The [Awkward] Task of Prophetic Imagination
The task of prophetic imagination and ministry is to bring to public expression those very hopes and yearnings that have been denied so long and suppressed so deeply that we no longer know they are there. Hope…is an absurdity too embarrassing to speak about, for it flies in the face of all those claims we have been told are facts. – Walter Brueggemann, Prophetic Imagination
We’re pretty extraverted about our lamenting.
And pretty introverted about our dancing.
I’m kinda over that.
And I’m doing something about it.
I’ve written here before about God’s call to “dance for the healing to come.” The call grew from Walter Brueggemann’s Prophetic Imagination, reminding me that our call is both to lament for what is broken and to dance for how God is healing it. We too often do one or the other. The trickier (and more faithful) thing is to do both. Our call is both to lament for what is broken and to dance for how God is healing it. We too often do one or the other. The trickier (and more faithful) thing is to do both. @uccmandy Click To Tweet
That call to dance for the healing to come I took seriously (and literally) and, as awkward as it was, chose to dance for the healing to come, even when my heart was breaking for all that isn’t healed. But I’ve done it by myself in my living room in my socks. It’s been powerful and has healed my heart. But it’s been just me.
I’m feeling called to share it.
And I’m longing to see how others keep alive their hope that God is making all things new.
I’m finding inspiration in these words of Thomas Merton:
For the world and time are the dance of the Lord in emptiness. The silence of the spheres is the music of a wedding feast. The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life, the more we analyze them out into strange finalities and complex purposes of our own, the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity and despair. But it does not matter much, because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things, or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there. Indeed, we are in the midst of it, and it is in the midst of us, for it beats in our very blood, whether we want it to or not. Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance.
All Things New – An Invitation and Opportunity
So I’m planning “All Things New Fest”—one day this summer that might just feel a little like a wedding feast. A day to cast our awful solemnity to the winds—just for a day—and join in the general dance. Not a day to numb the pain but a day, in the midst of the pain of this broken world, to choose to trust that brokenness is not the whole story. And a day to keep our hope alive so that we ourselves can do the hard work of joining God in his project to make all things new.
What if you had an “All Things New Fest” in your city?
We can’t keep our joy to ourselves!
Here are a few ideas to stoke your imagination:
- Find a place in nature—a friend’s farm? A big backyard? A public park?
- Contact some local friends who are preachers and poets, singers and dancers, dreamers and story-tellers, painters and jugglers. Ask them: What helps you believe God is making all things new? Will you come and share it? (Will you do it for the love of it—we don’t have a budget.)
- We’re not thinking concert or conference. Think more “old time camp meeting.”
- What if it ended with a barn dance? Or songs around a campfire?
- Invite everyone who comes to bring a picnic (with enough to share) and to be willing to share their own hope (give away herbs they grow? teach their hula hooping skills?)
- How could communion be incorporated into the picnic?
- Welcome folks with a big, blank board with the prompt “What helps you believe God is making all things new?” to invite those who come to share in words.
- Put some of these bible passages around the place:
- “Behold, I make all things new!” Revelation 21:5
- “Though outwardly we are wasting away Yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16
- “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19
- As much as possible, set aside the way of empire (performance, perfectionism, and productivity): Try not to charge anyone for anything. Try not to worry about “big names.” Try not to promote anything or sell anything. Don’t worry about making everything look professional.
- Keep the planning simple. Last week I reached out to around 15 people and said “Let’s plan to meet for three 90 minute meetings over the next 3 months and whatever we come up with during those meetings is what the event will be.” We’re meeting next week. I can’t wait to see what happens!
- As our planning unfolds, I’m happy to share materials to help make it easier for you. Connect with me here: All Things New Fest and let’s share what the Spirit is stirring!