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Alive Indeed: A Lenten Prayer | Seminary Student Blogger

March 31, 2013

Amy Gilbaugh

Amy is contributing a series of Lenten prayers leading up to the celebration of Easter. You can read her introduction here; day 1 here; day 2 here; day 3 here; day 4 here; day 5 here; day 6 here; day 7 here.

Christ has risen!

Indeed, we cry routinely enough. Christ has risen indeed.

On this cold, pale blue morning we recite our affectionate gratitude

for Your plans beyond our expectations

for Your life beyond the grave

for Your promises beyond our hope.

The morning scene is serene enough to sentimentalize us, and for even this we are grateful.

But in the silence of this Easter morning, we hear the call of the resurrection:

the resurrection which calls to us from behind that illuminating horizon,

the resurrection which wearies our easy way of remember and startles with new anticipation,

the resurrection which grants us the holy fortitude to sing

Soon and very soon...

Yes, Your miracle life beyond the cave of death lends us the potent reminder this morning that we, too, await resurrection:

the resurrection which will call us to the sky,

the resurrection into rest for our weary souls,

the resurrection which will grant us the ending of the tune, retiring the language of "soon" and replacing it with the vernacular of the heavenlies.

Soon. Oh that it would be very soon.

That You would rend the heavens! That You would come down!

We have yet to see an act like that.

But we have heard tales of one.

And that Friday-Sunday act gives us hope.

Come and be Eastered among us until we are raised with You.

Until then, we will watch the horizon.

And we will hope better this time.

Indeed.

Amen.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , current students , future students , lenten prayers , student blogger

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Alive Indeed: A Lenten Prayer | Seminary Student Blogger

March 31, 2013

Amy Gilbaugh

Amy is contributing a series of Lenten prayers leading up to the celebration of Easter. You can read her introduction here; day 1 here; day 2 here; day 3 here; day 4 here; day 5 here; day 6 here; day 7 here.

Christ has risen!

Indeed, we cry routinely enough. Christ has risen indeed.

On this cold, pale blue morning we recite our affectionate gratitude

for Your plans beyond our expectations

for Your life beyond the grave

for Your promises beyond our hope.

The morning scene is serene enough to sentimentalize us, and for even this we are grateful.

But in the silence of this Easter morning, we hear the call of the resurrection:

the resurrection which calls to us from behind that illuminating horizon,

the resurrection which wearies our easy way of remember and startles with new anticipation,

the resurrection which grants us the holy fortitude to sing

Soon and very soon...

Yes, Your miracle life beyond the cave of death lends us the potent reminder this morning that we, too, await resurrection:

the resurrection which will call us to the sky,

the resurrection into rest for our weary souls,

the resurrection which will grant us the ending of the tune, retiring the language of "soon" and replacing it with the vernacular of the heavenlies.

Soon. Oh that it would be very soon.

That You would rend the heavens! That You would come down!

We have yet to see an act like that.

But we have heard tales of one.

And that Friday-Sunday act gives us hope.

Come and be Eastered among us until we are raised with You.

Until then, we will watch the horizon.

And we will hope better this time.

Indeed.

Amen.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , current students , future students , lenten prayers , student blogger

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To Finish the Phrase: A Lenten Prayer | Seminary Student Blogger

March 30, 2013

Amy Gilbaugh

Amy is contributing a series of Lenten prayers leading up to the celebration of Easter. You can read her introduction here; day 1 here; day 2 here; day 3 here; day 4 here; day 5 here; day 6 here.

The words press off our lips with ready easy:

"I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord. Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontus Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended into hell…"

And here, for now at least, we must cease our repetition. For this is the end of the story for a while. For now, we must sit in the darkness of these dying days.

and are they ever dark…

Here in the dark we sense the utter despair of that space outside the courts, the waiting and longing of those listening for the verdict, the evil of false witnesses, the shame of your naked beating. We, in these dark days, sense the suffering of that road; the trees You spoke into existence we reduced to lumber and forced You to carry it, we nailed You to it and mocked You for not employing that life-speaking voice. We looked at You and couldn't, so we turned our eyes and kept on mocking. Because we couldn't bear the sight of such a bloody lamb.

Yes, it is dark here.

And we confess, we need to finish the liturgy! We must complete the statement, our souls ache for the phrases that properly follow!

But for now, we know there is no newness yet. No newness yet.

And out of this darkness we implore You to be Your sentence-finishing self. To complete history with newness and life and light. Do Your Friday-Sunday act again. And in doing so, Easter us as well.

Amen.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , current students , future students , lenten prayers , student blogger

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Good Friday: A Lenten Prayer | Seminary Student Blogger

March 29, 2013

Amy Gilbaugh

Amy is contributing a series of Lenten prayers leading up to the celebration of Easter. You can read her introduction here; day 1 here; day 2 here; day 3 here; day 4 here; day 5 here.

Lord,
Oh, Lord.
Today we pause to memorialize Your divine dying and, with it, our death-loving selves.

You came to us, Jesus, the God-Man of heaven to preach good news to the poor, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the loosening of bonds to those in chains and the acceptable day of the Lord. And we could not receive You in such a holy manner. We could not have You come in goodness and truth and generous love. It was too much for our death-loving selves, our dying world, our darkness-ridden lives to take You in as You are.

So we marred Your countenance, shamed Your body, in a self-natured attempted to beat heaven out of You and condemn You to a small plot of earth. You were just being Yourself. And we were just being ours.

Today, Abba, we acknowledge that this is not our first action of insisting on evil rather than Your good.

Remember the days of Eden? The blissful walks through the garden, pushing back abundant foliage to keep cantor with Your Divine Self walking along side. But the days ended millennia too soon, as one edible lie was taken and given. At the tree of Good and Evil, we insisted on evil. And we are still unrecovered.

Our fallenness carried us to the patriarchs and prophets; to the days of refusing ears and stoned hearts. You called us to listened to Isaiah and we threw him in a cistern, hating the offer of our salvation. You called Jonah to go to Nineveh, and we along with him, hated the idea of their salvation. We have always insisted on us, ours, mine. We have always insisted on taking, hiding, stealing, refusing. We have always insisted on evil.

And even at Your birth, where heaven crashed with earth in Your little baby body, lying in a feeding trough on some molding hay, we were not waiting, welcoming, worshiping You. We had to be beckoned off the fields, out of our homes, away from our more important tasks to Your manger side. You had to call us from distant lands through our cosmic watching to bring You petty gifts that were already Yours. And that was only a few of us. We are mostly Herod; scheming, deceiving, unbelieving. We hated the idea of Your kingdom unseen, and even more the reality of being part of it. We insisted on Evil.

At Your cross is no acceptation. The trees Your formed, we forced You to carry. We nailed You by Your wrists and feet because Deity must be kept in place. Your goodness illuminated our darkness far too much, and You said Yourself that we love it so. So this cross should be no surprise to You. Because we have always insisted on Evil.

And at this day of Your death, I remember we continue in our ways. Wouldn't it be nice to say that we're different today? That we, too, have been Eastered?

We insist on our leisure at the cost of the poor, on our opulence at the expense of the underpaid. We insist on keeping our world happy and prosperous and comfortable. And, in our grand act of neglectfulness, the children continue to be trafficked, the poor continue to be oppressed, the homeless continue on the streets, the AIDS-wracked mothers continue to die.

So heal us, dying Jesus. Heal us with the holiness we rejected. Light us with Yourself. Insist on our healing, on our redemption, on our Resurrection. Insist this Friday be Good. Because we're an insisting people, and we have yet to insist on You.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , current students , future students , lenten prayers , student blogger

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Or Did We Get it Wrong: A Lenten Prayer | Seminary Student Blogger

March 28, 2013

Amy Gilbaugh

Amy is contributing a series of Lenten prayers leading up to the celebration of Easter. You can read her introduction here; day 1 here; day 2 here; day 3 here; day 4 here.

We have been the giving up ones, this Lenten season.

We give up delicacies or social networks or, for the superiorly spiritual, coffee. We name ourselves and our positions by these elements of our giving. And we give toward You in glad obedience.

Yet, underneath all these layers of isolation, we find that our spirituality retains its fatness. Our prayer life is sluggish and apathetic, and our hearts corpulent.

And we don't understand, because we gave up so much. We have been so obedient.

Or did we get it wrong?

We were not the giving up ones? Were we not the ones of whom obedience is spoken?

Did we get it wrong?
Or did You?

We did not expect that, Suffering One. That Self-giving up act You did. That thing of obedience of which we are the benefactors.

We have not lived into our rightly-named selves of mirrored obedience. No, this identity is what we have, indeed, given up.

So would You purge us of these self-granting ways? Starve from us the ways in which we give to ourselves names from which we have been saved. Reorient us to Your Self-giving Gospel.

Make us lean and thin and quiet.

And grant us the courage to be self-giving back towards You. This time, in reflecting obedience.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , current students , future students , lenten prayers , student blogger

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Wake Us: A Lenten Prayer | Seminary Student Blogger

March 27, 2013

Amy Gilbaugh

Amy is contributing a series of Lenten prayers leading up to the celebration of Easter. You can read her introduction here; day 1 here; day 2 here; day 3 here.

It's 6:04 a.m. The sun is just now up. The sky is just now lit.

But our streets have been busy for hours. Yes, the lights never really wet out.

We pride ourselves here:

We are innovative,

Productive,

Prosperous.

We need not sleep, so long as there is work to be done. Our offices will suffice and satisfy and when the day comes to an end, we'll carry all our worries into our beds like a complex lover, and take a little Ambien to pacify her for the night.

At 6:04 a.m. it'll start again.

But we are a people of heavy eyes.

If You were to ask us to wait for You, we could not.

If You were to request we pray with you, we would not.

If You were to call us away to the Garden alone, we would not understand the nature of Your summons and we would insist on more comfortable turf.

As You requested the cup be taken from You, we didn't both rouse ourselves to the task.

Our spirits are willing. Sometimes.

Our bodies are weak. Decidedly.

Wake us up!

Stir within the cavities of our beings a craving for more than this temporal turf. Rouse us from the sedated land of complacency and alert our hearts to Your beckoning request to join You in Your suffering.

We see now Your betrayers are at hand.

We see now they are us.

Wake us!

You, the startling God.

You, the Suffering God.

You, the Grieving God.

You, the Easter God.

You.

Amen.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , current students , future students , lenten prayers , student blogger

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You and Then Us: A Lenten Prayer | Seminary Student Blogger

March 26, 2013

Amy Gilbaugh

Amy is contributing a series of Lenten prayers leading up to the celebration of Easter. You can read her introduction here; day 1 here; day 2 here.

You came to us, in all Your glory. And we were confused because You were riding a donkey.

You said You would bring us peace. And we were confused because You didn't start a war.

You joined us to Your side in partnership and love. And we were confused that You would ask us to stay awake to pray in the middle of the night.

You said You were a revolutionary. And we were confused when You told us to stop cutting off ears.

You committed no sin. And we were confused when You remained silent to Your accusers.

You assured us all of heaven was Yours. And we were confused why You did not employ those angels.

You said all authority was given You. And we were confused You did not come down as we beckoned.

You promised us You would rise again. And we went back to fishing.

You, and then us.

You in all Your action.

Us in our faulty responses.

We are not a people of clear seeing, Good Master. We need Your Light because we cannot see. We need Your voice because we cannot hear. We need You because we cannot understand.

And so we ask…

In the Name of the Ever-Acting One we pray, even Jesus.

Amen.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , current students , future students , lenten prayers , student blogger

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Always You: A Lenten Prayer | Seminary Student Blogger

March 25, 2013

Amy Gilbaugh

Amy is contributing a series of Lenten prayers leading up to the celebration of Easter. You can read her introduction here; day 1 here.

We think ourselves radical, the way we wait for You.

We give up things, and, well, it's hard. We stir ourselves up to hunger for You by provoking the cravings of our stomachs and tongues. We choose to cause ourselves to want You again. To miss You even as we miss our desserts.

This Lenten season is getting long, You know.

And then, in a shattering moment of radical self-awareness, we realize we are not the radical ones. We look around and see that we all, the whole lot of us, are in the same place… stirring up, provoking, choosing. We cannot all be radical, and we give ourselves away.

And then we notice You.

You in Your stirring way, mixing within our beings the potency only found by combining Your Spirit with Your people.

You in Your provoking way, inching us toward a greater holiness as You lay Your holy body on crossed beams of wood.

You in Your choosing way, selecting us for Yourself and not selecting some, without deference to how uncomfortable it makes us.

Yes, You are the radical One. Even in this Lenten season, where we pride ourselves on piety, we notice it is You again.

You. Always You.

Always You.

This Lenten season is getting long, You know.

Yes. You do.

Come, Lord Jesus. Be Easter among us.

Come.

And Easter us again in You.

Always You.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , current students , future students , lenten prayers , student blogger

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A Prayer for the Lenten Days: A Lenten Prayer | Seminary Student Blogger

March 24, 2013

Amy Gilbaugh

Amy is contributing a series of Lenten prayers leading up to the celebration of Easter. You can read her introduction here.

Brutal is this world we call "home".

And that word cannot be used with ease - brutality marks this mankind race; indeed we left our mark on You.

You in Your forbearance, send Your Beloved Son. You, in Your affection, send us a lamb to slaughter. You, in Your peace-making way, gave us the God-Man to be our brutal selves with.

And we were.

Our treatment of the Son of God comes as no surprise. Rather, what strikes us as peculiar is the seemingly passive way He came. It seems to us strange that He would suffer our brutality with quietness, in silence.

Yes, Your silent way is bizarre to us…

…and sacred.

So as we enter these Lenten days would You join us in Your suffering - at least in ways we are able. We confess we mean to go on a diet and equate it with Your suffering sacrifice. And for this, too, we need newness.

We acknowledge, as it was with Your midnight Son, that "newness" is only an articulation appropriate after the suffering verbs.

So, as we attempt some semblance of suffering, would You help us with the silent nature. Remember well we are brutal. And we know little of pure passivity.

As we look down the long dark channel of the coming days, grant us tears under the reality that there is no newness yet.

No newness yet.

And for that reason, give us the courage to encounter those suffering verbs.

We pray in the name of the Passive Lamb who won our Peace,

Even Jesus.

Amen.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , current students , future students , lenten prayers , student blogger

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Learning from Our Church Fathers: Part 9

March 21, 2013

Donald Fairbairn

This is Part 5 in a series about why evangelicals should care about the early church. If you are just now joining us, you can read Part 1 here; Part 2 here; Part 3 here; Part 4 here; Part 5 here; Part 6 here; Part 7 here; Part 8 here.

Sometime around the beginning of the fifth century, a nun named Egeria from the Latin Christian world took a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. She re-traced the route of the Exodus, visited Mount Sinai, spent three years in Jerusalem, journeyed east to Edessa to see Thomas’s tomb, and then worked her way through Asia Minor to Constantinople. The story of her travels, written in Latin and called Diary of a Pilgrimage in English, contains a wealth of cultural and geographic information and a number of stories interesting to a general reader, stories that vary from the impressive to the extraordinary to the bizarre. I’ll mention one example of each, all taking place in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

It is impressive that the clergy of the church took such great pains to make sure everyone (including pilgrims from all over the Christian world) could understand the services. The Scripture readings and the liturgy were conducted in Greek, but there was a continuous line-by-line translation of everything into Syriac as the services were conducted. There were also various people present who could explain what was happening to Western visitors in Latin, although they did not translate the whole service. Not only is this a great example of cultural and linguistic sensitivity on the part of the clergy, but it is also a reminder to us that early Christianity was not exclusively Greek and Latin. Indeed, in predominantly Greek-speaking Jerusalem, Syriac speakers far outnumbered Latin speakers.

Egeria’s recounting of the instruction given to those preparing for baptism in Jerusalem is extraordinary. In those days, new Christians were baptized on Easter, and they received instruction in the Christian faith during a period of preparation prior to Easter. (Several examples of such “catechetical lectures” given to instruct the candidates for baptism survive.) Egeria tells us that in Jerusalem this instruction included three hours a day of Scripture reading and sermons, for seven weeks leading up to Holy Week just prior to Easter. During those seven weeks, the candidates would hear the entire Bible read to them and explained. All of us who organize new members’ classes in churches today should be ashamed!

The most bizarre thing Egeria describes is a service on Good Friday. A gold-plated casket was brought out containing wood that was allegedly from Christ’s cross and from the inscription above the cross, and people came forward to touch the wood with their foreheads and to kiss it. But this is not the bizarre part—some readers will know that such practices are routine among many groups of Christians, even today. The bizarre part is that Egeria describes deacons as standing near the holy wood, guarding it. She writes, “It is said that someone (I do not know when) took a bite and stole a piece of the wood of the holy cross. Therefore, it is now guarded by the deacons standing around, lest there be anyone who would dare come and do that again.”

To us, it may seem impossible to reconcile the idea of pilgrim-sensitive, trilingual worship services and extensive instruction of new believers with the idea that someone might think he/she had something to gain by running off with a bite of the cross. Christianity in fifth-century Jerusalem must have been quite a contradictory mix of the profound and the superstitious, we think. But how much different is our version of Christianity? Do not the deep and the superficial, the amazing and the kitschy, sit uneasily side-by-side in most expressions of our faith? Maybe seeing the bizarre in an earlier expression of Christianity will give us incentive to look more carefully at our own, asking whether some of our practices are equally bizarre, but our familiarity with them has hidden that fact from us.

Dr. Donald Fairbairn is the Robert E. Cooley Professor of Early Christianity. His responsibilities include further developing the Robert C. Cooley Center for the Study of Early Christianity at the Charlotte campus, which explores the historical foundations of the Christian faith.

 

 

 

Tags: Author: Donald Fairbairn , current students , faculty blogger , future students , thoughtfully evangelical

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One: I'm Not on a Diet | Seminary Student Blogger

March 19, 2013

Amy Gilbaugh

Amy will be contributing a series of Lenten prayers beginning Sunday, March 24. The following is her introduction.

Lent is here. It's a cherished time in my life, to be honest. I've been particularly pensive regarding this holiday season. What does it mean? What purpose does it serve? Why do we do it?

Usually, I just give something up for these 40 days and feel pretty spiritual about it. I give up soda or dessert or eating between meals. If I’m honest, I really just go on a diet and convince myself it's for my Lord. But it's not. It's for me. I feed my pride and starve my stomach; and my flesh has always loved both sensations.

So this year, I'm doing something different. Rather than removing something from my diet or my day, I'm adding something. I've decided for these forty days to take time to ponder the season of Lent. I'm setting aside about an hour each day to think on the suffering Christ, to feel the weight of the nearing of Good Friday, to write prayers and thoughts of these dark days.

And they are dark, are they not? Read the Texts recounting the days leading up to His execution—He's eating with His men, He's talking with crowds, He's healing the sick and forgiving sins. You know, those are not the preoccupations I would chose if I knew I only had a month left to live. I'd withdraw, pull back, over-eat, over-spend, over-indulge. I'd be with the people who made me feel good about myself and those who have always affirmed me.

And He didn't. He just didn't.

So, if you're up for it, I'd like to invite you to join me in this season. To pray along with me the prayers that will come. To feel the weight, to bear the pain … well, to suffer just a little bit. And in doing so to remember the Suffering One.

I don't think this will be simple. I don't think it will be all that easy either. And I know we won't be able to stay the same.

After all, that's the reason word "Easter" was first inscribed.

Hi, friend. I'm Amy. Mostly, I’m just another twenty-something trying to figure out the stuff of life. I am a nerdy seminary student who loves the smell of old books and early mornings in the library. I am an artist wanabee, a liberal to the conservative and conservative to the liberal, guilty social justice groupie, and a recovering Bible know-it-all with the unreal ability to put my foot in my mouth an astonishing number of times each day. I am a sister to eight of the most hysterical creatures ever created. Good theology, used book stores, and autumn make me giddy. I preach passionately, think deeply, and ask too many questions. I write prayers, poetry and prose. I write about preaching bad and good, gender roles in the Church, the sacraments, stupid things we do on Sunday, politics, and almost everything else that you are not supposed to discuss in polite company. I also blog at oneyellowbird.blogspot.com. Welcome to the journey.

Tags: Author: Amy Gilbaugh , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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Love this. Such a humbling and refreshing reminder of this season.
Shelly 9:37AM 03/19/13

On Egyptians, Idiots, and Humility | Seminary Student Blogger

March 12, 2013

Tim Norton

Dear prospective (and current) student,

If I remember correctly, we have an Open House of sorts for prospective students this week. Hi. I’m Tim. What up?! I’d imagine you are sitting there thinking to yourself, “I have pulled up Gordon-Conwell’s blog hoping to find a glimpse of student life. I wonder what deeply profound insights this Tim guy has to offer.” Answer? None. Absolutely none. Let’s just get that out of the way first. I got nothin’ and I’m sorry you’re stuck with me. That said, I have a story for you, one that I think you might find helpful. It’s one of those “don’t do what I did” kinds of stories (and let’s be real, those are some of the best kinds of stories).

The Setting: I saw an email from registration at 3pm on Thursday letting me know that the course schedule was released for the next four semesters. I have OT Interpretation from 2 to 5pm on Thursdays and I found it VERY difficult to remain focused for the next 2 hours because my spreadsheet of possible class schedules was screaming my name. I refuse to comment on how much of my screen was notes for class and how much was the new course schedules. You can’t prove I wasn’t taking notes. Don’t try. ☺ To prove that I wasn’t a complete slacker that class, I offer the following insight from class: “Plunder the Egyptians!” Out of context, this is quite a weird phrase. In context, though, it was and is a profound antidote to one of most subtle ways my pride has hurt my education at Gordon-Conwell.

The Story: You see, I believe a lie about the educational process. I never vocalized the belief ,but it surfaces in my attitudes and convictions. To put it bluntly, my theory is: If you disagree with me, you are obviously an idiot.

Here’s the thing. I’m pretty smart and awfully sure I’m right about 95% of the time. It’s easy for me to assume that “if you would just see it my way, you’d get it” because, after all, I’m right. Don’t you agree? Oh you don’t? Ouch. How sad for you.

I doubt many of you would fail to see the pride oozing from those statements. Sadly, those statements are true of me and they surface in the subtle ways I react to anything I disagree with. When I first came to campus, I saw students passionately discussion pedo- and credo-baptism, women in ministry, Arminian vs. Calvin and I thought to myself “silly seminarians, fights are for heathens” as if I had outgrown my need for discourse. Later, I began to read of divergent views on creation, different hermeneutical lenses, and even picked up some of the conversations from BTI classes and scoffed at the comments offered by professors, authors, and students on these issues. How could they miss the beauty of the Gospel (or Reformed theology, or historical-critical interpretation, etc.)? It’s so clear to me! How could they fail to see it how I saw it? Later still, I remember reading a blog on this very site that offered an opinion on church planting different from mine and I thought to myself, “They just don’t get it! What is wrong with them? I am going to write a rebuttal post immediately and demand they post it.” Just this week I was tempted to throw out an author’s entire thesis because I was mad that he took his application a little too far.

And now we come to the problem with my theory: the vast majority of people who disagree around here are actually much smarter than me, having something to offer, but my pride keeps me from learning from them. Pride is competitive. Pride must win, often violently. My pride feels threatened by anyone who disagrees with me and seeks to destroy their credibility to maintain control. My pride demands I attack opposition rather than meticulously dissect it for jewels. This goes way outside of theological education, of course, but for this post I’m keeping it to that discussion.

Should you come to Gordon-Conwell, dear prospective student, you will find yourself in a similar situation as me and must choose how to react. A very smart person is going to disagree with you. Period. When that moment comes, it’s too easy to write off the argument as silly and fail to ask what can be learned from them. It’s a cop-out to fail to completey engage all sides of their reasoning because one piece fails to prove holistically convincing. Dr. Petter’s advice to plunder the Egyptians is advice to take what you can from those who oppose you (restricted only to the context of academic discourse) and leverage it for your continued growth. She meant to engage in those who disagree with us, learn from them, and use what we learn to propel the Gospel. While her comment was originally aimed at engaging secular approaches to biblical studies, I think this posture of humility is important even among denominational differences. You may be more reformed than John Piper but you can learn from an Arminian professor. You may blatantly disagree with a Harvard professor of miracles and supernatural phenomenon, but there is wisdom in learning what we can from such a professor and resolving to disagree with the rest. You may think it’s unnecessary to have a conversation about these differences, but you are missing out on an opportunity to grow in your understanding of the Gospel and Christian life. I am awful at this and it is because of pride. I am lazy. I cop-out. And, I need to quit.

So, dearest prospective student contemplating Gordon-Conwell, know this: you are very smart and you have great reasons for thinking about things in the manner that you do, but there are very smart people worth learning from who disagree with you. Don’t be like me and write them off because they happen to not fall into your denomination. This is one of the greatest treasures of Gordon-Conwell. You are surrounded by different cultures, different denominations, and different life stories on campus. It goes without saying that the campus is set in a community was vastly different views on life. Have a conversation. You will not be asked to change your beliefs (In fact, you’ll be encouraged to keep them.) But you will absolutely be challenged to fully engage, learn from, and (when necessary) respectfully rebut those who disagree with you. It’s incredible. Get ready.

Tim Norton is a born-and-raised, small-town Southerner with the sweet tea addiction to prove it. He comes to Gordon-Conwell as a Kern Pastor-Scholar and plans to pursue pastoral ministry in the U.S. after graduation. Tim is a big personality with a strange affinity for the color orange. Currently, he attends GENESIS Church, an Acts 29 church plant in Woburn, MA.
 

 

 

Tags: Author: Tim Norton , current students , future students , student blogger

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Meet Our Alumni | Diana Bennett

March 07, 2013

Ever wonder what people do after seminary? After reflecting on her journey through seminary, alumnus Diana Bennett (MATS '96, D.Min. '06) talks about her passion for discipleship and spiritual formation.

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Caught | Seminary Student Blogger

March 05, 2013

Kate Hightower

He knew she was coming. He had been waiting around the city for it.

He could see them, somewhere in the back of His mind’s eye. Dragging her from her bed, knocking down the faceless man who would pick up his clothes and run from the rage of all of the city’s religious leaders and the mob they gathered. She watched him escape in the midst of the chaos with nothing left but the silver he came with. The feigned intimacy of the night before shattered in a moment like the breaking of glass.

She would die for it.

They yelled this as they drug her through the city, screaming obscenities and brandishing the stones of the Holy Law that they knew so well but didn’t quite understand.

He understood, though. He was there when it was written.

They shoved her ahead of them as they went, kicking her body now heavy with waves of terror, shame and despair shooting through her veins. They picked her back up again, their fingers digging into her soft, feminine skin barely clothed from the sin that now marked her. The sin that dehumanized her to no higher than some kind of diseased animal. The stones pounded her, brutal with the hatred of the force that bore them. They laughed as she cried out in agony, her blood staining the stone’s surfaces.

They were getting closer. He could hear them now. Just as He knew, they were bringing her to Him.

“Teacher!” they cried. “This woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?”

It was a test. One He wasn’t blind to. Suddenly, His body grew heavy with the weight of the Mission. They could not imagine an eternity away from Their beloved creation, no matter how twisted with darkness it had become. He bent and drew in the sand before Him. Only His death would save them now... from everything and from themselves all at once.

Breaking His reverie, the mob persisted in their questioning. She watched Him, trembling and bleeding, waiting for His answer.

He stood, frustrated with their lack of understanding. The weight of the balance of the universe crushing His shoulders. It wasn’t just her, the obvious indiscretion. It was all of them. But there was only one truth in the midst of it...

He never wanted to be without them.

“He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

His words carried over the scene, laden with His thoughts and with His purpose. He bent again to the words in the sand he had left.

They dropped her before them. She crouched low and covered her head, the sound of the stones falling aimlessly out of the hands behind her filled her ears, echoing in her chest.

They left her there and dispersed.

He stood and watched her for a moment, remembering well the expanse of the life still trembling in front of Him, and the hopelessness that led her to this point.

“Woman,” he said. “Where are they? Did no one condemn you?”

Her eyes met His and she shook her head. “No one, Lord.”

“I do not condemn you either,” He told her as He offered His hand that would soon be scarred with a nail that would save them all.

Kate Hightower is writing to you in the midst of her Master of Divinity pursuit at Gordon-Conwell—Jacksonville where she is also a Byington Scholar. She is a debilitatingly right-brained, born-in-the-wrong-century, introspective pseudo-nerd with passions that range anywhere from writing, to French cooking to Bob Dylan. These days she resides in Jacksonville with one mental foot in the GCTS Library downtown, and the other is beach-side with her Golden Retriever, Stella… the world's first dog superhero.

 

Tags: Author: Kate Hightower , biblically-grounded , equipping leaders for the church and society , student blogger , thoughtfully evangelical

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A stunning re-telling of a beautiful story. The Holy wisdom and pure compassion of the Savior brought to life.
Mary Shelton 9:10AM 03/06/13

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