Coming Together: April 2003

On Palm Sunday we move with breathless speed from shouting "Hosanna" and waving triumphant branches to yelling "crucify him" through contorted lips. It is a reminder of the fickle nature of public opinion; that yesterday's hero can become tomorrow's victim, that we change our minds with the ruthless ease that comes of long practice.

Democracy in and of itself in not sufficient. "Power to the People," sounds good when shouted in the streets, but those same people can become a mob swayed by momentary passion. Too often 'majority rules' rides roughshod over the minority and popular perspectives stomp out the prophetic voice.

"Democracy within a Republic," said Nick at The Word Shop on Easter Monday.
"What's a Republic?" I asked, feeling suddenly that we were on to something big.
"Laws, a constitution, the state."

Sometimes the people are corrupt. Sometimes the state is corrupt. But for a moment there I caught a glimpse of an elegant way to govern. Democracy within a Republic.
Thy kingdom come.

I just finished reading THE EMERGING CHURCH by Dan Kimball. In the late 8O's, Dan's first ministry at the Santa Cruz Bible Church was to lead a high school group of 11 teens. By the mid 90's, the seeker-sensitive style outreach service had grown to over 250 people. Dan assumed he was on to something good and would keep it up til Jesus came. However a few years later he noticed a disturbing trend. The current crop of teenagers were not coming into the church. He asked questions, listened deeply and "Vintage Christianity for New Generations" began to emerge.

There was a workshop on postmodernism at The Mount Hermon Writer's Conference. I didn't attend. I have never much liked generational labels: boomers, busters, Gen-X, Modern, postmodern...nonetheless while reading THE EMERGING CHURCH, I resonated with many of the "postmodern" ideals like multisensory worship (candles and sacred art), relationship driven leadership, intimate fellowship, spiritual formation and participatory ministry.

Sometimes it seems like the body of Christ, drunk in the Holy Spirit, staggers down the hall, bouncing off the walls; first to the right then to the left. For a while "seeker-sensitive" meant churches that looked like Perkos with movie theater interiors devoid of religious symbols. Now suddenly mystery, symbolism, and gothic cathedrals are in. Go figure. THE EMERGING CHURCH is $16 and a good read for anyone trying to figure out how to do church.

Meanwhile I went to Earth Day in Santa Cruz. Booths with incense and imported clothes. Eco this and organic that. Massage, body painting, music. Free attended bicycle parking. Intense political commentary. No Christian witness anywhere. Sigh. I bought art.

Thursday, May 1 is a National Day of Prayer. Congress said so. Sunnie decided we should do something, so we're having an hour of freeform prayer at The Word Shop from 11:00 to Noon. Nobody can freeform for longer than a couple of minutes at a time because I bore easily. Hopefully there will be some silence too. You are welcome to come. Seems like there are more and more appointed (by somebody or other) prayer times. Honestly! Next thing you know we'll be praying EVERY day:-)

Several boxes of stuff from the Brownsville Revival came in. The Escalona Street Gang snatched up all 50 videos. I read RIVER GLORY by Ruth Ward Heflin. Makes me hungry (thirsty!) for those wondrous times of ministry when the love of God is flowing through and to his people: Friday night at Family Camp, prayer at the ERM's...come Lord Jesus. Joanne is just back from a conference with Francis MacNutt. She called me right away to tell me how wonderful it was. Sigh. There are two copies of RIVER GLORY and four HB copies of THE PROPHETIC WHISPER, which I haven't looked at yet. My tendency is to bellow.

We've also seen a great influx of cookbooks ($2) and both religious and secular children's picture books.

Bill gave me A CENTURY OF WOMEN by Deborah G. Felder with the suggestion that I put an interesting fact at the end of my newsletter. Here goes: Did you know that the second Sunday in May officially became the national Mother's Day in 1914? Or that there was a medieval English observance of Mothering Sunday on the fourth Sunday in Lent? Now you do.

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. -Hanlon's Razor

Alliee +