God’s Generous Rule (Essentials Blue Fall 08)

For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt (ICEWS, eb 08)

 

Recently, at our National Gathering, Greg Trainor led us all through some excellent teaching on the Kingdom of God.

 

For example, his succinct phrase for the Kingdom of God was God’s generous rule.

He talked about the arrival of His generous rule through the Mission of Jesus in His message and ministry. We heard strong emphasis on the good news being the future has come into the present, and the age to come has dawned. Greg also taught about the gathering of the divine community, to live out the life of the Kingdom, which he named a preview or display community.

 

This language ‘God’s generous rule’ being put on display by a community loving Him, (through a ‘display community’) was a new expression catching my attention. Maybe these phrases have been around for ages, but Greg’s descriptions were brimming with new life and empowered livability for me.

 

Since then, I haven’t been able to let it go. I knew it was having its effect on me, and on those around me.  It was re-capturing the reality of the words Jesus taught “The Kingdom of God has come near to you.” (Luke 10: 8-9)

 

It painted a different picture.

It opened a door to a new way of thinking.

It unfolded a whole dynamic of engaging with the Kingdom ‘at hand’

I was beginning to see and experience afresh, the power of new language unlocking new understanding.

 

This week in our Essentials course, where we are bumping up against even more expansive teaching from NT Wright, and Dan Wilt, along with other contributors, (including robust, honest, theological discussions in the ‘classroom’).

 

Then, Dan hits us with a challenge at the close of this week.

He acknowledges the centrality of the Kingdom of God in all the teachings of Jesus, as well as in our theological understanding within the Vineyard movement.

 

With a twinkle in his eye, Dan urged us, to enter into ‘a challenge’ for a short time.

He asked us to replace all our ‘kingdom language’ with this phrase, ‘new creation’. 

 

So instead of our prayers being filled with ‘Let Your Kingdom come,” Dan has encouraged us to replace kingdom language with ‘new creation’ language.

Eg. “Lord let Your new creation break into this moment…” or “ this is God’s new creation activity happening among us …

When we do kingdom actions, he challenged us to try something different…and call them new creation actions.

Eg. When we forgive, we are enacting an age to come.

 

As we are living in the new creation, Dan’s focus sharpens the use of that language in our world, knowing nothing is outside the reach of God’s new creation.

 

The ‘Dan-challenge’ caused me to reflect on what’s just happen since our Gathering.

I know engaging with the new kingdom language Greg gave us, (ie.the ‘generous rule of God’) transformation began in me.

 

I found my prayers formed out of a bedrock of God’s generous rule already at work.

I found myself delighfully care-free to pray in situations, with people, that in the past may have intimidated me.

I discovered my increased awareness of God’s kindness and goodness being present meant there was much less anxiety or fear. It meant I was living in an air of heightened expectation of His involvement.

I noticed the new language assisted to ‘see’ from a different perspective and my heart followed in new ways. I could give examples, but this blog is getting too long!

Good signs! I suspect time will tell whether this shift in language has changed the outworking of faith in concrete ways, as well as theological re-shaping.

 

God is longing to restore, re-claim and rennovate my understanding in so many areas. I need it.
I am under no illusion that this ‘Dan-challenge’ could add immense depth and understanding of a ‘concept’ and ‘reality’ that is veiled in my/our western mindset.
 

So, I’m in! I’m jumping into this challenge…

Valuing Liminal Moments (Essentials Blue Fall 08)

For: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt (ICEWS, eb 08)

 

I’ve joined 30 Vineyard worship leaders and influencers in another Essentials Blue course for the next 5 weeks. It’s exciting to see this group gather, from 8 different countries, all carrying the same DNA of the Vineyard movement.

 

If you are interested in tracking with some of their blogs, you can find them here

Already there’s a sense that we’re going to mine some gold with this group.

 

Nic Gee, has done a great post this week on liminal spaces which we attempt to provide as we lead others into worship.

 

Nic’s thoughts sent me off in a totally new direction as I made a connection with liminality found in Alan Hirsch’s book The Forgotten Ways. Alan has written expansively relating to the rites of passage in African people groups to the massive adaptive challenge the Western church is currently experiencing.

 

(I don’t want to get off on a tangent, but to come to grips with these primal shifts in community dynamics, anthropologist Victor Turner’s ideas of liminality and communitas are particularly useful. The study has linked liminality with communitas – where a community encounters God and one another in a new way.  It involves adventure and movement, and it describes that unique experience of togetherness that only really happens among a group of people on a dangerous journey to unfamiliar places.)

 

As I consider the teaching Dan Wilt includes in the Essentials Blue course regarding liminal (‘threshold’) spaces, I’m exploring this dynamic of liminality further, as perhaps there is a strong thread connected to what happens to a community of faith, when they touch these God-initiated liminal spaces.

 

I am off to seek more understanding about this. If you are reading this, and can point me along the way of discovery, let me know!

 

Other sources:

1. A.J.Roxburgh, the Missionary Congregration, Leadership and Liminality, 1997, p 61

2. Victor Turner, The Ritual Process (1969) and Passages, Margins and Poverty: Religious symbols of communitas, Part 1 Worship 46, 1972

Westgate Vineyard Church Begins

Peter and Kathy Downes, along with their team, are having their first public gathering this Sunday to launch Westgate Vineyard Church. More details and updates are on their website.