Sunday, March 5, 2017

James K. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom (p. 162)

You are worth to take the scroll
and to open its seal,
for you were slaughtered and by your blood
you ransomed for God
saints from every tribe and language and people and nations;
you have made them to be a kingdom
and priests serving our God,
and they will reign on earth. (Rev. 5:9-10)

But our congregation doesn't look like this kingdom from every tribe and tongue and nation. And yet we'll sing of it, in confession and in hope. We know that this is the sort of people we are called to be, and because of this, our current not-yet gatherings will have to constantly confess their failures (That we are a "broken communion in a broken world"), seek forgiveness, plead for mercy to undo these fractures, and yet "marvel that the Lord gathers the broken pieces to do his work." Our gathering is an act of eschatological hope that amounts to a kind of defiance: while the faces and colors of our gathered congregation might constantly remind us that the kingdom remains to come, the Spirit also invites us to overcome, reminding us that, despite the failures internal to our gatherings, at the same time the worldwide chorus looks miraculously like this kingdom choir--prompting us to become a people that looks more and more like the "great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and people and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb," who together sing one song, "Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!" (Rev. 7:9-10).

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Hurricane by Mary Oliver

It didn’t behave
like anything you had
ever imagined. The wind
tore at the trees, the rain
fell for days slant and hard.
The back of the hand
to everything. I watched
the trees bow and their leaves fall
and crawl back into the earth.
As though, that was that.
This was one hurricane
I lived through, the other one
was of a different sort, and
lasted longer. Then
I felt my own leaves giving up and
falling. The back of the hand to
. But listen now to what happened
to the actual trees;
toward the end of that summer they
pushed new leaves from their stubbed limbs.
It was the wrong season, yes,
but they couldn’t stop. They
looked like telephone poles and didn’t
care. And after the leaves came
blossoms. For some things
there are no wrong seasons.
Which is what I dream of for me.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

(Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

"By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness,
O God of our salvation,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas;
the one who by his strength established the mountains,
being girded with might;
who stills the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves, 
the tumult of the peoples, 
so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth 
are in awe at your signs. 
You make the going out of the morning
and the evening to shout for joy." 
(Psalm 65:5-8)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

when others articulate the desires of your heart

"Common grace for the common good. In a few words, that was my response. I explained that unless we have a theological vision that can account for “common grace for the common good”— a way of seeing life that understands “common grace” as well as “common good” —then we cannot see more coherently, we will not see more seamlessly. At our best we will settle for some kind of compartmentalized life, some kind of bifurcated life, where some of what matters to us is “here,” and the rest of what we care about is “here.” In the classic language of dualism, we believe that God cares about some things more than he cares about other things. He loves “sacred” things, but doesn’t really have much interest in “secular” things. 

Of course the paradigm is flawed. Because God is the creator and redeemer of all things, he wants us to care about all things. There is not a “sacred” sphere as opposed to a “secular” sphere. Everything, every square inch of the whole of reality, is meant to be holy— because it  belongs to God. 

So the question of what we do, and of who we are and what we care about, is rooted in deeper, truer things that have to do with the very nature of life and the world; in fact, the very nature of God, and human beings made in the image of God. Our human vocation from the beginning of time has been to care about the world, to see what could be done given our task to be creative and responsible in and through the work we do. Planting wheat, and making bread. Cultivating grapes, and making wine. Raising cattle, and eating brisket. Understanding fire and iron, and making steel. Cutting wood, and building houses. And on and on through history… with learning to make a flute and a guitar, learning to make a wheel and a cart, learning to control the flow of water so that irrigation is possible, even learning to make machines we call MRIs and iPhones. 

What we do is always a reflection of what we care about, and even more deeply, of who we are— always and everywhere this has been true, and this will be true."

(Steve Garber, March Newsletter for The Washington Institute)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

semester (and life) goals

"The collegiate ideal is a perennial image that speaks to higher education's capacity to encourage contemplation and build relationships to invite deep questions and create space for attentive response." 
(Cynthia Wells, "Finding the Center as Things Fly Apart" in At This Time and in This Place)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Sometimes you're asked on a Wednesday to head to Italy on a Saturday (really, I'm not even sure how this happened). And so, the chunk of my January was spent in a beautiful country, filled with history, art, and delicious food.

Technically speaking, I helped lead thirty-six first-year honors students, but that feels difficult to claim considering the lightness and easiness of the trip. The students were a dream, inquisitive and curious about learning, sensitive and caring of one another, and hilarious. The other leaders are fantastic people, similar to the students, great conversationalists, lively, and inspiring.

I'm not really sure where to begin reflecting -- the sites and experiences in themselves hold their own meaning, the many conversations saturated with deep questions about life and God, and my own personal growth working with undergraduate students in a different intensity than my present work. Joy, awe, and peace intertwined throughout the journey. I've received a renewed sense of wonder and appreciation for not only the works of man but our creator God who inspired them.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

"Our pedagogy must aim to instill humility in the dogmatists who are sure all their beliefs are correct, but also to instill hope in the skeptics and relativists who despair over attaining even a modicum of certitude." 
(Moroney, Phelps, & Waalkes, The Schooled Heart: Moral Formation in American Higher Education)

The past week of events in the U.S., conversations around higher education, ISIS, mass shootings, Syrian refuges, tempts me to despair. The lack of virtue in these conversations, the quickness to react, control, and defend, breaks my heart, such a need for humility, hope, and patience.

God, grant me the ability to listen and hear, seeking first to understand before making my opinions and positions known. Father, remind me your love for each person you created, that you are redeeming our world. Thank you for sending your Son into the world, to be present, to not leave us on our own.