Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
I have to keep my nose buried in books all the time now, I have three major papers coming up real quick. On another note though, I have an appointment to review some work I did last year in hopes of trying to get it published. That is exciting. And I confirmed that my application for the Masters programme has gone up and is waiting for the committee to make their decision. Oh the tension!
Saturday, February 24, 2007
This is a special community and they are used to a different style of preaching. I'm not going to be hoping from verse to verse here, I'm going to deal with the text. My heart is that my message will be life giving to a congregation that has had a rough go of it the last year or so. I really don't care if my message is "polished" as long as it breathes something of the life of the Spirit in them. But having said that, I don't want to pull any punches. This is a tough text and I think they need a tough text. This is the text that situates Jesus' whole ministry - and those are the insights I want to draw from.
So here I am blogging and praying my way through the text. Trying to name some of my hesitations so that I can face them head on. If this text is what takes the newly baptised Jesus to the point of launching his public ministry then it has that same potential in us. At the very least it can direct us to the areas God wants us to mature in as we seek to be faithful to the calling on our own lives.
I have to be careful, in my community I can talk easily about political activism and social engagement. I know we've spent enough time talking about such things that people will get it. But here I am stepping into a conservative neo-pentecostal setting and bringing a message in a format they might not expect and with content that will challenge their worldview. Is it any wonder I am a bit timid? I want to be careful though, these are great people and a great church. I've hung out with them many times in the past which has been great. And they are a mixed community, my challenge will be to preach a message that engages with each of them, challenging them all to take a step further into a Kingdom lifestyle.
It is going to be fun, I better get my notes sorted out and practice my message. Please pray for me.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
First, that any ministry we do must come authentically from our own being ministered to. That is evident even at the start of this epistle with Paul's discourse on comfort. He urges us to be reconciled to God because to minister from any other place is sadly lacking in authenticity.
Second, that our ministry is compelled by our recognition of the sheer greatness of God's love for us. The kenotic act of Christ becoming sin for us has only one reasonable response - total self-sacrifical worship. As Paul explains earlier in this same chapter, it is Christ's love that compels us to the ministry of reconciliation.
Third, that our ministry is a grace and not a legalism. This colours our ministry in the world, we are not coming in trying to impose a new legalism or process of salvation. No we are proclaimming the same grace we have received. To do anything else kills the grace aspect of it. We spoke about evangelism as our example. I didn't mention it to the group, but in my own reflection I was struck by just how different Jesus ministry looked to what passes for evangelism today. This is passionate and deliberate, but it is not goal oriented rather it is people oriented.
Fourth, that our ministry is grounded in a conviction that salvation is the imminant reality. God wants to step into history, and has. God is not willing that any should perish is not about lining up convert on benches, it is about God's desire to be real and present to all people everywhere. When we minister out of a lesser vision and a lesser conviction we not only rob the gospel of its power, we preach a whole other gospel than the one Paul is talking about here.
When I was reading through the epistle in preparation for this message I was struck by how passionate Paul's writing is. My excitement was renewed, and I was quite happy to share that with my congregation.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
I guess I need to work on the theology, but that was a heck of a lot funnier than my lame Dora song.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Thursday, February 15, 2007
I need to be competent in French by September, I have signed up for help with that. That is daunting but very doable, I have lots of support with friends and we can switch to French at home between me and Sharon. Sharon emailed me a lot of great links for French resources, what a great wife. It will be important to come up to speed in French fast because as soon as I start my Masters I am also going to start German.
Kenny was asking what my focus will be on, I don't have to choose right away and the methodology course will also help me narrow my subject. The Masters at St. Paul is an interesting programme, basically it is a course to see if you are ready for the Doctorate programme. You write maybe a chapter's worth of a thesis - 40-60 pages. And you work in all the disciplines attached to Theology: Spirituality, Ethics, Systematics, Biblical Studies, etc. They want to make sure you don't narrow your studies too soon. It is completable in a year and I know a bunch of the other students applying this year. Soon as I narrow it down I'll let everyone know.
I feel like a chapter of my life is closing, and in fact it is. I know that this transition is from a wide focus to a more narrow focus. This is good, but it is hard to choose. I love so much about many aspects of thoelogical studies. I really enjoy history and biblical studies. I am going to miss taking Political Ethics with Ken Melchin (that was going to be my last required course in my undergrad degree). I am going to miss Spirituality with Heather Eaton, she has opened me up to more diversity than any other professor at St. Paul.
The good side is that as one chapter closes another opens, and with it new possibilities. I've come to expect that God is in the possibilities so that is exciting. Please pray with me that everything will work out for me to graduate this Spring and start right in on the MATh degree. And yes, it is really funny to me that the degree is named that when I have trouble with simple arithmetic at times.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Sunday, February 04, 2007
"The raising of Christ from death is an expression of the surplus of grace, for 'where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more' (Rom. 5.20). This added-value of grace becomes effective when liberation from the chains which bind the victims and the guilty to the past allows them to move out into the new shared life in the powers of God's righteousness."
- Jürgen Moltmann, In the End - The Beginning: The Life of Hope, Fortress, 2004.
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Right at the beginning of the film Romero is talking with his friend Father Rotullio and Romero, troubled by what he overhears in the marketplace, cautions his friend about fostering subversive ideas. The response was profound: How can I love God whom I cannot see if I cannot love my neighbour whom I can see.
Romero's conversion is slow and painful, full of wrestlings. It is, in other words, very real. There are many uncomfortable moments. But to see this "man of books" find courage within himself to recover the violated host from the occupied church really moved me. I often wonder what I would do if faced with a similar circumstance - would I risk my life for the gospel? Romero encourages me that in that moment there is a strength that cannot be gained from books, and that strength is sufficient.
Finally listening to the radio this morning they were talking about global climate change. The concensus is that 90% of scientists agree that the climate is changing and that we are responsible. Driving home last night a fellow preacher had the oddacity to suggest that if the climate is changing that's just God's will, fatalism like that drives me nuts. Even though I felt the speakers on CBC held too much faith in a technological solution they were calling for a social transformation. Romero says that economics is the root cause of the injustice in his country. That critique is common to Liberation Theology and is apt. In fact all of the world is implicated in this injustice. This must be part of the social transformation, a conscientization, if we are to see justice not just ecologically but socially and politically as well. We can't afford to throw up our arms in the face of crisis, and we can't afford to ignore the fact that our economic choices have global repercussions. We need to find a better way.