Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Last night was our first RethinkingTuesdays gathering. Walt, Dennis, Patrick, John and I sat fireside at the Black Rose sipping some dark brews and talking eschatology, Christology, and missiology.

Here are a few thoughts I threw out on eschatology.

1) Where you think things are going shapes the way you live before they get there. Our ideas about the future have a significant impact on how we live in the present.
- -John reminded us that we need to think of "the end of the world" in terms of the "goal" (Greek, telos) of the world, not the destruction of the world.

2) We need to recapture the importance of resurrection. What happened for Jesus will happen for us, and for the whole creation. (Important texts: Genesis 1-2, Isaiah 55, Romans 8, 1 Corinthians 15, Revelation 21-22).

3) We need to recapture the place of heaven. Heaven and earth are meant to be together. Revelation, Apocalypse, Unveiling: the veil between heaven and earth being removed, heaven coming down (Rev 21:4), etc.
- -"Heaven matters, but it's not the end of the world." N. T. Wright

4) We need to think of time in terms of the Present Age (ha 'olam hazeh) and the Age to Come (ha 'olam haba). We see the kingdom (ruling, reigning, justice, healing, restoration, peace, etc.) as inaugurated by Jesus. It is God's future drawing the present forward, breaking into the present. Our task is to implement (to enter, receive, inherit, demonstrate, announce) the accomplishment of Jesus in the present; to embody God's future, and to cooperate with the activity of God's future breaking into the present.

5) Eschatology involves 'what is' and 'what is not yet, but will be' and 'what is not yet, and may or may not be.' As such it needs to be approached as an "open promise." That is to say that the promise is sure: God's future will arrive and bring restoration and wholeness to the creation. But it is also to say that much of how that future arrives in the present depends upon our cooperation with the God who promises that future. Further, it is to say that when God's future arrives, it often arrives in new and unexpected ways--ways that seem surprising and strange (as did Jesus' coming as Messiah seemed strange and 'wrong' to many in Israel), but which are perfectly appropriate and necessary for the people and places of that present.

"If the promise is not regarded abstractly apart from the God who promises, but its fulfilment is entrusted directly to God in his freedom and faithfulness, then there can be no burning interest in constructing a hard and fast juridicial system of historic necessities according to a schema of promise and fulfillment -- neither by demonstrating the functioning of such a schema in the past nor by making calculations for the future. Rather, the fulfilments can very well contain an element of newness and surprise over against the promise as it was received. That is why the promise also does not fall to pieces along with the historical circumstances or the historical thought forms in which it was received, but can transform itself -- by interpretation -- without losing its character of certainty, of expectation and of movement. If they are God's promises, then God must also be regarded as the subject of their fulfilment."
-Jurgen Moltmann, "Theology of Hope" (p.104)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Next gatherings plus Troy Hatfield paper


We are excited to engage in several new things over the next month. We invite you to join us on a regular basis. If you have been a lurker or watching from a distance, we hope the two additional gatherings provide a means for you to engage!
“rethinking tuesday”
Ideas matter. Ideas change how we live. Here we re-think deeply on theology and how it gets worked out in life. Third Tuesday of each month from 7pm-10pm at the Black Rose.

Our first gathering will be THIS coming tuesday night, Feb. 21!
Please RSVP to Joel McClure to help us determine seating for the night!

the black rose
100 Ionia Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI
(616) 456-7673
"seeking friday"
Time & space to quiet ourselves. We gather simply for prayer for our city, world, and each other. First Friday of each month. 9am-10am.

St. Mark's Episcopal Church134 North Division AvenueGrand Rapids, MI 49503-3173phone - (616)456-1684
"conversation wednesday"
a connecting point for conversation among people who are interested and invested in emerging edges of the Church. second Wednesday of each month from 10:30am-Noon.
The Bite. Pearl at Ottawa.

topic: Towards a Generous Orthopraxis

A few years ago pastor, theologian and author, Brian McLaren challenged us to broaden our thinking about what it means to be a follower of Jesus in his book Generous Orthodoxy. Using the writings of theologian and author Howard Thurman (Jesus and the disinherited, Disciplines of the Spirit), Andre Daley will challenge us to broaden our way, acting on patterns of life that Jesus lived and taught as we move Towards a Generous Orthopraxis. Specifically what does it mean to "rehearse" Pentecost through the spiritual practice of reconciliation.

the bite
151 Ottawa Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI
(616) 451-8000

future opportunities...

Rudy Carrsasco will be in town March 17 & 18 in connection with Volunteers in Service. If you want to engage with Rudy, check out this link. (it's a pdf file)

Nicholas Wolterstorff will be speaking on the topic of "Love and Justice" on
March 21 & March 22. Western Seminary, Mulder Chapel.
~ tuesday, march 21 at 11am & 2pm / wednesday, march 22 at 10am

Notes from Feb. 8 "conversation wednesday"

The following paper was presented as part of our conversation around the topic: "Is there Space for Lent in the Emerging Church World?" Troy has generously agreed to share his work here.
"Isn't that for Catholics" presented by Troy Hatfield
of Mars Hill Bible Church, grandville

I’ve grown used to hearing that question when I mention Lent. My response, which I hope continues to be laced with fewer rolls of the eyes and sarcastic comebacks, has remained fairly consistent: “It’s for all of us.”

I believe Lent is a fantastic opportunity to be put back together. We are all fractured and broken people in need of wholeness and health. Lent provides us a concentrated period to move towards that wholeness. Through self-examination and repentance our relationship and connection with God can be put back together. Through giving and intentional communal experiences our connection with our fellow humans can be put back together. And through self-denial, space and meditation we can take steps towards our own personal health and wholeness.

“But aren’t those things we should always be thinking about?” many have asked. “Shouldn’t these be daily investments and concerns? Why would we say forty-some days are meant to focus on these things?”

I’m glad you asked.

First, let’s acknowledge how desperately the Church needs to sanctify time. The way people have grown to deal with and handle time robs any sense of its holiness or rhythm or sacred space. Our “Git ‘R Done” approach to time numbs us to what I believe is “an intrinsic human desire to order time in such a way as to apprehend the invisible and sacred dimensions of life.” (Wendy Wright, The Rising) All time is not the same. Even the things we say confirm this.

“Time stood still.”

“Time just flew by.”

Some time is full of beauty and love and sweetness. Other time is full of pain and difficulty and burden. Some time we can never get enough of. Some time feels endless, as though we’ll be forever trapped inside it. Not all time is the same. The Church desperately needs a healthy understanding and approach to time—a theology of time that acknowledges and embraces the intricate latticework of time that gives us the chance to peek into the mysteries of how things are. During Lent we have the chance to shape the contours of time in some ways and incorporate a more sacred rhythm and space.

For our particular worshipping community, we are committed to understanding our roots—to continually acknowledge and learn from the long history of people who have sought to follow God. The ancient practice of Lent has formed and inspired countless individuals and communities throughout history, who have, to some mysterious extent, informed and shaped the world as we know it. We want to swim in those deep streams and be reminded this beautiful story of God started long before us and will continue long after us. We hope, through Lent, that our own small stories will gradually be “woven into the tapestry of the great stories of the faith.” (Wendy Wright, The Rising)

We believe the resurrection is true. We believe we are all in need of continuous resurrections. Lent gives us a framework within which we look forward to celebrating the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. Through that framework, Lent is intended to keep us aware and remind us of the numerous experiences of resurrection in the ordinary fabric of our everyday lives—resurrection of hope, desire, relationships, wholeness…

Finally, we believe the Church is meant to be a force for good in the world. There is incredible power when a united group of people commit to a season of anticipation and restoration. Even as we acknowledge the historical community of people we are joining, Lent cements forcefully the importance of the shared life of the Church now. The season provides a commonality—a rallying point for fellow journeyers. It is a time we commit to introspection, self-denial, confession, restoration and anticipation together. Individual experiences lived alongside each other, informing and encouraging each other. Beautiful. Inspiring. Right.

In Forgotten Among the Lilies, Ronald Rolheiser writes “the task of Christianity is not to teach us how to live, but to teach us how to live again, and again, and again.” The season of Lent invites us to take our place among “the broken, the loved sinners, those for whom Christ came” and enter this rhythm of learning to live again and again together.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Next gathering...

Emergent West Michgian – Wednesday Conversation

~ Feb. 8, 10:30 a.m. @ The Bite (downtown G.R.) This previously appeared as 'March 8'.
(March 8 is the date of our March 'conversation.'

Topic: Is There Space For Lent in an Emerging Church World?

Our next conversation will revolve around a discussion of Lent. Lent officially begins March 1. For some traditions, Lent is a mystery. For others, it a worn out tradition. Is there a way to bring this ancient practice into our present contexts?

Troy Hatfield from Mars Hill, with Steve Argue facilitating, will present the approach the Mars Hill community is taking this Lent Season. Our goal is encourage discussion that incorporates theological, historical, missional, and practical aspects.

Please join us and come considering the following questions:
- What are the potential benefits and obstacles for incorporating Lent in our communities?
- What aspect of the Gospel does Lent elevate and why might this be important?
- What are creative ways of following Lent that respects tradition and embraces our present context?

For those of you interested in readings for lent. Check out


The First Detroit Area Cohort Meeting is scheduled for February 11th,
Saturday @ 3:00 PM.

The meeting will be held at Panera Bread; which is located at 6 Mile Road and New Burg in LaVonia, MI. The address is:
Panera Bread
37091 6 Mile Rd
LaVonia, MI 48152

I hope to see you there.

Lonnie Burrell
586.779.2419 (hm)