Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Gearing Up For New Studies

This Sunday is Fifth Sunday Family Night at West-Ark. I would really like to see this event become community discussion about our life together as believers. Typically, we give attention to the various needs and activities of the ministries within this church. I am all for that. I do want that to continue. Yet, I am eager to find a way to connect all of this with our faith and theology. My hope is that we will speak of what we do and what we believe as a seamless whole.

Fifth Sunday usually serves as a mile marker for me as I order my preaching and teaching schedule. On Sunday morning I will begin a series based on Ephesians 4 -6. It will continue many of the themes from the sermon that Charles Siburt preached on unity and the 1 Cor. 12 sermon I preached this Sunday.

This year I began teaching in the Sunday evening assembly. Sunday I just finished a nine-part study of the seven classical theological topics: theology, christology, pneumatology, hamartiology, soteriology, ecclesiology, and eschatology. I was amazed that the group on Sunday evening received this so well.

I was stumped about our next study, until the eschatology lesson reminded me that I have never studied Daniel in any in-depth way. I have to admit that I read the whole book straight through for the first time that I can recall. I can see why the last part of this book can lead to a lot of misunderstanding. I understand why it is a field bed for all sorts of bizarre scenarios about the end of the world. I also observe that the language of Daniel 7-12 is foundational to the Gospels and especially Jesus' identity as the Son of Man. I look forward to this discussion.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Defining Reality

Krista Tippett writes the following on the Speaking of Faith webpage . . .

As perpetually horrified as we are of terror and violence, we are riveted by them and we let them define our take on reality. The communications miracles of the 21st century make wondrous connections possible, and yet they also bring us images of horror with an immediacy and vividness that are debilitating. Violent images seem altogether more solid and substantial, more decisive and telling, somehow, than kindness, goodness, and lived peace. It is easy to bow down before these images and give in to the despair they preach.

Tomorrow we will be reminded of the Columbine shooting. The connections between Columbine and Virginia Tech will be drawn. The connections to Waco and the OKC bombing may even enter the discussion. We need to remember. We need to pray for the families and those who have been wounded in so many ways. It is altogether proper to grieve, but let's not give in to despair. The shooters and bombers may have commanded the attention of the media camera, but they do not have the power to define reality.