The concept of imagination is catching my imagination these days. Not that I’m a particularly imaginative person – for me it takes hard work to be creative, and even then there’s not much originality in what I do.
At the same time, I’m inclined to think that creative expression is almost always hard work, even for those supposedly gifted souls – you know, the artists and poets.
I’m on an imagination kick because I’m trying to be imaginative about ministry, and about the way the church (and the congregation I serve) might articulate the gospel in our time and place. Imagination builds out of the resources of the past, anticipating the new and different while in a profound sense remaining faithful to the heart of the gospel (the Spirit improvises on the gospel, and we become creative actors in that improvisation – thanks Jeremy Begbie). But to be an imaginative person is thus necessarily to live in a tension – between what is and what might be.
Perhaps it is living in this place of tension that will define the church for the coming generations. Some are inclined to think that much of the imaginative work has already been done (they have the answers for a new generations). There are others (though they are fewer and farther between than ever) who think we need less imagination and more faithfulness to tradition. I’m inclined to think that the imaginative process, and its tensions, must define us – and perhaps always should have.