reading isaiah

Posted by on Nov 18, 2015

I wasn’t here
when the news came
of bombs and shots and
concert-goers on the blood-red floor.
Where was I?

In a cabin
in the woods
with grade 12 students
imagining the future
dreaming of the future
preparing for the future.

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a messy Bible

Posted by on Oct 8, 2015

I had an “aha” moment when reading this article, regarding why I seem to relate to the Bible differently than so many people that I know. I can honestly not remember a time when I thought (or “was led to believe,” as the article says) that the Bible is “neat, tidy and consistent.” From my very earliest memories, I remember experiencing that the Bible was (and is) deeply contested – that honest, sincere, passionate Jesus-following people understood (and understand) texts in different ways, and passionately disagree with each other. From getting into trouble with my grade 1 teacher to innumerable and often heated family mealtime discussions; from watching my friends’ parents go into my dad’s office to express concern about the things he was teaching at the seminary, to relating to dear friends who were (and are) conservative evangelicals, liberationist catholics, divergent-and-disagreeing Mennonites… Throughout my growing-up years I experienced the Bible as deeply contested space, and my faith has been (and continues to be) forged in the crucible of vigorous dialogue and debate, especially between committed, caring and passionate Christians who deeply disagree with each other. That’s where I have lived, and continue to live, my life. And that’s how I’ve come to have such a passion and love for Scripture. Not because it is “neat, tidy and consistent” (I have never known it to be that), but because it is messy and complex and rich and challenging and generative and confusing and contested and always-revealing-more. My experience is not one of having to grapple with being in a “wilderness” of doubt because of the loss of an earlier experience/assumption that the Bible is “neat, tidy and consistent.” I guess I’ve never known anything but this “wilderness” (if that’s what it is). I find the “wilderness” of the Bible as contested space to be a rich, fertile and life-giving (as well as dangerous) place. Braun’s article describes “elderly people who have deep-seated questions about Scripture and are glad for a space in which to explore them.” Reading the article makes me realize that what these “elderly people” are discovering is something that I have been blessed to experience my whole life – a space (in fact, many spaces) to explore such “deep-seated questions.” In fact, my experience has been (and continues to be) that Scripture itself provides and is such a “space” for wrestling with challenging questions together. I think of this as normal. But maybe I shouldn’t – maybe my experience is more unique (even weird?) than I realize. Anyway – today’s “aha” moment renews my passion and conviction to do all I can to help generate, curate, and moderate such “spaces” for others. This is a big part of how I have come – and keep coming – to faith. I hope you can find such spaces...

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lots of writing – just not here

Posted by on Sep 3, 2015

For anyone keeping score at home, you may have noticed that it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything in this space. Oddly enough, this year I have probably written as much or more than in any other year of my life – just not here. My studies are moving along well (I wrote about that decision here), and big things are afoot in the development of my ministry… more will be posted here soon. I’d say “watch this space,” but based on past experience  that would seem like an invitation to watch paint dry in slow motion. In any case, be forewarned – there’s a new year comin’ and a series of announcements and updates will be posted here. Not only is the paint drying, but new coats are going on fast – in fact, whole new walls and rooms are being built and readied for action. Looking forward to inviting you into the new “digs” soon! Peace be with you,...

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blowing my cover

Posted by on Sep 26, 2014

Just over a year ago I had a conversation that changed my life. I was going into the 11th year of my music ministry and struggling with some dynamics in my work that I was having a hard time naming. A new friend who had asked and listened carefully – very carefully – made two insightful comments that were so simple. Even obvious. But I’d never had the nerve to quite see it – or say it – that way before. The first comment was this: “Well, Bryan, it seems to me that SmallTall Music is too small. Too small to describe what you’ve actually been doing, and too small for who you are and what you are called to do in the future.”  The second was this: “It seems to me that you’ve been doing biblical scholarship “under cover” for years. That’s where the songwriting comes from. Maybe it’s time to blow your cover.” Wow. Those two comments hit the nail on the head for me. The past year, with the help of a wise coach, has been an invigorating and exciting (and at times scary) time of exploring the implications of those comments – re-envisioning and re-imagining and beginning to re-articulate how I understand myself and my vocation. Here is a new “why” statement that has emerged from this process. In many ways, of course, there’s nothing “new” about it – this has been driving my sense of ministry all along. But it’s a new articulation that I’m finding helpful as I move into the future. “Why” statement – short version: This is the journey I’m on, and the journey to which I passionately seek to invite others: to catch a glimpse of God’s great project in the world       especially as revealed in Scripture             and be inspired to join in And here’s a longer version, with more detail and nuance (and notice the chiastic structure, if you’re into that kind of thing…) Continuously learning      That I am a beloved child of God             Called and equipped to play a role                   As a member of the body of Christ                         In the ongoing scriptural drama                               Of God’s great project in the world                         I seek to engage others in the ongoing scriptural drama                   As members of the body of Christ             Called and equipped to play their own roles       As beloved children of God Continuously learning A few concrete...

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