Thursday, September 22, 2005

Why "The Wood Between the Worlds"?

In C.S. Lewis’ fantasy The Magician’s Nephew two wide-eyed children (Polly and Digory) find themselves in a new world by way of the shenanigans of Digory’s magician uncle. It seems by holding colored rings in the correct hands, one winds up in the Other Place, a “different universe.” Digory’s uncle fears the trip himself, but surely wants to “find out what it’s like” so he opportunistically enables his nephew and neighbor to go in his stead.

The two wind up in a lush and eerily placid forest whose moss-covered bed is rife with clear and beautiful pools of water. Incidentally, the kids have just arrived in the wood via one of the pools.

Once Digory and Polly collect their wits and realize they have, indeed, come to another world, they become conflicted between their spirit of adventure and their strong urge to return home.

While contemplating all the possibilities up against the risks, Digory exclaims, “I don’t believe this wood is a world at all. I think it is just a sort of in-between place - … a place that isn’t in any of the worlds, but once you’ve found that place [like the space under a house], you can get into them all [the rooms of the house]. … Nothing ever happens here. … Nothing goes on in the in-between places.” He goes on, “I think we can get out of this place into jolly well Anywhere.”

Their conclusion: Take hold of the rings, pick a pool, any pool, and leap to experience the world on the other side! Which is what they do, which is the balance of the book.

I firmly believe that is precisely where we as Christians, as church, are today.

Christendom is over and we have been thrust into a new paradigm. It is mysterious in nature simply because we have only just arrived… it’s an “in-between place.” My premise is this: We cannot know now fully what church “ought to” look like, but we must dream, we must change, we must experiment relentlessly, and yet we must also remain as balanced as we are adventuresome! We must move forward. We do know Who holds the future!

Might I change the analogy for a second. We are the children of Israel just after the Red Sea experience. We have seen clearly the Hand of Jehovah God, but the place we find ourselves now is foreign. How then shall we live – what are we to do? Do we gather several days of manna just in case? Do we go back to Egypt? Or do we press on in ruthless trust of the God who brought us here?

We are in the “in-between place” as the church. It is scary and unfamiliar. We can return to the familiar (essentially the post World War II “traditional”) or we can jettison any semblance of the familiar “because it didn’t work” (what I cynically call the “beatnik” church) and start all over again.

Our “situation” demands courage, sobriety, humility, daring, risk, the freedom to try and fail, and community. We must trust God and each other and seek to determine the path He has for us.
We are in “The Wood Between the Worlds.” God will uphold us. We must join together and talk, wrestle to exhaustion, and pray like there’s no tomorrow. And our ears will hear a voice behind us saying, “This is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21). We must be still and know that He is God. We cannot assemble in some smoke-filled room somewhere and expect to vote on whose opinion of the church’s future will prevail. His is a still small voice discernible by those who know Him, those whose posture is one of abject humility before the terrible and matchless throne of Grace! Grace yearns for beneficiaries! God longs to show us compassion and direction. “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:11)”

Let’s grab the rings and jump!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Opening Day!

Welcome to The Wood Between the Worlds! I pray that this blog will honor God as we all stand poised in this wood among these many pools - pools that represent choices, choices regarding how we will do church. Oh, for crying out loud, God is Sovereign, the gates of hell will not prevail against His church and all that. BUT, we choose, and our choices matter. The world needs us to choose wisely how we will shape our expression of church. This is not a red pill, blue pill decision. Nor is it which chalice leads to the eternal youth. Nor is it some mystical bullseye that we either hit and the church prevails or we miss and the church collapses. But like I said, our choices matter.

How will we choose? What will be our bases for choosing? What makes church church? Now, I will be frank. We do not know enough about Postmodernity to make near-perfect choices. I mean, gee, the post-Christian age is merely seconds old in cosmic time. We must neither jettison all that has brought the church thus far nor seek to go back in time to what we consider the "Golden Age."

I believe there is direction. I believe there is wisdom. I believe there is balance. That is why this site has been created. Let's talk!