A Christian Worldview (Essentials Blue 09)

“For: The Institute of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt.

God is the original personality and the ever-extant community. God is infinite creativity expressed in Trinitarian divinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are a whirling dervish of expressed adoration, mutual satisfaction and creative action. Their fingers have fondled the stars and forged the deep valleys of the seas. Their divine dance has spoken into existence all that exists; the breath of his words gives it all life and holds it all together.

God’s very essence is love. For this reason he spoke into existence all that is known, all that is mystery and all that is man. As the crown of his creation, he created humans to join in, and expand the worship circle pulsating out from the divine community. The chief purpose of man is as a conduit for reflecting the glory of God throughout the earth and for presenting before God a display of how his divinity is expressed and acknowledged in all the created order.

It was his boundless love that led him, in spite of his foreknowledge of their pending rejection, to place vestiges of his very image in man. The result was that his most cherished creation could choose to remain forever in his circle of love or allow the seeds of self-infatuation to sprout a life of separation. It was the pleasure of God to love and receive love from image-bearers who were aware they could do otherwise. In one succulent swallow, men choose the latter and destined all of human history to a fruitless search for self-actualization.

God, however, did not abandon his creation connection. Faced with the reality of man’s chosen isolation, he began working within a new paradigm of God-man interaction based on the echoes (1) of his presence that no human can fully suppress. Moving back and forth between heaven and earth God made himself known to the heart of man through the beauty of creation, the longing for relationship, the desire for spirituality, and the hunger for justice. His interaction in history crescendoed in his revelation to Abraham and his decedents and climaxed in the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus.

His wandering flock found a way back into the circle of the eternal heavenly community by embracing Jesus’ death and resurrection as their own.

In Jesus, God jumpstarted the kingdom he had established to share with humans so long ago. Those who re-establish relationship with God through Jesus begin to share in the resources of the concurrent heavenly realm. The effect of this ever-increasing intersection of the now (the decaying kingdom of man) and the not-yet (the everlasting kingdom of God) is a world indelibly and progressively marked by beauty, relationships, spirituality and justice.

At the end of this age, God will put an end to the painful products of man’s posture of independence. With Jesus established as King, every knee will bow and all of creation will rejoice. He will complete his “re-creation” of the world and place his reborn man, as his creation caretakers and image bearers (2) for all time.

(1) N.T. Wright, Simply Christian
(San Francisco: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2006), 1-40.

(2) Dan Wilt, Essentials in Worship Theology: The Nature of Humans
(New Brunswick, Canada: St. Stephen’s University, 2008)

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What is human? (essentials blue 09)

“For: The Institute of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt.

We are a spark, a mere flash of carbon and cognizance in the blazing fire of God’s story

Yet, deep within us, at our very core is a trace of the flames of Trinity

Alone, our presence brings a faint glow of hope to darkened caverns

Firebrands of heaven unite your light and watch the enemies scatter!

The communion of saints enter the divine dance

The communion of saints enter the divine dance

The language of the interlocking ages (e*b Fall 09 week 3)

“For: The Institute of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt.

For the past several months I have been preaching through Philippians on Sunday mornings.  It seems that in each section I delve into, Paul is calling people to look heavenward, set their sights on the future, and be motivated by the breaking through of the coming eschaton into our current experience.

So the language N.T. Wright (1) has been employing to refer to heaven, or the co-existing kingdom of God has been helpful in explaining what it is that Paul is so fired up about.   It is not some distant death dependent dwelling place of God for which Paul is pursuing his “prize.”  No, he is seeking the “power of the resurrection” right there in his time and space.  He is vividly aware that he and his Philippian cohorts have already been made “citizens” of heaven and that the benefits of that citizenship should follow them around wherever they go.

At the same time he is extremely motivated by the knowledge that at the end of the age, all the glimpses he gets of the new creation will replaced with scenic overlooks.

His other focus is that of living a cruciform lifestyle that includes an embracing of suffering and focus on Chirst in his life and death.   But right now what is more intriguing to me is how the language of Wright’s book gives us a kind of scaffolding of images with which to understand the reality of the “already” kingdom – or the creation that is “already” being made new.

(1) N.T. Wright, Simply Christian (San Francisco: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2006), 55-140

Week 2: A lot to cover in a little time (essentials blue)

“For: The Institute of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt.

Wow.  This week was lot of info to process.  I was laughing when Dan Wilt was mentioning how very cursory our treatment of these themes was.  I am sure he is right, but I still find it to be hard to separate out all the pieces to process.

I really like Wright’s second section (1)  What sticks out to me most is that he is presenting new language for kingdom concepts that have been hard to explain.  It feels like he is helping me to have a solid foundation so that other problematic areas now don’t seem as difficult to navigate.

What I need to navigate now is bed, though!  More to come.

(1) N.T. Wright, Simply Christian

(San Francisco: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2006), 55-140

Leitmotif (essentials blue fall 09)

“For: The Institute of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt.

The word that is sticking out the most to me as I work through Wright’s (1) material this week, is leitmotif. Merriam-Webster (2) defines the term as such:

1 : an associated melodic phrase or figure that accompanies the reappearance of an idea, person, or situation especially in a Wagnerian music drama 2 : a dominant recurring theme

It is this idea that God has incorporated, in not only the story of his people Israel throughout history, but also in each and every one of us – a repetition of exhile and homecoming, of jumping off the ship and getting pulled back into the lifeboat, and of his people contaminating his creation and him putting it back together.

As Christians, we cling fiercely to this leitmotif of hope.  God will come again and rescue us out of despair.  It is the backdrop of the great psalmists and poets, and the inspiration behind much of the worship that captures our hearts.  Yes!  God will come again and make right the wrong.  He will tend to his garden again.  He will (and can) cause the withering stalk of our lives to produce flowers.  From the ugliness of our relationships and our decisions, he will create beauty.

I must start including this term in my vocabulary, and certainly in my thoughts.  I am on the lookout for leitmotif, for the reocurrance of the great restorative themes of God.

(1) Wright, N. T. Simply Christian: Why Christian Makes Sense. San Francisco: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2006

(2) “Leitmotif.” Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. 12th ed. 2008.

My thoughts on worship conversations (Essentials Blue)

“For: The Institute of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt.

Along with 150 other worshipers, musicians, and creative kids from around the world, I have started the intensity that is the essentials blue course. The first week is about to end and as I look back on it, I realize that I have read quite a bit and thought quite a lot about theology, creativity, the nature of God, and how our thoughts on those things critically affects how we choose songs, select worship media and otherwise “craft” a worship experience for others to enter into.

And you know what? I am enjoying myself. I love the interaction with all these artist-thinkers. I love the contemplation. I love the mental crunches.

I mean, of course it’s important to sing songs about God that represent the truth about him.  But why don’t I normally take that into consideration?

I considered our set list this week and realized that almost all the songs were exclusively about our love relationship with God. We must write more songs ourselves! There is such a dearth of songs about Justice and Creation.

Tomorrow I am going on a 24 hour retreat to a bed and breakfast. I will miss my family, but I will need it.

The Worship Pastor (Essentials Blue)

“For: The Institute of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt.

One thing I love about the Vineyard is the concept of a worship pastor that has been promoted by the churches I have been in. I like the idea of a leader shepherding a group of God’s creative kids much more than someone whose sole responsibility of leading others or a team of others into worship. When I am being lead in worship, I find that I respond much more to someone leading if she has been willing to share her heart with me and has made attempts to care for me.

Somehow (although not surprisingly) when I feel a connection with the people leading worship, when I have been in their living rooms, and when I am aware of some of their struggles, problems and fears, their example of heartfelt worship does much more to draw me into the presence of God.

I hope the be the kind of pastor that I like to have for myself. Certainly my life is leading me in that direction, since I am the lead pastor of a small church. On any given Sunday, it may be true that the day before they were with me installing a floor in someone’s house, fixing a roof, or watching their daughter at a flag competition. We’re a small church, and one that stresses authenticity and emotional health, so much of my baggage – bad habits, sins, childhood issues, anger management problems and hangups with God are available to be seen. And the same for me about them. I know most of the quite well. I am not just their worship leader, I am their pastor. And they are not just the congregation, they are my friends.

I hope that through this essentials course, I experience an increase in this fusion of ministry worlds. God, draw me more deeply into your presence and there make me more like you – the ultimate leader (err.. object) of worship and and the kind of friend everyone wants to have.

Fun picture of a fun time and a fun friends ranch.

Fun picture of a fun time and a fun friends ranch.