Back in the saddle

We got back from Nashville at 2:00 am yesterday morning. It’s not always fun to drive that late at night, but it’s best for Clark. We had a great time in Nashville. We squeezed alot into a week, but had plenty of time to relax and get reenergized. It’s amazing what a few days off can do. I don’t want to bore you with our itinerary, but some of the hightlights: Marshal County High School 10 year reunion with the class of ’95 (that was fun. . . got to meet a few folks who check out Supermetz blog every once in awhile . . . let’s summarize by drunk guy without his shirt on and shaking a naked butt), staying with good friends, visiting West End, and attending the ZOE leadership conference. A little bit of everything. Clark did great, especially considering he stayed in three different places over the course of five days. Thanks to all who allowed the Metzes to crash your pad (Harrises and Wilhelms – the in-laws have to let us crash . . . we hold their grandson ransom).

I did get a chance to finish Hauerwas and Willimon’s book Resident Aliens (well I still have eight pages to read that I will finish when I am done with this post.) Really good book and timely too. Much of what it says was reflected in our leadership discussions at zoe. The leadership conference helped me see that there is alot of great things happening within churches of my heritage. I often only see the infighting and debates that frustrate me, but there are some innovative and out-of-the-box churches out there reaching postmoderns which is exciting. It was good to see a worship assembly that could be blended with acapella, instrumental, ancient, future, gender-neutral, and stylistically eclectic. The conference exemplified a deep-running racism and classism that continues to pervade American Protestantism, especially Churches of Christ.

Some thoughts spurned . . .
– This new “worship movement” within Churches of Christ that focuses on innovative worship styles utilizing ancient practices and a mixed bag of everything else is appealing to me, but I began questiong whether or not this was simply another version of the “self-pleasing” tendency that has plagued modern worship movements. How appealing are newer-old practices cross-culturally? Are we spending more time thinking of creative new ways for our own tribe to worship while neglecting those outside of the family of God?

– Gender equality was the aspect of the conference that Mary Beth and I both were most excited to see. Living and breathing in churches that have squelched women’s rights and continue to fail to see gender equality is a struggle for us both (though I cannot claim to have the same struggle as she feels). Allowing women duties in public worship assemblies makes sense to me. Women read publicly, sang within the praise team, read scripture, prayed, and co-led discussion in groups and one most-impressively, led worship by signing for the deaf. Her interpretive dance was one of the most moving expressions of worship I have experienced. I have moved beyond old arguments regarding this discussion and find myself at a loss for engaging those from the other side in discussions. Their arguments make little sense to me and I am sure what I say confuses rather than helps. I pray for our church and I pray for my wife and other women who have been suppressed and refused power and leadership roles simply because of gender. I don’t write often of this topic because it is so frustrating to me I often end in a rant that isn’t helpful or well-spoken . . . so here is my rant. Churches of Christ have played church for the past forty years and so have great difficulty in overcoming the rules of the game. We have made the public assembly something it was never intended to be. We have refused creative and able bodies public service to their lord because of comfort and tradition (and, more cynically, because it requires others – men, to give up power). I am tired of coming away from these events and making this one of the main foci, because it wasn’t meant to be, however, coming to where we are brings it to the surface.

OK, the rant has ended. It was a good time to make me think and consider all that is available to Christianity in the grand scheme of Christian tradition. Often times I feel isolated here in Columbus as the ministers in my circles are thoroughtly modern. They don’t see where I am coming from. I don’t undertand them. I try to get people to see where I am coming from and often get blank looks. This weekend brought it home. There are plenty out there who think as I do. I am not alone. The time is coming. We are on the cusp of some amazingly widespread changes.

Would that God would just come and restore the kingdom of heaven and bring the glory of his resurrection now . . . then none of this matters!

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