Random Thoughts ignited by Emergent ’05

A big “Terima Kasih” (Thank you) to Desert Pastor for making the video clips, pictures and summaries-thoughts-insights available. This would be the kind of conference/convention I’d like to be part of. In style as well as substance. I admit I’m just biased.

I’ll just pick out some excerpts (in bold) that “blinked” at me 🙂 and my immediate unrefined random responses (in normal fonts)…

On “Humanity”

Kara began by showing us a photo of her two children, dressed for Halloween. They were wearing costumes instead of regular clothing, but their faces were normal. She then went on to suggest that the opposite is often true of us: we wear normal clothes each day, but feel compelled to put on masks, thus hiding our faces. We do this for many reasons, but often in response to worry or concern over what others and/or God “expect” from us.

LaRon then picked it up and quickly led us through a summary of how often God’s “face”, his people’s “faces”, or our own “face” is mentioned in scripture. This he tied to two things: the imago Dei, and authentic community.

The first thought that popped into my mind is our preoccupation here in Malaysia (and possibly Asia) on the need to “Save Face” or “Give Face” – (i.e. the give and take because we don’t want to be in a position of “shame”/”dishonor” and avoiding to put someone else in that position and thus result in the discomfort of both parties.) This “culture” or “way of relating” at times helps us to sweep aside minor petty differences but in many ways ignores “matters of importance” that we need to deal with head on. Unlike some of our western counterparts who IMHO are often more upfront with their views, we are tempted to nuance them so much until it’s no longer clear. Thus, expectations aren’t clearly expressed and confusion or even conflict is knocking on the door.

“Opening worship”

Tonight’s General Session was excellent. It all began with the worship team from Church of the Apostles leading us in an amazing Eucharistic service that focused on the Transfiguration. The liturgy they crafted included ancient elements re-cast in song and prayer and testimony, and climaxed with everyone partaking of Holy Communion together.

… I really appreciate how this year’s convention is pulling in actual communities of faith and having them share from the platform rather than only using “big names.” It’s refreshing…and a really good call.

A round of applause for Karen Ward and the new kind of Lutherans+Episcopalians from Church of the Apostles. For many years I’ve already grown tired of the Worship Wars debate. Then there’s this “fear” that if we don’t adopt a certain style of worship (usually using a praise band at times well done other times under pressure to perform). Then there’s this frustration of trying hard to “reintroduce” the best of Liturgy to “minds” stuck in the so called “leading worship as leading a string of songs mentality”. At times I see some success that gives hope, at other times I keep on “wondering” – “What’s going on here?. A well crafted “liturgy” (order of worship that integrates all elements – musical or non-musical – especially the spoken word and the Sacraments) would be refreshing for our Malaysian church scene. Any one want to take up the challenge?

on “The Church”

speaking for myself, what this morning’s dialog encouraged was a much needed shift in focus among many emerging church types: embrace the tensions associated with the institutionalized church rather than simply adopting a wholesale rejection of her. This shouldn’t, however, discourage us from exploring how we can or should “be” the church.

This is a growing reality for me as I see more and more the inside workings of a “slightly institutional denomination” family/tribe I’m part of (there are times I wonder whether we need more clarity and guidelines because things may be organic but becoming disorderly… hmmm). More and more I feel it’s an issue of “mindset” more than just “methodologies. I have this gut reaction to the word “Institution” (as if it’s a taboo word), maybe I need to see it as “infrastructure” or even “interface” (I hope I’m using this word correctly *grin*). After listening tostories of “political powerplay” in so called supposedly “independent” churches or those who are more “congregational” in structure, hey I seem to have more “freedom” to explore in a denomination that has a Bishop! ironic but true.

“Bloggers Lunch”
no quotes here but maybe some of us Malaysian Christians who are blogging can meet up someday in some way. Let me “save this” as a future catalytic project. Something like this did happen during our Emergent Malaysia Christmas party ’04.

“Cool Professor”

Off-camera, Kent elaborated on how impressed he’s been with the depth and quality of questions he has heard coming from delegates during everything that he has attended thus far. What’s going on here is unique, and in part, it’s a sincere and focused desire to “understand” that is characterizing this year’s convention.

I salute professors like Kent, who are at Emergent as much to learn themselves as to help others learn.

I know there are some cool seminiary lecturers or “intellectual” giants out there …whether it’s Seremban, Klang, Petaling Jaya, Kuala Lumpur or other parts of Malaysia. I might be calling you soon for a cup of coffee with some of us. Oh yeah … and if you’re passing by from overseas … please drop me an email.

On “Scripture”

Rather than lead us in a complicated and heated discussion on how our epistemologies affect the way we interpret and interface with scripture, Brian and Stan were “modeling” a relationally oriented hermeneutic, helping us to tie Stan’s personal story about growing up with Jesus’ story and interaction with James and John, with each of our own stories and the world we live in today.

I look forward for this kind of interaction between two or even more individuals in our context. We’ve seen the “lecture” model, or the “present paper wait for response then some questions” model, then there’s the “panel or experts” presenting “minipapers” closing with some questions. Even thought I mentioned the importance of “mindsets” earlier, but it’s our methods of interaction that often sends a stronger message isn’t it? And I think our methods also “model” the “mindsets” inherent in what we are trying to communicate. So, there is this delicate balance of the interior and the exterior expression of our message. This “relationally oriented hermeneutic” is very attractive, now how does all this work in a local church? that’s the question that’s scratching me.

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