Tuesday, August 08, 2006


In our postmodern context, worship ways are wide open and increasingly diverse. At the same time there a desire for a "generous orthodoxy" that listens, questions, and explores ancient-future understandings and practices in the emerging churches around the world. Postmodernity is increasingly decentered and deuniversalized. Yet there is a yearning for center and attention to global realities.

On this blog I will be attempting to reflect on emerging worship from a perspective that holds in tension paying attention to a "strong center"--the central things that give substance and a centeredness to the worship of God (praise and prayer in bath, word, and meal) and paying attention to God's radically open door to the world. I am indebted to Gordon Lathrop for this tension between center and periphery (See his bookS--HOLY THINGS, HOLY PEOPLE, and HOLY GROUND.)

Liturgically, we are living in amazing times. Churches are experimenting, risking, trying new things, frustrated with conventional worship ways. The range of these ventures is truly diverse. Liturgical renewal continues to explore and offer the inheritance we have from the first centuries of Christian worship refracted through postmodern understandings. "Contemporary worship" continues to explore and employ cultural analogues (the mall, the concert, the motivational gathering) as "worship." The "emerging churches" (postmodernal reappropriation of worship) are engaging in a new ecclecticism in approaching worship. In the southern hemisphere (particularly Africa and Latin America) various expressions of Pentecostalism are shaping worship in specific cultural contexts. This is not an exhaustive list and it may not fairly represent those movements named. (How would you refine any or all of them? What would you add?)

In all of these there is a central yearning for God and the experience of God. Could there be greater dialogue between these yeasty movements? What appreciations and understandings could guide this dialogue? What does each bring to the table? I will try to be generous and frank in what I post. Strong views expressed will be for the sake of provoking thought and stretching horizons. Mine also need to be stetched. In and through all, may the grace of God lead the church to pay attention to God's strong center and God's open door.

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