Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

My hope is that you are holding your loved ones close and spending time reflecting on the birth of our great Savior.

May this New Year bring ever deepening revelations of God's love for us and may God lead us to share this love with the lost and needy all around us.

Love and Blessings!

Frank Emanuel on behalf of the National ThoughtWorks Team.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Merry Christmas. Good Night. 2.

Hi friends,

I'd like to introduce a new music project that Adrian Wilson (from the Guelph Vineyard) and myself have contributed to.  It's called "Merry Christmas. Good Night. 2".  It's a follow up to an EP last year, and it's available for free from noisetrade here.

While it's clearly a Christmas record, it's far too easy to think of Christmas music and either listen to it to get in the "Christmas spirit", or disregard it if you've been Christmas-ed out.

This is different.  These are songs that celebrate the incarnation of God.  Each of the original tracks here spring from this theological mystery and explore the majesty and simplicity and implication and impossibility and certainty that God came to us, physically incarnated himself, and then lived among us in the person of Christ.

In the Church's emphasis on the cross, the death and the resurrection of Jesus, which is a good and right emphasis, I sometimes hear a kind of disregard for this crucial element of God's story.  It's as if the death of God trumps His birth as a necessary component of the Gospel.

That God physically incarnated to be among us, as one of us, is central to the Christian narrative.  That he did so the way he did says so much about the nature of his personality, and much about what our own lives should reflect.  The incarnation is precisely what makes the rest of the story make sense.  The resurrection of Christ only matters if he was indeed a human person, with all the frailty and inherent mortality that our bodies have.  Of course God could resurrect, that's hardly even newsworthy.  But that a man did, that He resurrected to an eternal state of physical embodiment... wow, now THAT means something.

This record seeks to put language to the incarnation.  The contributing artists, all very good friends and deep souls, struggle to capture the divinity and humanity that get knit together in Jesus.  May this offering enrich your celebration of Immanuel, God with us, this Christmas-tide.

Here are the lyrics to my song for this project, entitled "Joy Joy Joy"

You’ve made a home
Of a bag of bones
That we might touch and hold
And see and know

Your frail frame contains
All heaven’s dreams
And here lies God’s campaign
To heal the world 

And Joy Joy Joy
Joy Joy Joy
Joy Joy Joy to the world 

the Lord has come to us 
the Lord has come to us
the Lord has come to us
Like this

Not by might or glamour
Or clothed in Caesar’s armor
But with all heaven’s desire
In your soul

You came so humbly
Revealed through peasantry
Who proclaim faithfully
Their King has come

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What Are You Reading?

I've been reading a great book on the history of the Contemporary Christian music movement. It is The Great Worship Awakening by Robb Redman. I will do a proper review when I am done. So far Redman demonstrates a real good understanding of the roots of contemporary music, especially the worship music industry. And the Vineyard figure large in his exploration, which is encouraging for me as it affirms that my own passion for developing theologically sound yet accessible worship is a value deeply ingrained in our movement.

For me reading a book is nothing new, in fact I've read a few books this month alone. Mostly in preparation for a course I was delivering, but I also read fiction at night. It is funny, I can read academic stuff all day until I have no more capacity to read and then for relaxation I will fire up my tablet and read a pulp fiction novel. 

Enough about my reading habits. I thought that this would be a great place to try to start a conversation. Why not tell us what book you are reading and how it is encouraging or challenging you. One of the things that is helpful with reading is working with the ideas you find. This is a safe place to do that. Books are incredible resources, but ideas require a working out process. We need to talk about them, explore their contours, and even trim off the fat. It is one thing to read a book, quite another to digest it.

So here is the proposal. Let us know what you are reading and what are your thoughts on it.

Hope to hear from you all soon.

Frank Emanuel - Ontario Region