come out the wilderness

Those of you who were part of emergingumc2 heard and sang -- twice over two days-- a song from the United Methodist Hymnal that may have been unfamiliar before, but that a number of us now testify (on Twitter and Facebook) we can't get out of our heads. In the hymnal it's number 416, "Come out the Wilderness." We changed up the last verse for two others that come from the larger stream of this text's tradition-- "Well, I felt like prayin' when I come out the wilderness" and "Well, I felt like shoutin' when I come out the wilderness." So if you want to start singing it along with what's in our heads, just make those substitutions and you'll be on the same page with us. In a day or two, actually, that full text will be posted on the GBOD worship website, along with all our other worship texts from that event.

But this is the one we can't get out of our heads...

Maybe it was Kate's hauntingly beautiful lead, or Jordan's fantastic guitar. Surely it's partly that.

But I suspect it's more. It's that this song really names where we think we are and maybe need to be-- and in more way than one.

The very grammar of the title keeps it unclear whether we're going out into the wilderness, or abiding in the wilderness for a time, or coming out from the wilderness and inviting folks out there with us for the same transformation we experienced there. We used it in all those ways, and they all seemed to fit.

Alan Roxburgh talks about our current missional environment in North America as an "unthinkable world." The rules we thought we knew don't apply. We have to get more or less "deprogrammed" before we can connect effectively. That's what wilderness does. It strips away pretense. It leaves us honest before God, struggling like Jacob all night long if need be, until God is satisfied enough to rename us "Strugglers" instead of "Grabbers."

Wilderness is reality in its barest, clearest form. And maybe more now in North America than ever.

So... come out to the wilderness. Come out and abide in the wilderness. Come out from the wilderness. Let it move you to tears, prayers, and shouts. And be sure to tell everybody when it happens (if you've been there, you won't be able to stop yourself doing so!). And tell everybody to come out the wilderness with you.

But by all means come out the wilderness... leaning on the Lord!

Peace in Christ,

Taylor Burton-Edwards