The current installment of the COEC began meeting in 2007.

We are currently on a "break," for no particular reason, and many little reasons - mostly pertaining to life circumstances. If anyone is interested in calling a meeting, feel free to post on the blog, join the google group (see link below) and send an email, or contact either Nancy (nancykj10@yahoo.com) or Jesse (schroeder.jesse@gmail.com) for more information.

To receive cohort emails, join our Google group.


Celebration of the Faithful

This weekend we will be meeting at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church (aka Zach and Jesse's dad's church) at 5:30p. I'm working on a godfocused liturgy (any musicians who could help out, please, let me know!) for us, and hope that it will be the spiritual communal experience we have been looking for.
We will be eating afterward at Zach's house. We've had a mexican theme suggested, so post what you will bring that may or may not be theme related! Clean up will be extra appreciated as Zach and Jesse's parents return this next week.
If you want to carpool, post here, and we'll make it happen!
Can't wait to see you there!


So...do we "hear" from God?

This is a topic that has come up quite a bit the past few weeks, and it is something I would like to continue discussing. After Nancy raised the question at our discussion yesterday, it became pretty clear to me that I have some pretty strong feelings about this and some pretty big questions, so I was hoping to get some more ideas bouncing around as I'm not sure how I am feeling is best.

On Sunday I mentioned that we didn't "hear from God" about starting this cohort. What I didn't say is that we did spend a very long time considering it and about two weeks praying about it quite a bit before we posted on the blog. Then in December when we were discussing meeting more often and being more intentional we did a very similar thing. Neither time would I say that we heard a clear answer from God. Rather, based on our experiences, our limited knowledge of Columbus, and our best guess as to what God wants us to do for this community we acted. So, we didn't hear directly from God, nor did we find the mandatory verses to back up what we were doing, but we decided to take a chance under God's grace.

I do have to admit that I have big problems with people that say the have heard from God. Largely this is because so many people claim this and then make horrible decisions. This has been happening throughout history and will likely continue to happen. This has caused me to not trust anyone that says they have heard from God, but I'm not sure that is the proper response and only leads to a life with little faith.

Perhaps the idea of "hearing" from God is what troubles me? Is there a better word or a better way to describe how God communicates directly with individuals? Also, I can think of hundreds of examples where people have heard from God and it ended very badly, but very few that ended well. Can anyone think of some good examples?


This Sunday's Discussion

I am hoping you are all on board for a little change for this Sunday's discussion... Jesse posted the Justice Revival Journal by Jim Wallas the other day and I would really like to reflect on Week 1 of the journal for our discussion this Sunday. God has definitely been laying on my heart the need for us to be missional as a group. I currently have no idea what that looks like for us, but I'd love to explore it in more depth this Sunday. SOOO, to that end, I ask that you download and print the first week of the reflection journal that Jesse posted and we can go over it together on Sunday (that is, of course, if you have time and a printer). If you haven't looked over it, no worries!

Also, does anyone know if we have Global Gallery reserved for Sunday? and if so, what time do we plan to meet?

Thanks friends!


Super-Fun! night wrap-up

Thanks everyone for a great super-fun! night. We had a great crowd and played mario kart and tennis and some guitar hero. We even convinced Nancy to play mario tennis and she did a great job! I also believe no one rocked as hard as Jesse. I really enjoy hanging out with you all and eating your cookies.


Hungry for Justice

Several of us attended the Justice Revival that was held Wed-Fri this past week. It was a great event with powerful speakers, quality music and an electrifying atmosphere. After the Wed. night service, a small group of about six of us were talking about our thoughts and reactions. The idea came up again that our cohort should be involved with some ongoing, meaningful, relationally-based, social justice work in the Columbus area.

There are, of course, some questions and difficulties. Most obviously, what exactly should we do? How would it fit into our weekly "schedule?" What would be the goal? Who would be involved? Etc. Talking Wed. night, I think we all realized that the only way to answer those questions is to make a personal and group commitment to find out what God wants us to do.

The "kingdom of God" could be understood as the ways in which God is moving in the world around us, all the time. There are many "good" things we could do to help the cause of social justice. But the real question is, how is God moving? And how can we join alongside of him?

The answer to this question may be very simple. We might feel that God wants us to pick up trash in a park once a month. Maybe we need to collect money every week, and once a month give it to a worthy cause. Or it may be more complex and demanding, like actually opening our homes to those without homes. Or visiting those in prison. Or maybe something even more radical.

However, we won't know until we honestly ask God, and wait for his answer. So to that end, I suggest that we take six weeks - as individuals and as a group - to commit to praying about how we can join along God's work, advancing his kingdom, in the area of social justice in Columbus.

On Thursday night, Kristen and I both received a small study guide, produced by Sojourners, that "takes readers through a six-week study on how our personal conversion to Christ can be lived out publicly for the kingdom of God." You can download the intro and first weeks entries here. Perhaps if we commit to reading and working through these daily entries together, it may spark some conversation and ideas within the group. We can talk about this idea and the possibility of either making copies or ordering more booklets at the discussion on 4.27.

I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit will direct us to the area that he wants us to work in, if we are patient and persistent in seeking him.



Jacob's Porch is conducting another U2charist on April 27, 6-8 p.m at Skully's. From JP's website: Our hope is to break down some of the consumer-church notions and turn Christians on to the heart God has for the poor, widow and orphan, both here and abroad. We will have the help of Jimmy Spencer to help bring this message home.  Has anyone ever been to one of these before?


New Blog for EMC Tour

Since the Everything Must Change Tour is coming up quickly, and there will be an increase of posts regarding travel plans, hotels information, etc., I thought it might be helpful to have a separate site to communicate all of that information (also to spare those of you who aren't interested the boredom).

So - if you ARE attending - visit http://columbustogoshen.blogspot.com/ and also send me an email so I can add you as an author - and we'll make some plans to make it to Goshen!

Summary of Atonement Discussion

We had a great discussion yesterday afternoon, and I'll do my best to recount a few of the good questions, comments and over-arching ideas. Feel free to post comments that add what I missed.

- Zack led off the discussion by sharing that the classic idea of God killing Jesus for the payment of our sins makes him feel like he is forced to love God because he is in debt and has to escape hell. He wondered if there were other (better?) ways of understanding what exactly happened at the cross.
Kate shared some great information about different historical perspectives, especially Lutheranism. For more on historical perspectives, read this summary.
- Several times it was mentioned that it is important to have an understanding, or at least a framework of what happened at the cross in order to be able to evangelize and answer questions of non-believers. Zack continually raised a very good point: If what we believe about the cross is not essentially about forgiveness of sins and a "ransom payment," how does that change how we evangelize?
- Nancy shared some very powerful words about her experiences of asking for and receiving forgiveness. She also helped us to understand that the beauty of Jesus' sacrifice can have personal meaning to everyone.
- An important question posed by Jane was, "How can we move from just a cognitive/head knowledge of the Atonement, to it affecting our hearts?" In other words, how does the resurrection change my life more than the simple fact that I believe a city called Paris exists? One answer given was that it how you understand the atonement will necessarily condition how it changes your life.
- Jesse shared an analogy of a kaleidescope: The atonement is an amazingly beautiful and intricate event, and we can examine how it works from the outside, like looking at a kaleidescope. But the point isn't to be able to understand how a kaleidescope works, but rather to enjoy looking through it, and marveling at the beauty. Also, depending on what light you point the kaleidescope at, and how you move it, you will get different beautiful pictures. If you look at the atonement in different ways, different aspects will be emphasized.
- We also referenced the Emergent Village Atonement Metaphor Competition winners, which can be found here

Of course, there was much (MUCH) more shared, asked and answered, but this is a start. Again, please feel free to comment and recall aspects of the conversation that particularly stuck out to you, or perhaps questions that are still lingering.


Sunday Wrap-Up

The Rediscovery of Ritual

Following our look at the season of lent, we come out of the desert looking for signs of life. As spring unfolds and the earth is reborn, we recognize it's glory as Wholly God's:

LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens. Psalm 8

Yet in leaving the desert, the earth we find is full of distraction, speed and complexity. We crave that silence and focus offered by the desert.

In short, by the fourth century, desert had been marked as redemptive space of the first order. And like their environmentalist heirs, creators of early Christian wilderness romance played upon a trope of pure and empty spaces. Athanasius

Coming out of a desert of Lent, we strive to bring the silence with us. Looking again to the earth we see that God is not only the author of physical earth, but those who dwell within as well.

The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Psalm 24

We come together as dwellers in his creation and place our jointly focus our gaze heavanward.

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. Hebrews 3

And on this Sunday, a day aside, we rest, recognizing the mystery of this wholly other God who cannot be bound by our systemization and analysis.

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for those who enter God's rest also rest from their own work, just as God did from his. Hebrews 4

Holy, holy, holy.

In silence we break bread together. In song we praise Him, in prayer we lift each other up. Returning to the world we find this silence a desert a restoration of a whole life sustained by our Holy Lord.


Certainty vs. Assurance

I've really enjoyed all of the recent posts: there is so much interesting thinking and writing surrounding things emerging, expanding and other. Thanks for keeping us all well read. Usually, I love the conversation, yet I was caught off guard in reading this article in the Columbus Dispatch regarding the firing of two professors at Cedarville University:

Bible profs' firings leave college unsettled

Before knowing more of the details, I was simply struck by how this really is impacting the Christian Church and all of its manifestations in America. Maybe that causes me to be more wary of what I say, think (post) and increases my motivation for returning to the Bible, praying and seeking wisdom.

I'd be interested in your reaction to the article as viewed by a secular media outlet. If you are more intrigued by the debate, a Cedarville alum has posted a thoroughly in depth rebuttal of the firings here:

The Cedarville Situation

I read through the Article #1 and it is highly worth reading and perhaps discussing in the future if nothing else as a real-world example of what is happening around us. I'm now moving on to the following articles.

Maybe the most striking part of the first article to me was not in the semantic breakdown of the words assurance and certainty, though this is obviously worth while and important and the bulk of the argument. For whatever reason, I remember most the section where he qualifies his son as an authoritative voice on this matter because he has been hugely successful in the world (read multimillionaire). I tracked the rest of it clearly, but this reference signaled a wierd suburban siren in my head as well as distorted my view of his opinion. Not to detract from the core of the issue, it just was faintly odd. Take that for whatever its worth.

My second favorite part was the reference to my new favorite old guy Athanasius that we learned about on Sunday (clarifying wrap-up coming soon!).

In short, my cousin is an alum and now professor at Cedarville and we all have friends that went there or similar small Christian colleges so this strikes close. As a case study, I want to be aware of the implications of what we read and discuss and pray for discernment as it reverberates into the larger world.

Discussion This Sunday

On Sunday we'll be meeting at 3:00 at Global Gallery 188 E Whittier St in German Village.
I'd like to talk about the topic of atonement that I brought up a few weeks ago in this post.
I talked with Jesse a bit last night as he was going to help prepare some discussion points, but he has been really busy with school this week.
He gave me the book Fifty Reasons Jesus Came to Die which I found is available online. This goes over a lot of the traditional views of atonement which we had talked about trying to go into a bit deeper to try to understand better. I'll print out a chapter or two from this that should be a good starting point for discussion.
For me this is a very large idea to grasp about God, and largely shapes my relationship to Him. Depending on the position of this it makes me feel either angry, indebted, inlove, or indifferent to God.
It seems to me the Emergent stand on this has usually been: It's none of our business who goes to heaven and who doesn't. The Kingdom of God is now and we should be more concerned with furthering God's Kingdom on earth now and less concerned with life after death and the end of the world. Is this what we really believe? How did we get to this point?

I also agree with Kristen that it would be good to continue to look at our vision for this group and how we are living that out.


Emerging Church Research Report

I thought this sociology article was insightful -- introduced several key points as to why and how "Emergent" churches are thriving. I think it would be interesting to reflect on how our cohort fits (or doesn't fit) into these so-called "emergent" groups/churches/cohorts... Where do we invision this group going? What is our mission (if there is one at all)? I think it would be great if we reflected on the vision of our group. Are we a safe place for people to come ask questions about Jesus, about Judaism, Islam, about politics, the bible, etc? Are we a church? a group of friends? a group of intellectuals discussing abstract concepts and books and theology? Are we a mission? If so, how?

Any thoughts?