Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Advent - better late than never?

I had actually meant to post this before we had our Christmas Eve get-together, but my intentions fell short of my actual productivity. I, as I think many in our group did, found celebrating Advent to be an experience that was both traditional and new. I have personally never celebrated it before, but I think I will in the years to come. As we have been unlearning so many aspects of religion, there is comfort in relearning traditions, practices, beliefs that still represent the deep meaning and tradition of Christianity.

In trying to "prepare" something for discussion on Christmas Eve, I searched for more solid definitions of the abstract terms - hope, peace, love, joy - around which Advent centers. In doing so, I learned (much to the chagrin on my American, rationalist perspective) that the terms don't seem to be the point. No two churches or sites or people could give a liturgy of readings for each week, and the ones I did find were mainly shallow or bland. What I did find were several perspectives on what Advent means to individuals or church families. There were a couple of Advent "books" in which families of the church had written personal stories about each of the themes or defined what symbols of the holidays meant to them, which seemed to be the most appropriate fit for Advent. I did find some commentary on Advent by Dennis Bratcher, which I used for the Advent "booklets." I have included it below for those of you who were not able to come Christmas Eve.

An Explanation of Advent: A Season of Advent Anticipation and Hope

Advent. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, which is the Sunday nearest November 30, and ends on Christmas Eve (Dec 24). If Christmas Eve is a Sunday, it is counted as the fourth Sunday of Advent, with Christmas Eve proper beginning at sundown.

The Colors of Advent
Historically, the primary sanctuary color of Advent is Purple. This is the color of penitence and fasting as well as the color of royalty to welcome the Advent of the King. Purple is still used in Catholic churches. The purple of Advent is also the color of suffering used during Lent and Holy Week. This points to an important connection between Jesus’ birth and death. The nativity, the Incarnation, cannot be separated from the crucifixion. The purpose of Jesus’ coming into the world, of the "Word made flesh" and dwelling among us, is to reveal God and His grace to the world through Jesus’ life and teaching, but also through his suffering, death, and resurrection. To reflect this emphasis, originally Advent was a time of penitence and fasting, much as the Season of Lent and so shared the color of Lent.

In the four weeks of Advent the third Sunday came to be a time of rejoicing that the fasting was almost over (in some traditions it is called Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin word for "rejoice"). The shift from the purple of the Season to pink or rose for the third Sunday Advent candles reflected this lessening emphasis on penitence as attention turned more to celebration of the season.

In this double focus on past and future, Advent also symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals and a congregation, as they affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power. That acknowledgment provides a basis for Kingdom ethics, for holy living arising from a profound sense that we live "between the times" and are called to be faithful stewards of what is entrusted to us as God’s people. So, as the church celebrates God’s breaking into history in the Incarnation, and anticipates a future consummation to that history for which "all creation is groaning awaiting its redemption," it also confesses its own responsibility as a people commissioned to "love the Lord your God with all your heart" and to "love your neighbor as yourself."

So, we celebrate with gladness the great promise in the Advent, yet knowing that there is also a somber tone as the theme of threat is added to the theme of promise. This is reflected in some of the Scripture readings for Advent, in which there is a strong prophetic tone of accountability and judgment on sin. But this is also faithful to the role of the Coming King who comes to rule, save, and judge the world.

Evergreens and The Advent Wreath
The beginning of Advent is a time for the hanging of the green, decorating the church with evergreen wreaths, boughs, or trees that help to symbolize the new and everlasting life brought through Jesus the Christ. Some churches have a special weekday service, or the first Sunday evening of Advent, or even the first Sunday morning of Advent, in which the church is decorated and the Advent wreath put in place. This service is most often primarily of music, especially choir and hand bells, and Scripture reading, along with an explanation of the various symbols as they are placed in the sanctuary.

The Advent wreath is an increasingly popular symbol of the beginning of the Church year in many churches as well as homes. It is a circular evergreen wreath (real or artificial) with five candles, four around the wreath and one in the center. Since the wreath is symbolic and a vehicle to tell the Christmas story, there are various ways to understand the symbolism. The exact meaning given to the various aspects of the wreath is not as important as the story to which it invites us to listen, and participate.

The circle of the wreath reminds us of God Himself, His eternity and endless mercy, which has no beginning or end. The green of the wreath speaks of the hope that we have in God, the hope of newness, of renewal, of eternal life. Candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of His son. The four outer candles represent the period of waiting during the four Sundays of Advent, which themselves symbolize the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ.

The colors of the candles vary with different traditions, but there are usually three purple or blue candles, corresponding to the sanctuary colors of Advent, one pink or rose candle, and a larger white candle at the center of the wreath symbolizing Jesus – the light of the world! One of the purple candles is lighted the first Sunday of Advent, a Scripture is read, a short devotional or reading is given, and a prayer offered. On subsequent Sundays, previous candles are relighted with an additional one lighted. The pink candle is usually lighted on the third Sunday of Advent. However, different churches or traditions light the pink candle on different Sundays depending on the symbolism used (see above on Colors of Advent). In Churches that use a Service of the Nativity, it is often lighted on the fourth Sunday of Advent, the final Sunday before Christmas.
The light of the candles itself becomes an important symbol of the season. The light reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world that comes into the darkness of our lives to bring newness, life, and hope. It also reminds us that we are called to be a light to the world as we reflect the light of God's grace to others (Isa 42:6). The progression in the lighting of the candles symbolizes the various aspects of our waiting experience. As the candles are lighted over the four week period, it also symbolizes the darkness of fear and hopelessness receding and the shadows of sin falling away as more and more light is shed into the world. The flame of each new candle reminds the worshipers that something is happening, and that more is yet to come. Finally, the light that has come into the world is plainly visible as the Christ candle is lighted on Christmas Sunday, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Worshipers rejoice over the fact that the promise of long ago has been realized.

The first candle is traditionally the candle of Expectation or Hope (or in some traditions, Prophecy). This draws attention to the anticipation of the coming of a Messiah that weaves its way like a golden thread through Old Testament history. As God’s people were abused by power hungry kings, led astray by self-centered prophets, and lulled into apathy by half-hearted religious leaders, there arose a longing among some for God to raise up a new king who could show them how to be God’s people. They yearned for a return of God’s dynamic presence in their midst.

And so, God revealed to some of the prophets that indeed He would not leave His people without a true Shepherd. While they expected a new earthly king, their expectations fell far short of God’s revelation of Himself in Christ. And yet, the world is not yet fully redeemed. So, we again with expectation, with hope, await God’s new work in history, the second Advent, in which He will again reveal Himself to the world. And we profoundly understand that the best, the highest of our expectations will fall far short of what our Lord’s Second Advent will reveal.

The remaining three candles of Advent may be associated with different aspects of the Advent story in different churches, or even in different years. Usually they are organized around characters or themes as a way to unfold the story and direct attention to the celebrations and worship in the season. So, the sequence for the remaining three Sundays might be Bethlehem, Shepherds, Angels. Or Peace, Love, Joy. Or John the Baptist, Mary, the Magi. Or the Annunciation, Proclamation, Fulfillment. Whatever sequence is used, the Scripture readings, prayers, lighting of the candles, the participation of worshipers in the service, all are geared to telling the story of redemption through God’s grace in the Incarnation.

The third candle, usually for the Third Sunday of Advent, is traditionally Pink or Rose, and symbolizes Joy at the soon Advent of the Christ. Sometimes the colors of the sanctuary and vestments are also changed to Rose for this Sunday. However, as noted above, increasingly in many churches, the pink Advent candle is used on the fourth Sunday to mark the joy at the impending Nativity of Jesus.

Whatever sequence is adopted for these Sundays, the theme of Joy can still be the focus for the pink candle. For example, when using the third Sunday to commemorate the visit of the Magi the focus can be on the Joy of worshiping the new found King. Or the Shepherds as the symbol for the third Sunday brings to mind the joy of the proclamation made to them in the fields, and the adoration expressed as they knelt before the Child at the manager. If used on the fourth Sunday of Advent, it can symbolize the Joy in fulfilled hope.

The center candle is white and is called the Christ Candle. It is traditionally lighted on Christmas Eve or Day. However, since many Protestant churches do not have services on those days, many light it on the Sunday preceding Christmas, with all five candles continuing to be lighted in services through Epiphany (January 6). The central location of the Christ Candle reminds us that the incarnation is the heart of the season, giving light to the world.

-Dennis Bratcher, Copyright ©, Dennis Bratcher - All Rights Reserved

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Just a heads up that there will NOT be an Emerging Desert gathering this Sunday, December 27th. Several people are still out of town or busy with other plans...and we are in need of a 'day of rest'! We look forward to seeing everyone again on Sunday January 3rd.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Eve Songs!

Are there any requests of songs to sing on Christmas Eve? Even if I can't play it, I'm sure we can fake our way through it. I was preparing songs and felt somewhat... domineering. Am I really just going to hold everyone in bondage to my silly, Sufjan Stevens inspired Christmas songs?

No. That's not us. We're a democracy, darn it.

Let me know if you have any requests! Here's what I have so far:

Amazing Grace
I Saw Three Ships
O come, O come Emmanuel
Come Thou Fount
We Three Kings

Oh, they don't necessarily have to be Christmas songs, I suppose. Or even Christmas related. A rousing rendition of Calexico's "Corona" or Death Cab for Cutie is fine too.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Peace Recap


We missed the week before last, but thanks to our rockin' blog and Adam’s impressive electronic post-it skills, we got to see that you all spoke about being “beautifully angry”. The times in our life, like when we are beautifully angry, that we lack inner peace can be instructive and generative. We can use the feeling of “this isn’t right” to create, to find something new (like new expressions of faith), to help others, and to make our world a teensy bit better.

But what to do when “beautifully angry” just becomes…angry? This week we talked about how all of us have arrived to this point in our spiritual journeys because we have experienced internal turmoil at some point, telling us that something was not right, that we needed to push against the barriers holding us in. Pretty much all of us have gotten here because of a temporary, and necessary, lack of inner peace. Listening to that gut instinct has been helpful. The anger and the turmoil that led us here has been and will continue to be beneficial for all of us in different phases of life – but what happens when what is supposed to be a temporary state starts to settle in and become permanent? How do we locate the switch to turn OFF that inner anger and lack of peace, once it has helped us grow and evolve?

Our value as an agent of peace in the wider world starts with ourselves. We are the most genuine reflection of peacefulness when we are living it out within ourselves.

So, what are our strategies? Do we have any? Some of us (not Ron and I, ha!) are major planners. Do we have a plan to follow Jesus? What are the cluttered attics in our mind that we need to clean out in order to make room for peace? Do we have anything in our lives that we consistently work on to grow spiritually and achieve inner peace, or do we spend our time envying the spiritual lives of others or dreaming of a day when we, too, will get there – without actually “showing up for practice”?

We ended the discussion on Sunday by talking about some of the ways in which we've individually tried to create peaceful mindsets in our lives. We talked about fasting from things in your life that make you angry - the kind of things that are totally avoidable. Hide those intensely partisan folks from your Facebook news feed, don’t read the news (if anything stupendous happens like another 9/11 or Michael Jackson dying, trust me, you’ll find out), stop reading spiritual blogs that make you think too much of how others (or even yourself) are doing it wrong.

Whatever works for you – just fast from it for awhile.

Practice being someone who becomes beautifully angry, and not just angry. Peace isn’t something that’s natural in human beings, I think. It’s something that we work toward, not a goal we ever really achieve.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Eve Day EmDes Celebration Brunch!


Posted for Debbie Armer

A new tradition is about to unfold! Thursday, December 24th the EmDes Christmas Eve Day brunch begins at 10:30 A.M. at our home. We will conclude our observance of Advent by lighting the final Advent candle with the children. EmDes folk will also spend time eating, laughing, celebrating, and worshipping. Josh has offered to bring his guitar.

For those families with children, please bring along their favorite toys or games. (We have coloring books and markers on hand.) If you have family and friends in town for the holidays, please extend to them an invitation to join us in this new tradition of a Christmas Eve Day EmDes celebration brunch! Be prepared for indoor and outdoor seating and dress accordingly.

This is a brunch potluck so bring your favorite brunch food and drink. (Please come even if you are unable to bring anything, all are welcome!) We (Sheri and I) will supply an egg & hash brown casserole, a baked French toast dish, and Wassail. Additional food suggestions are fresh fruit, juices, muffins, Christmas cookies, sliced meats and cheeses, fresh veggies etc. Fruit cake not allowed!

If you have something you know you will bring, please post so we don’t have twelve varieties of Christmas cookies and nothing else. The kids don’t need to be sugared up quite that early in the morning!


Monday, December 7, 2009

Advent: Joy

Hey all,

I wanted to go ahead and get a digital version of our time together up on the blog for everybody to peruse. I have really enjoyed taking in each others' responses, and I hope you will too.

For those who weren't able to make it, we spent some time discussing various perspectives on what 'joy' might be. For many of us, the word itself feels sort of antiquated; it's not one that we toss around in everyday conversation very often. What does it mean that Jesus' coming to our world brought joy? It seems that in contrast to the fleeting nature of 'happiness', 'joy' inherently has an element of fulfillment... that when we experience joy we're communing with the core of who/what God created us to be and take in. It comes in myriad moments and forms. It seems to be independent of happiness, quite often. It can also be a mindset and/or discipline (see the previous post by Carrie).

We then shifted our discussion to Rob Bell's Jesus is Difficult: Beatifully Angry sermon. We spent some time recounting Rob's point about how identifying the things in the world that make us beautifully angry can often give us insight into how God wired us individually and what he wants us to address in this world. Ultimately it seems that when we identify and address the things that make us angry, we end up finding another way to create and experience joy/fulfillment for ourselves and the people around us.

We wrapped up the evening with an "ideation session." The session progressed through three questions, the results of which are reproduced in the images below. [click to enlarge]

1. How have you/do you experience joy?

2. What makes you [beautifully] angry?

3. What are you going to do with your beautiful anger to find/create joy?

Sunday, December 6, 2009


I'm thinking about joy today and what it might mean. I'm looking forward to all of your thoughts this afternoon and what Adam has to share with us. I did want to share a couple links that I thought were interesting and give some new ways to think about joy and practice it in our lives:

This one is from Richard Rohr's book, The Naked Now. He talks about what a joyful mind might look like:

And this one was interesting to me because I've always thought of joy as a virtue or a trait, but never really as a spiritual practice:

Looking forward to seeing you all soon!

Monday, November 30, 2009


I’ve been thinking about hope since yesterday. I’m a very positive person, or at least I think I am, and sure I have hope for those around me, but hope for the world is lacking. Last week I was reading about human trafficking and child pornography and it has haunted me since. Last night I didn’t even want to take communion. How can there be so much injustice in the world. How could a God of love allow this to happen? I realize I’m not the first person to ask this question and I won’t be the last. Human suffering is an age old question which all religions have attempted to deal with, but last night I was reminded of why I am drawn to the Christian explanation. The world is broken and it’s filled with broken people. He chose these broken people to change the world, one person at a time. It all starts with me and you. Being in the Schroeder’s home with the em des gang last night has renewed my hope.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


This Sunday (Nov 29th) is the first week of Advent. We'd talked about following the Advent season and having different people facilitate (I think we are still listening to and discussing pod casts each week as well).

So far, this is how each week of Advent is working out:

  • First Week (Nov 29th) - Theme is Hope - Sherri and Debbie already have plans in the works to facilitate this week. I'm excited to see what they've put together!

  • Second Week (Dec 6th) - Theme is Joy - We still need someone to facilitate this week. Anyone interested? We are also anticipating a visit from our dear friends from Colorado this week (Stacy Schaffer and Kathy Escobar).

  • Third Week (Dec 13th) - Theme is Peace - Gonski's have volunteered for this week. Gonski's talking about Peace...should be interesting!

  • Fourth Week (Dec 20th) - Theme is Love - My neighbor, Don Doyle (retired ASU Professor of Theatre now a professional story teller - check out his website here: - note, he also looks a lot like Santa Claus) is going to visit and tell us a story.

There are plans in the works for a Christmas Eve brunch (Dec 24th - like you don't know when Christmas Eve is) which will be hosted by Debbie. I'm sure there will be more details in the next few weeks.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Six-Pack of House Churches


The Tall, Skinny Kiwi has posted six (well, seven) different types of house churches that we see emerging into the faith landscape. I believe EmDes would likely fit into the first category.

1 Off-the-grid house churches that intentionally do not want to be known, listed or be on anybody's radar. We find out about them by accident or through opinion polling or sampling, the kind of research George Barna does.

These OoCC (out of Church Christians) gatherings contain a lot of the God-yes-church-no crowd out there.

As a group, we tend to think that if you know about us, then we're doing something wrong! It seems that many of us are from backgrounds where we felt we had to "sell" our church to others, and we shy away from letting others know about the community we're involved with. But, interestingly, that has made it all the more intriguing to people! More listed, after the jump...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Chili Dinner This Sunday!

Hey folks,

If you're able to make it this Sunday, you get to look forward to Debbie & Sheri's world famous White Chicken Chili!

Let's all bring something to round out the rest of the meal, if we can. Here are some ideas of what will be needed:

- chili toppings
- cornbread
- biscuits, etc
- desserts

Leave a comment here with what you plan to bring so we don't end up with 52 biscuits and no cheese (we NEED cheese:)

*Photo credit - "PotteryBarn Part Deux (Terri)"

This Week's Listening...

Sorry for the delay in making this available!

Part II - "Jesus Wept"
[to download file: right-click + save]

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Progression of Community

Hey everybody,

I was reflecting on Sunday's conversation regarding the first installment of Rob Bell's Jesus Is Difficult series on Gossip, and I had some thoughts/questions I'd like to throw out to the group...

We've touched on these ideas before, but I want open up the discussion again on our [Emerging Desert's] progression of community. One thing that struck me about the conversation on Sunday (or the portion I was able to observe) was that a number of people identified the assumption of closeness in Rob's main points. That is to say, his teaching about how to deal with conflict and thus gossip hinged on an assumption of relational maturity or closeness. I think we have/are/will continue to witness a beautiful evolution of community within EmDes, but I still sense that there is plenty of ground to cover in deepening our relationships. Or to frame it another way, Rob's talk about conflict resolution, etc. made me wonder if we, as a community, are deep enough into each other's lives to even merit that depth of conflict resolution if one should arise (which really hasn't yet to my knowledge). Does that even make sense?

To offer an answer to my own silly question: I think we're getting there. Like I said, a number of us have committed to doing this journey together, and much progress has been made. But we still have a way to go, I think. So I guess the wrap-up questions are these:

- Is our ongoing progression of community something that simply takes time (so we should just keep doing what we're doing), OR is there some increased level of intentionality that would be good for us to collectively put into action?

- If we lean towards "doing more," what would that look like for us as a group? Of course there's a individual aspect to all of this, but should we add an element to our weekly gatherings in which we some how make ourselves more known to each other (whatever that might mean), or would that feel too forced?

Any and all thoughts are greatly welcome!

Pumpkin Cookies.

You asked, I deliver.

(It feels a bit strange to post a cookie recipe on this blog, but I guess if everything is spiritual, then it's ok?)

Anywho, by popular request:

Pumpkin Cookies

1 cup butter (softened)
1 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
(mix together)

add dry ingredients:
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg

* bake for 8-9 minutes in 375 degree oven *


2 Tbsp. brewed coffee
6 Tbsp. butter softened
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups powdered sugar

Monday, November 9, 2009


Loved your thoughts on the trip/"church," Joy!

Here's a link to some of the photos that I took over the weekend. Just click on them to enlarge.

Hopefully this wasn't the last of our EmDes getaways!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Church Is Here!"

Joining a few of our EmDes friends and families in Flagstaff for the weekend was an an event I had been anticipating for several weeks. Hanging out with people I love and enjoy so much...all under one roof, for 2 nights, in a climate reflecting 'true fall' temperatures...with our days and evenings revolving around great food and drink as well as the uninterrupted company of each other...could undeniably become one of the most memorable experiences of my year!
Friday afternoon, several unavoidable scheduling conflicts prevented our family from leaving the valley and arriving at our AMAZING weekend destination on time...(or at least in an acceptable time frame in my mind). Once it became evident that we'd be late...I began to feel stressed, irritated and a little stupid for not doing a better job getting my family organized and out the door promptly by 3:00pm. I had volunteered to provide dinner for everyone that evening and like all true blue type A personalities...I was freaking out. My imagination conjured thoughts of half starved children bawling for dinner...frustrated grown-ups making comments to never let 'Joy' volunteer to bring dinner 'opening night' of a retreat 3 hours away...ever again!
We finally arrived at the 'cabin' about 45 minutes later than I had planned...(totally UNACCEPTABLE...for me) I sheepishly apologized...imagining the worst to be unfolding behind the door of the enormous vacation home...BUT, what I heard as I hesitantly walked inside, followed by my husband Jim and our 2 youngest daughters...immediately changed my demeanor and the direction of the evening for me...

"MOM! Church is Here!" ~Emma age 5.

Emma's words weren't just child-like and cute...they were powerful to me in that moment and in that space. In my mild hysteria and growing anxiety, I could not have imagined hearing more endearing and encouraging words... ever! (And, these uttered by a hungry child no less?) Her statement became the buzz for the next few the adults beamed and ribbed each other a little bit. That single exclamation captured my heart...Emma recognized us as 'church'...her church...I was dumbfounded as I realized that the thing we in EmDes collectively hope to have organically unfold in our little faith that in some real and outward way we ourselves embody THE CHURCH. Sure the the grown-ups can make the connection, most of us have gone to great lengths to reconstruct what church is...but to hear such a strong affirmation from one of our kids...totally confirmed for me...that we are really and truly doing this thing...we are heading in the right direction...
I'm certain that I was offered a glass of wine at that point...a sincere effort by someone to help me 'get a grip'...but, all the previous freaking out and anxiety had already dissipated...Emma's statement " Church is here" reverberating in my that moment...all was well with my soul!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

What's Coming Up + VOTE For Our Next Read


Alrighty, we are about to finish off Siljander's A Deadly Misunderstanding, which brings us to a transition of sorts. Last week, Sarah G-ski offered the excellent idea of mixing things up and using a podcast medium to guide our discussion for a few weeks while we sort out our next collective book. Based on the positive response from everybody, we're going to go ahead with that approach.

The podcast that's been selected is Rob Bell's four-part teaching series titled "Jesus is Difficult," which he delivered to Mars Hill a few years ago.

In the meantime, based on last week's discussion I have placed a poll here on the blog in the upper right-hand corner. Please cast your vote for one of the following books:

Friday, October 23, 2009

An invite...

Hey guys, our friend Penny over at AzFCT wanted me to share this with you:

Hi All, I am one of the "lurkers" on your blog, although I have talked with Jacob in person. Wanted to remind you that Diana Butler Bass, who speaks at many of the Emergent conferences, is going to be preaching at Asbury United Methodist Church this Sunday the 25th at 9:30. Asbury is at 1601 W. Indian School Road, Phoenix. It should be a relatively small gathering, and I bet Diana would like to talk with you about your cohort.


Thanks for the invite Penny! 

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ending Christian Euphemisms

Tony Jones has been blogging on ending Christian euphemisms. We've all heard them. "Pray for Johnny... he's (insert juicy gossip here)." "That person has an unteachable spirit."

There's all sorts of insider language inside of our faith, and much of it can actually be damaging. Some of our euphemisms are the spiritual equal of saying "Darn" instead of "Damn". It's the same heart, just vague words.

What are some of the euphemisms we use? Or, even better, what are some of the euphemisms that we Christians who are involved with emergent topics use?

From Tony Jones on BeliefNet...

I received loads of great comments about what Christian euphemisms we should drag, kicking and screaming, into the light of day in an attempt to euthanize them. I won't be able to tackle them all, but I'll highlight some of my favorites this week.

Chris Enstad nominated this beauty:

"The Lord laid it on my heart..."

Which is a euphemism for: This is something I want to do.

I grew up in a home in which, while faithful and Christian, we didn't talk a ton about faith. In fact, most Christian euphemisms were new to me when I went to college and got involved in an evangelical ministry. It seems to me that liberal Protestants have far fewer insider euphemisms -- that's probably because we're more "worldly" and "secular" (read, not residing in a Christian ghetto).

So I don't remember my parents ever blaming "the Lord" for one of their decisions, good or bad. It would have probably seemed highly anti-intellectual to them to do so.

Thus, it surprised me a bit when I started hearing people talk about their decisions, big and small, were directly influenced by the God of the Universe. And by that I don't mean that they brought biblical reasoning to bear on their decisions, but that God deigned to whisper in their ear about what they should do.

Of course, I don't mean to say that I believe in a non-interventionist God. I actually turn to God for aid in many decisions, big and small. But I can't say that I ever felt God actually stir my brain juices, which is what it always seemed like when someone used this phrase, "The Lord laid it on my heart," or something like it.

What's really most odious about this phrase is when it's used to justify something that's otherwise unjustifiable.

Friday, October 16, 2009

What If a Church Had an Expiration Date?

I find this to be an interesting idea. I think we've all been in congregations that we know have "jumped the shark". For whatever reason, they lost steam, they over-invested, or they lost some key element, and now they've been stagnant for years. But what if we went into planting a congregation with the intention of it eventually expiring? What would we do different? Would we invest in buildings and programs, or in people and communities? Would more people be lifted up to go out and carry on?

It's a wonderful idea, one which we should examine.

From Pomomusings:

Guest Blog: What If a Church Had an Expiration Date?: "

Today’s guest post is written by author and pastor Russell Rathbun. I got to meet Russell at Princeton Seminary a few years ago, and really enjoyed hearing him preach. Russell is a founding minister with Debbie Blue of House of Mercy, a pioneering emergent church in St. Paul, Minnesota. He’s the author of a brand new book called nuChristian: Finding Faith in a New Generation. nuChristian responds to recent reports of Christianity’s image problem. In nuChristian, Russell offers practical suggestions for leaders who want to reach out to the new generation with a Christlike community that is transparent, holistic, loving, engaged, just and humble. I asked Russell to write a guest post today for his stop at Pomomusings on his Virtual Book Tour. I hope you enjoy his post, “What if a Church Had an Expiration Date?”

What If a Church Had an Expiration Date?

Russell Rathbun

I have talked to a lot of people who are starting churches and a lot more people who are trying to keep churches from dying. Both missions are very hard to accomplish. So, I had an idea. What if you started a church with an expiration date? Say, five years. That would be just enough time for an energized core group to get together and build a unique community—an incarnation of the Body of Christ that addresses a particular time and place, the context in which they are living. They could welcome friends and newcomers who are interested, intrigued, and drawn in by the body’s particular vision, worship, service, study, and creativity, inviting the visitor to become part of the life of the community. Finally this expanded group of believers would begin to articulate new visions for changing contexts and to develop new core groups around those visions, groups who would then go out and start several new churches with new expiration dates.

This could solve some of the major quandaries that arise in starting and sustaining churches. The greatest help would be giving a particular incarnation of the Body of Christ permission to be done—to say that our mission in this time and place, in this specific context is finished. To say, “We may not have done everything we wanted, but we have been faithful to our vision.” Or to say, “We did everything we hoped to do. Now let’s go do something else.” If this permission to say “It is finished” caught on, then maybe churches that have been around for a long time could close up shop without feeling like they have failed. It would give any small group of folks with no resources but an emerging vision of what God could do in their context, the permission to do something for just awhile—perhaps for only a year or two. And they wouldn’t have to feel bad for not building the next Solomon’s Porch or Jacob’s Well.


The church of Jesus Christ is not closing its doors. Only particular contextual expressions of that church will do so. Is the church in Ephesus still going strong with the same vitality and vision it began with? Contexts, people, visions, and relationships change, but the charge to go into all the world making disciples does not.

The Church with an Expiration Date would guard against our human tendency toward idolatry—to idolize dynamic leaders or our ability to build institutions. It would staunch our pretenses to power and require a continual refocus on how we proclaim the gospel for the transformation of this particular group of people, in this particular cultural context. The Expiring Church could produce two, three, or ten new vital, living, unique incarnations of the Body of Christ—and you would never have to start that building fund.


I received this book in the mail the other day from the author this blog links to. I'm going to read through it and write up my own review for us. It's very interesting so far!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

EmDes Retreat

I think the weekend of Nov. 7 would be the date considering it's already the middle of October (ahh!). What several of us discussed is hopefully a larger cabin, not more than $50 per adult/night, so we could either do one night (just drive up Sat. morning and stay the night) or two nights (drive up Fri. evening) depending on the time and money factor.

Tara had a good idea that a family (or a combo of families depending on the meal?) commit to bringing up stuff for one meal, or else of course we can just hit a grocery store when we're there.

Thus far we have the Gonskis, the Schroeders, the Bamfords, and me... I would imagine we'd need a final count by this Sunday so I can make definite arrangements (hopefully ha). I'm hoping we can secure a big cabin and people can bring blowup mattresses and/or sleeping bags or use a couch if there are not enough beds to go around.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

joy's blog


Hey friends and lurkers,

Joy has been blogging through a bit of her spiritual journey, and I think she is doing an amazing job. Check out her latest post regarding deconstruction and reconstruction of "praxis"

(Two thumbs WAY up)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Laundry Love on Thursday

Laundry Love is tomorrow (Thursday, Oct 1st) at 742 E. Main St. in Mesa (Strip mall on NW corner of Main and Horne). We're needing help if anyone is interested. Starts at 7PM and ends around 9PM.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Life In Abundance Benefit Dinner...


Attention everybody:

As some of you may know, Life In Abundance International will be having a Fall Benefit Dinner here in AZ on Sunday, October 11th. Some folks from Emerging Desert pooled some funds to help sponsor the event, and accordingly there are seats available for anybody that is interested!

It will be a great night, so please contact Adam ( adam [dot] bamford {at} gmail [dot] com ) ASAP if you'd like to attend. Here are the details:

Sunday, October 11th
5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Phoenix Zoo
Stone House Pavilion
455 N. Galvin Parkway

Formal invitation below...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Deep Church...

Hey all,

Just wanted to highlight a new book that's coming out:

I just learned about this book from John Chandler's blog (read his review here), and it definitely struck me as a book that will interest many of us... perhaps even a discussion book?

See you all tomorrow...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


For those who wanted to visit the Mosque in Tempe for this Friday's celebration of Ramadan, here is the down-low...

Islamic Community Center of Tempe,

131 E. 6th St. Tempe, AZ 85281
Tel: (480) 894-6070

Here are some thoughts from Wendi:

"I think prayer starts at 6:30. so maybe we can meet at my house at 5:30. We will leave by 5:45. We will be back before 8ish...
Or peeps can go straight to the mosque by 6:30.
My cell is Peeps can contact me once they get there to meet up.
My addy is 714 W Marlboro dr
Chandler AZ 85225
Dress on the conservative side jeans are fine for male and female. Females need a shirt with sleeves and long enough to start to cover her butt...
email me at wcleckner{at}gmail[dot]com with questions."

If you'd like to read up on Ramadan before hand, their site provides some good info here.

I hope all who go have a great time. Sorry to miss it, can't wait to hear about it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Emerging Church Movement Theology

This came up in my Google Reader today, and I found it to be pretty interesting, and a good overview of things. What do you think?


A quick overview analysis of emerging church movement theology

I worry that some in mainline Protestant churches aren’t taking the emergent church seriously–that they are dismissing them as relativistic or post-modern Christianity (without taking a deeper and more nuanced look at the issues). The emergent church is here and how we deal with that fact will shape the future of the church in profound ways:

Potential Benefits of Emergent Church Movement
1) Focus on creating a safe space for outcasts and others (theoretically a safe space for minority or heretical views)
2) Focus on conversation vs. rationalist argument
3) Focus on the role narrative over legalism
4) Focus on relationship
5) Focus on the role of community in nurturing believers (small groups)
6) Focus on other (suppressed or ignored) ways of knowing (experience, narratives, etc..)
7) Focus on context/interpretive frame for author
8] Focus on context/interpretive frame for reader
9) Focus on humility in interpretation (and life) Realize our partial perspective.
10) Care for service and post-materialism (greed and environment/creation cares). Also inspiring new forms of service and community connection.
11) Journey over finality
12) Perhaps a better truth and resolution of problems of hermeneutics (eventually)
13) Exploring new forms of church and worship. Innovation. (Creative and new wine skins)
14) Reaching the unreached. Anthropological knowledge. (although sometimes a bit pre-emptive) Missional focus.
15) The understanding of systems theory and -isms in the church.
16) Challenging/destruction of dogma. Coming to the text with new and unique eyes. A phoenix or reformation style re-birth and regeneration. (loving agonism can create progress–Hegelian dialectic) Closer to Christ–further from dogma and a false contentment with orthydoxy.
17) A re-newal of the cultural debate (opposition, cooption, etc.–which of the 5 perspectives do we take) and the role of the church.
18) Authenticity, transparency, and openness via small groups (although both mega churches and seeker sensitive churches are making this move–but they are certainly a part of this. the same goes for service and some other trends here)
19) Learning how to better deal with diversity, difference, and otherness (and how we create boundaries, identity and ultimately relationship) Perhaps loose some of the baggage that goes with exclusionary image discussed in Unchristian.
20) Hopefully less underutilized talent
21) Personal vs. corporate faith. You are responsible for your faith and relationship with God
22) A reminder that church and spirituality is holistic–it touches everything and is everything.
23) Reminded that the preacher is not the final word and current orthydoxy, although it has a history (and some degree of lived experience), is orthydoxy. (I think sorting out correct doctrine vs. orthydoxy is critical important)
24) Meaning is socially constructed or rather socially mediated [even as its in the text as well]
25) Church is to make you open minded rather than closed minded

Criticism and Risks of Emerging Church
1) Hyper-diversity and loss of identity (risk of conflict, division, and lack of commonality)
2) Risk of losing doctrine, universality, and final authority
3) A black hole of theological narcissism (how do you resolve me vs. we?)
4) Culture worship/whatever identity
5) Hyper-ecumenicalism and accusations of new ageism
6) Risk of losing everything that is modern (what do we keep? what do we give up?)
7) In terms of worship style focusing on Him and not us. (ie less ego)
8] Change is difficult. Not all change is good. Destruction and erosion of tradition
9) How to allocate resources, talents, time, and focus. (which is always an ongoing issue)
10) Too much emphasis on text and theory is debilitating intellectually and practically. Is there such a thing as being too rebellious? Or perhaps too critical? Whither meta-narratives?
11) Theory is messy, complex, and of necessity always incomplete. Interpretation is likewise messy. (this is generally a risk with modernism, however although I think slightly less so)
12) Do some of the questions better fit in another venue than the pulpit? (perhaps class or small group)

Actually many of the twelve or so challenges and risks I outlined may be re-framed as a chance to challenge, learn, and re-think our perspectives on these issues so that we are better as Christians and as a church. I think this is not the time for name calling and argument, but conversation and listening that is genuine, open, and two-way.

I find it important to point out that the individualist nature of the personal quest seems to be balanced by an equally robust value of community (both internally and externally). How this dynamic plays out to me is critical to the “success” of the Christian church in years to come.

I know labels can be bad, but they can also help us sort through clutter and confusion. It seems like a more nuanced approach to practice might provide a better understanding of what it means to be emergent.

As pointed out above, I don’t think we’re post modern yet. I think the population is 50 to 80% still modernist and even those who think they are post modern are still wedded to modern values and thought. I think however understanding that there are groups who identify with a more flexible or relativist orientation is an important insight and those people need a place to call their church home.

I personally find myself in the position of being a personal emergent in the sense of my relationship to the text–applying a critical eye (and hopefully practice) to what I hear and read. I don’t read much in Eastern religions and metaphysics, although I pay attention to critical theorists and postmodernists. I’ve been reading this material for 10 years and the more nihilistic or relativistic versions don’t fit my understandings–and as many emergents point out the question should never end up being “what would foucault do?” (WWFD) or “what would zizek do?” (WWZD) the text should have focus and primacy.

What have I left out about emergent church? What challenges does it represent? Where do you see the church and emergent in 10 years? Can we learn to get along?

*** note this analysis is limited because its only the analysis of a person who has read the theory and philosophy of some emergent churches. however, as someone who has been exposed to post modern literature outside the context of theology and as someone who find themselves in someways between the two camps (which seem to have the same ultimate mission), I think I offer unique insight. it is not an endorsement of everything they do–just a head up that they have something important to offer.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Recap 8.30.09

So, if I turn this in late can I still get partial credit? Oh how I remember asking that question. Again and again.

I thought our conversation was great (a week and a half ago), so despite being behind I thought I'd throw down some quick nuggets. As always, I'm paraphrasing like crazy - so be sure to correct me when I unintentionally misquote you. If I do it intentionally, and it offends you, hit Ctrl+Alt+Delete twice (for Republicans) and Control-Command-Eject (for Democrats).

  • We started out discussing our favorite foods, from which the G-ski's emerged (HA!) as the food snobs. Maybe they should kick it up a notch from now on? Something with sea scallops in a white wine sauce will do just fine.
  • We summarized our previous weeks discussion; specifically how our view of the deity of Christ affects our approach to "evangelism". What exactly "conversion" means to us in light of the topics in our current book.
  • Stacey asks: if we don't know the gospel fully because of the language, or our understanding of it can be flawed, then how or what do we share with others? (you get an "A" for having such a good question)
  • Joshua - it may not be as simple for some of us (anymore), to simply give people the message "Jesus died for your sins". There is so much wrapped up in a statement like this, that quick answers can confuse more than help.
  • Ron - the words "Father Father why have you forsaken me" in Aramaic can be translated as "Father Father this is my destiny".
  • Me - some of us may be feeling the shift that Phyllis Tickle describes in her book The Great Emergence (still on my "to read" list) in that our "authority" is moving from the Word (Sola Scriptura) to something new. For more reading on this, Greg Arthur at Emergent Nazarenes summarized this well at the beginning of the year. I'd also like to add that once on their site I realized I liked them, because of this post. Phyllis herself sums it up as well via the tube:
  • Sarah - the gospel has been and is introduced in our culture as "informational" and not so much "relational". So we approach it as such, seeking from it a knowledge that can be fully known. This may be where we've gone wrong.
  • Joy - when did conversion, or the beginning of salvation, become simply taking "the prayer"? (I really like this one Joy, we need to talk about this more)
  • Ron / Jim / Joy - every person has a Bible, and that has been both a blessing and a curse.
  • Jamie - sometimes we aren't going to fully understand, but we can live how we know we should (perfectly said Jamie, maybe this is what God is trying to tell us, that he can't be fully known!)
Take away: we could work on developing a different approach to the Bible; one that has more openness and humility. Seeking answers and closure from it may leave us frustrated.

Alright, so that's all for now. As you can see there was some good stuff that had to be launched into the blogosphere (eventually). Comment away!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

18 Months...

Cool article on Emergent Village and a video from the Ooze...

I'm not sure I agree or disagree, probably because I'm too ignorant to do either. Regardless, this woman consistently blows me away with her energy and her spirit. She writes much more cohesively than she interviews, I think because the audio somehow can't catch everything she means to say.

Has anybody read The Great Emergence, and can I borrow it?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Em Des BBQ


Don't forget we are doing BBQ and swimming with our friends this weekend.
We (Schroeders and Oralia) will supply the meats (hot dogs, hamburgers and brats), buns and condiments. Please bring sides. Here are some suggestions:
Salads of all sort
- Potatoe
- Pasta
- Vegitable
- Fruit
- Bean
- Lettuce
Baked Beans
Chips & Dips
- Cookies
- Brownies
You know, the usual BBQ type stuff. If you have something you are planning on bringing, if you can comment back, then we can be sure we don't end up with 10 fruit salads.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

because gmail is down for craig, I post in his stead

it's tuesday, which of course means new music day! {=o) okay, maybe i'm the only one who thinks of tuesdays as a weekly music holiday. anyway, there is an album out today that i thought some of you might find interesting. david bazan - curse your branches. if you haven't heard of david bazan or his better-known previous project, pedro the lion, it's really a pretty interesting catalog of work. he has always been very open and transparent about his spiritual life and struggles (with some sidebars into his problems with politics/the religious right). starting from his early work of basically hymns and praise songs mixed with critiques of the church to this latest record where he tends to call out god on more than one occasion even to the point of questioning his existence. here's an interesting interview with the guy, if you'd like to find out a little more about where he's coming from.
i've got the record if anyone is interested in borrowing it. i've been listening to it for about a month,* some days i have to play it a few times in a row and sometimes i don't want to hear it.

here are a couple of great songs from the record.

When We Fell

with the threat of hell hanging over my head like a halo
i was made to believe in a couple of beautiful truths
that eventually had the effect of completely unraveling
the powerful curse put on me by you
when you set the table
and when you chose the scale
did you write a riddle
that you knew they would fail
did you make them tremble
so they would tell the tale
did you push us when when we fell
if my mother cries when i tell her what i have discovered
then i hope she remembers she taught me to follow my heart
and if you bully her like you’ve done me with fear of damnation
then i hope she can see you for what you are
what am i afraid of
whom did i betray
in what medieval kingdom does justice work this way
if you knew what would happen and made us just the same
then you , my lord, can take the blame

In Stitches

my body bangs and twitches
some brown liquor whets my tongue
my fingers find the stitches
firmly back and forth they run
i need no other memory
of the bits of me i left
when all this lethal drinking
is to hopefully forget
about you
i might as well admit it
like i even have a choice
the crew have killed the captain
but they still can hear his voice
a shadow on the water
a whisper in the wind
on long walks with my daughter
who is lately full of questions
about you
when job asked you the question
you responded “who are you
to challenge your creator?”
well if that one part is true
it makes you sound defensive
like you had not thought it through
enough to have an answer
like you might have bit off
more than you could chew

* - yes, i am a sinner. i steal music from the internet when it is not yet available in stores. but i fully intend to buy the lp once i can figure out how to get it to my house without melting.

Refugees from Iraq

Joy and I have a friend ...Heidi. Heidi works (lives and breathes) for Food for the Hungry. She is the one who has connected us with the refugees from Iraq, who fled the country and came here because it wasn't safe there. These refugees love it here but it's not exactly what they expected.

Please read some of their stories.

It is now Ramadan, which is a time for cleansing.. physically and spiritually. Heidi is providing some families in her writings ...for us to pray about.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

EmDes Getaway!

Any thoughts as to what we should do for a group trip? Ideas:

-Trying to get a group rate on a hotel
-Mooching off of someone's family who has a place somewhere interesting / fun / cold(er).
-Mexico (Jamie ;) )

Jesus' effect vs. the church's effect

I'm excited to continue reading Prodigal God, by Timothy Keller. I read the intro and the first chapter yesterday, and I'm really looking forward to finding out what other thought-provoking things Keller has to say.

Here's a short passage that I read yesterday that's got me thinking...

"Jesus' teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing.
If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did."
(pg. 15-16)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Waddya think #2?

Waddya think #2?: "

#2 in a series of quotes about faith, life, or religion.

“Of all religions, Christianity is without a doubt the one that should inspire tolerance most, although, up to now, the Christians have been the most intolerant of all men”



recent post by mcclaren


Did anyone else read this post by McClaren? In it he pairs a heartbreaking (short) clip from an interview with theologian John Goldingay and a poignant quote from Richard Rohr regarding people learning to trust themselves.
Please take just a few moments to check it out.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Paradigm Crash

Just thought I'd get these passages of the book up on the blog... to me, these words of Siljander's really resonate with the orientation of our cohort:

- excerpts from pgs 16-19, A Deadly Misunderstanding by Mark Siljander


We chatted for a few minutes, and then he got to the point: if I didn't mind his asking, as a follower of Jesus, what was my strategy in relation to other people in my travels around the world? I replied without hesitation: it was to convert them to the Christian faith. He nodded thoughtfully, then asked a deceptively simple question: "And why is that?"

I was taken aback. Why would he ask such an elementary question? "Well," I began, "of course, converting people to the Christian faith is the basis of Jesus's teachings. It's our duty as Christians. It's...what we do. You know this, Doug." Silence. "I mean, it's in the Bible."

"Really." He paused and fixed me with his gaze. "Would you name one verse?"

Now I was baffled. Was he serious? This was first-grade Sunday school stuff! "Doug, come on. What are you driving at?"

"No, really," he pressed gently. "Go ahead. Just one."

Okay, I thought, if you insist. Let's see ... And a moment later I was stunned to realize that I could not bring a single verse to mind -- not one. I felt humiliated.


After Doug left, I began combing through the Bible, determined to find the answer, and I continued to comb, not for an evening or a week but for a solid year. I searched the entire New Testament high and low, looking for personal vindication, until I finally arrived at the disturbing conclusion that it simply wasn't there. The strategy of converting people to Christianity, a strategy that I had so fervently held as a God-given, biblically based mandate, was never mentioned in the Bible -- not once.


... Following Jesus, according to Jesus's own disciples, was not a matter of religion; it was about the revelation of God's truth as conveyed by Jesus's influence on the human heart. As I continued poring over the text, I came to an inescapable conclusion: the teacher from Nazareth never intended to start a religion. What he was creating was a movement, a relational revolution of the human heart.

So where did this leave Christianity? Where did it leave me? I thought of myself as a devout Christian--but what did that really mean? Was it an illusion? Had I been brainwashed? I felt a victim of my culture, heir to a long tradition of assertions by countless articles and books, teachers and preachers, about truths they all insisted were in my holy book. I had accepted what I had heard.

An even more unsettling thought occurred to me: if I had been misguided on this critical strategic point of my faith, were there other areas where I was just as misinformed? Was my personal mission in life based on erroneous information? Was my faith based in truth--or was it a blind faith? All at once my belief system felt incredibly fragile. It was as if the ground I stood on was crumbling under my feet. As devastating as it had been to lose my reelection campaign, this was worse.

I thought of the phrase "paradigm shift," which had been coined by social scientist Thomas Kuhn in the 1960s and was just starting to enter popular usage at the time. But the term seemed to pale next to the intensity of the experience. This was not a paradigm shift. This was a paradigm crash.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Resources on Muslims and the Qur'an


Hey all! A few of us have mentioned that while we're reading our current book A Deadly Misunderstanding, we'd like to get a little more background information on Islam. Several resources have been mentioned in our discussions - Salafia's and Schroeder's, I'm referring to you! - so please comment away on this post with alternative resources people can check out - books, movies, podcasts - all are welcome!

Friday, July 31, 2009

I am because we are...

Heya friends,

I stumbled upon a really beautiful blog post over on by Erin Crisp. The article is about how kids in America don't like going to school compared to kids in Kenya, but I thought the theme of the post was applicable to so much in our lives. Check it out!
“They do not understand that ‘I am because we are, and we are because I am.'"

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Stop Hunger Now

Heya friends,
I mentioned the Food for the Hungry breakfast and packing event when we met on Sunday. If you are interested in joining me, shoot me an email or call or text or twitter or knock on my door...they want to know in advance if anyone is coming, but don't let that stop you if you are a last minute kind of person.
The event will be:
Tuesday, July 28th
Food for the Hungry US
1224 E Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85034
7:30am – Light Breakfast
8:00-8:45 – Presentation from Stop Hunger Now and hands on packing event
8:45-9:00 – Opportunities for future involvement in Operation Sharehouse – Phoenix

Saturday, July 18, 2009

New Book Chapters Online

I just discovered that the first two chapters of our new book, A Deadly Misunderstanding, are available online at Barnes and Noble. If, like me, you haven't purchased a copy or are waiting for it to arrive you can do this week's reading online.

In order to view all of Chapters 1 and 2, and not just the first 2 pages of each, it asks you to sign in to your Barnes and Noble account. For those that don't want to create their own, they can use a dummy one I created just for this purpose:

sign in: roaring[underscore]shrimp[at]yahoo[dot]com
password: emdesbooks

Sign in here.

A Deadly Misunderstanding B&N

Make sure to sign in first. Click on the "See Inside" graphic on top of the book cover graphic.

Hope this helps!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bee Bee Queue

You certainly don't have to call him Papa, but just so you know, most people do. He's been gracious enough to open his home/pool/bbq for us to gather. Should be a great time. Adam posted a map and directions over there (and down a bit, "next gathering") >>>>>

I'm posting this little nugget so that us regulars can semi-coordinate what food to bring to make it an official EmDes meal. And you know those never disappoint.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

No Gathering This Week & THE NEW BOOK!


ALRIGHT!! Just to get it up here on the blog as well... There will be no gathering tomorrow (Sun. July 5th) due to rampant out-of-town-ness and holidays, etc.

We will be meeting next week out in Gilbert for our final week of free-flow conversation before we dig into our new discussion book. (Heather's dad, Bryan, is graciously opening up his house + pool for our cohort while we allow the Schroeder's a chance to get their feet under themselves following their travels). More details to come...

Speaking of our new book - it's been decided!:

A Deadly Misunderstanding by Mark D. Siljander

After 20 votes (way to go everybody!), Siljander's book came out on top by a narrow two-vote margin. So, if you're interested in reading along with the cohort, go ahead and pick-up/order your copy soon as we plan to kick-off the book discussion during our July 19th gathering.

It also seems like it would make sense to declare Bell & Golden's, Jesus Wants to Save Christians, our "next-next" book so that we won't have to go through this whole process again in a few months:-) Objections/comments?

See you next week in Gilbert!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009



For anyone interested in the Laundry project.

Yesterday I talked to Matt who is the owner of Laundromat on Main St in downtown Mesa.

He was very open to us helping out the community and paying for laundry once a month and even offered to provide discount on some of the wash machines as well to help out. I mentioned some possible days and times, he just said to give him a heads up a few days in advance so he can make sure he can be there as well in case we need anything.
I'm thinking like the first Thursday in the month 7-9PM (normal close is 10PM - Matt said he could stay open an hour later if we needed). Since this Thur is too soon to start, I'm thinking August 6th. That will give us some time to create a few bi-lingual posters for neighborhood businesses and some fliers to handout to appartments, etc in the area (he was okay with this as well).
Any thoughts?


Just a quick note to thank you all for praying for Sydney. She is out of the ICU, onto the regular floor, and should be going home tomorrow. I saw her this afternoon, and I must say she is a different little girl than the one I visited on Sunday. She is doing so much better and is back to her normal sweet little girl self. Love you guys!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Let's Vote on Our Next Book!

Alright! Building on Sarah's post from a few weeks ago, let's go ahead and vote on what our next discussion book will be. We've got four books to select from here (and if anybody would really like to add another, let me know).


In no particular order...

Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr

A Deadly Misunderstanding by Mark D. Siljander

Jesus Wants to Save Christians by Rob Bell & Don Golden

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Apparently... We're still alive. And the emergent video contest.

Wonderful conversation on Sunday on why we're still alive. Everyone's passionate responses revealed too much to write. But what really came out was the beauty of a group of people that desires to follow Jesus and not let anything stop that. It's great to have met such a group!

I am announcing the first ever Emergent Video Contest. What is that you ask?

I am going to ask any group that considers itself emergent or emerging to submit a two minute video showing what their gatherings are like. This is meant to show that we're not cohesive at all. We're a ragtag group of Jesus people who have many different expressions. Someone said on Sunday that essentially the tag emergent is nothing but a group of people engaging in a conversation, and this is true. I think a good way to show what this means is to show the differences in groups that consider themselves emerging/emergent.

Every contest has rules, so here's mine: It must be substantive. We need to get an idea of how your group works when we see your video. Also, include some sort of contact info at the end (your website, address, twitter, whatever). Anyone have any more criteria? Let me know.

Interested in participating? Ask me how! If everyone is comfortable with it, we'll do some sort of video of our group. But mainly I need help getting the word out and setting up a easy way to collect videos (any techie people out there?).

Oh, and the contest part. Well, contests require incentive. Can anyone think of someplace that would be willing to donate something that would be of value of a group of people as a prize? I'm thinking that there would be a random drawing for a winner.

Lastly, if you think this is a terrible idea to begin with, let me know and it might get 86ed.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Are We Dead Yet?

There's been a LOT of hubbub around the death of emergent. Is it real?

Everyone probably knows this started with Nick Feidler talking about the great disappointment. As someone who has been in the conversation for a while (although in the closet), but new to being involved, I can't say I see what everyone's talking about.

But there are points. How do we grow? How do we go beyond a conversation and into action?

Maybe this is the next point to what we were talking about as our introductions a few weeks ago, why are you here. Maybe a better question is, where is it going?

I think what Nick's counterpart, Josh, said is really key. The emergent church is dead because the church is dead. Or, at least some forms of it. But it's the deep communities, the fellowship, the groups of people living Christ out in the world and working together to understand more and more what that means. That is thriving, and I think the emergent conversation has done a lot to facilitate that.

Any thoughts? Let's hash it out in the comments!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Recap 6.02.09

One of the greatest parts of our ongoing conversation is when we get to hear about each others' journeys. We briefly did this by commenting on what keeps us coming back to EmDes, or what drew us in the first place. The only part I remember about this is that Adam said it was a little like crack. Yeah I wrote that down, soooo....I had to type it.

On wrapping up Shane's book (though I have no business even writing that phrase: a bit behind I am), we got on to the subject of excommunication. Oh is this a fun topic. We quickly found out that semantics play a big part in how each of us understands this term, and then of course the ideas that flow from that understanding. Neither of the two extremes are desirable: a community that is destroyed by a person or a person's influence, nor a person that is essentially destroyed by their own community by being "cast out". I'll stop here because I speak in great ignorance: I'd like us to research this further bringing Shane's voice into better light via some other voices and theologies. be continued...?

Another subject/question came up (from our beloved Ron G-ski) while wrapping up our second Shane Claiborne book - "Can a Christian become a politician in good conscience?" It seems Shane's answer would be no, but I don't believe as a group we unanimously agree. I'm not sure if we were able to answer this for ourselves with any further clarity, but it is an interesting question in light of some of Shane's perspectives regarding the context of Jesus' time, and what Jesus seemed to stand for and against.

It seems as a community we are trying to wrestle to that next level of vulnerability. We're at least seeing vulnerability as the primary obstacle to what we would want in church/community: Adam redeemed his crack comment by asking a fantastic that I think starts to chip away at these vulnerability problems. (paraphrasing) "Is there a way to achieve vulnerability across gender lines?"

Oooooh, good one. We're so used to the fact that if you want to go "deep", go to the "next level", that you must break into male and female groups. And though there are good reasons for this that most of us could recite, shouldn't we wonder if we're not crippling community growth right out of the cocoon? It just so happens that a good friend of ours recently touched on this. I would highly recommend giving that link a go.

At this point we're going to take a little break from the book work and let it free flow for a while. I think some Nooma's, some Laundry Love brainstorming, and a dash of "let's just be who we are, which happens to be church" would go great this summer with Jim's beer. What do you think?

(G-ski's - that was me winking at you, asking you to bring a Nooma if you're comin'. If not, we'll all talk about you behind your backs)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Summer Fun


We thought it was time to start thinking about activities for the EmDes kids to enjoy while the 'big' people do their thing.

Besides the standard indoor activities...we will now have several fun water sprinkler toys up and running as well as a variety of super-soakers, a sand box set up (in the shade) complete with all manner of pails, shovels and other sand toys. A super cool bubble making machine will be pumping out scads of awesome bubbles of all sizes too! Of course the trampoline is always available. Our pool will remain off limits and locked during outside play.

Please consider having your children wear swimsuits and/or bring a change of clothing and a towel if you prefer they go home 'dry'.

Look forward to seeing you Sunday...same time...same place.