Urban Bridge Church » The Branches

By: Urban Bridge Church  09-12-2011
Keywords: church

Urban Bridge Church » The Branches


Our community journeys openly together and we desire to live in truth and transparency. We have not arrived, but are discovering who we are and who we are created to become.

To remain authentic in our practices, to have credibility among ourselves and in the market place, we need to be aware of our provenance, our origins. We need to know the source of our spiritual identity both as individuals and as a community.

Who the (bleep) is Jackson Pollock?

  Teri Horton bought the 1.7-by-1.2-metre painting for $5 in 1993 as a gift for a friend who lived in a small mobile home.

They had a laugh about what they called the “scary” painting, and then leaned it up against the wall as they had a few beers.

  “We were going to go get the darts out of the trailer and throw them at it, but we got to drinking too much beer and never got around to it,” “So then I put it in my storage shed. I had no idea what it was. The canvas was all these colours, it was ugly as far as I was concerned.”

  When Horton had a garage sale, an art professor saw the drip-style painting and told her it could be the work of Jackson Pollock.

“I said, ‘who the (bleep) is Jackson Pollock? ”

  Priding herself on her tenacity, she educated herself about Pollock (sort of), met various art dealers, called galleries, and was generally relentless in trying to prove that Jackson Pollock may have painted this canvas.

  But she ran up against a new concept: provenance, which every art dealer told her, she could get nowhere without. Provenance, they told her, involved proving the list of previous owners of a work of art and how it changed hands over the years.

This proof would be necessary to ascertain how a painting made by Jackson Pollock on Long Island could end up forgotten in a thrift store in Los Angeles. They predicted that no one would take her seriously without provenance, and they were right.

  Horton hired a forensic art expert, who matched a partial fingerprint on the canvas to a fingerprint on a can of paint in Pollock’s studio, as well as to fingerprints on two authenticated Pollock canvases.

  Through an analysis of paint samples from Pollock’s studio, he was able to confirm a match with particles of paint found on the canvas in question. However others, called into question the fingerprint analysis.

 Still, Terri is so sure she has an original Pollock she turned down a 9 million dollar offer, insisting that she will not accept less 50 million.

Provenance: The history of the ownership, the source of beginnings. To gather evidence as to the time, place, and—when appropriate—the person responsible for the creation,

Provenance – confirming ones value from ones origins.


Our community journeys openly together and we desire to live in truth and transparency. We have not arrived, but are discovering who we are and who we are created to become.

This value gives our community permission to have a Sunday morning conversation respecting that we have different opinions and view points.

It gives us permission to question what we thought we were sure of.

It gives us permission to be sure of what we believe, and still not agree.

Our value of authenticity helps us accept those whose values, behaviours or lifestyles differ from or are in conflict with our beliefs and values.

I am privileged to have conversations with this community, hearing your good stories for sure, but also your doubts and fears, failures and differences – without fear of being out of favor.

But to remain authentic in our practices, to have credibility among ourselves and in the market place, we need to be aware of our provenance, our origins.

We need to know the source of our spiritual identity both as individuals and as a community.

When others value what we value, it is important that they know why.

When others disagree with our values, it is important that we know why.

Without provenance we risk being too subjective cheapening what we believe: devaluing others or ourselves.

We risk a crisis of spiritual identity.

We risk falling into hopelessness or as John Welwood puts it “the scary groundlessness that underlies our life.” John Welwood in Toward a Psychology of Awakening p. 149

One solution is accept that authenticity, our true being lies within each of us, that each of us must take control by finding meaning in that anxiety and hopelessness, and creating a life worth living from our experiences.

Martin Heidegger said “Unless we find ways to wrest control of our own lives from society, all of our decisions will continue to be made for us ?by the unnoticed forces of the cultures in which we live.”

 Like Heidegger, we do need to wrest control of our lives from society, it is not good enough to accept the norms of society without careful consideration. The bible one of the sources of our provenance: Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world. Romans 12:1 NLT

There will be times when our values as a community will be at odds with society at large. But unlike Heidegger the deepest truth of our being is more than our own creation. The deepest truth of our being is formed in relationship with Christ.

“Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is. Romans 12:2 NLT.

Heidegger would say don’t bother looking for authenticity from outside sources. Heidegger’s advice might be: you only need to satisfy yourself, don’t waste your time establishing provenance: the only fingerprints on the canvas of your life will be the ones you put there.

We believe that to be fully authentic, we need to know the one responsible for creating us; to confirm our provenance as followers of Christ whose handiwork we see all around us confirmed through the Holy Spirit, the church and the bible: 14Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or because someone has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth. 15Instead, we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. Ephesians 4:14-16 NLT

The strength of our community is that we have provenance, we know the source of our identity. Christ’s fingerprints are all over our canvas. Which begs the question is there room for mystery, individuality and faith in an authentic relationship?


  Being left in charge of about eighty children seven to ten years old, while their parents were off doing parenty things, I mustered my troops in the church social hall and explained the game.  It’s a large-scale version of Rock, Paper, and Scissors, and involves some intellectual decision-making. But the real purpose of the game is to make a lot of noise and run around chasing people until nobody knows which side you are on or who won.

  Organizing a roomful of wired-up grade-schoolers into two teams, explaining the rudiments of the game, achieving consensus on group identity–all this is no mean accomplishment, but we did it with a right good will and were ready to go.

  The excitement of the chase had reached a critical mass.  I yelled out:  “You have to decide now which you are–a GIANT, a WIZARD, or a DWARF!”  While the groups huddled in frenzied, whispered consultation, a tug came at my pants leg. A small child stands there looking up, and asks in a small, concerned voice, “Where do the Mermaids stand?”

  Where do the Mermaids stand?  A long pause.  A very long pause.  “Where do the Mermaids stand?” says I.  “Yes.  You see, I am a Mermaid.”

  “There are no such thing as Mermaids.”

  “Oh, yes, I am one!”

  She did not relate to being a Giant, a Wizard, or a Dwarf.  She knew her category.  Mermaid.  And was not about to leave the game and go over and stand against the wall where a loser would stand.   She intended to participate, wherever Mermaids fit into the scheme of things.  Without giving up dignity or identity.  She took it for granted that there was a place for Mermaids and that I would know just where.

Well, where DO the Mermaids stand?  All the “Mermaids”–all those who are different, who do not fit the norm and who do not accept the available boxes and pigeonholes?

What was my answer at the moment?  Every once in a while I say the right thing.  “The Mermaid stands right here by the King of the Sea!” says I.  (Yes, right here by the King’s Fool, I thought to myself.)

So we stood there hand in hand, reviewing the troops of Wizards and Giants and Dwarfs as they roiled by in wild disarray.

It is not true, by the way, that Mermaids do not exist.  I know at least one personally.  I have held her hand.”

© 1986, 1988 by Robert L. Fulghum

 Whether you and I are a giant, a wizard, a dwarf… or a “mermaid!” our provenance in Christ is what gives our life its full value.


Our community journeys openly together and we desire to live in truth and transparency. We have not arrived, but are discovering who we are and who we are created to become.

What struggles do you face with authenticity?

Are there parts of your life where you lack transparency?

Are you devaluing your beliefs as a follower of Christ to be more accommodating?

The information in this article was current at 06 Dec 2011

Keywords: church

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