Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Creation (still) groaning: god wrestling


Ready to hit the road

A busy and full day.

It took the Collection until 4:30AM to find a place where they could park their van and trailer. Some place in the Village. So they’re a bit sleepy. I want to give them a socio-religious overview of where they are. How the religious and social history of this place connects with the new reality  they are creating. 

Tricia is the director who has begun readings of her take on Othello, coming up in the fall. She was here last night and blown away by the energy and activity. Jeremy G’s seed group. The reGroup theatre rehearsal. The Collection family getting ready for their gig. It felt magical to her. Inspirational.

Berik is in to get his stuff out of the old medical room, my old office, so that it can become a green room. 

Deacon James back looking for Danielle again and again we’ve got a full house. 

While I was talking with the Collection, a very (successful, by certain standards), evangelical Christian group was in looking at the space.  They’re interested in the whole show. I will hand it to them, they do celebrate multiculturalism…and service…and discipline and commitment…BUT..there is a triumphalism, a rejection of women’s leadership and don’t even mention LGBTQ issues…I don’t understand why young adults are drawn to this at all. 

Jeremy G is in with Danielle finalizing plans for this weekend’s conversation. 

While I’m hard at work, Don stops in. He’s got some extra staff time this week. Can they help us with web site? Yes, of course. How do we make that concrete? That’s one of our biggest needs  right now. We’re one foot into a new site with lots of blank spaces. 

Russ stops in. I’m hoping he can at least meet David Wimbush, given his work at Wild Goose. He’s well known as the guy with the white hat….Everyone is still waiting for David to return. We wait for awhile but decide to head out for conversation. I try to explain what’s inside of me. How I look at the celebration of the life of Pete Seeger last Sunday. The thousands who came out. How I finally learned the subversive power of what he was trying to do with all of his sing alongs. The sustaining power. Like the black church and it’s creation of liberated space within  the context of life  denying slavery and oppression. My Harlem neighbor, First Corinthian Baptist, is living  that out whether they know it or not. I know that a community with mutual accountability, with disciplines of worship and prayer, stewardship, study and witness, could be a powerful presence. And  wonder again if I can do it. Somewhere between the intensity of the Open Center folks, the power of sung song in the Seeger tradition. As I looked around at the septuagenarians and octogenarians in the audience, I thought that what was most visible was hope. As Jim  Wallis said, Hope is believing inspite of the evidence and having the courage to work to make the evidence change.

 And I look at David’s Collection, these young Christians (in a post Christendom sense), with their combination of self-protection, who really wants to open up their soul to vulnerability and get hurt? and passionate, existential ahistorical wrestling with Jesus, like Jacob with the angel, somewhere in that gritty mix is the new church, or new Christianity being born.

The real dialectic is plain to see. The historic mainline church is irrelevant to this moment. Yes, they have  enough money to continue into the future perhaps indefinitely. But their power to shape what Christianity means is over. The dialectic is between the god wrestling, paradigm breaking grassroots radical discipleship on the one hand and the rapidly growing disciplined Muslim brotherhood style of conservative Christianity on the other. I know that new community can come into being. Is coming  into being. I want desperately for us to help bring it into being. But I don’t see all the how. That’s why my heart burns. That’s what Russ and I talk about. Is he down for that struggle? Everything about  him seems to say yes.

David Wimbush and Bob
When I get back, David and Mira are on the steps. Still waiting for the van. Stuck in rush hour traffic in the village. We talk about some of this. Inside, folks are getting bored. Instruments are coming  out. People trying out their own songs. Some Johnny Cash. Folsom prison. That  kind of thing. David comes back, opens up his violin. I’m about to get my own guitar. See if RL wants to come down. But just about then, the van shows up. And it’s the VW clown scene in reverse. How much can you put into that van? Soon enough, they’re ready to head out to Philadelphia. Leaving me pondering. Burning. I wave goodbye. Just like any rock band. But some serious Jesus wrestling going on in there. Keep struggling.
Waiting for the van to come

Spend some time with RL. Allow him to rail at me regarding how I accomplish my mission. Again. Knowing he does this because he cares. 

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