Thursday, September 29, 2011

Getting Excited about Church

Aaaaaaaand I'm back.  Hello all (or few, or some, or whatever)!  It's taken nearly two weeks to feel like I've truly got my feet back under me, back home near Chicago, but it feels great to be home.  Stepping back into the pulpit for prayers this Sunday was the same terrifying butterflies in the stomach adventure it was before I left -- a bit like being at home and in an Escher-esque dreamworld all at the same time.

Of course things are not as they were before I left.  My colleagues and the congregation I serve continued to grow and change in my absence, and so did I.  The anti-trafficking work I did this summer did a lot to shape my thinking about the relationship between the church and social justice, and the time I spent with a wide variety of church and un-church types did too.

A few examples...

The Arena warehouse space I lived for three months taught me how to relish the making of art.  I'm a die-hard museum freak and I love appreciating finished works, but there is something so visceral, so spectacularly human about watching people paint, write songs, collaborate, and explore their art, and my housemates demonstrated this act of love over and over again.  What would happen if we treated sermon writing more like art and less like a science or work?  What if every prayer became a loving act of creation, an offering?

The energy I saw at Greenbelt festival and gained from conversations with small and large church communities, local and international celebrities in the world of theology, vicars, pastors, preachers, and innovators.  Peter Rollins posed the question - what are we offering in Jesus that is any different than the quick fix of Coca-cola, Cadbury, or cigarettes?  Shane Claiborne pushed us to think about the radical inclusiveness of the church.  Nadia Bolz-Weber and Phyllis Tickle (who has, in fact, the best name ever) invited us to really think about the emerging church, and how it is different, deeper than trendiness.  To say I have a few new theological crushes is a serious understatement.

So I'm thinking about where all this fits into my personal ministry and into the life of the church as it grows, stretches, dies and is reborn -- the phoenix-like resurrection of the church on fire with spirit.  Looking forward to exploring this with anyone and everyone.

In the meantime, I'm reading and loving the following:

How (Not) to Speak of God - Peter Rollins - Nadia Bolz-Weber of House for All Sinners and Saints

Please send any favorites my way, and happy exploring!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Homeward Bound

For the friends and family who follow this blog, I apologize for the radio silence these last few weeks.  Between festivals, wrapping up projects, and saying farewells, things have been a delightful kind of chaos!

Amongst many thrilling experiences (including getting to help out on a UK bill of rights for kids), I went to Greenbelt Festival - four days of camping, making new friends, listening to music, hearing speakers (like the theologically dreamy Shane Claiborne and Pete Rollins), and, in my case, helping to promote and refine a design for Stop the Traffik's latest project, which will be unveiled across London leading up to the Olympics.  (Sidenote:  They're building a festival similar to Greenbelt for the states in North Carolina called Wild Goose Festival and, if it's anything like Greenbelt, I highly recommend getting there.  If I can get back to the UK for Greenbelt next year, I definitely will!)

I couldn't begin to capture everything that this summer has been, but I want to take this opportunity to say thank you.  Thank you to everyone who supported me emotionally, spiritually, and financially that I might have this amazing opportunity.  Thank you to ACT London and Stop the Traffik for allowing me to learn, share what I know, and be a part of their stunning team. 

I will miss a great deal about London -- primarily the great people I've met this summer (and the scones. And the casual existence of buildings that are many centuries old), but I'm also quite excited to get back to the states.  Back to family, friends, and another kind of ministry. 

As I think is completely normal in trips like this one, I'm walking (flying) away feeling like I've gained so much more than I've given.  This summer has been a real blessing, so thank you for helping me get here!