The Yarn Network

Speaking of the emerging Church – last night I led a group of 8 Junior Higher’s in our freshly budding youth group in a visual lesson. The tool? A ball of yarn.

We took a ball of yarn, then we all got into a circle, shoulder to shoulder. One person held tightly to one end of the yarn, and tossed the ball to another. They held that length taught, while the new person tossed the ball to another. Then another. Then another. And so on.

We all had to say something or someone we were thankful for whenever we received the ball, before we could “pass it on.” By the time we were done, it was a beautiful network of threads, extended between our closely “knit” group. We kept it taught, and made it three-dimensional, stuck our heads through it, went underneath it, tilted it, etc.

Then, some of us were assigned to become official “whiners,” ungrateful and cynical. I asked one person to drop their strings. The beautiful network sagged into distortion. The others all had to step back to make the strings taught again, mishaping the design we had attained together. Another, then another became “ungrateful.” By the time we were done, two people stood far across the room from each other, holding a sparse tangle of threads and considerably less enthused about the exercise.

Emerging Church Reality Check: While I love the emerging Church discussion, I hear alot of whining out there, and it gets tiring to me. The threads are being dropped, as intellectualism and its sometimes-dance-partner, cynicism, rule many of the words and attitudes in the conversation. There are many great hearts saying what needs to be said in a way it needs to be said, but the skepticism of Church-beaters darkens the door all too often. That’s what a teenager does, I know, when in transition. “All is lost, and everyone’s an idiot.”

I choose to hold onto the thread, change where I’m grabbing it, and stretch it in new places to make the whole more beautiful and expansive. To drop, or slacken the threads is to damage our community – and we are inevitably separated, both from one another, and possibly, the maturest of truth. Some of us may need to drop our threads for awhile, I suppose. My suggestion though? Stay in the orbit of the community and grab some threads, singular and insignificant as they may seem, as you can. We need you for the most beautiful result, and not just an “accurate” result.


Sheltering Mercy: Prayers Inspired by the Psalms

Sheltering Mercy, along with its companion volume, Endless Grace, helps us rediscover the rich treasures of the Psalms—through free-verse prayer renderings of their poems and hymns—as a guide to personal devotion and meditation.

The church has always used the Psalms as part of its prayer life, and they have inspired countless other prayers. This book contains 75 prayers drawn from Psalms 1-75, providing lyrical sketches of what authors Ryan Smith and Dan Wilt have seen, heard, and felt while sojourning in the Psalms. Each prayer is a response to the Psalms written in harmony with Scripture. These prayers help us quiet our hearts before God and welcome us into a safe place amid the storms of life.

This artful, poetic, and classic devotional book features compelling custom illustrations and foil-stamped hardcover binding, offering a fresh way to reflect on and pray the Psalms.