Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Thinspace thoughts

I think I'm a liturgical Metho-matic. I'm stealing that from Kevin S.

I've spent the last several months thinking a lot about hospitality, reading a lot about hospitality, writing a lot about hospitality. This weekend I got to receive it. Kevin and his wife Becky welcomed Jackie and I to crash the night at their place.

Saturday in one of the breakout sessions, we were each introducing ourselves and offering some context to our background. "I'm a liturgical Metho-matic," says Kevin. He loves liturgy and has roots in Methodism and charismatic stuff. Hey, me, too.


"Thinspace" is a term having to do with closeness. Closeness both between people and between the invisible world with the visible. That place where they almost touch. That was the theme of the weekend.


"People convert themselves," said Casper. The morning "speaker" Saturday was a conversation between Matt Casper and Jason Evans. Casper is an atheist. Jason is responsible for things like Ecclesia. But they're, like, best pals.

So anyway, I was struck by Matt's comment. Because I agree, totally, but I don't, totally. In context, he was arguing that people are not converted by arguments and propositional statements. Lee Strobel does nothing for him. And I agree. Charts and graphs and logic didn't lead me to repentance. (as an aside, "repentance" has nothing to do with your sins. Jesus never said "repent of your sins." He said "Repent." It has to do with your mind and how you think.) (as another aside, why doesn't children's church have the kids memorize Romans 2:4b?)

But I disagree. People don't convert themselves; the Holy Spirit does.

One highlight of the weekend for me was hearing from Bob Ekblad. Bob has recently written a book called Reading the Bible with the Damned. He's also responsible for a group called Tierra Nueva. I found his story pretty fascinating, as he weaved together his experience from working with peasant farmers in Guatemala to undocumented workers in Washington state, to the Toronto revival to being a jail chaplain in Skaggit Cty. All the while, his narrative was framed by Isaiah 61 and Jesus' appropriation of it in Luke 4. I'm not sure if I've ever heard someone hold in tension spiritual deliverance and social advocacy, of presence and healing, both at the same time in quite this way.


"If we are rebellious, it is because we bear hope and life. This is Jesus' way." Somebody said this at some point. I wrote it down. Maybe it was Bob.


Another highlight for both Jackie and me was a breakout session with Kevin Rains and Dave Nixon, the co-pastors of Vineyard Central. Kevin called the discussion "Un-pimping and Re-monking the Church." The idea being historic spiritual disciplines, and that some deal with abstinence and some deal with action. Particularly, hearing Dave talk about the vow of stability he committed himself to impressed us both. I think the monks of Gethsemani call this a "vow of location." In the class about Christian community we talked about it in terms of fidelity or faithfulness. Dave related it to committing himself and his family to this neighborhood for life. That's an idea that really hits home for me as I maneuver denominational ordination options.

Their conversation telling their story about their families living together under one roof and the communal aspect of their church also opened up for both of us the desire to one day live in an intentional Christian communal setting.


George Hunsberger teaches missiology stuff at Western Theological Seminary. He talked about being a gospeled community and attending to the life of the world. I like hearing "gospeled" as an adjective.

He talked about how the Christian community is a sign to the world. Makes me wonder, What kind of a sign are we to the neighborhood? The Church is where the Kingdom is lived out. And again I wonder, Can it be done?


This is our goose to guide us.

As a part of the St. Patrick's theme, much of the weekend incorporated Celtic Christian traditions. The ancient Irish Christians found the dove to be an unsatisfactory symbol for them of the Holy Spirit. A dove was too domesticated. Rather, they saw in the goose the qualities they experienced from the Holy Spirit--seemingly cantankerous, noisy, maybe even a little obnoxious, yet ever graceful and stately and beautiful. But most importantly, never controllable or tameable or predictable. I'm still loving this image of the Holy Spirit who leads us.

So this fabric icon was made by a local artist.

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posted by Peter at 9:00 AM
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