss of "moral imagination" when it comes to solutions and alternatives to the problems we face in the world.

"So Jonathon", you ask, "what in the world do you mean by moral imagination?" Friends, moral imagination is our spirit filled ability to imagine what the world might be... to imagine that "God Dream" for the world- and then to LIVE IT NOW, and participate in it NOW- no holds barred.

Does it look ridiculous? Sometimes... sometimes even to ourselves it looks strange and downright stupid.

Will it change the world? Maybe it will, maybe it won't- BUT it will give us and everyone a glimpse of "what might be" when we are living out God's Kingdom together.

I came across this video and I LOVE IT because these guys are willing to do something subversive and wonderful, something ridiculous and creative. They are using their God breathed moral imaginations to show the possibility of what might be. Thanks be to God that the Church still has artists who are dare to paint a kingdom come in the world now.



"Pain in times like this, I believe, is not simply something to be escaped, resolved, fixed.Instead, it is something to be suffered, something that must, in a sense, crash over us like a wave or knock us down like a fever, shake us so that we truly feel our feelings and name them; so that we can speak of them and share them and feel an exchange with others of sympathy, empathy, common grief, and common sorrow." - Brian McLaren speaking about the Virginia Tech shooting. To read the full article click here.


Almighty God, Father of all mercies and giver of all comfort: Deal graciously, we pray thee, with those who mourn, that casting every care on thee, they may know the consolation of thy love, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Source: Book of Common Prayer 1979

Monday, April 16, 2007


Keep a look out... The Way of Pilgrimage is soon to be "hot of the press" and in stores!!

Annnnd... along with it is the Way of Pilgrimage, or WOPi, Website with the Methoblog's two quirkiest mystics as guides. I hear the WOPi Website should be up and going within a week or so. Check back for more details.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Friday, April 13, 2007


Back in September, 2006, Gavo and I agreed to be the hosts for a podcast sponsored by The Youthworker Movement for people in youth ministry. Well we recorded, it sat on a hard drive for a while, it resurfaced, was edited, soundtrack was recorded and now it's up and we have ourselves a new adventure in the making.

I don't think it's available at the Youthworker Movement website yet, but you can listen to it here.




Thursday, April 12, 2007


When the war ends, it will be found that there was an equal amount of "thuggery" practiced on both sides, that terrible things were done to force the final victory. - Rufus M. Jones; 1863-1948

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Wednesday, April 11

The Morning Office To Be Observed on the Hour or Half Hour
Between 6 and 9 a.m.

The Call to Prayer (leader)
Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous,* and give thanks to his holy Name.
Psalm 97:12

The Request for Presence (all together)
Bow down your ear, O LORD, and answer me,* for I am poor and in misery. Keep watch over my life, for I am faithful;* save your servant who puts his trust in you.
Psalm 86:1-2

The Greeting (all together)
Blessed is the LORD!* for he has heard the voice of my prayer.
Psalm 28:7

The Refrain for the Morning Lessons (all together)
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Matthew 5:6, KJV

A Reading (leader)
A revealing of Jesus, the Messiah. God gave it to make plain to his servants what is about to happen. He published and delivered it by Angel to his servant John. And John told everything he saw: God's Word-- the witness of Jesus Christ!

How blessed the reader! How blessed the hearers and keepers of these oracle words, all the words written in this book!

Time is just about up.

(His Eyes Pouring Fire-Blaze)

I, John, am writing this to the seven churches in Asia province: All the best to you from The God Who Is, The God Who Was, and The God About to Arrive, and from the Seven Spirits assembled before his throne, and from Jesus Christ--Loyal Witness, Firstborn from the dead, Ruler of all earthly kings.

Glory and strength to Christ, who loves us,
who blood-washed our sins from our lives,
Who made us a Kingdom, Priests for his Father,
forever--and yes, he's on his way!
Riding the clouds, he'll be seen by every eye,
those who mocked and killed him will see him,
People from all nations and all times
will tear their clothes in lament.
Oh, Yes.

The Master declares, "I'm A to Z. I'm The God Who Is, The God Who Was, and The God About to Arrive. I'm the Sovereign-Strong."
Revelation 1: 1-8

The Refrain (all together)
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

The Morning Psalm (in the round)
As the deer longs for the water-brooks,

so longs my soul for you, O God.

My soul is athirst for God, athirst for the living God;*

when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?

My tears have been my food day and night, while all day long they say to me,*

"Where now is your God?"

I pour out my soul when I think on these things:*

how I went with the multitude and led them into the house of God,

With the voice of praise and thanksgiving,*

among those who keep holy-day.

Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul?*

and why are you so disquieted within me?

Put your trust in God;*

for I will yet give thanks to him, who is the help of my countenance, and my God.
Psalm 42:1-7

The Refrain (all together)
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

The Small Verse (leader)
My soul thirsts for the strong, living God and all that is within me cries out to him. Traditional

The Lord's Prayer (all together)

The Prayer Appointed for the Week (leader)

O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of my faith, that I may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. †

The Concluding Prayer of the Church (all together)
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen. †


Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone - we find it with another. We do not discover the secret of our lives merely by study and calculation in our own isolated meditations. The meaning of our life is a secret that has to be revealed to us in love, by the one we love. And if this love is unreal, the secret will not be found, the meaning will never reveal itself, the message will never be decoded. At best, we will receive a scrambled and partial message, one that will deceive and confuse us. We will never be fully real until we let ourselves fall in love - either with another human person or with God.

- Thomas Merton

Love and Living, edited by Naomi Burton Stone and Br. Patrick Hart Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1985, page 27

Thursday, April 05, 2007



"What right would I have to urge Muslims to be faithful Muslims? I have no idea what it means to be a faithful Muslim. I would certainly hope that Christians might live well enough that we would be a witness to Muslims so they might consider making peace a way of life. Of course Islam can be true for Muslims, but that doesn't imply a relativism about truth. It just means that you cannot control what another tradition says is true. What you must do is try to find a way to understand what they mean by truth. In this respect I've been deeply influenced by Alasdair MacIntyre and his understanding of truth as the best we have done so far."

Wednesday, April 04, 2007



"That I have some sympathy with those who would refuse to allow another person to be unjustly injured or killed is simply a statement that any person should make. But that sympathy does not mean I think we should kill in order to prevent another from being killed. I've always insisted that Christian nonviolence is a harsh and dreadful love requiring that at times we may have to watch the innocent suffer for our convictions. But that is true of any serious moral position including the just war position. Of course Christians should have tried to prevent the massacres in Rwanda and Darfur. The question is how? I can't imagine what a disinterested war would look like."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


This little girl could be the coolest kid in school- EVER!!!



"The claim that God's creatures are not naturally violent is a claim meant to make you think twice about the word "natural." We were created to be at rest, that is, capable of worshiping God. That we refuse to be at rest, to be at peace, is an indication of our fallen character. But we refuse to believe that God has abandoned us, making possible outbreaks of peace in places most unexpected. For example, look at the work of Jean Vanier and the L'Arche movement. Then you will see what we were naturally created to be. [L'Arche is an international network of faith-based communities involved in creating homes and day programs with people who have developmental disabilities.]"


I like that Hauerwas when speaking about our lack of being able to be at rest or to be at peace speaks of the problem as being due to our "fallen character". CHARACTER has everything to do with how we live our lives- the routines, practices and HABITS that make up our daily experiences.

A people who practice loving one another, practice kindness to strangers, practice prayer and stillness, practice generosity to those in need- if practiced consistently will over time BEcome loving, kind, prayerful, and generous people. When I look around at our culture in America (and most places around the world) I don't see the virtues being lived out that Christ taught us.

I know that I have heard Christian leaders say things like being a servant, being loving, or being kind is natural- that following Christ is natural- we are living the way we were intended to live.

I suppose I sort of believe that but there's more to that. I don't think following Christ and the way he taught his "Christ Community" to live comes to natural to us- loving our enemies, choosing to be last, selling all we have and giving it away, etc...- we have to practice at it- over and over until we have a routine. Routines become habits. And after a time passes- habits become simply who we are.

I think Wesley understood the essential need for people to have certain "practices" or means of grace that if practiced routinely would help people draw closer to the presence of God and to one another.

I'd rather be a part of a community of Christians who share in practices together in such a way that they model to the world what it means to live together peacefully in love than a community of Christians who claim Jesus is their center but their life together looks no different than what is seen and experienced everywhere else in the world.

shalom, stPhransus

Monday, April 02, 2007


I know, I know!! I have already done a week with stan "the man" hauerwas. but HEY, get over it!! I have absolute guy love for the cussin' texan. what can i say? if you don't know much about dr. hauerwas- well check out his bio here. his work has been probably THE biggest influence on my theology and thoughts on ministry over the last few years.

so i hope you have a wonderful week and that maybe the words from dr. hauerwas might spark a little conversation and stimulate our minds and hearts to be challenged and stirred.
may the lord bless you and keep you through holy week,



"I really don't have a "basic theology." I'm not sure what that description would imply. I believe what the church tells me to believe. I assume that the question about Scripture being inerrant assumes that such a view of Scripture is what constitutes "basic theology." But inerrancy is anything but basic. It's a modernist view that is in deep tension with the church's claim of the authority of Scripture. Of course I believe that Scripture is the word of God. It contains everything necessary for salvation, but it does so through the Holy Spirit through the discernment of the Word by the Body of Christians. To ask, 'Is salvation only through Christ?' presumes you might know what salvation is separate from Christ. Christ is our salvation—so you cannot separate the new creation enacted through Christ from His work."