For those unaware, Phyllis Tickle taught at Mars Hill this past Sunday. What I appreciate more than anything when I hear her speak is the passion and hope always present in her words.
This particular teaching, entitled "Ancient Disciplines for the Church," begins by explaining that we are in yet another pivotal moment of change that Tickle calls The Great Emergence, the same name unsurprisingly of her forthcoming book. She then gives a quick recap of the 500 year cycles that have characterized Church history: Great Reformation, Great Schism, Gregory the Great/Birth of Monasticism, Great Transformation (Judaism to Christianity), Babylonian Captivity, and the end of the Age of Judges.
Is there a connecting link between all these changes? According to Tickle "there's something about religion that wants to institutionalize...more programs, more buildings, more doctrine, more people to police the doctrine...until what began as a faith of the heart becomes institutionalized and intellectualized, and ceases to say to your body and your whole life 'I believe in Jesus Christ, and I live it out,'" thereby causing the next cycle of change to erupt.
A point she also emphasizes is that the original version of what was before is never completely erased. In other words, Roman Catholicism still exists today in spite of the Reformation. (To me, this point is her subtle way of stymieing misconceptions about the emergent church as a power-hungry attempt to overthrow what has been our current normal state.)
She goes on to illustrate that one aspect of the new thing being born is always about rediscovering what had been lost. In our current case, that means rediscovering what got lost as a result of the Reformation. Because though the Reformation rightly reminded us that Christ is now our high priest, "it must not be forgotten that to be followers of Christ...we must bear not only the wonder of this story in our minds and in our memories, but also...in our bodies," which leads to the crux of her message: an outline for our Western, Reformed ears of the Seven Ancient disciplines--communion, tithing, fasting, fixed hour prayer, keeping the sabbath, keeping the seasons of the liturgical year, and making a pilgrimage.
It is much more enjoyable to hear her speak it, so head over here.