If someone had told this Canadian boy 10 years ago that one day I would leave behind everything I had ever known including the very ideological context in which I had first come into Christianity I would have scoffed at the notion. As one often trapped between the competing needs of comfort through familiarity versus a constant dissatisfaction with the status quo, my journey has provided healthy doses of both!
In my ruminations on these matters, allow me to recall a few of my own experiences to help frame some thoughts. Since early childhood, I’ve been drawn to all things artistic, historic, and mystical. As a musician I have been impacted and transformed by a plethora of very eclectic musical influences ranging from the haunting sounds of Paddy Maloney’s uillean pipes in the Chieftains to Bruce Cockburn singing of “the speech of stones”; from the beauty of Brahms’ Piano Intermezzo in A, or Anton Bruckner’s, Ave Maria, to the skilful ramblings of Nickel Creek; from the Ordo Virtutum of Hildegard von Bingen to the songs of Supertramp, Steely Dan, Rush, or U2. We all have a picture of what can be called “sacred.”
As a Christian I’ve always been drawn to the beauty and meaning of ancient ritual and liturgy, my circuitous journey of faith ultimately leading me to the door of Westminster Presbyterian Church. Each stop along the way has afforded me a little deeper understanding of my Christian faith. From my early sojourn in the Evangelical Free church I developed an appreciation for a systematic theology centred in the Word of God. From the Anglican (Episcopal) Church I fell in love with the Book of Common Prayer. From the Pentecostal Church I entered deeper into the mysteries of the Holy Spirit. From the Southern Baptists I learned…umm…well, I’m sure I learned something ; ^ ] From my Catholic friends and favourite writers I gained a profound appreciation for silence, contemplation and the idea of spiritual formation or gradual conversion. From the North American Baptists I discovered the wonder of potlucks and learned some German. From more liberal friends and writers I’ve learned of the kinship of the human family, a tip of the hat to common experiences of life and faith, our call to be the Body of Christ to the poor and disenfranchised, and the need for more female expressions of God. If I’ve learned anything along this meandering road of faith, I’ve learned that within the circle of friends who call Jesus their friend and Lord, there is a place even for anomalies like myself.
In my mind, what all of this equates to is a montage of pictures of Christ and the Church. I believe that there are many others like me out there – those who often defy definition but who are generally categorized as “post moderns.” Their journeys are circuitous like my own – those who, by virtue of a profound disenchantment with modernism’s drive to explain everything to death, exhibit a need for creativity over continuity, high touch over high tech (ironically, however, we are the most high tech generation in history), community over individualism, form over function, beauty over brawn, people over program, mystical over management. In faith terms, for me, this translates into a deep love for all things ancient – that which has stood the test of time and provides a shroud of mystery but is married to the futuristic cyber-intense world of the Matrix or X-Men.
Many in our “post-Christian” culture have NEVER said the Lord’s Prayer, owned a Bible, sung a hymn (let alone a praise song), read music notes, have heard of a narthex, lectern, chalice, or chancel, much less the redemptive power of the gospel. Tellingly, however, there is a real thirst for just such things. They must, however, be wrapped in a language and skin which is accessible to them: Ancient-future.
Jesus, in calling his disciples, does so for three primary reasons: “that they might be with him” (relational), “to be sent out to proclaim the message” (proclamational), and “to have authority to cast out demons” (missional); in that order (see Mark 3:13ff). And, what a fine horde of diverse individuals they were, too! From Matthew (Levi), a corporate yes-man, utilizing the system to bilk people all the way to Simon the Zealot, an anti-establishment, leftist revolutionary. Christ first, last, and forever? Indeed.
My life mission is as follows: “to draw people to God through my life and work which seek to meaningfully communicate God’s beauty and truth.” As a Worship & Music Minister, my hope is to “put a fresh face” on the wonder of our ancient faith. In so doing, perhaps other strange anomalies like me can find Christ and a place to call home. There, but for the grace of God go I….
Pax Christi, Rob