Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I went for a run this morning in the frost of Stony Point. Up a hill from the conference center is an old cemetery, and my route took me through it. I noticed, in particular, one large headstone with its back to the path I was on. I could see no details of dates of birth or death or even first name, just the all caps word "CALL." I wondered, "was this a request, as in, 'call me when I'm gone'? Or, was it a sign of an untimely demise of a central theological concept? Considering the latter possibility, as I ran I pondered the death of call. But, being part of a resurrection people, I also considered the rebirth of vocation.
Being in the midst of an intense 72 hour consultation on evangelism, I pondered the rebirth of the call to share the good news with a world that so desperately needs to hear a bene diction -- a good word, a word of good news.
It was a fascinating conversation with about 80 or so committed Presbyterian leaders from across the country and from across the spectrum of Presbyterian life and theology.
The conversation was by turns inspiring and frustrating. The inspiration came, as inspiration so often does, from the rich and compelling personal stories shared in groups, in worship, over food and drink. The frustrations arose, as frustrations often do, from the spinning of wheels when we either bogged down in process or couldn't quite get to the heart of the matter of what we variously mean by that slippery word "evangelism."
Nevertheless, despite the slipping and sliding and occasional sense of "stuckness," I think 80 leaders left Stony Point committed to act on what we learned from each other.
Whether or not the word "evangelism" can be restored, perhaps the practice can experience a revitalization if the experience of the past few days announces the resurrection of a common call.
Monday, November 10, 2008
It's getting late, so nothing I post at this point should be taken with any seriousness!
I spent the afternoon, and will spend all of tomorrow, at a consultation on evangelism at the Stony Point Center in New York. It's been an interesting afternoon and evening. GA Moderator Bruce Reyes Chow is here (and he's podcasting right now and has been twittering all afternoon ... and if I was at all tech savvy I'd understand exactly what all of that means and how it might be used effectively for evangelic outreach!).
Lots of good conversation on the meaning of evangelism, and lots of food for thought, and in the spirit of "blogging out loud," I'm posting a couple of random responses that have not yet achieved the level of even random thoughts.
First, it is helpful to be in the midst of the more evangelical wing of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and to spend a while immersed in that language.
Second, I would rather being singing the songs of the Iona Community than the contemporary evangelical praise music that dominated our worship this evening -- songs that focus exclusively on Jesus on the cross and Jesus on the throne of heaven as if Jesus never had a life.
Third, numbers one and two above lead me to wonder what it is we think we are calling people to when we invite them to faith.