an emerging, missional Christian community in the Scranton, PA area:
rooted in the Episcopal Church, welcoming all.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Visual Prayer on Flickr

We have started a new form of prayer for our community as well as visitors to our blog and website to use. For now I'm calling it "Visual Prayer." It is a collection of images put together in a Flickr photo set, each accompanied by a short prayer in the description field. Scott had the idea of compiling images to aid us in prayer, and this is the result. I am finding it a powerful way to connect even more to the prayers that we offer to God. Being able to focus on someone or something's image while praying about them/it helps emblazen that prayer into my mind's eye.

Our hope is that this will encourage you and strengthen your prayer life. Please let us know what you think, if you have suggestions, or if you have a prayer you'd like added. I added the link to our sidebar as well as below (I recommend the slideshow):

Prayer set

Prayer set as a slideshow - to see the prayer written for the images during the slideshow, simply click on the photo. It will pause the show and bring up the photo's description, all without leaving the page. You can then click on "resume show" to continue.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Let everyone have ideas

I just read this article from yesterday's NY Times about a company that encourages new ideas to come from the ground up and has created a kind of internal "stock market" by which ideas can be "bought" and "sold." This parable from the business world parallels, I think, much of what is being sought in the emergent conversation--including much broader lay participation in the production of church structure, worship, and mission (and the willingness to float ideas, try new things, make mistakes, and even fail). I wonder if these business practices could stimulate us to reflect on analogous ways of exchanging and testing new ideas within the church?


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Stations - Friday, April 7 [community dinner and alt worship]

On Friday, April 7 Peacemeal will be offering a free community dinner and alt worship at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in downtown Scranton (on Wyoming Avenue between St. Peter's Cathedral and the Steamtown Mall).

St. Luke's has graciously allowed us to turn their parish hall into a food & worship space for the evening. We are inviting everyone in the community to come join us. The dinner will run from 5:30 to 6:30 with worship from 7:00-8:30. You may come to one or both parts of the evening. Our intent with the dinner is to combine the traditional church supper (where we gather family and friends for fellowship and conversation) with a meal for the homeless of Scranton. We are seeking to live into our name and explore ways of being/hosting/creating Peacemeal.

This will be the Friday before Holy Week, so in preparation for walking with Jesus in his final days, we will be experiencing "stations of the cross" within a creative, alternative liturgy. Our goal is to to explore what some are calling "ancient-future" worship--blending the best traditions of the past with music, media, and ambience that speak to postmodern culture. We hope you will come, bring a friend, and experience Christ's gift to us in a fresh and compelling way.

If you are interested in volunteering to help with the meal or the worship gathering please contact Scott ( or Josh (

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Thinking About the Body of Christ

From today's seasonal daily e-mail for Lent from The Upper Room:


    FEED THOSE who are hungry. Shelter the stranger. Visit the sick. Minister to the prisoners. Bury the dead. Convert sinners. Instruct the ignorant. Counsel the doubtful. Comfort the sorrowing. Bear wrongs patiently. Forgive injuries. Pray for others.

    It is not necessary to sense the presence of angels or to feel the encircling energy of the communion of saints to live into the reality that someone is watching over us. We can BECOME presence for one another. We can be the arms, the legs, the feet, the heart of Christ in the world.

    -- Wendy M. Wright
    THE TIME BETWEEN (emphases mine)
Not only CAN we be the arms, the legs, the feet, the heart of Christ in the world, but we are CALLED to be, COMMANDED to be. This is the purpose of the church, is it not - to be the body of Christ in the world? We, as the church, are not just some mystical body, part of a metaphor about our relationship to Christ, the Father, the Spirit, and one another; but we are a physical body that also has flesh, just as Christ the incarnate Son of God had flesh and walked among us. Let us seriously contemplate what this means in our local area, and then join together with and act in the work that God is already doing among us.

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

More About Who We Are

Just posted over at the Diocese of Bethlehem's blog, newSpin, is a clip of a feature article that has been written introducing us to the Diocese. Go here for the blog entry; the full one-page article is available as a .PDF.

The article does a nice job of talking a bit more about our beginning and the motivations behind it.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

40 and "Run"

I just got an email back from Si Smith about his 40 illustrations of Jesus in the wilderness. He informed me that they are now available on CD for purchase from Revive, his community in Leeds. The CD contains the images as a 6 minute movie as well as a slide show. There are also about 4-5 original pieces of music from Revive on the CD. If you are interested, contact Si at The CD is $11 including shipping.

For those of you who saw my presentation at the clergy retreat (putting the 40 illustrations in a powerpoint slide show to "Run" by Snow Patrol), here's how I did it. The illustrations are available on the mayBe website. I copied them into a slide show, set "Run" to begin automatically on the first slide (the title slide "40") and to play through 44 slides. I set the slides to advance automatically every 7 seconds. Then, I adjusted illustrations 33-38 to advance after 6 seconds so that the temptation scenes occur during the guitar break and the angels appear just as they lyrics come back in softly with "light up, light up." It turned out to be quite powerful (though I discovered the timing by accident).

Thanks to Si for creating this great resource.

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Update: link to "40" on the mayBe website is fixed - JF

Emergent Conversations

If you have not yet noticed, we have a link in our sidebar category of "local conversations" to the Scranton Cohort, which is our attempt to gather a diverse group of people for conversations about faith and the emerging church in Northeast PA. I'm excited to let everyone know that we have been added to the Emergent-US list of cohorts, and that addition was announced via Emergent Village's mass e-mail update called Emergent/C. The word is getting out, and I am excited about more people getting connected in the Scranton/NEPA area.

Also on the list of new cohorts, I was pleased to find that there is one now listed in the Lehigh Valley! They are working on their first gathering for conversation, and are hoping to plan it around Brian McLaren's free talk at Moravian Seminary on April 21, 2006. Jillian and I have signed up to go to the morning/early afternoon lecture as has Scott or Demery (one of them has to be with the kids). I'm hoping that now we'll also be able to meet the people putting together the LeHigh Valley cohort.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Clergy Retreat

I spent the morning speaking at a clergy retreat for the Diocese of Bethlehem. I presented on "episcopal evangelism and the emerging church," and the response was wonderful. The best comment was from one priest who said the presentation helped them to dream. For those of you from the retreat (or others) who are checking into the blog, here are links to some of the resources and communities I referenced: Rowan Williams' Presidential Address to the Church of England 2003 General Synod, jonny baker's blog (check out the "worship tricks" link), Church of the Apostles in Seattle, mayBe in Oxford, fresh expressions, and see our sidebar for a link to the "mission-shaped church" pdf. In our February archive (on sidebar) look for the post "A Little Taste" to find a link to Si Smith's "40" illustrations. I presented a slideshow of the illustrations accompanied by Snow Patrol's "Run" -- which turned out to be a remarkably powerful combination (lots of not-so-dry eyes after that one). For those of you asking for a copy of this powerpoint, I'll contact Si about the possibilities of posting it here. Stay tuned.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Our Website is Up and Running

Just a quick note to let everyone know that our website,, is up and running with its first design. There is not much content yet, but there will be in the days and weeks ahead. Let us know what you think of the design!

Keep your eyes peeled here and at the main site (the two will eventually be merged) for information on a public worhip/meal night and a cafe conversation, both to happen during this season of Lent. More details to come.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006


I'm teaching a course on suffering this term. Fitting, since so much of the term falls during Lent. I was just reading Nicholas Wolterstorff's Lament for a Son, a book Wolterstorff wrote after the death of his 25 year-old son in a mountain climbing accident. I came across this powerful passage that seems to me to get at the heart of Lent:

"How is faith to endure, O God, when you allow all this scraping and tearing on us? You have allowed rivers of blood to flow, mountains of suffering to pile up, sobs to become humanity's song--all without lifting a finger that we could see. You have allowed bonds of love beyond number to be painfully snapped. If you have not abandoned us, explain yourself. We strain to hear. But instead of hearing an answer we catch sight of God himself scraped and torn. Through our tears we see the tears of God" (p.80).

The church has not always been good about raising these questions. They are raised more often by those outside the church--often as a critique. But Lent is a season that gives permission to ask, indeed invites the asking, of these kinds of questions. Lent asks us lament, to stand alongside all the suffering of the world--not to give an answer (what answer could we give?) but to image the God who suffers in our suffering. What would it take to be a community that invited lament? How can we overcome the temptation to dress ourselves up for church? How can we be a place where the broken know it is okay to rupture the formality with tears and heartache? Could we be that kind of church?

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Monday, March 06, 2006

What's in a Name?

So, what about our name? For quite a while we were calling ourselves the "church of the good snacks." Right from the start we began to act on our conviction that church ought to feel a bit like a party (Jesus seemed to like party images: "the kingdom of God is like a man who threw a party . . ."). So, in anticipation of that great heavenly feast, we figured we ought to at least have some decent snacks, good wine, and tasty coffee. We also knew from the start that we wanted, needed, eucharist to be at the center of our life together. Except for the occasional compline service, we almost always celebrate eucharist when we gather (and since my wife, Demery, is an Episcopal priest it makes that a bit easier to do!). It took several months of talking about a name to land on Peacemeal. We liked the emphasis on the shared meal since it points to many different aspects of our mission: table fellowship, hospitality, eucharist, feeding the hungry. And throughout all of this we understand this feasting to be a feast of peace--making peace, being peace, sharing peace. We believe peacemaking is not an add-on to the gospel but at the heart of Jesus' life and message.

Finally, we liked the pun, not just because it's a pun (though I'm a sucker for a good pun, or, frankly, even a bad pun), but because the "piecemeal" pun suggests that we are committed to gathering up the pieces of our lives and of the culture around us, joining those pieces together, and making something of them. As a reflection of this commitment, we have a practice that we call "gathering the fragments." The idea behind this is the recognition that by all counts postmodernity is a time of fragmentation. Thus one of our deepest needs is to reconnect and find wholeness. Each week the members of the community are invited to bring some fragment of life that we've experienced or discovered during the week (a reading, a poem, a song, a scene from a movie, an experience), something that spoke to us as a kind of parable. As we gather we share these with each other as a way of "collecting the fragments" from the week. Sometimes the fragments witness to grace, other times to brokenness. In each case we believe in gathering these things in, weaving even the darkness into the fabric of our life together. From piecemeal to peacemeal.

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Emerging Church Article

Just wanted to post a link to this article I wrote about the emerging church movement/conversation. It came out a little over a year ago in Christian Century magazine and was the culmination of about a year's worth of readings, interviews, and emails. If you are interested in finding out more about the emerging church and/or our Peacemeal community check it out.


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A Little Taste

We thought it might be a good idea to give some of you, our precious anonymous readers (don't be shy, say hello in the comments!), a taste of what we like to do together as a community during our small Friday evening worship.

Friday night marked our first evening celebrating the season of Lent together. This is the time in the calendar of the church when many are making an effort to slow down, reflect, sacrifice, and repent. These 40 days leading up to Easter reflect the 40 days Christ spent in the desert fasting and being tempted after his baptism. In fact, this story was in this week's Gospel lesson from the first chapter of Mark. To pause and reflect on this time in the life of Jesus, we watched a film clip compiled by Mark Fletcher featuring the song "Sulpherman" by the Doves. The video collects Si Smith's pen and ink illustrations titled "40."

To check out Si's individual illustrations frame-by-frame, look here at the mayBe community's website. To watch or download the Quicktime video (8MB), get it here from Mark Fletcher's blog.

If you are in the Scranton area and as you read more about our little community, let us know what you think. Feel free to leave comments here, or contact us by e-mail through our profiles. If you are interested in exploring our unique sense of community, mission, and worship, we'd love to invite you to an evening of conversation and worship at Scott and Demery's home. Very soon we will be having a time for worship out in the community to give people more of a taste of what we're doing; we'll also be sponsoring some emerging church cafe conversations, all in the next month or two. Keep checking in here as well as at the Scranton Emergent Cohort blog that has just begun for more information.

Peace to you,

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