Just sent off my essay on Jesus, the early church, and their "prophetic challenge" to today's consumer culture. Whew! Hope I spotted all the typos.
Since the sermon I gave last Sunday morning at Heartland wasn't recorded fully, I thought I'd just put the content from the first part of the sermon here on my blog for people to peruse if they like.
We began a new series Nov 30 called Voices of Advent, where we will be listening to some voices from Scripture who will be helping us hear, prepare for, receive, and celebrate God's promise for a better day. The first voice was the prophet Isaiah's, who proclaims God's promise in the midst of chaos and hardship.
Isaiah prophesied during a troubled time – wicked rulers, endless wars – It was a very dark time in Israel’s history – the “good old days” of David’s reign were a distant memory. Isaiah gives us a picture of Israel like a tree, but it had been cut down to only a stump. It’s a picture of devastation where there was once fruitfulness and beauty.
Isaiah prophesies into this mess. This morning we're going to focus on Isaiah 11, partly because of a dream Deb had this week that seems like a word for us. [Isaiah 11:1-9 is read].
I sent off my aforementioned essay late on October 31st, while Andy was teaching part of the third Presence module. It was good to have it completed. Let me know if you'd like a copy (if you're interested in 5,000-word essays exploring the importance of interpreting Scripture with the ancient church, that is).
So today I embarked on to the second module (of three) of the Master's program, which is called the Theology of the Poor. It explores issues in biblical interpretation that relate to how the gospel relates to "the poor" today. It promises to be an interesting ride! This morning I looked at the way different groups have interpreted Jesus' use of the "kingdom of God" motif, and analyzed the validity of it. It was an interesting exercise, especially in light of my charismatic heritage, the Vineyard roots of my church, and my recent interest in the societal, transformational, and liturgical implications of the gospel. It might prove to be the topic of the next essay (due February 2009).
Despite the hard work involved, I find that I really enjoy theology (probably no surprise to some of you!). But I find I don't enjoy it in some kind of esoteric way, like I just like living in the realm of ideas. What I really love to do is take these important theological ideas and translate them into implications for daily life. I am discovering that I don't study theology because I'm fascinated with the ideas, but because I am passionate about the church living into its true calling to be the people of God in the world. So viva la theology and viva la church! And Happy Monday.
My access to the Internet is pretty scant here, so I doubt I’ll be posting tons on the conference. The first session (last night) was okay. A bit "stuffy" maybe. Someone needs to bring a sense of humor if we’re going to survive the day 😉
I got to meet Jenell Paris last night, which was a treat. She presents this morning, and I am looking forward to it.
On a completely unrelated note, here’s a photo quiz to see if you can tell the difference between Sarah Palin and Tina Fey. I got 9 out of 10 right.
Well I made it to Chicago (in pretty good time). I am sitting in a mall at a Caribou Coffee, trying to get some work done before the first session at 7pm (8pm Eastern).
Have you ever noticed that malls have a certain smell? Why do they all smell like that? It’s a scent that seems to say "BUY SOMETHING! SPEND MONEY!!"
After publishing this post I am going to head over to the conference venue (which is gorgeous). The post below has a live video feed embedded in it, that I think will work once the conference goes live. Try it out!