Friday, January 23, 2009

seeking a balance between context and tradtion

My path for trying to understand this emmergent movement has led me to examine the de-centering of liturgical authority in different communities.  I am used to pastors and tradition dictating the structure and content of a worship setting.  From the little I have read about this movement there seems to be a different process for the creation of a worship experience.  In Peter Rollins' community, ikon, the people spend a great deal of effort and time crafting very artistic and contextual worship experiences.  The differences between the hour or so they spend together and the hour or so I am at church are wildly different.  The ikon community sounds deeply committed to an active and robust relationship with God.  The services themselves address present issues and worries of the community through vivid parables and revisions of scripture passages from both testaments.  To prep for class I read a book from the business world (Do You Matter?) about making designers a centerpin of the entire business model.  The idea is that everything from concept to execution to shipment should be thought of as designers would think of them - people who focus on the users' experience of your product.  It's a crass comparision perhaps, but designers and artists don't seem that much different context to context, and ikon services seem artistic; focused upon the revelation of the worship experience.

The services litsted in How (not) to Speak to God are beautiful, but sometimes I have disagreements with the theology being articulated by a service.  I'm not saying this to critique the value of ikon's work.  What they are doing is amazing.  However, I cannot just wholesale strip the cloth from the bed they spent so much effort making.  I have other commitments to honor, beyond social context.  Whatever else I am also, I am a Lutheran, and have every hope of bringing Lutheran sensitivities to such services.

My next focus will be upon Nadia Bolz-Webber's church in Denver.  I've been reading her book and it's hilarious - also a little weird because some of my college friends are in the book (what have I done with my life?) - but for there isn't much to be said about her church and what she is doing with her community.  I am doubly excited about the prospect of learning from Nadia becuase she and I share a similar commitment to mainline Lutheranism so our commitment is not only contextual but theological as well.   

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