As part of back tracking full circle I googled Ivy Beckwith. She took part in early Emerging conversations long before I became aware of the Emerging Church. (Out of Ur Nov 2006, emergent-us) You probably already know she has a new book!
From another early Emerging author/blogger: Will Samson - January 2005 "One of the topics I would love to see enter into the emerging church conversation is families, children, and inter-generational faith. The emerging church conversation is great, but if we are talking about something that is one generation long count me out."
I'm curious to know whether Postmodern Emerging Church today looks the way anyone expected it to look when the conversation first started 10 years ago or whenever it began. I know lots of people who are still looking for something they haven't found - or don't think they've found.
My friend, a hair stylist, says people come to her with a better sense of what they don't want than what they want. Made me think of the church.
Sometimes we're so intent on seeing what we think we're looking for that we don't see what's actually there because it doesn't look the way we think it should look. We often don't notice God moving in our midst and beyond, according to His word of course, because it isn't what we expect to see or what we've been taught to look for.
What do you see God doing with families and children in Emerging Churches? In any church? In your church? Not, "this is what I'm looking for and it isn't happening," but "what is happening?" What do you see that causes you to give glory to God? Catch it in a story - not a story about people, but a story about God.
Sometimes it's very difficult to find words to describe the work that someone does. Some things are better experienced without words. I have friends working on a website for someone who's work is more non-verbal than verbal. Some of what this person does (observation, experience, skills) can be learned. Some of what this person does mixes learned skills with decades of acting on intuition and the wisdom that grows from that when you're right time and time again. This person, so very effective, doesn't fit into our boxes. You have to listen, watch, and do in order to learn and appreciate. Sound familiar? Most of what makes this person so effective isn't something you can define or describe. It's something else. It's something other. It's a non-verbal "knowing."
Infants, toddlers, animals - non verbal learners. Non-verbal communicators. Non-verbal knowers. It's very doable to learn to understand much of what they communicate but you have to pay attention. You have to want to "see" and not think like a grown-up. Sometimes defining something causes it to lose its essence. You can't catch, measure, describe someone's intuition except perhaps as story, but to the degree that it's accurate, intuition and feelings deserve acknowledgment and respect.
"In everything give thanks" requires we notice - especially things that may not look like what we think we're looking for. Maybe we shouldn't ask "Did God answer that prayer," but rather "How did God answer that prayer." Maybe He didn't answer yet, but maybe He did.
For some - worship is an emotion, an experience. For some - duty and discipline. For most, some combination of the two. Same God, I think. I wonder if somewhere at the heart of worshipping in spirit and in truth is the simple act of paying attention - giving God thanks and praise when we take the time to notice what He's done.
Scripture says there is nothing new under the sun. Sometimes when God answers prayer it doesn't come in a form I expect so I miss it. It doesn't fit into the box I wanted to keep it in. I feel compelled to define and describe in order to capture, judge, appreciate but sometimes the act of defining/describing lessens what I think I've captured or ultimately makes it something other than what it is. I wonder how often God finds Himself caught in that place - but of course He's God and as C.S. Lewis said so eloquently of Aslan, he's not a tame lion.
There is nothing new under the sun but I can notice things I've never noticed before - new lines, colors, shapes - not because they weren't there before but because I wasn't looking or I didn't notice or I didn't know what I was looking for. But one day something clicks and I see. Something inside me opens up that wasn't open before and I can't even explain it. But that's ok!
I think stories more than any other word tool open up new worlds to us and help us recognize and give shape to what might otherwise be undefinable. It's like giving a creature a home but leaving the doors and windows open. Maybe that's why God uses stories.
". . . [F] aith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Heb 11:1 NAS
". . .[F} aith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Heb 11:1 KJV
What is God doing? Is it something I can define? Something I can hold in my hand?
Try it! If I can't, does that mean that it doesn't exist? Faith, is because God is -Invisible Living Word but much more.
Once upon a time that spoken Word ignited a creative process that gave us all that we see, touch, smell, taste, hear just because He spoke. But it was more than anyone could capture with mere words. He remains generation after generation. Alive. Moving. Revealing Himself to those with eyes to see and ears to hear generation after generation. Father, Son, Holy Spirit yet One who's name may be best left unspoken.