Daily Archives: September 10, 2007

First Day of School

Very interesting…. that’s how I would describe my first day of seminary education. I learned a lot and came away with even more questions than answers.

Here are some quick reflections from Day 1.

  • There were as many women in my classes as men. No commentary… just an interesting factoid.
  • The William Morton Smith library (http://library.union-psce.edu/) is beautiful. It has quickly become my new favorite place to be. It also makes me think that heaven will boast a library that makes this one look like a dilapidated, rural shack.  
  • I talked today with Herbert who is studying to be an Episcopal priest. As we discussed our backgrounds, I developed an appreciation for his love of liturgy and tradition. I think one of the best things about Episcopal services is that they actively kneel at times throughout the service. We all need to kneel a little more because sometimes we can forget that the Church is primarily about God not us.
  • Seminaries are full of fancy words that seem to separate people and build up a wall between clergy and the congregation. I wonder if this is really necessary. What is the real motivation? It is about respecting tradition and scholarship? Or do professionals tend to favor big words, such as “exegesis,” just because we like to feel important or smarter than most? WWJD?
  • Exegesis looks like a good thing. But I can see that it easily could be abused. As a Christian, a scholar has to first come under the authority of Scripture before criticizing it. Proper examination of the text is critical to correct application and transformation. Anyone could easily be tempted to come over instead of under the text. Thorough study should guide us to deeper revelation of God. It allows us to enter the text. As the handout I received today stated, “Exegesis functions most appropriately when it allows the text to master us.”
  • The “Q” question and the Synoptic problem. I liked the joke that Dr. Frances Taylor Gench told today in class. She recounted a classmate who responded during her ordination examine that she had “No problem with the Synoptics.” I feel the same way. While textual criticism is interesting to discuss, much of it is just hypothesis. We could spend forever on the outside of the cup and miss the whole point of cleaning the inside.
  • I read the latest copy of Sojourners (www.sojo.net) while at the library today. The cover story described the emerging sanctuary movement where churches are stepping in to aid and defend illegal aliens. The government has failed to address this problem. It is great to see Christians doing something about the issue. But I do wonder how we balance God’s call to honor the laws of the land with His heart to help the poor and disadvantaged. This is a tough issue. And I am just not sure where I stand on it.
  • The greening of the Church – Sojourners also ran an article on how environmentalism is creeping into churches across the country. I have a lot to say on this topic since I write about environmental issues. More will come later.
  • In one of my classes, a professor made the case that it is “a little scary” that some Christians today claim to receive new revelation, visions and dreams from God. Obviously, she believes that all of that stopped when the canon of Scripture was closed. I tried not to smile to give away the fact that I disagree with her opinion. I may have been the only person in the room “crazy” enough to believe that God still speaks individually through prophecy, divine dreams and private revelation. I would never put any of those things today on the same level as Scripture. But that doesn’t mean God can’t use them to commune with His people. It takes great hubris to tell God what He can and cannot do.

Let the games begin :)…

So the party began

While at a worship service tonight, the crowd was challenged to write a thank you note to Jesus. I have so much to be thankful for that I was not sure where to begin. I stopped and listened to see what came to mind. I felt urged to read Luke 15:22-24.

 Here’s that passage from the New Living Translation of the Bible.

Luke 15:22-24 – “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

The above pasage is from a well known story about the prodigal son who returned home to find love and acceptance from his father. The son returned after squandering his family fortune by living a wicked life. This wicked son returned home in full repentance. He did not even wanted to be called the man’s son. Instead, he asked to be treated like a hired servant.

But the father would have none of that. He completely restored the wayward son. It didn’t take him long to do it either. The father is the hero of the story as he quickly restores his son.

The Holy Spirit reminded me tonight that God has treated me just like the father did his two sons in this story. I believe the robe represents the righteousness of God that covers our sin so that we are recognized not for our shabby clothes (sinful past) but as royalty, part of God’s family. The ring is a symbol of authority. As Christians, we have spiritual authority on this earth against evil powers and lying spirits. The sandals prepare us for whatever lies ahead in our journey. Sandals protect our feet. If you have ever done much hiking, you know that protecting the feet is key to climbing a big mountain. I believe the sandals represent God’s Word (the Bible) and his personal revelation to us.

The father throws a party and prepares a feast to celebrate this great homecoming. God does the same thing when one sinner repents. I love the last line of the passage, which reads, “So the party began.”

God invites us to a big party. People who think that being a Christian is boring or void of life miss the reality of freedom from sin and the peace of knowing God. Coming to Jesus, that’s when the real party begins.