Wednesday, December 28, 2005

My Life... busy changing

Christmas has come and gone and with it my family. They were down from Dec. 23 until yesterday - conviently matching up with the dates that I didn't post. We had a great time, lots of cooking & eating. We opened presents and visited Washington Crossing State Park It was fun and when they left yesterday, Bridgette sat in the living room and said "I miss your family".

Like Christmas and my family heading out, things are changing in a lot of ways in my life right now. We spent some time yesterday going through all of our baby stuff, from clothes to bedding to toys to "products". We have a lot, but at the same time realize how much more we still need. Babies are expensive propositions.

But in addition to this change, which seems to be preoccupying my mind more and more lately (as it should, being about 5 1/2 weeks away from the due date) there are changes occuring in my thinking theologically. I'm thinking more and more about missions and ecclesiology. I'm thinking about the witness of the Church to Christ, the unity Jesus prayed for in his followers to witness to the unity of Jesus and God the Father.

As I'm trying to write my paper for CH330 (Litrugical Year) about John Mason Neale and the Oxford Movement and their redirection of the Anglican Church back toward Rome, I can't help but connect it to my paper for TH330 (Reformed & Lutheran Confessions) which will be about their understanding of ecclesiology. But I also can't help but thinking of this missionally. Which goes to my sermon on New Years Day which will be on the Magi visiting Jesus and about what we do with Jesus & Christmas... after Christmas. It's not completely missional, because I'm going to be talking about responding in worship and changing direction...

Which makes this come full circle. Because my sermon, the clincher for me in the text of the Magi is that end, the part where they return home by a different route. They return but differently they don't allow Herod to co-opt the awe & worship that they have given to Jesus. In light of what they have seen, in light of what they have given, they change their plans to reflect that.

I believe that I have seen and learned some really good stuff this semester. I believe that I'm in the process of giving God myself - and hopefully my best. And I think that this is going to force me to change how I go about doing what I'm going to end up doing. I think this is going to do a lot more than inform my ministry, I think that I'm going to be thinking more theologically about "church" and "mission" and I'm looking forward to their continued convergence. As it happens, I know there will continue to be a lot of change in my life. And I think I'm going to get a lot more experience "changing" in a few short weeks...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

At the risk of losing friends & maybe more...

This is a mini stab in the dark. I'm kinda... well, like the picture, walking into a door with a blindfold on. But I've been wrestling lately with the question of the gospel. Maybe to some, that is in itself enough to question what I say next - "What do you mean 'what is the gospel'? Shouldn't you know? You're a Christian! You're in Seminary!"
Yeah, yeah, I know. You'd think that by now, that should be elementary. But that's what I'm beginning to wonder - is it?

Ok, quick case in point: The English word gospel is derived from the Greek word euangelion which means good news, and was usually the good news that a messenger brought to tell of victory in battle. So to use this word when talking about the message of Christ, to say that the message of Jesus is 'gospel' as a 1st Century Jew living in Jerusalem, is to say something very specific about what it is, right?

So, think for a moment to when you were first presented with "The Gospel". It may be easy for you, it may not, but I'm willing to guess that it was only partially presented as good news. That in some way or another there was also the other presentation - the presentation of hell, of the possibility of what might - no WOULD - happen to you if you 'rejected' the presentation of the gospel. Now, I'm not saying anything about hell, etc. Yes, Jesus did spend a lot of time talking about judgment, etc. Don't get me wrong...

But I'm in the middle of opening a few cans of worms here and I need somewhere to set them - to look at them, observe them. I need to think out loud a bit. Because I'm starting to question if maybe we might have gotten a little off track here and there with the gospel. I mean, Jesus' life, death & resurrection - they're key, they're pivotal, they're the gospel... but there's something in the translation - maybe something lost in the translation or something we added in our translation that I'm not sure about. Either way, there is translation involved in the presentation of the gospel, and as I wrestle with looking at that, it's caused me to wrestle with my preconceptions about the gospel.

I had a great conversation with my friend Jeff over at Thoughts as I Go and I commend to you another friend (and one-time boss) Lars Rood who's currently working on a DMin at Fuller Theological Seminary and wrestling with Christ and culture stuff. I don't pretend to speak for either of them, but their thoughts and much of my reading has been boucing around in my head a lot lately and I think it's especially significant at Christmas as we celebrate God coming to earth, becoming human and essentially beginning the process of the gospel.

But bear with me as I think out loud about this and feel free to comment - brand me a heretic - just do so nicely and in love...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


I read this today from Oswald Chambers:

What is extremely important is for the worker’s simple relationship with Jesus Christ to be strong and growing. His usefulness to God depends on that, and that alone.

And I must ask myself - am I growing? I've often heard a pastor from my youth, speaking a simple phrase "what you feed grows and what you starve dies" echoing through the years to me... and I've been feeling a little dead lately. Yes, this is Christmas time, yes, I'll be preaching in 2 weeks. Yes, I'm surrounded by pastors and theologians and fellow students seeking to be both. But I think I've been starving the wrong things...

I think, no, I know that my spiritual life, my "simple relationship with Jesus Christ" has become stagnant. It is neither strong nor growing. And I say this now because in doing so I cannot pretend it is only an idea. By saying it here I am marking it. I am admitting it and I am recognizing it - the first step is to admit you have a problem, right? (but I don't have time for 7 steps...)

My paper calls my name, but so does Jesus. And those other things that are constantly calling my name, that I have been feeding recently (ie - tv & internet - sports and sloth) need to get leaner - they need some starving...

Monday, December 19, 2005

Goodbye snow... goodbye break

Just like the snow that has all but left entirely - there are a few remnants here and there, but for the most part it is green and will continue as such through Christmas - my brief respite from "work" ended today as I hit the library at 9:30am. Funny enough, as I'm turning off the car (ok, I was listening to the radio still) a friend pulls up in his van, as we both get out, two more friends pull up in a car - 4 of us, little nerds going to the library on our first day of "Christmas vacation". We all had papers to research and write - so much for a vacation.

But, it seems from my presence over the last few weeks that I've also taken a vacation from this blog - and I don't want to. There are a ton of things I can and should be writing about, but haven't. So, I'm going to make sure that, like Frosty, I come back. I promise to post tomorrow on something good, assuming I can make a little head way on my paper...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Sometimes... things get in the way

So, we're out buying our Christmas tree over the weekend, and I'm taking pictures of the event, especially of our friends' kids who look so cute all bundled up, holding saws and picking out trees. But Winston, the middle child, didn't want his picture taken. Here, I reached up over the top of a tree just to try and get his mug on film.

And really, that typifies my life in the past little while. I have some great ideas, some stuff I really want to do (like blog) and, something just gets in the way. I couldn't take a picture of Winston because the tree was in the way. I haven't been able to get all that I've wanted done because other chores have gotten in the way... and my own choices, I can't pretend that I'm some kind of victim here.

But, it's also a reflection spiritually. I realize that in the morning, when I used to force myself (at least 3-4 days out of 7) to read and reflect on Scripture, I've allowed "things" to get in the way. I've allowed myself to neglect this and I think I've paid a price. I believe my spiritual life has not been very well off lately, and it's because I've allowed things to get in the way. Had I really wanted to get that shot of Winston, I'm sure I could've made it happen. Had I really wanted to spend that time in prayer, with God, I could've made it happen. I need to be intentional about this, just as God was intentional about sending His Son to earth. It wasn't an accident, it didn't just happen. He planned it, He made it happen.

With 10 days left before Christmas, its high time I made time for the things that truly matter and not let anything get in the way...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


I did a presentation yesterday on the Oxford Movement/Anglo-Catholic/Tractarian Movement in England during the mid 19th Century. Through some research, I found that my favourite Christmas carol: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (well, The First Noel is my OTHER favourite) was translated by John Mason Neale(1818-1866) who was part of the movement and mainly a hymn writer and translator (he also wrote Good King Wenceslas). Anyway, I think the hymn is awesome, so if you're not famliar with the original translation, then take a read... and would that God would indeed "bid our sad divisions cease"...

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.


Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.


O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.


O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.


O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.


O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.


O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.


O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.


(thank you Cyber Hymnal

Friday, December 02, 2005

Our Baby

Check the photo album for the first ultrasound photo to be put up. More will come. It's freakn' amazing...