Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Mars Hill Reflections

VelvetElvis.jpgWhen I told my students that I was going to speak at Mars Hill, the Rob Bell Mars Hill, I had three immediate responses: (1) “The Real Rob Bell?” [Yes.] (2) “Why are they asking you?” [What does one say to an insult?] and (3) “You’re kidding me, of course.” [And that from one who is from Mars Hill.] Well, such is the life of a professor.

By the way, this Elvis picture I took with my iPhone in the “green room” at Mars Hill and I wonder if it is THE “Velvet Elvis”?
First, peeps: I met Rob and was glad finally to do so. And I saw so many others I know there: Greg Mutch and Brad Nelson and … plus a bundle of Jesus Creed friends (John and Julie Frye and Ted and Deb Gossard) and all sorts of folks (John and Tammy Raymond and kids, Gary and Jan Raymond, Dan Mulder and Don and Jan Chapman and Rus and Brenda Tien … I could go on). A saw a number of former students, including Kindra Voorhies and Anna Bolinder and Megan Sall.

Mars Hill — and some know this and some don’t — is a converted shopping mall, which means it’s already got a structure into which the community fits itself. Which means it’s passageways are sometimes as wide as the sanctuary at St Peter’s in Rome! It also means the ceilings are lower — the “sanctuary” is a former department store. I like what this structure says about “converting space into sacred space.” The space comes off as stark, which sends off a message of its own. 

We began our morning with prayer with some leaders, and they also brought in an elderly woman who is facing cancer surgery this week — and we laid hands on her and prayed for her and an elder anointed her with oil and the sign of the cross. 
By the way, there are twenty-two doors into the sanctuary, and each has a mezuzah with one stanza of Psalm 119 in it and that means there is one stanza for each door — nothing left over. That one point I made during the sermon was about the Benedictine chanting of Psalm 119 weekly made the mezuzot special to some (and to me).
The platform is in the round and speaking with an audience all around me was new for me — and it would take some getting used to… but I tried my best to move around and face everyone.
As for topics, I was asked to speak on prayer and, for awhile I thought I’d work through Psalm 77 and show how memory of what God has done can shape the emptiness we sometimes feel, but then I realized my text was the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 and that Mars Hill is going through the Sermon on the Mount. So it was suggested to me that I build on what I said about the Lord’s Prayer in The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others, so I did just that. A major theme I developed was that transformation in Judaism came not by jettisoning or demolishing tradition but by adding to it in such a way that the whole was given new life.

Thanks to everyone at Mars Hill who made our visit a joyful and memorable one.

Comments read comments(14)
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John W Frye

posted December 17, 2009 at 2:24 pm

A little baseball lingo, You hit the ball out of the park! I’m still mulling over the impact of your sermon.

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posted December 17, 2009 at 3:07 pm

I got a good laugh out of “why are they asking YOU?”
When I teach college writing, I sometimes get a variation on: “And what do YOU know about writing anyway?’ (Oh, nothing, I guess) … I’m sure I was the same… and probably still am.

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Andrew Kenny

posted December 17, 2009 at 3:53 pm

Do you ever think you’ll be invited to Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill?
I think you should be invited-
And if you were invited ,would you go?

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posted December 17, 2009 at 4:17 pm

Dr. McKnight,
I was looking at your speaking schedule. Is there any time in 2010 you will be coming to Pittsburgh to speak or in and around the area?
I am reading The Blue Parakeet right now and continue to find it helpful to the way I approach the Bible.
Ben K.
1 Cor. 15:58

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posted December 17, 2009 at 4:20 pm

Just listened to the podcast of it. Great word Scott. Don’t get my hopes up about the Lions being able to beat anyone though…

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Scot McKnight

posted December 17, 2009 at 4:27 pm

Ben, Nothing on the schedule to come to Pittsburgh. Some day perhaps.

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Ted M. Gossard

posted December 17, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Deb and I so much enjoyed it. And first time we’ve been in that facility, even though we like Rob Bell. John is right. It was a homerun upper deck and just made me more hungry to really get into a good practice of the rhythm of the liturgy. I’m not there yet, but want to make it work. Nice to see Kris again, and also John and Julie, as well as meet (maybe remeet) some folks both you and John know.
Here’s the page from where people can download your message.

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posted December 17, 2009 at 8:12 pm

I just listened to your sermon. You sound like you would fit right in as a teaching pastor at Mars Hill, in case your present gig doesn’t work out. You might need some new eye wear though :)
Your theme of how “transformation in Judaism came not by jettisoning or demolishing tradition but by adding to it in such a way that the whole was given new life” would be interesting to explore in the context of transformations that have occurred in the church, especially since the Reformation.
What have we jettisoned and demolished (your Lord’s Prayer example was point on) and what should we be recovering?

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Travis Mamone

posted December 17, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Great sermon! Hopefully they’ll invite you again to speak.

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Gary Feister

posted December 18, 2009 at 11:09 am

Scot, do you have a podcast? If so, where? Would love to hear it.

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posted December 18, 2009 at 2:37 pm

ok, so i’m confused. the reason i came to this blog was because you were listed on their page Sundays/bios/ as one of their pastors. you’re not?

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posted December 18, 2009 at 4:27 pm

Yes, excellent stuff. I’m attempting to try your suggestion of reciting the Lord’s prayer three times a day. Thanks for that.

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posted December 18, 2009 at 6:43 pm

Wonderful. I’m looking forward to listening to the podcast sometime this weekend hopefully.

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posted December 18, 2009 at 10:37 pm

do you have any pictures of the mezuzah at mars hill?

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