Tag Archive: theology


Doxology

I am now in my 4th year of seminary while serving as a student pastor at St. Paul United Methodist Church. As the season of seminary will be drawing to a close after this year I am now participating in the process to become a Provisional Member of the North Carolina Annual Conference. This process involves some writing. Before this stage of my adventure in follow God began I had no idea, maybe besides seminary, what any of the U.M. pastors I had known participated in as they journeyed to become a pastor.

January 2nd of 2015 I have to turn in a large document where I have to write 15-20 pages about my strengths, growing edges, and experiences of leadership, then 15-20 pages about how I perceive my role as a provisional member along with my understanding of personal stewardship including everything from finances, to my health and my relationships. The third section I will write includes 20-25 pages about worship including a sermon manuscript and a video recording of me preaching and presiding at the communion table. The last section is 20-25 pages about my theological understanding of God and creation.

I have been to a number of meetings to prepare us for the writing process and I have begun to feel the stress about what all is required. A temptation has crept in to consider this work as a hoop to jump through. However, after reflecting on what Rev. Greg Moore said about how I am seeking to join a religious order and some other reflections, I have begun looking forward to this process. The level of effort and work will not change (it may even increase), but I am now coming to recognize that I have the blessed opportunity to write a Doxology. I get to write about God and how I have been invited to participate in the Triune God’s love, life and mission in the context of the United Methodist Church. I get to write a praise to God by answering questions like How do you understand the following traditional evangelical doctrines: Repentance; Justification; Regeneration;  Sanctification; The marks of the Christian life? and what is my understanding of the Resurrection and eternal life! I get to write a praise to God for the church and what the church’s role is God’s reign. I get to proclaim in writing the wonders and greatness of God.

I thank God for this opportunity. I pray that the Holy Spirit will inspire my writing so that what I write may truly be a doxology.

Father God, by the resurrection of your Son and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit may our lives be ever moving more and more toward a life of doxology. Amen.

Doxology

If you have wondered if God may be calling you to step in this direction of ministry I invite you to connect with me and in the mean time explore this site: http://thecallnc.org/

Gratitude for the gift

In Sunday School yesterday we had a discussion about being grateful. It was interesting to have all kinds of things from what I have been learning these last couple of years of seminary come floating in my head. One notion that came floating in during the conversation is that God is the creator. Everything is gift. The fact that I am sitting here typing and sucking wind – gift. The fact that your heart is beating and your reading this – gift. Every faculty and ability you and I have – gift. Our existence, the existence of the cosmos – gift. It is in God’s joyful, loving, grace that there is anything.

It seems to change ones perspective of everything. It kind of even makes sense out of Jesus saying crazy tough things like “love your enemies“. That person that frustrates me is a gift just as much as I am a gift. We are all gift.  I am starting to see that when I encounter someone different than myself (different culture, different race, different gender, different religion, …. different) that my attitude can shift if I view everything through the eyes of gift and grace. Being reminded that God is the creator and that the person that is so different than me was created by God just like I am seems to level the playing field. I can’t think I am better than someone else. Standing in this posture I can see that the other is a gift, and despite our differences we just might be a gift to each other. In this posture of gratitude we might be able to navigate our disagreements about things.

Lord Jesus, thank you for the diversity of your creation. Thank you for the gift of relationships. Thank you for not creating everyone to be exactly the same. Help me see that everyone is a gift of your grace. Amen

Sounds of Heaven

Sound of HeavenLast week one of my professors asked someone with a laptop to find some music and play it out loud for the class to hear. The tiny little speakers were doing their best and everyone affirmed that they could hear the music. He walked around to every corner of the room confirming that this music was filling the room.  He referred to this as the music of heaven; the presence of Jesus filling the room. Then he turned on his mp3 player which was hooked to the sound system which blared out Flight of the Valkyries.  He alluded to this as the sounds of Adam – sin and death- and it filled the room.  Both sounds filled the room at the same time.  It was hard, but you could still make out the sound of heaven in the midst of the other sounds. I suddenly felt like I had a moment where the present world made sense. Why in me there is darkness and sin, while I profess that Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit has redeemed me through the birth, life, death, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Son of God. Why if God has come to take away the sins of the world we still have to watch the news to hear of tragedy and evil still at work. Both the reality of Christ Jesus, which is here right now in its fullness is operating along side the reality of Adam.

When we gather for worship we gather together to practice participating in the sounds of heaven.  We can’t turn off completely the other sounds, but hopefully we can dial them down a little as we focus on the sounds of heaven in worship. We can practice listening to that still soft voice. When we get together in discipleship groups we practice living in the reality that the music of heaven.  The music of God is always there and always playing despite the noise of sin that surrounds us. We begin to find that even in the darkest and noisiest places God’s music is playing because there is no place God’s grace and the music of heaven hasn’t filled the entire cosmos.   Suddenly missions and evangelism changes, because we realize that God is already there – The music is playing everywhere all the time. So all we can do is help someone hear the music by us doing our best to sing along with the sounds of heaven.  Besides we may find in the least expected place to hear the sound of heaven.

You Never Read Alone

This is from an article I was reading from Dr. Kavin Rowe my New Testament professor from last year.  This part resonated with me as it echoed back to some of my wrestling with the communion of saints.

we need to cultivate the habit of reading in community. The emphasis upon reading in community (or communion) has received much attention of late, but for many understandable reasons the habit of reading alone is hard to break. By reading alone, I do not mean as much the simple act of reading a book silently by oneself as I do the more damaging notion that reading is what occurs between a text and an individual—an individual who encounters the text and makes of it what he will in and through his individual judgments, mind, or life. We read alone when we think that Scripture is a matter of the text and me. Scripture, however, was written both to and for Christian communities, and the theological logic of the texts presupposes a community of readers. The church is the place where reading all the different biblical texts together as one book makes interpretive sense. Anytime we read something called “the New Testament” or “the Old Testament” or “the Christian Bible,” that is, we are already reading inside the community that has made the theological judgment about the unity of these various texts and passed down this judgment in the form of the Bible itself. Not only is it historically the case that we have the texts that form the Bible because the church has transmitted these texts through time, it is also the case that the Bible makes sense as one book only in one hermeneutical place, the church that has received it as its Scripture. In Christian thinking, this community includes not only those whom we now know but also the dead (“the communion of the saints”).

This is the link to the entire article.