Worshiping worship - Part 3

If we consider that institutions are organizations that protects the gains of previous movements, then we can argue that institutions are rooted in the past.  This is not a bad thing at all, it is vital to us that institution protect the past so that we are not apt to repeat the same mistakes.  We have laws against slavery as a result of a past movement, and those laws protect the gains of those movements.

If we consider that movements are organizations that call institutions into new social gains, then we can argue that movements are rooted in the present.  This is not a bad thing, it is vital to us that movements live in the present so to not become stale but remain nimble and can adapt to the current situation.  The "Tea Party movement" is rooted in the present.  While not this simple, it might be argued that if there was no debt then there would not have been a Tea Party movement.  Movements are rooted in the present which also makes them look odd when we look at movements out of the context they were originally located in.  Take the following video:

Weird huh.  But this was a huge dance "movement" and in the moment it made so much sense.  

All of this to say that the UMC spends a lot of time discussing the value of the institution and the need to become a movement again.  However, this creates a dualism in which we pit institutions and movements against each other only to see which one will come out the victor in the end.

Christians are called to be Trinitarian in our thinking and in our lives.  Which means that these two aspects of Church are not enough..  If institutions are rooted in the past and movements are rooted in the present, then we ought to consider what is rooted in the future to help us avoid dualism and idolatry.

I do not have the answer, but I would submit that perhaps the thing that is rooted in the future is imagination. 
When we are rooted in the future we have to use our imagination because that future is not completely known.

All of these past three posts are all an attempt to encourage us in the Church to not only value the institution (past) and praise the movements (present) but also to have courage with our imagination (future).

If we are are busy working on preserving the institution or finding the popular trend in culture, then we have limited resources to dream and vision a future that is not yet here.  As we read the story of Jesus it is clear that Jesus was very much a leading from the future sort of guy.

He had harsh words for those who preserved the institution.  He was not against the institution, but when the institution becomes an idol then that is idolatry and this is in part why Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6 a couple of times in the gospel of Matthew.  Many people worshiped act of the sacrifices to the neglect of mercy.

Additionally, Jesus did not spend much time crafting the movement around him, he trusted his disciples to tend to that.  For instance when he was faced with feeding 5000 people, Jesus told the disciples to do that!  Jesus knew that when we get wrapped up on the movement that it can quickly devour us and we do not have resources or the ability or time to do the vision and imagining that is required for the Kingdom of God.

Jesus spoke in parables, he spent a lot of time in prayer, he fasted, he isolated himself from the group regularly, he was constantly on the move - all of these are evidence that Jesus was doing the imagining work that was required for the revival of the Jewish institution and the progress of the movement that was forming around him.

The work of imagination is hard, labor intensive, valuable, necessary and vital to the life of the Church but we seem to not be very good at it.  If we want to reclaim the way of Jesus and imagine like he did, then I think it would not be a bad start to practice the things he did:

Isolation and meditation.
Move with purpose.
Contemplate and reflect.

We might call these tools of imagination.

We also might call these spiritual disciplines.