I got to hear Brian McLaren speak last night in Glasgow, on the last of his Scottish dates. The evening was split into a short talk, followed by a panel Q&A session, trying to ground some of what Brian said into a Scottish context. I had to leave after Brian’s talk – flatmate duties called!- but he said a few things that grabbed my attention…
He shared a host of new metaphors that we could translate the metaphor ‘kingdom of God’ into; to reclaim the subversive, political, intense images it evoked among those who first heard it.
I was struck by his comments on John the Baptist, about how he moved out to the margins and began baptising people on the fringe, not at the temple in Jerusalem; how it was this prophetic statement that we can’t depend on what happens at the religious centers anymore.
One metaphor Brian suggested was the sacred ecosystem of God. He talked about the ecosystem as a dance of reciprocal giving and receiving which we are invited to be a part of, and that sin in this metaphor is abusing it, forcing it to dance to a different rhythm.
In a brave move, he suggested the insurgency of God as a new metaphor.
We are the translation that matters most. How do we embody and live out the kingdom?
Perhaps the thing I found most useful was a new metaphor for describing the emerging church: He used the idea of a tree growing.
As a the world changes, the outer ring of a tree has new pressures put on it, and must change as a a necessity. In the same way, the people on the fringe of any tradition are those who will be most affected by cultural & societal changes, which leads them to change and re-imagine new ways of doing things.
[I may create a little graphic for this later, depending on how I feel…!]