Tuesday, November 8, 2016

For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles | Episode 6: Wonder and Episode 7: Church Review of Notes and Quotes

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Transcultural Kingdom Multi-ethnic Church Network of Missional Communities


All is Gift | For the Life of the World Episode 6: Wonder and Episode 7: Church

For Emmaus City, we want to see our city flourish in the areas or "economies" of arteducationcharitybusinesscommunity development, etc. If God is the Creator – the One through whom and for whom all things beautiful and innovative and flourishing come from – then we need to continue to become more like Him in showcasing His Story of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration authentically and with understanding, wisdom and compassion in the city of Worcester where He has placed us. We want to be a city renewing churchFor help with this, the "For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles" video series is a great resource. Andy Crouch, author of Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling and Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power, calls this series of episodes "The best treatment of faith and culture ever put on screen." Here are links to the previous posts:

Introduction and Episode 1: Exile | Episode 2: Love and Episode 3: Creative Service | Episode 4: Order and Episode 5: Wisdom

"For the Life of the World" explores the bigger picture of how following Jesus impacts a person's relationship with God and others, and inspires a deepening responsibility for what God has created in light of everything Jesus has done, is doing, and will do for the life of the world through those who follow His lead

For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles Episode 6: Wonder Official Teaser, Quotes, and Clips

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Transcultural Kingdom Multi-ethnic Church Network of Missional Communities

"Beauty is the word that shall be our first. Beauty is the last thing which the thinking intellect dares to approach, since only it dances as an uncontained splendor around the double constellation of the true and the good and their inseparable relation to one another. Beauty is the disinterested one, without which the ancient world refused to understand itself, a word which both imperceptibly and yet unmistakably has bid farewell to our new world, a world of interests, leaving it to its own avarice and sadness. No longer loved or fostered by religion, beauty is lifted from its face as a mask, and its absence exposes features on that face which threaten to become incomprehensible to man. We no longer dare to believe in beauty and we make of it a mere appearance in order the more easily to dispose of it. Our situation today shows that beauty demands for itself at least as much courage and decision as do truth and goodness, and she will not allow herself to be separated and banned from her two sisters without taking them along with herself in an act of mysterious vengeance. We can be sure that whoever sneers at her as if she were the ornament of a bourgeois past whether he admits it or not can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love." Hans Urs van Balthasar

"In relationship to wonder, we in our culture almost never give ourselves the space to appreciate the value that things have in and of themselves. We always want to put them to some sort of pragmatic use. For example, wine making takes a knowledge of soil, of climate, when to pick a grape, when to let it go. All of these things lead into what makes for a good wine. What does that knowledge alone taste like? Just tasting those words, and details, and information can be bland. That's what knowledge apart from appreciation tastes like. We need to develop a palette for what is good. Not just for what it can do for us, but for what it is in itself. That fundamental difference can be summed up like this: wonder is to wisdom what flavor is to wine making. When God created the world, all the 'Let it bes' that you find in the first chapter of Genesis, those were all followed up by an affirmation of the goodness of what's done. If that's who God is, He has His 'Let it be' and 'It is good,' then that should be our response to actually appreciate things that are around us. The Scripture says, 'Taste and see that the Lord is good,' not just intellectually understand that God is good. If we lose our sense of God's goodness and wonder at what He's made, we risk losing a fundamental aspect of our mission in the world. It reminds of a word that's used hundreds of times in the Scriptures: Behold."  Dr. Stephen Grabill and Evan Koons

"Perhaps the greatest thing that we can do as a Christian community is to behold. Behold our God. Behold His creation. The Church has exiled beauty from its conversations and I think that we need to rediscover the beautiful in order to recover ourselves, our humanity. Jesus seemed to indicate that beauty is a door into the Gospel. Beauty is the door. In a remarkable scene in John 12, Mary of Bethany barges in and breaks open this jar of nard that she's been saving up all her life. The disciples are furious at her as she is doing only what a woman should be allowed to do on her wedding day, which was to anoint her bridegroom. Everybody knew what that aroma signified. They're expecting Jesus to kick her out and Jesus says, 'No, you have no idea. You don't understand this night. She has done a beautiful thing to Me.' Mary is responding to this encounter with Jesus when Jesus intentionally came late. He was supposed to come and heal Lazareth, her brother, and he's dead. So she's very upset with Him. And Jesus' answer to Mary was His tears. Jesus wept. When Jesus wept, it was this gratuitous, useless beauty that was flowing through Him to her and she knew that. And all she could do was to think, 'What is the most valuable thing that I have to offer back to Him?' So she grabs this jar and runs in. She wasn't thinking about this drama that she would create. What she knew was that Jesus was going to suffer, so the only thing she can do is to anoint Him. But what she has done is beautiful and enduring because it's ephemeral, it's useless, because it's a waste. God demands of us so much more than what's transactional. It is really about the gift that we've been given and the only response we can give back is with extravagance, with gratuitous beauty. And we need to tell this story, not the story of pragmatism, not the story of utility. This story of extravagance, of gratuitous beauty is the Gospel. That is the story that I have come to die for. What really moves us tends to be someone who can behold." Makoto Fujimura 

"Dear everybody. So you can pray. So you can love. Be still. Behold. Yours, Evan."

Review of "For the Life of the World: Wonder" Terms

Narcissism: Self-focused rather than God-focused wonder.

Behold: To wonder at the beauty, abundance, and truth within God's creation.

Pragmatism: Assessing value based on practical usefulness and efficiency. 

Waste & Uselessness: Philosophical terms for things that are utilitarian. Wonder appreciates the value of things in and of themselves, not their pragmatic value.

Wonder & Wisdom: Wonder is to wisdom what flavor is to cooking. "Taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8).

Extravagant Beauty: God sent his Son to die for us while we were sinners estranged from him (Romans 5:8). His wondrous, extravagant love restored us to himself, to his truth and beauty. Because of his love, we have the gift of wonder – to know him. 

Review of "For the Life of the World: Wonder" Verses

Genesis 1:31: "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good."

Psalm 40:5: "Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you ... "

Psalm 27:4: " ... this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple ... "

Mark 14:6 (Mary of Bethany): "'Leave her alone,' said Jesus. 'Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.'"

John 1:3: "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made."

Review of "For the Life of the World: Wonder" Prayers

1. Thank you, Father, that we are valued by your extravagant love and not by our usefulness. Thank you for the gift of wonder that we might seek you and know you.

2. Please, Lord, give us an appetite for what is good, beautiful, and true. Help us to behold your creation with your perfect love.   

For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles Episode 7: Church Official Teaser, Quotes, and Clips

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Transcultural Kingdom Multi-ethnic Church Network of Missional Communities

"(1) Anamnesis: The lived memory. Remember when we said God's oikonomia, God's economy of all things, is like the music we play in our various economies. Here's the question: How do we remember that music? One way we remember is we write it down. We note it. We put pen to paper. This is how we remember things. But anamnesis is a little different. With anamnesis, we enter into the memory. We live it. We play it. Anamnesis is a memory that is a lived memory. It's the same kind of memory that God asked of the Israelites in the first Passover. It's the same kind of memory that Jesus asked the disciples when He said, 'Do this in remembrance of Me.' It's a keeping alive of God's song. It's a keeping alive of His promises. And it's not something that you just hold onto in your head. It's not something that you just preach from your pulpits. And it's not something that you write in your blogs. This is something that you live in love and creative service with order and wisdom and wonder. You don't let it die on the page. You play it." – Evan Koons 

"(2) Prolepsis: The not yet now. What is prolepsis? For example, even when an acorn is an acorn, you can say the whole future of the oak tree is present in the now of this acorn. What the oak tree will be is somehow already here in the acorn that is. 'The present is the yet to be unwrapped and gifted mystery of future days that all can see unfolding in the now. What in the future by and by is present now will testify. Amen, I say the Groom is night and coming not yet now.' Another way to think of it is with a book. As you read the book and are in the story, the book has a past, present, and future. What has happened already, you know. What is happening in the present, you're learning. How the story ends in the future, this is mysterious. But if you think of the book as a whole, all of the events in one sense are all present at once, all in the now." – Evan Koons 

"Forget all the pageantry. Forget all the gimmicks. Forget all of the bells and whistles. The Church is the body of Christ given as a gift for the life of the world. The Church maintains the hope of the not yet by living the Kingdom now. Not in our ideas, or in our talk, or in our videos, but in our actions in the world. We are to be the hope of God scattered throughout the world and we maintain this hope by gathering. And when we speak of anamnesis in the Church, we mean the Church is the lived memory of God's purposes in the world. The Church is called to be the very embodiment of the hope of the Kingdom to come. We are the body of Christ in the world."  Dr. Stephen Grabill

"Dear everybody. What do we know of Christ's body? It was beaten and bruised and offered as a gift for the life of the world. And this is where another mystery is revealed. In living this way, not only are we the body of Christ, not only are we preparing the way of the Lord in the world of exile, but we are preparing ourselves for Him, the way a virgin prepares for the bridegroom. Because at the end of all things, where does this all lead? What does this all look like when God pours Himself out for us and we offer ourselves back to Him? It looks like a marriage feast. It looks like a party. This is the mission of the Church and the people of God. This is the song of Zion. Remembering and rejoicing in the hope that is to come. This is our song and this is our prayer. As the Church, we are a family (Our Father), one that speaks to God and our destiny (Who art in heaven) from a point of exile. And we speak from a posture of awe and praise (Hallowed by Thy name), not only for that time to come, but for this very moment (Thy Kingdom come). We are called to abide in God and say, 'Let it be' to His plan and our part in His wondrous and divine mystery (Thy will be done). We can be assured that God's desire for our work here is intimately related to His plan for all things (On earth as it is in heaven). And God will sustain us (Give us this day our daily bread). For our work is a mighty collaboration, not only with our Creator, but the entire world. In this broken world we have a responsibility to bring healing and harmony to our most immediate surroundings and work outward (Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us). By these actions we, too, are healed. As our calling is great, may we not be enamored by our abilities (Lead us not into temptation) or fall in love with the fruit of our labor (But deliver us from evil). We must seek God's grace and seek to orient our work toward communing with Him. And as a church, as Christ's body offered to the Father, we return it to Him. It is His. Everything we have and everything we are forever and ever. Amen."

Review of "For the Life of the World: Church" Terms

Anamnesis: The lived memory. The church is the lived memory of God's purposes in the world.

Prolepsis: The not yet now of the coming kingdom of God. Our daily lives lived in the now are continually participating in God's unfolding purposes for the life of the world.

The Acorn: Inside an acorn, the oak tree already is. It is a metaphor for prolepsis, the not yet now of the coming kingdom of God.

The Church: The church is the body of Christ given as a gift for the life of the world. In preparing the way of the Lord into the world of exile, we prepare ourselves for him.

Song of Zion: As the Israelites sand for their return to Jerusalem, so too, the church sings the song of promised renewal for all of creation, the fulfillment of God's kingdom come.

The Wedding Feast of the Lamb: In Revelation 19:6, Jesus promises to return for his church in the restoration of all creation. This is the wedding feast to come. There is also the kingdom now, the church living in exile in the world, awaiting Christ's return. 

Review of "For the Life of the World: Wonder" Verses

Ezekiel 36:35: "They will say, 'This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.'"

Jeremiah 31:3-4: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again ... "

Isaiah 33:20: "Look on Zion, the city of our festivals; your eyes will see Jerusalem, a peaceful abode, a tent that will not be moved ... "

Colossians 1:17: "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."

Revelation 21:2: "I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband."

Review of "For the Life of the World: Wonder" Prayers

1. Thank you, Father, that as your grace flows through the church to a fractured world, you transform us and prepare us for communion with you. Thank you that our lives and our work in the not yet now have a purpose in your plans for the renewal of creation.

2. Lord, give us the strength, wisdom, and humility to be your body in the world. Help us to be the hands and feet of Christ as we labor in exile and await your kingdom come. The earth belongs to you. We belong to you. You are the Gift-giver.     

 – Sully

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