The State of Emergence, 2011…

Just read this post by Jonathan Brink the Emergent Village website.

I hesitated to repost it here- although this thing called ’emerging church’ continues to be a vital one for me- and the theme of many previous posts. The hesitation was because the blogosphere has been over populated with emerging church obituaries. Some of them have been provocative, others gleefull. Most have been premature, and driven by a particular agenda.

Some too have been a natural consequence of the cooling of pioneer activism, and the breaking apart of fragile allegiances between some of the early adopters in the USA. These relationships were always likely to be tested, given the characteristics of prophetic pioneers.

But having said all that, Emergent Village- and it is always worth remembering that they are not, and have never claimed to be the voice of ’emerging church’- provides an important, if USA centric, perspective on the conversation.

I liked some of what Brink had to say- firstly on community-

If 2010 marked anything, it was the growing awareness that following in the footsteps of Jesus and gathering together in community is hard. People were tired of talking about it and just wanted to do it. Bradley pins the death of the emerging church to this awareness. Rob Bell, arguably one of the more important but undeclared voices in the emerging church recognized that he had become that big Mega-church. What was once cool had now become mainstream. And in losing its luster, the real work of ministry began to emerge.

And finally- on love-

The emerging church isn’t dead. It’s just finally wrestled with the angel and won. It’s shedding it old image, the one that got people so riled up in the first place. The conversations won’t ever go away because in the end, we’re looking for what it means to be human. We’re looking to discover the reality that Jesus was trying to present, one of infinite grace and beauty, stark reality of the kingdom of God in our midst, and a renewed sense of possibility for the restoration of the world.

Here’s to 2011 and a renewed sense of faith, hope and love. Because the greatest of these is love.

When it is all said and done, the labels are meaningless, unless they become a conduit for the Spirit.

For me, this conversation has been just that.

But man can not live on conversation alone- there are also the dishes to be done and the dirty business of learning to live out lives of love…


(Image from here.)

A great programme on Radio 4 this evening on the theology and history of the Magi– the Wise Men who, according to Matthew 2, visited the infant Jesus with precious gifts of gold, frankincense and Myrrh.

You can listen again here.

9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

I love this story.

The way the coming of Jesus sent ripples out far beyond the edges of the Jewish world. The way his coming was anticipated, hoped for by ancient people searching for signs in the sky.

The way that men of a magical mystical tradition alien to the world of Jerusalem and Bethlehem were so transfixed by the hope brought be a coming king that they were prepared to travel hard long miles to attempt to find him. Some stress the Biblical condemnation of sorcery and astrology in such texts as Deuteronomy 18:10–11, Leviticus 19:26, and Isaiah 47:13–14, but there is no condemnation in the account above.

The sparse account of these men in Matthew has been added to by tradition. Names were added, and somewhere along the way, people started calling them Kings too.

Most accounts believe the Magi to be from Persia- Zoroastrian scholars well versed in astrology, and their own deep spirituality. They had their own belief in a coming Messiah, and a virgin who would conceive.

Many believe that it was from the Zoroastrian tradition that some Jewish sects- the Pharisees in particular- came to believe in an eternal life (more about this here.)

It brings to me again the possibility of a Messiah who came for all- not just a pre-selected few.

It’s a cracker…

Well, Christmas is past for another year.

We have had a lovely time- we had an extra house guest as a friend had a burst pipe on Christmas eve.

Finally the hold of ice and snow has been loosened- it is raining at the moment, revealing slowly retreating treacherous sheets of wet ice.

Not a day to venture far from the fireside.

So as is my tradition, I think it is time for some bad cracker-type jokes (thanks Isobel for the raw material!)

Firstly for the numbers people

Apparently the  fattest knight at King Arthur’s round table was the very well fed Sir Cumference. He acquired  his size from consuming too much pi.

Next, for the geographers-

I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be
an optical Aleutian

Now for the hardened drinkers-

She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.

And the non-believers-

Atheism- the non-prophet organization.

For the sporty types-

He wondered why the ball just kept getting bigger. Then it hit him.

And my fellow poets-

Did you hear about the backward poet? He writes inverse.

For the engineers-

Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and says ‘Dam!’

For the long in the tooth-

Did you hear about the Sadistic Buddhist Dentist? His goal: to transcend dental medication.

And finally- for my fellow canoeists-

Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly so they lit a fire in the craft.
Unsurprisingly it sank,  proving once again that you can’t have your kayak and heat it.

(Perhaps I should get out more- despite the ice.)

Christmas unstability…

(Image from Medicins Sans Frontiers- here.)

Friends- as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, and the turning of a new year, may you be deeply blessed.

Happy Christmas to all





It is said that light found its window on the world

Through the translucent globe

Of a baby’s eye

Still hooded from

The bloody froth of birth

Wide opened by the trauma

Of transition


And stories are told of how a stable

-all ammonium piss and shiny new shit

Became a gateway

For an indescribable goodness

To run through these streets

Like molten gold

In the gutters


The breath of the living God


This scrap of human flesh



Vast as the roaring ocean

In every tiny heartbeat


What a way for the King to come

Some incense, a black box, and friendship…

Last night our little housegroup met. It was nothing out of the ordinary- there will be small groups of people meeting like this all over the country. But this one was special- because it was mine.

We sat round the fire, and read stories about the coming of light. We sang, and ate food.

Then we shared gifts.

We had one of those ‘secret Santa’ things where each of us drew a name from a hat, and had to buy a gift for £2, and write a blessing for them.

Mine was simply brilliant. It was a gift for both Soul and Spirit.

For the soul- a little box of frankincense, along with some charcoal and an account of the uses of incense in the Bible. It is just the right sort of gift for me, from a dear creative friend who knows me well and it made me cry.

For the Spirit, a little black box, labelled ‘Chris’s survival kit’ containing 10 cards that made me laugh out loud.

Here is a sample-

(The last one is a little reference to my little swim last February!)


The view from the middle of the Clyde…

I braved the low temperatures and crossed over to ‘the other side’ today. My intention was to go to Helensburgh, but Greenock was full of slithering cars and covered in freezing fog, so I rather tamely retreated.

But no time is wasted. I made some phone calls from the ferry- and appreciated the stillness.

The ferry is a great place to do this. It moves at a steady slow pace- giving around 25 minutes just to sit and think. It sometimes seems a very long time, and other times no time at all.

Today I had the camera with me too…

Christmas turns all musical…

What a lovely day.

I have just sat down after being on the go all day- firstly to a local church where William was part of a Nativity play, and playing his Trombone-

Then home to shovel snow for a couple of hours so we could get the car down to the road.

Then around some local residential care homes for older people with some of the Aoradh crowd to sing Christmas carols- a few brass instruments, guitar, violin and piano. And all in all, it sounded lovely, considering our almost total lack of practice.

And finally to our friend’s Paul and Pauline (no they do not have a child called Paulette) for soup, and more music.

I eventually managed to persuade Emily to play some fiddle tunes, then Paul and I started singing through some old songs.

Including this one-

We had to be kicked out in the end. Ah well- good practice for New Year- if you are in the area, bring an instrument round to our house…