Congregational Aesthetics – beyONd our walls (3/3)

In this short blog series I’ve been exploring this question: What is the aesthetic profile of your congregation. Otherwise put: What do the artwork and architecture and liturgical accoutrements of your congregation reveal about its faith and identity? And how do they shape your faith and discipleship?

In my first post I explored how we might respond to the artistic heritage passed down to us from earlier generations. In the second post I considered the importance of contemporary, artistic expressions of faith in our IMG_2868worship and community spaces. Now in this final post I want to push us out of the church building, into the wider community.

Too often the church has thought of itself in terms of a fairly strict separation from the world. The church has failed to identify with the world – it has failed to live for the world, in the world.

While we have to think about these issues carefully (theologically speaking), I’m of the view that we can and must conceive a much more porous boundary between church and world. This doesn’t mean watering down faith convictions, but it will require transforming mindsets and structures and programs – and in ways we may not yet be able to imagine. Such transformations must be defined precisely by our life for the world and in the world, since this is the only life that we can possibly embody in faithfulness to the one who is our life – Jesus Christ.

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a real conversation — jesus and the ‘woman at the well’

In many ways this seems like a simple story. It’s a familiar story, and it all feels so straightforward:

Jesus is travelling with is disciples.

He stops at a well to drink and meets a woman.

They have a conversation about living water.

Eventually she comes to believe he’s the messiah.

Straightforward. Most of us have heard it before. We know the shape of this story.

But something we might miss – or something that we might neglect – is the fact that everywhere in this story there are moments of tension. We can say there is a kind of heaviness that appears in the narrative here and there. I’d like to start out this morning by simply naming a few of tension, or places of heaviness in the story. Continue reading