A Great Gathering

Thanks to everyone for a great gathering. One sign of how important our topics were is we began conversations much larger than we could carry on during the time allotted. We’re hoping we can continue our work together through an ongoing sharing on bLogos and FB.

Wealth, especially money, divides the church. It can and does also become part of our sharing, our communion (koinonia). We’d be mistaken to try to create the fool-proof perfect system that will overcome sin and remove our need for mercy, patience, and hope in God’s grace. But we can still share wisdom about how congregations can plant the kudzu of the kingdom. How, in this culture so saturated with the symbolic power of money, can we be people among whom wealth serves its proper ends? How do you talk about that in your congregation?

In short, in what ways has your community made wealth and poverty into occasions for reconciliation, supporting and building friendships, witnessing to the finitude of being creatures and the plenitude found in bearing the cross?

Planning Our 2009 Gathering

Over the years, many EP endorsers have asked us to hold a Gathering dedicated to talking about economic issues, and at the end of last summer’s gathering, the board agreed that we would move that direction for next year. Little did we know at that moment just how big an issue the economy was about to become in the U.S.

But as the planning committee began working, first we had trouble sorting out exactly which kind of economic issues we would talk about. Then, although usually a gathering is organized around a scriptural passage or theme, we could not settle on just one. Ultimately what struck us was less the importance of any one passage and more the importance of the scriptural story as the story of God’s economy. Or to put it another way, what struck us was the idea that the true economy is the work of God. Read more

The Most Segregated Hour in America

While longer on sociology than theology or ecclesiology (what can one expect from the news industry?), a recent CNN story on the difficulties inherent in integrating churches resonates with much said at the recent EP gathering.

Getting Small

About the time I was in college, young comedian Steve Martin had a routine called “let’s get small.” Playing on the mid-seventies countercultural “let’s get high” Martin invited everyone to come to his house and “get small.” Martin said that “getting small” was dangerous for children because they would get “really, really small” and it was also impossible for the police to put you in jail for being small because you’d walk out right between the bars. It was a short, quirky piece of the sort that made Martin famous.

If it was countercultural in 1977, “being small” is even more so in 2008 in a culture that seems to idolize the Big and encourages everyone to “get big or get out” as a Secretary of Agriculture once told farmers. Read more

Gathering Gifts

It’s been more than a week since the Gathering ended and my head is still swimming and my heart is still full. There is always so much to take in when we meet each summer for conversation, worship, learning, and fellowship.

I traveled to Chicago this year with three good friends from my church—new endorsers of EP and first-time Gathering attendees. These friends—Judy, Chris, and Greg—were overwhelmed by all they encountered (in the best possible sense of that word) and we continue to talk about what we experienced, hoping that our own transformed thinking about matters of race and racism in the body of Christ might come to bear good fruit in the ecclesial context in which we find ourselves. Read more