Is The Emerging Church for Whites Only?

Last week I posted a link to the discussion that is going on about the male dominated nature of the emerging church movement. This week I wanted to highlight the broader discussion on The Emerging Church and Race.  This is such an important discussion as we move forward into a majority future in which the Christian church will be more non-white than white.  And until the present time, not only has this movement been very male dominated it has also very white dominated.  But that is beginning to change, something that all of us should applaud.

God calls us to share life together with sisters and brothers from every tribe and nation and that is not possible if we do not welcome them as friends, and sit down at table with them – not inviting them to our table where we set the agenda and make the rules, but sitting down at a new table at which all of God’s children are listened to and embraced.

The posts below are in response to the Sojourner article Is the Emerging Church for Whites Only?. Sorry you do have to register at Sojourners to read this article.

Here are some other posts on the God’s Politics blog that you do not need to register for.  First of all is a great article by Mustard Seed Team member Eliacin Rosario Cruz – Can the Subaltern Speak? or Moving the Conversation Forward

If you want to catch up on the entire conversation check out this: Emergent and Race. It has lots of great links to posts by, amongst others:

Onleilove Alton – The Global Emergence Won’t Be Televised

Brian McLaren – Turning the Tables of White European Male Privilege – Our Tables, Their Tables and New Tables

Julie Clawson – Emerging or Converging

Lisa Sharon Harper – An Open Letter to the Emerging Church Movement

Sarah-Ji – What Is Happening Is Bigger Than Emergent

Shane Caliborne – The Emerging Church Brand: The Good The Bad and the Messy


Last Reflections on Lent

Today is the last Friday of Lent and so our Lenten observances and reflections are drawing to a close.  This week we have been focusing on the brokenness of God’s family and I have received 2 great reflections for us to consider today.

Kathy Escobar: Red and yellow black and white we are precious in his sight

Doug Jones: lenten Reflections (As Lent Ends) 

As well as this I thought that you might be interested in some of the articles from the March MSA Seed Sampler entitled: Welcoming a Majority Future.  Tom’s article: Coming of the Majority Future Ready or Not has generated a lively response.  This issue of how we welcome people of other cultures and faiths within the church is not the most popular issue these days but it is certainly one of the most important ones

Listening to Voices from the Margins

This last week I have continued my reading discipline dipping into not just Jean Vanier the founder of the L’Arche communities, but also Mother Theresa from the Sisters of Charity and Richard Twiss, a leader in the First Nation’s movement in North America.  At the same time I continue to grapple with what it means to live as a Christ follower in God’s global community and how we experience the coming of Christ at this season.

What do all these authors have in common you may well ask?  They all express powerfully our need to not just listen to voices from the margins but also to recognize that it is through people who are disabled, destitute and excluded that God often speaks most powerfully.

In this season of Advent how does Christ come to us through the voices of those who are displaced, despised and abused?  In the midst of our busyness and stress are we even open to hearing such voices and recongnizing our need to listen and learn from them?

“To love is a way of looking, of touching of listening to all” Jean Vanier reminds us.  If we really long for the coming of Christ and the eternal kingdom of mutual love, abundance and wholeness that his return will bring into being in all its fullness how do we wait at this season and how do we live into this world today?  How do we live by what what NT Wright calls the language of the kingdom and what James calls the royal law – love for God and love of neighbour.

I think that to live in true anticipation of the coming of Christ we must commit ourselves afresh to live according to this language of love.  We must all open our eyes to see and respond to the face of God in every stranger.  We must open our eyes to hear the voice of God in every outcast and must open our lives to be the love of God to every person we encounter who has been cast bu the wayside because of race, class, education, disabilities, illness, gender or any other disfigurement that excludes them from our lives and our society.  It is not an easy task that God challenges us with but it is essential if we really want to see the light of Christ shine in the many dark places of our world.

Maybe as part of your Advent reflections this week you would like to listen to this short video that expresses Mother Theresa’s view of the importance of the poor and the destitute

What I Learned From Government

Once again I have been beguiled by Robert Hruzek’s challenge to high calling bloggers.  This months topic is What I Learned from Government a timely topic for this season.

This last week was my first opportunity to vote as a US citizen.  Actually it was the first chance I have had to vote since I left Australia 25 years ago and I felt privileged to be able to cast my vote at a such an historic moment.  No matter what our political views may be I think that all of us need to realize that we watched history in the making this last Tuesday evening.  As I watched the tears roll down Jesse Jackson’s face I was overwhelmed by the change that Obama’s victory already represents particularly for those who have grown up in an era of racism and discrimination.  And as I have read the comments from friends in Africa, Australia, Europe and Asia I realize that this election is a moment of change not just for America but for the whole world.  It has given hope to many that thought there was no hope.

At the same time however, maybe because I am still at heart a cynical Australian, I have very low expectations for the kind of change any earthly government can accomplish.  In fact as a follower of Christ I am not sure that any of us should look to our earthly governments for the kind of change that we really long for in our world – the in breaking of the kingdom of God with its promise of wholeness and freedom and abundance for all .

Maybe that is just as well because I am also very aware that as a follower of Christ my primary loyalty is not to the government of any country but rather to the kingdom of God and to the values and policies of God’s eternal world.  However I do believe that the kind of change that represents the in breaking of God’s new world can transcend all governmental boundaries and is possible in small ways in our world today.  It begins at the grassroots level when the people of God catch hold of God’s vision for a new world in which freedom does indeed come for the oppressed, healing does come for the sick and wholeness does come for all of us in whom the divine image is distorted and maimed.  I love this quote from Compassion: Reflection on the Christian Life by Donald McNeill, Douglas Morrison, Henri Nouwen which for me sums up my feelings on this issue:

This is the vision that guides us. This vision makes us share one another’s burdens, carry our crosses together, and unite for a better world. This vision takes the despair out of death and the morbidity out of suffering, and opens new horizons. This vision also gives us the energy to manifest its first realization in the midst of the complexities of life. This vision is indeed of a future world but it is no utopia. The future has already begun and is revealed each time strangers are welcomed, the naked are clothed, the sick and prisoners are visited, and oppression is overcome. Through these grateful actions the first glimpses of a new heaven and a new earth can be seen.

In the new city, God will live among us, but each time two or three gather in the name of Jesus he is already in our midst. In the new city, all tears will be wiped away, but each time people eat bread and drink wine in His memory, smiles appear on strained faces. In the new city, the whole of creation will be made new, but each time prison walls are broken down, poverty is dispelled and wounds are carefully attended, the old earth is already giving way to the new. Through compassionate action, the old is not just old anymore and pain is not just pain any longer. Although we are still waiting in expectation, the first signs of the new earth and the new heaven, which have been promised to us and for which we hope, are already visible in the community of faith where the compassionate God reveals Himself. This is the foundation of our faith, the basis of our hope and the source of our love.

I cannot imagine a more difficult time to become the leader of any country and I am sure that over the next couple of years many will feel frustrated and disillusioned because their expectations are not met and their hopes have been dashed.  Change that is possible through any government is limited by the flawed and far from perfect nature of all human beings.  How wonderful it is to know that there is a far greater hope that we have to lead our lives.

New Monasticism and White Privilege

Here is an interesting article that my good friend Eliacin contributed to the God’s Politics discussion on new monasticism and white privilege. 

It is not by chance that it is hard to find people of color as prominent figures in spreading the vibes of New Monasticism through books, conferences, and new media. This also true of many other new emerging expressions of contemporary Christianity.

Read the entire article