Archive for exile
Last night I had a date night with my wonderful, beautiful wife. We had a great time with a little Mexican food, great conversation, and a movie. For the first time in I don’t know how many years we were able to see a recent release–The Book of Eli. It was surprising, graphic, thought-provoking, and inspirational.
There were several scenes and themes that were compelling for me. Carnegie’s devious plan to be the one who can read the words from the Book so that people would come to him and do as he says was insightful and disturbing. Solara’s desire to take the Word to her home town was inspiring. Seeing both the purity and change in Washington’s character were encouraging. However, the scene that stood out most for me was a partial, unfinished prayer.
Being with Eli as he prayed, Solara experienced her first prayer. Though uncertain how to behave during and after the prayer or what it was all about, she was obviously touched. This experience with a man that she had seen kill many justly who now treated her with a kindness she had not seen before sparked a change in her. The next morning, she sought to share some goodness with her mom as she led her in prayer. Though never told she must pray nor taught how to pray, she sought to emulate the one that had spent time with her. She was learning about the Father through Eli. Discipleship was well under way.
Last night I took my lovely wife to the Rob Thomas concert. We have always been intrigued by the significant amounts of truth in his lyrics. As we were called to a “celebration of music and life” by each of the three acts, there were times where the logic just did not follow. For example, early on, Carolina Liar’s singer, Chad Wolf, spoke of this celebration that we had gathered for and then dedicated the song to all the people that hated their jobs and could barely stand to get out of bed. For some reason, I questioned whether or not I was ready to celebrate this particular angst. But all in all, it was an enjoyable night and a very good show.
Each of the three acts had songs that spoke of the search for something that was real and true and worthwhile. Also, themes of love, redemption, and forgiveness were addressed. A few songs that may be worth checking out include Carolina Liar’s Beautiful World and Show Me What I’m Looking For as well as One Republic’s Someone to Save You and Come Home.
My favorite song of the night was Thomas’ opening number–Fire on the Mountain. This is a song written in a post-Christian, immoral world where justice is crying out to be heard. His lyrics can speak, I believe, to the church. What it says to the church will depend on the church itself. For some it may be a call to action. For others it will be a call to change the music ASAP. The lyrics are here for consideration, but I encourage you to give it a listen to get the intensity of the problem and the emotion that the “eyes wide open” church might encounter (Frost, Seeing God in the Ordinary).
Fire on the Mountain by Rob Thomas
Fire on the mountain
Through the fields
There’s evil in the garden
But you don’t see it
I can tell
How do you sleep while the city’s burning
Where do you go when you can’t go home
How do you drink when there’s blood in the water
Where do you turn when the world moves on
When the world moves on
Fire on the mountain
You can feel it
Against your skin
You’re standing by the river
Let the river take you in
I see smoke out on the horizon
Mama get your baby
Take her down to the water
I feel the wind like a promise broken
I see the future but it’s getting farther
If you take the time to give it a listen, consider talking with other believers you walk life with and envision a video that depicts the world about which Thomas sings. Then have a re-listen and redo your story boards with the visual being the church on mission that is living like Christ.
It was my privilege to participate in an international church planting conference in 2007 where Michael Frost was the keynote speaker. Unfortunately his first talk is not recorded here. However, it is important to know that he began the conference with a talk on the post-Christian reality that: had already come about in Australia; was a functioning reality in Europe; and was in the process of becoming reality in North America. (Note: these talks were delivered almost two years ago. During that time, trends have not, in my estimation, slowed or reversed course.)
In this follow-up talk he covers material from a book he coauthored with Hirsch–Exiles. Frost borrows some ideas from Brueggemann about the Hebrews living in Babylon and the resulting exilic literature. This may serve as a roadmap for how we can live a radical faith in our postmodern, post-Christian context.
The content shared here may disturb and disorient some. For others, it may begin or advance a process of reorientation that leads to meaningful change. I would encourage you to invite your spouse, your friend(s), and/or the team with whom you are seeking to share your journey of faith to watch the hour-long video with you. Grab some pastries, doughnuts, bagels, ramen, and/or something else to fit your palate and budget, fix enough coffee or tea to let them know you are serious about this activity as you have prepared in advance in order to honor them. Then view the video and set aside at least another hour to discuss it. Below the video are some possible discussion questions.
BTW – If given serious consideration, this is not easy material. Also, parts of the presentation are NOT APPROPRIATE FOR CHILDREN.
Some questions for discussion. (Don’t wimp out and do these solo!)
- In what ways does our context merge with post-Christendom?
- If we were to view ourselves as exiles, how would that change our praxis? How might it change our living out the Great Commission?
- What aspects that Frost shares do we consider implementing now? What does that look like?
- What do we need to revisit in the future? When do we plan to come back to this?
- Would the lost community around us agree with our discussion / conclusions to the above questions? How could we verify this? Is that a conversation we are willing to begin?
- What other questions should we be asking right now?
- How serious about this are we? Honestly?