January 30, 2008
Well, our first retreat was a major success. We had powerful worship, intimate conversations, fun times, and came out of the weekend with a renewed vision of what we want Transmission to be.
Some of my favorite moments:
Walking the Labyrinth. I didn’t take pictures because watching a bunch of twentysomethings walk a labyrinth by candlelight is too stereotypical for the emerging church, but I found it to be really moving, nonetheless. I loved the moment when I finished introducing the ritual, and half of us immediately began doing things that had nothing to do with the instructions; we take liturgical improvisation to a whole new level.
Purchasing lots of healthy food (fruits, vegetables, dumplings, etc) with Sarah, only to arrive at the church and be sent out by the group to make a chips and soda run. Sigh.
Picking everyone up at their apartments, a luxury rarely afforded in NYC. We know we’re a real church now that we have a minivan.
The amazing ritual that the group planned on Saturday afternoon which involved singing, sharing, and flicking water in each other’s faces. Although it only took thirty minutes to plan, it was amazing and several of us were choked up by the end of it.
Many thanks to everyone who participated, and especially to St Mark’s Church in Teaneck for graciously opening their church to us.
And, for those who are interested, here are the things we discussed for the future: Read the rest of this entry »
by j. Snodgrass
Given 26 January, 2008
When I finished college at 21, the first piece of advice I got was this : Kiss your twenties good-bye ‚Äì nobody gets anywhere in their twenties anymore. I resisted, I denied, and then I worked some jobs, ate some pizza, lived in some apartments, smoked some cigarettes, and here I am, just around the corner from thirty. Wow. And then I found out that this is some kind of cultural phenomena ‚Äì the vanishing twenties, the disappearing decade, the lost years.
How did this happen? When did it begin? Well, I decided to start my search way back, in the opening book of the Bible, see if it might shed some light. And I found the results pretty comforting. Take Abraham, for example, when the Lord told him about fatherhood.
Genesis 17:17 ‚Äì ‚ÄúAbraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” (NIV)
Abraham‚Äôs wife Sarah had a similar reaction to motherhood.
Genesis 18:12 ‚Äì ‚ÄúSarah laughed to herself as she thought, ‚ÄòAfter I am worn out and my [husband] is old, will I now have this pleasure?‚Äô‚Äù
And then of course there‚Äôs old Noah, who built the ark. But when I say ‚Äòold‚Äô I really mean, as we read in Genesis 7:6, ‚ÄúNoah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters [swelled] the earth.‚Äù (NIV)
Noah, what happened? ‚ÄúWell, I worked some jobs, ate some matzo, lived in some huts, smoked my pipe and here I am, just around the corner from six hundred.‚Äù
And then I started wondering‚Ä¶where was Jesus in his twenties? The gospel of Luke has him at age twelve, making mischief in the Temple and then‚Ä¶he‚Äôs thirty years old, being baptized for repentance…
January 16, 2008
Katherine had to postpone her house blessing due to medical incident (please keep her in your prayers!).
So, we’ll be meeting tonight at Bowie’s place @ 7pm
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need further directions.
This evening we’ll be looking at -
* ourselves – owning less, not being owned by our consumption desires
* our city and world – looking at the scandal of domestic poverty in the USA
* and doing something – bring non-perishables that we’ll donate to a food bank
I know this is last minute, but if you are at home before Transmission tonight, look through your cupboards and pull out any non-perishable food that you bought and just haven’t eaten – and bring it tonight. Bowie will transport our offerings to a local food pantry.
There are too many hungry in NYC and the food pantries are running low.
All items to be donated must be:
* In their original, unopened packages
* Within the expiration date on the package
* In plastic jars or containers, not glass
RITUAL PLANNED with a little help from:
January 15, 2008
Here is a news release about the Christian Churches Together meeting Bowie attended last week.
Please especially note these “Scripture Soundbites” on poverty, compiled by Ron Sider –
In remembrance of the 40th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, Dr. Ron Sider of Evangelicals For Social Action, a CCT participant, provided “God, the Poor and Us: Forty Biblical Reminders,” 40 biblical texts that highlight God’s special concern for poor people. The document is available here.
January 14, 2008
BIBLICAL PRESENTATION ‚Äì GOD AND POLITICS (for Marble Collegiate Church)
By j. Snodgrass
NARRATOR : So there‚Äôs an election coming up, and all the candidates are falling over themselves to let us know what they believe, what‚Äôs their favorite hymn‚Ä¶WWJVF? Who would Jesus vote for?
So I thought we could ask some of the Hebrew Prophets, see what they had to say about political issues of their day‚Ä¶which, believe it or not, are pretty much exactly the same as now. Should we stand by while the rich get richer and the poor get poorer? Should we go to war? Does God want us to have a king at all?
Naturally, all of the prophets are different, and yet just about all of them had some things in common. It was the prophet‚Äôs job to stand against the king, and probably die for it. What do you call a prophet who agrees with the king, who is liked by everyone, who says things are fine? A false prophet. What does king Ahab call the prophet Elijah? Troubler of Israel (1 Kings 18:17). Oh my enemy (1 Kings 21:20). And three times in one day, Ahab sent fifty soldiers to kill him (2 Kings 1). That might be why in so many cases, when the Lord calls to say ‚ÄúYou shall be my prophet,‚Äù the reply is, almost invariably‚Ä¶
PROPHETS : Oh no, I‚Äôm not the one you‚Äôre looking for.
NARRATOR : In the tenth century before the common era, what‚Äôs now known as Israel was a group of tribes doing the best they could to raise crops and animals. But sea-pirates called the Philestines showed up on the west coast and started working their way inward, sacking villages, setting up cities, and ruling over the populations. So, the Israelites decided what they needed was a military chieftain to raise up an army and fight. The prophet Samuel warned the Israelites that a king might not be in their best interests…
SAMUEL : “This is what the king‚Ä¶will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands‚Ä¶and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards‚Ä¶and give them to his attendants‚Ä¶.He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the Lord will not answer you.” (1 Samuel 8:10-18, NIV)
NARRATOR : ‚Ä¶Sound familiar? This is pretty much the standard contract between population and ruler, to this day. Saul, the first chieftain, was cool ‚Äì he beat the Philestines, but didn‚Äôt interfere much with the populace. David was famously David, but Solomon made all of Samuel‚Äôs predictions come true and more ‚Äì taxation, forced labor, the draft, and a brand of inequality the Israelites hadn‚Äôt known since Egypt.
January 12, 2008
Illustrations originally presented as slides
projected during a live reading
at Easter at Avalon
April 8, 2007
There was not long ago or far away
A town where children played and sang all day
And once their folks had tucked them in at night
The kids hid under covers in their fright
Except one little lady, strong and feral
A wild, precocious child by name of Carol
Who‚Äôd lie in silence, with her eyes tight closed
And wait till all the town serenely dozed
Then up she‚Äôd jump and loudly she‚Äôd declare
‚ÄúIt takes more than the dark to get me scared!‚Äù
Outside her window, an old Oak-tree grew
Perhaps this tree‚Äôs who she was speaking to
Regardless, she continued ‚ÄúOh well sure
I‚Äôm frightened when the morning traffic roars
The hairs on my young neck do stand on ender
When mom throws fresh tomatoes in the blender
And last week on a class trip to the zoo
The tongue of a giraffe, it scared me too
There‚Äôs causes for concern both far and near
But one thing that I‚Äôll never, ever fear‚Ä¶‚Äù
‚ÄúIs England! Yeah, they once were some great power
But now are ‚Äòbout as fearful as a flower
Their royal navy bullied the whole world
Now they can‚Äôt frighten this six year old girl!
I fear the toxic waste dumped in the sea
I fear the slash and burn of every tree
I fear the monsters underneath my bed
I fear the spirits mumbling in my head
I fear the pit-bull readying to pounce
But I do not fear England ‚Äì not one ounce‚Äù
January 11, 2008
Dear friends, I have received free copies of two Jim Wallis and one Ron Sider book through my involvement with CCT. I would be happy to share them with people interested in the important perspectives of these two progressive evangelicals.
If you would like a copy of the books below, please email email@example.com with your request and postal address. You do not need to be a regular attendee of Transmission, or even anyone I’ve ever met before.
Just Generosity: A New Vision for Overcoming Poverty in America
by Ronald J. Sider
God’s Politics: A New Vision for Faith and Politics in America
“Why the Right Gets is Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It”
by Jim Wallis
The Call to Conversion (Revised and Updated)
“Why Faith Is Always Personal but Never Private”
by Jim Wallis
January 9, 2008
My favorite quotes from last night and today…
“To see yourself as you truly are is a greater miracle than raising from the dead.”
- Father Leonid Kishkovsky, Director of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations for the Orthodox Church in America, quoting a Desert Father
“If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”
- African Proverb, made popular in Ecumenical circles by the Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches
“… in the presence of plenty and all he asks for is crumbs.”
- Dr. William Shaw, President of the National Baptist Convention, USA, preaching on Lazarus and the rich man
“Movements are what turn the impossible into the inevitable.”
- Jim Wallis, Editor-in-Chief/Chief Executive Officer of Sojourners
“We’re not doing it because we want them to be Catholic, but because we are Catholic.”
- Fr. John Adams, President of SOME (So Others Might Eat), in response to a question about proselytizing and serving the poor
“An expression of the church on special assignment with the poor.”
- World Vision self definition
“I know the LORD will get justice for the poor and will defend the needy in court.”
- Psalm 140:12
January 8, 2008
One of the hats I wear as an “ecumenical Episcopalian” (my third “e” identifier would probably be “emerging”) is as a member of the standing committee for Christian Churches Together, the broadest ecumenical group in our nation’s history.
Today I arrived in Baltimore for the CCT Annual Meeting, which includes a day in DC addressing domestic poverty (see the CCT Statement of Poverty that was passed by consensus last year) and discernment about how we can evangelize together. Yup, you heard that right!
This meeting also has personal meaning for me, because it was at last year’s gathering in Pasadena that I met the Rev. Dr. Peter Heltzel, who lives ten blocks from me in West Harlem, and at whose party in April I met my (now) husband, George! Goes to show you never can tell.
Come to think of it, I also met Samir Selmanovic at last year’s meeting, who has since moved to NYC, is in the process of starting Faith House, an interfaith community in Manhattan.
I am also excited that two other women from exciting NYC organizations are here this year: Lisa Sharon Harper from New York Faith & Justice and Onleilove Alston from the Poverty Initiative at Union Theological Seminary.
Please read a little about this group on their website (www.christianchurchestogether.org) and keep us in your prayers this week.
Thanks and blessings, Bowie
January 3, 2008
Thanks for everyone who came out last night to celebrate Epiphany a few days early. The ritual went well, and I wanted to post it in case any readers wanted to mine it for ideas for this coming Sunday, which is the actual day of Epiphany.
The idea for the ritual came from my experiences riding the subway, watching my fellow riders create privacy for themselves by listening to portable music. Music is recorded with artificial reverb, an effect which makes the music sound as if it is taking place in a large space. Different kinds of reverb create different kinds of “virtual space” for the music so that concertos sound like they’re being played in concert halls, arena rocks sounds like it’s being played in an arena, and folk music sounds like it’s being played in an intimate coffee shop. A subway is a public space and during rush hours people are packed into them as tightly as possible with no room for personal space. At the same time, however, each person listening to music bring a virtual space with them, and any given subway car will probably have at least a dozen personal, virtual spaces packed in to it.
Church is another place in which personal space and public space interact in interesting ways, and I thought it would be interesting to see how portable music would affect ritual. Epiphany, a feast day which celebrates a journey, seemed like the perfect opportunity to ritualize my commuting experience.
I set up five stations along a walking route which wound its way through four rooms. Each participant was told to bring a portable music player (i.e. an iPod, a discman, or something comparable). I created five tracks of voiceover layered on top of music and loaded them on to each person’s player, and we began the ritual. Details below: