Twenty-one speakers giving 21 talks each 21 minutes in length pondering the question "What do you think needs to rise from the ashes of the church?"
Plus 7-21 talks where attendees can take the floor (details here).
Hope to see you in Phoenix!
Out at my bible study at the prison we are working through the entire bible. We're in Jeremiah right now.
And as we've been working through the Old Testament I've been struck by how helpful the paradigm of the New Exodus has been.
In 2011 I worked through some New Exodus material and I find myself referring to these notes over and over out at the prison:
We can begin with the question, what were the Jews expecting of the Messiah?
If you quizzed people in your church about that question my guess is that the #1 answer would be that the Messiah would lead a popular revolt to eject the Romans and restore the Davidic kingdom. To be sure, this was a part of the constellation of ideas surrounding the concept of Messiah. But the expectations regarding the Messiah were actually much richer and broader, more inclusive and even cosmic in scale.
One of the notions that captures this richer vision was the expectation that the Messiah would be a Second Moses. Moses himself predicted that a Second Moses would come with the expectation of a New Exodus. Consequently, many of the Second Temple Jews believed the Messiah to be the fulfillment of this prophecy:
Deuteronomy 18:15-18As a Second Moses leading a New Exodus the expectation was that there also would be a second giving of the Law. A New Law and New Covenant. More, this New Law would be written on hearts rather than on tablets of stone:
The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.”
The LORD said to me: “What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him.
Jeremiah 31:31-33In addition, there would be a New Temple. We need to recall that a lot of the Second Temple Jews thought that the rebuilt temple was a bit of a sham. You'll likely remember that when the old-timers saw the Second Temple they wept, for it was only a shadow of its former glory. We should also remember that after the destruction of Solomon's temple the artifacts in the Holy of Holies (like the Ark of the Covenant) were carted off never to be seen or heard from again (until Indiana Jones found them).
“The days are coming,” declares the LORD,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,”
declares the LORD.
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
after that time,” declares the LORD.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people."
Ezekiel 37:25-28Even more, in addition to a New Law/Covenant and a New Tabernacle/Temple, the Second Moses would bring the people to a New Promised Land. And here's where the vision really starts to transcend the political. The New Promised Land isn't just about restoring the fortunes of Israel. The scale of the New Promised Land is cosmic in scope. It will be a New Heaven and a New Earth:
They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.’”
Isaiah 65:17-18Finally, if there was to be a New Exodus we'd also expect to see a New Passover meal. Though there is no direct biblical quotation for this it's clear how a New Passover would have been expected in conjunction with a Second Moses and New Exodus. Outside of the bible there is historical evidence, from both Jewish and Christian sources, that the Second Temple Jews were looking for a New Passover, what they called the Passover of the Messiah. (In fact, many Second Temple Jews expected the future Messiah to be revealed during the Passover.)
“See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
and its people a joy.
The Jewish Expectation of the Messiah as Leading a New Exodus:Given these expectations, the question readers of the New Testament can ask is this: Do the New Testament writers show Jesus leading a Second Exodus?
1. New Exodus
2. New Law and Covenant
3. New Passover
4. New Temple
5. New Promised Land
1 Timothy 6.10
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Almost everyone can agree that one of the big differences between us and our ancestors of five hundred years ago is that they lived in an “enchanted” world, and we do not; at the very least, we live in a much less “enchanted” world. We might think of this as our having “lost” a number of beliefs and the practices which they made possible. But more, the enchanted world was one in which these forces could cross a porous boundary and shape our lives, psychic and physical. One of the big differences between us and them is that we live with a much firmer sense of the boundary between self and other. We are “buffered” selves. We have changed.Taylor's argument is that the modern experience of disenchantment has been less a matter of changing beliefs than an intrapsychic change, a change in how we experience the self in relation to the outside world.
Here is the contrast between the modern, bounded, buffered self and the porous self of the earlier enchanted world. As a bounded self I can see the boundary as a buffer, such that the things beyond don’t need to “get to me,” to use the contemporary expression. That’s the sense to my use of the term “buffered” here...As I hope should be obvious, the experience of the world as enchanted is driven by eccentricity. Enchantment is the experience of the porous self encountering something from "outside" the boundaries of the buffered self.
And so the boundary between agents and forces is fuzzy in the enchanted world; and the boundary between mind and world is porous...[A] similar point can be made about the relation to spirits. The porousness of the boundary emerges here in various kinds of “possession”—all the way from a full taking over of the person, as with a medium, to various kinds of domination by or partial fusion with a spirit or God. Here again, the boundary between self and other is fuzzy, porous. And this has to be seen as a fact of experience, not a matter of “theory” or “belief.”
So I wrote a blog post about race relations and Ferguson.
Was it a helpful post? I don't know. Will it make a difference? I don't know.
I'm glad I wrote it to express solidarity. That's never a bad thing. But I struggle with writing such posts.
For one thing, I find my motivations obscure and hard to penetrate.
Why did I write the post?
People were looking for, calling for responses from White Christians. Did I respond out of guilt? Was I shamed into it?
Did I write because I wanted to help, to add my voice, or because I was signaling, managing a social media image? Showing that I was one of the "good Christians" who got a post out there?
I don't think I did it for any of those reasons, but I never fully trust my self-assessments. I can't say for sure that my motives weren't mixed.
I want to do good, but I also want to be perceived, perhaps more than I'd like to admit, as being a good person.
Beyond these neurotic motivational ruminations, I also struggle with writing those sorts of posts because I wonder if they make any difference.
Does a passionate, in-your-face blog post, Tweet, or Facebook note actually improve race relations? Surely it gives the impression that you've done something, but does it make a difference?
We demand that people write things about race relations--Show up on social media!--but do all those posts and Tweets add up to anything tangible and lasting? Are we actually changing the world as we sit at our computers? Or is it all just going down a digital drain?
And if we are not effecting concrete and lasting change, why are we demanding more words on screens?
These are the sorts of things that roll around in my mind when any controversial subject hits social media. I'm always eager to express solidarity. We need more of it. So I want to add my voice. But my lingering skepticism about motivations and efficacy makes my head hurt.
And then I went to church.
Last night was the monthly meal, praise and communion service at Freedom Fellowship, the church plant I've written so much about.
The events in Ferguson were on Paul's heart tonight. So Paul called Henry, Ray, and Christiana up to the front, to stand with him as we prayed for Ferguson, each of them representing all the races in our fellowship.
And so we prayed. All of us together. Praying for Ferguson. And pledging to love each other as members of the body of Christ.
During the meal beforehand, Jana and I sat with Anthony. Anthony is Black.
Passing by the nursery I held the hand of one of our newest members, three month old Richard, bouncing on his mother's lap. Baby Richard is Hispanic.
During services Jana and I sat with Moses. Moses is Black.
And I drove Henry home after church. We listened to Tejano music. Henry is Hispanic.
I am White.
This is the body of Christ.
Each of us in that church, despite our race and everything else that divides us, from gender to education to socioeconomic status, showing up to eat together, worship together and pray together.
I don't know how to fix America's race relations problem. Does writing a blog post help? I really don't know, though I'm glad I wrote it. A blog post is what it is, and that may be much or very little.
Does walking in a march help? Sitting with a candle in a vigil? Signing a petition?
I don't know.
But what I do know is this. And it dawned on me during Paul's prayer. And listening to Ray give us a little spontaneous prophetic exhortation afterwards.
It dawned on me as baby Richard, with his dark chocolate eyes, squeezed my finger. It dawned on me when I asked Henry to translate Spanish lyrics.
Yes, social media and Internet activism are wonderful things. Tweet and blog away my brothers and sisters.
But for my part, the only way I know how to save the world is by going to church.
|My Brothers and Sisters at Freedom Praying for Ferguson|
Many of you I expect have been closely following the stories and images coming out of Ferguson in the wake of Michael Brown's death. I want to draw your attention to this image:
...Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them.Given the legacy of oppression and injustice that Senator Paul describes I believe White America is called to the spiritual labor to look upon Black rage with understanding if not compassion.
This is part of the anguish we are seeing in the tragic events outside of St. Louis, Missouri. It is what the citizens of Ferguson feel when there is an unfortunate and heartbreaking shooting like the incident with Michael Brown.
Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention. Our prisons are full of black and brown men and women who are serving inappropriately long and harsh sentences for non-violent mistakes in their youth.
2 Samuel 24.16David sees the angel stopped at the threshing floor of Araunah and asks for God to stop the plague. David then buys the threshing floor, builds an altar on the spot, and offers sacrifices to God.
When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was afflicting the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.” The angel of the Lord was then at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
2 Chronicles 3.1I think this is interesting as from this point forward the temple becomes the location of sacrifice in ancient Israel. You would come to the temple to offer sacrifices so that God would forgive your sins. And because of those rituals you might come to believe that God needs or requires these sacrifices in order to show and extend mercy.
Then Solomon began to build the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David.
[T]here must be a counterpoint to the immense power of man to destroy, there must be a Voice that says no to man, a voice not vague, faint and inward, like qualms of conscience, but equal in spiritual might to man's power to destroy.There must be a Voice that says No to humanity, a Voice equal in spiritual might to our power to destroy.
This is the mission entrusted to the church,
a hard mission:
to uproot sins from history,
to uproot sins from the political order,
to uproot sins from the economy,
to uproot sins wherever they are...
No one wants to have a sore spot touched,
and therefore a society with so many sores twitches
when someone has the courage to touch it
and say: "You have to treat that.
You have to get rid of that.
Believe in Christ.
My prayer for America. In memory of Michael Brown. And all the others...
In life with Jesus Christ, death as a general fate approaching us from without is confronted by death from within, one's own death, the free death of daily dying with Jesus Christ. Those who live with Christ die daily to their own will. Christ in us gives us over to death so that he can live within us. Thus our inner dying grows to meet that death from without. Christians receive their own death in this way, and in this way our physical death very truly becomes not the end but rather the fulfillment of our life with Jesus Christ. Here we enter into community with the One who at his own death was able to say, "It is finished."