To speak the name of Jesus Christ biblically, and in the tradition of the early Church, is to say ‘Father’s eternal Son incarnate,’ and it is to say ‘Holy Spirit anointed One,’ and it is to say ‘Lord, Creator and Sustainer of all things’; and thus the very name of Jesus says, ‘The Triune God, the human race, and all creation are not separated but together in relationship.’ Jesus is himself the relationship. In him, in his own life and being and experience the Father, the Holy Spirit, humanity, and all creation are together.
This New Testament and early Church vision of Jesus Christ as the center of all things is today being recovered around the world. The dawning of this ancient Christological light is giving us profound hope and freedom, and it is calling us all to rethink everything we thought we knew about God, about creation, about humanity, the earth, the future. This call to rethinking does not mean that we have been dead wrong about everything we have ever thought. It does mean that we hold nothing back, that we bring every thought to Jesus Christ and let him encourage or redirect us, inspire, lead, and inform us, and correct and rebuke us. Our prayer is simple, “Jesus, we want only your light. Show us where we are wrong. Judge us. We hold nothing back from you. We want to see with your eyes, hear with your ears, know with your heart, and love with your love. We want no darkness in us at all.”
To be sure, this is a scary place, or perhaps I should say this is an uncomfortable way of being. It is easier to prefer the ‘comfort’ of knowing that you and your system are right, or that you and your group have it nailed down, and thus safely, and ‘righteously’ remove yourself from the harrowing light of Jesus—for now. It has been my joy over the last two decades to meet many of you who have had enough of the false security of systems, sub-cultures, and the fleeting comfort of biblically, air-tight theologies, and are finding the disturbing light of Jesus to be the most liberating reality on earth.
One of our brothers is John MacMurray from Oregon. Some years ago he dreamed of having an extended conversation, not simply a conference with lectures on trinitarian themes, but lectures and time, time together, time to hear, to learn, to process, to pray and to play, time to get know one another. So he founded what is called ‘The Northwest School of Theology’ (SOT). His idea was to bring teachers and hungry folks together for a week, in a beautiful setting, with great food and wine, and plenty of time to teach, and to talk and to play. I love this format. I not only get to teach, I also get to hang around for the conversations, for the meals, the late night sessions, the golf, the walks, the laughter, and for the tears. This is not a fly in, teach, fly out set up. The problem is that SOT is limited to only twenty people at a time. So John has been dreaming again, and has organized three gatherings for 2013 called The Open Table Conferences (www.opentableconference.com), all in stunningly beautiful settings as with SOT, but with a much broader and larger group in mind.
Paul Young and I will both be ‘teaching,’ at all three of these conferences. Together, we will be sharing aspects of the Trinitarian vision and something of our own stories, with a view to stimulating a long, long conversation. Imagine having time to talk openly, with like-minded friends from around the country and the world, about what the recovery of the gospel of the Triune God means for our lives, for our humanity, for our relationships, for every aspect of theology, for social issues, for international relationships, for the environment, for church, politics, our future. The topics are endless. This is the idea of the Open Table Conference. It is to be a gathering of family with time to think, time to talk, time to have our imaginations explode with insight, time to wonder, to cry, to pray, to simply be, and be together, all in a surrounding of sheer beauty and grace.
I can’t wait.
Here are the places and dates for this year.
Antelope, Oregon - June 7-9
Asheville, North Carolina- Aug 30 - Sept 2
Maui, Hawaii - Dec 6-10
Meantime—believe it or not—Paul, John and I will be having a webinar on Facebook at 8:30pm CST on Thursday Feb. 28 . This will be a 90 minute live, open audio session from Sundance, Utah. We will take questions from folks listening on Facebook. For more details go to the opentableconference Facebook page.