Wood Lake Publishing

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ReImagine

ReImagine

Preaching in the Present Tense
edition:Paperback
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ReInvention

Stories from an Urban Church
edition:Paperback
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Excerpt

My education and my subsequent working career can best be described as ecletic.  My first degree was in engineering, my second in theoretical physics and my third in development economics, with a heavy dose of philosophy courses whenever I could fit them into my schedule.  But if there was anything that served as a common theme, apart from loving a good challenge, it was my fascination with models.  Models, conceptual frameworks, paradigms, or, if they are comprehensive enough in scope, worldviews, are the lenses through which we understand, interpret and interact with the world around us.  Without models, engineers can’t solve problems and economists would have nothing to say about economic behavior.  But the one model that captivated me more than any other and has since become a life-long passion is the model of quantum physics.

 

 

 

Up until third year university, I was immersed in the model of classical physics.  Newtonian physics.  Matter, motion and forces.  Causality and determinism.  Objective reality.  The clockwork universe.  Atoms as miniature billiard balls moving on a stage of space and time.  But in my third year of university all that changed when I hit quantum physics, with a few doses of Einstein’s relativity thrown in for good measure.  Atoms turned out to be mostly empty space.  Particles turned into waves.  Waves turned into particles.  An electron could be in two places at the same time.  Causality and determinism both disappeared at the microscopic level.  Day by day as I went to class, the concepts I’d grown up with, ideas like space, time, matter, particle, mass, causality, determinism, objectivity, all of these were chewed up and spit out, to be replaced by strange new conceptions.  My brain hurt as it was forced to move from the comfortable world of classical physics to the brave new world of quantum physics with its curving space-time, wave functions, tunneling electrons and uncertainty principles.  It’s one thing to talk about paradigm shifts – it’s a very different thing entirely to experience one.

 

 

 

Curiously enough, at the same time as I was being both disrupted and fascinated by these shifting paradigms, I discovered that Rev. Bob, the priest at the Anglican Church on the corner of campus, was also a big fan of models and paradigm shifts, which he regularly incorporated into his preaching and his theology.  “But what if we were to look at this with a new model” was one of his favourite ways of bringing fresh insight into a familiar passage of scripture.  We would often talk at the Wednesday morning breakfasts at the church.  He offered to read a paper I’d written on the wider influence of scientific models.  My thesis, which I still maintain, is that the conceptual frameworks developed by scientists to explain and understand nature have a profound impact on the world views of society at large and consequently affect our understanding in fields as diverse as politics, philosophy and theology.  Bob read my paper and promptly handed me a book to read:  The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn.  It was in this classic text that Kuhn introduced the world to the idea of a “paradigm-shift” using examples from the history of science.  Progress and change don’t happen as a result of the incremental accumulation of more and more facts.  Real change results from paradigm-shifts:  conceptual revolutions that ask new questions, fundamentally change the rules of the game and re-write all the text books. 

 

Is the church in North America in the early 21st century in the midst of a paradigm shift?  Or perhaps the question should be, does the 21st century church require a paradigm shift?  Many would say yes.  A quick survey of books and blogs inundates us with the emerging church, the converging church, the disappearing church, the post-Christendom church, the missional church and much more.  Something’s happening in church-land, and there are parallels with Kuhn’s analysis of the history of science.  One of the parallels is surely this:  paradigm-shifts are generally difficult, disruptive and divisive. 

 

 

 

If there’s a paradigm shift happening, I want to be right in the middle of it.  That’s what drew me to quantum physics, that’s why I used to teach about paradigm shifts in my history of science classes, and that’s one of the reasons that I jumped at the opportunity to plant a church in downtown Ottawa.  I think that there’s room for new ways to do and be church that will change the rule book and shift our expectations.  But while having a passion for shifting paradigms is a good start for a church planter, ideas alone won’t get a church plant off the ground.

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Pastoral Prayers to Share Year C

Pastoral Prayers to Share Year C

Prayers of the People for Each Sunday of the Church Year
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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Excerpt

 

An excerpt from the Season of Easter

 

3rd Sunday of Easter

 

LECTIONARY READINGS
Acts 9:1–6, (7–20)
Psalm 30
Revelation 5:11–14
John 21:1–19

 

Where Jesus is present, the catch exceeds all expectations.

 

A world transformed beyond all expectations by the spirit of Jesus.
In this world, each child has the expectation of growing up healthy and loved.
In this world, conflicts between nations are only fought out on the soccer field, the baseball diamond, and the basketball court.
In this world, no one who wants a job is denied the training or the opportunity.
In this world, the rich joyfully share with the poor and there is no hunger or lack of education.
We will speak out and work for a world such as this.
A world made new in the way of Jesus the Christ.
Suffering transformed beyond all expectation by the spirit of Jesus.
The mentally sick and those with addiction will have the non-judgmental treatment they need.
The creative ones – poets, artists, actors, and sculptors – will all have opportunities to use their talents.
There will be no worry that medical treatment will be delayed.
Those who treat the sick will be those who feel called to this work.
The dying will be gently cared for and those who have lost loved ones will be assured of comfort.
We pray for those we know who are sick and for members of this community of faith (time of silent reflection).
We pray for the dying and for the bereaved (time of silent reflection).
We will speak out and work for a world such as this.
A world made new in the way of Jesus the Christ.
The church transformed beyond all expectations by the spirit of Jesus.
The enduring peaceful spirit will provide a refuge for those in the faith community who are troubled and afraid.
This faith community will promote justice among the abused, the neglected, and those without hope.
This faith community will support and encourage the work of the wider church (name the wider church groupings).
The members of this faith community will care for each other, and through mission funds will support the needy of other lands.
This Christian community will learn from and share resources with those of other world faiths.
We will speak out and work for a church such as this.
A church made new in the way of Jesus the Christ.
Each of us transformed beyond all expectations by the spirit of Jesus.
Our self-focus replaced by a concern for the downhearted and disillusioned.
Our willingness to protect those most at risk in the family replaced by a readiness to hold them capable.
Our desire to tell our friends what to do replaced by a willingness to listen to their deepest needs and concerns.
Our need to be always doing widened to include prayer and meditation.
We will strive for personal change.
We will follow the way of Jesus the Christ.

 

Another Way

 

1. Between each section, sing the first verse of “Christ Whose Glory Fills the Skies” (Voices United #336) or “He Came Singing Love” (Voices United #359) or “Jesus Came Bringing Us Hope” (More Voices #33).

 

2. Focus the prayer on: Jesus asks Peter if he loves him, and if he does, to care for his sheep.
If we love, we will care.
If we love our world, we will care for it.
We will ask for full recycling in our locality.
We will advocate for stricter regulations controlling the release of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
We will monitor those who extract ores and use water without regard to future generations.
We will protect and care for animals, birds, plants, and trees.
If we love our world we will care for it (time of silent reflection).
If we love our world we will care for those who are in it.
We will ask for training schemes for those without jobs.
We will advocate for those who cannot care for their children and work fulltime too.
If we love our world we will care for those who are in it (time of silent reflection).
If we love our world we will hear the call to justice.
We will speak out for immigrants who face hatred.
We will advocate for those who are denied work because of their country of origin.
If we love our world we will cry out for justice (time of silent reflection).
Care follows love; Jesus loved, and Peter was challenged to care.
If we love, we will care.
If we love the suffering we will care for them.
We will befriend the infirm elderly and be their voices.
We will work with those who are challenged mentally or physically and support their call for appropriate facilities.
If we love the suffering, we will care for them (time of silent reflection).
If we love the suffering, we will care for them.
We will support those who need medical diagnosis or treatment.
We will comfort those who are anxious or afraid.
If we love the suffering we will care for them (time of silent reflection).
If we love the suffering we will care for them.
We will be care-bringers to those who are sick at home and those in hospital. We will bring news and views, we will speak hopefully, and repeat jokes and stories.
We will be strong comforters to those who have lost loved ones. We will listen to their deepest feelings.
If we love the suffering, we will care for them (time of silent reflection).
Care follows love; Jesus loved, and Peter was challenged to care.
Follow the same pattern for the other sections.

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