Can you have Emergent worship in the daylight?

So I was posed this question the other day – can you have emergent worship in the daylight? – and I have to admit the question is intriguing. Like a moth to the flame, I have been circling the Emergent bonfires and (in a rather ’emergent’ repose of watching from the fringe) very hesitant to get too close to the thing. It is an interesting notion – that there is something inherently shadowy in the newer church models: the high value of anonymity, always valuing the fringe over and against the center, the so-called high virtue of personal freedom vs. corporate freedom (the latter seems more in keeping with the Christian tradition – we are ‘free’ in authentic relationship… not ‘free’ from them), and the fetishing of tradition rather than the dialogue and humility found in the understanding that this “great cloud of witnesses” that surround us may indeed have something to say that is worth listening to.

All the candles and powerpoint slides just seem to fail once the Sun rises…


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  1. Hm, as someone who goes to an Emergent church, I feel like I should respond, but I more or less agree with what you’re saying – has church stopped being there for the believer?

  2. I wont swing that far, but I certainly think that the church has ceased putting primary emphasis on its original call into being – the ‘event horizon’ of the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. That ‘event’ is not a locus – a place – nor is it a defined grouping of people as we can draw a circle around (see Zech. 2) but a calling to go OUT into the world – to face outward and in that pilgrimage into and out from our place of comfort we eventually ‘find’ what we have been looking for all along.

  3. Sensei, perhaps a change of perspective is called for. Daylight is the dominant paradigm, therefore it is wrong. The authentic community has decided that worship requires both candles and powerpoint slides, lest it be considered modern and colonialist.

  4. hmmm… I guess I am not sure IF daylight is indeed a dominant paradigm given that space is ultimately darkness and void. We certainly experience daylight as preference to darkness on a subjective level – humans just do better with light – but that doesnt make it dominant.

    As for the authentic community note – I agree with your summary, albeit a bit tongue and cheek. I am frankly not sure what to make of the Emergent conversation and its form found in candlight… more on this later.

  5. Sensei – fun question.

    To mix metaphors in a big way, here’s one place where one’s frame of reference really does matter…

    Do you want

    * John for 800 “and the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”

    * John for 200 “that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

    * Moses for 600 “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”

    * Moses for 2000 “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”


    If I had to pick one, I’d go with:

    “God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”

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