Northeastern Seminary Blog

Help us, Lord

Posted on Tue, Jun 23, 2015 @ 06:27 PM

originally posted June 19, 2015

I am heartbroken.

This week tragedy happened again. Lives were taken, hatred won, and we were left to make sense of another example of the racial tear in the fabric of our community. As I read through the stories of each of the nine victims of the AME shooting, my heart broke. These were our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents, colleagues, neighbors, pastors and fellow believers. They were members of our community.

Earlier this week I attended a one-day seminar sponsored by Northeastern Seminary entitled Power, Inequity and Reconciliation in the Church, led by Dr. Christena Cleveland, who challenged us to listen… to listen to what is being said by ALL our brothers and sisters. As I have prayed and mourned the recent acts I have also been attempting to listen. At the risk of not articulating perfectly, I ask you to hear my heart as I try to make sense of what I am hearing in this challenging time.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. – Martin Luther King Jr.

We live in a fallen world, a world where hate and racism exist. The recent act in Charleston, South Carolina reminds us once again of our painful history as a divided nation. It is true that many around us love as Christ called us to love and are examples of living in community. But there remains a deep weed in the garden of our lives, an ugly weed that appears far too often. It divides our country around surface topics of personal defense and justification, and we slide into the posture of defending our position instead of listening to each other. I am guilty of this pattern even while trying to make sense of the senseless. Log into any social media today and you will hear debates brewing around our interpretation of what just happened in Charleston.

Injustice happened. Lives were taken. A community was impacted. A church was targeted. A people of a specific race were attacked. Wrong happened and we are left reminded we have not yet learned to live out our calling of loving our neighbor as ourselves. Dr. Cleveland also pointed us to Philippians 2 as a model for how we are encouraged to live within community.

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.  Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus (Phil. 2:1-5, NRSV).

Read full article at President Porterfield's blog site https://www.roberts.edu/life-at-roberts/.

Dr. Deana Porterfield is president of Northeastern Seminary and Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester. NY.

Tags: listening, community, church's response to violence, compassion

The Gospel and the Kingdom: Esau McCaulley’s Talk for the Rochester Preaching Conference

Posted on Tue, May 19, 2015 @ 08:00 AM


My talk for Rochester Consortium of Theological Schools Preaching Conference on May 21, 2015 is titled: “The Gospel and the Kingdom: Preaching the Law, Faith, and the Messiah Jesus in Galatians 3:10–14.”

Galatians 3:10–14
10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law; for “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” 12 But the law does not rest on faith; on the contrary, “Whoever does the works of the law will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (NRSV)

cross_on_scriptureThe Approach of My Talk
These verses have often been read as a treatise on how an individual can obtain salvation, given that fact that all people sin and that the Law requires absolute perfection. In my talk at the preaching conference, I will argue that we can understand Paul’s argument better by a careful reading of Galatians 3:10–14 and by paying attention to the story of Israel that drove Paul’s understanding of the life, death, and resurrection of the Messiah.

I have four primary goals for this session:


1. Homiletical Fruit
First, I hope to demonstrate that a close reading of Pauline texts can provide fresh avenues for preaching. Exegesis bears homiletical fruit!

2. Focus on the Community of Faith
Second, I will suggest that Galatians 3:10–14 is not primarily about how a wicked individual can stand before a just God. Instead, Paul focuses on God’s vision for the climax of Israel’s story, namely, the post-exilic creation of the people of God—Jew and Gentile—through faith in the Messiah Jesus, apart from Torah. Thus, at the heart of Paul’s gospel stands a vision for a multi-ethnic kingdom under the reign of the crucified king. The people of this kingdom are identified by faith, and their lives show a foretaste of the kingdom through Spirit-empowered mutual love.

3. Paul’s Use of Old Testament Scripture
Third, I intend to analyze how Paul uses scripture to substantiate his claim. I will show that examining the contexts of Paul’s Old Testament citations (Deuteronomy 27:26; Habakkuk 2:4; Leviticus 18:5; and Deuteronomy 21:23) provides a richer understanding of his argument.

4. The Connection between Conversion and Justice
Finally, I hope to reveal how this faithful interpretation of Paul’s message allows our preaching to make organic connections between conversion, deep involvement in a community of believers, racial reconciliation, and the church’s public witness against injustice.

I look forward to our mutual engagement around these issues at the conference.

You can register for the 2015 Rochester preaching conference here.

Esau McCaulley is completing his doctoral work at the University of St. Andrews and will be joining the Northeastern Seminary faculty part time for 2015-16.

Tags: biblical exegesis, preaching conference

Herod as Pharaoh?

Posted on Mon, May 11, 2015 @ 01:28 PM

J_Richard_MiddletonOn Thursday, May 21, I’ll be speaking at a conference called “From Interpretation to Preaching.”

My presentation addresses Matthew’s use of Old Testament quotations/ citations in the infancy narratives (Matthew 1-2). There are four, five, or six citations, depending how you count them.

In chapter 1 Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14 (the Immanuel prophecy), while chapter 2 contains quotes from Micah 5:2 (with an addition from 2 Samuel 5:2), Hosea 11:1, and Jeremiah 31:15 (plus a closing citation of “the prophets,” but there is no agreement what the OT reference is).

What Is Matthew Doing with the Old Testament?

As an Old Testament scholar, I’m interested in what Matthew is doing with these texts. Are they functioning simply as “proof texts,” or is there some exegetical strategy to their use?

Another, more theological, question is whether the infancy narratives in Matthew are simply a set of “feel-good” stories for the Christmas season; or do they have some intrinsic connection to the thrust of his Gospel? And if so, what might that be?

The title of my talk is “Herod as Pharaoh.”

Herod, Pharaoh, and Nebuchadnezzar

The connection to Pharaoh comes from Matthew’s use of Hosea 11:1 (which focuses on the exodus from Egypt). But I could just as easily have called the talk “Herod as Nebuchadnezzar” in connection with his use of Jeremiah 31:15 (which addresses the Babylonian exile).

Herod and David

There is also a link to David (as the shepherd of Israel) from the bit of 2 Samuel 5:2 that Matthew includes in the Micah 5 quote. But this is not an idealized David; the context indicates this is a David who is remarkably like Herod (and Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar).

The connection becomes clear from investigating each of the OT quotes in context. Not only do all the quotes address the crisis of ancient Israel in various sociopolitical contexts, but the context of the three prophetic quotes in Matthew 2 revolve around God bringing Israel back from exile and binding up their wounds.

Jesus as an Alternative “Son of David”

Matthew 1-2 is setting up Jesus, “the Messiah, the son of David” (Matthew 1:1) as a different kind of leader for Israel after their time of extended exile. Unlike Herod, and even David (both of whom have certain affinities to Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar), this Messiah doesn’t slaughter or oppress helpless Israelites, but rather tends them as a true shepherd (and ultimately suffers with them).

Matthew’s infancy narratives thus constitute a significant challenge to the leadership of first-century Israel.

So the subtitle of my talk is: “Matthew’s Subversive Use of Old Testament Quotations in the Infancy Narratives.”

Implications for Preaching

The introduction of Jesus in Matthew 1-2 has significant implications for us today, including for preaching that aims to get beyond pious platitudes. Indeed, Matthew’s vision of Jesus, the true “son of David,” generates a serious ethical challenge for the nature of leadership in the church and the wider society.

Esau McCaulley on Paul and the Law in GalatiansEsau_McCaulley

After my presentation, we will be hearing from Rev. Esau McCaulley (PhD candidate in New Testament at the University of St. Andrews), who will be joining the faculty of Northeastern Seminary in July 2015.

His talk is entitled “Preaching Paul and the Law in Galatians”; this is how he describes his focus:

“Everyone who preaches from Paul’s letters must eventually talk about the Law. This session will show how recovering the narrative of Israel’s history that informed Paul’s understanding of the Law can bring nuance and vigor to our preaching about the relationship between faith, Law, and the reign of the Messiah.”

Second Annual Rochester Consortium of Theological Schools Preaching Conference

Rev. McCaulley and I will be giving our presentations at the second annual preaching conference sponsored by the Rochester Consortium of Theological Schools.

The three Schools are Northeastern Seminary (where I currently teach), Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School (where I used to teach), and St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry (where my church used to meet, until just recently). So I’ve got a connection to all three institutions.

Last year’s conference was held at Northeastern Seminary and the speaker was the president of Colgate Rochester, Dr. Marvin McMickle. In 2016 the conference will be held at Colgate Rochester and the speaker(s) will be come from St. Bernard’s.

This year’s preaching conference will take place at St. Bernard’s, with a focus on the value of serious biblical exegesis for good preaching (hence the title: “From Interpretation to Preaching”).

So this conference is not meant to be an introduction to preaching; rather, it is for those who want to dig deeper into Scripture, in order to reinvigorate their preaching.

You can register for the 2015 Rochester preaching conference here.

 

By J. Richard Middleton, professor of biblical worldview and exegesis.

 

Tags: preaching conference

To Thrive In A Foreign Land: The Faithful Service of Northeastern Seminary Students and Alumni

Posted on Tue, Apr 14, 2015 @ 10:37 AM

bare_feet_imageSadly, refugees are often a misunderstood people notes Rev. Bob Tice (D.Min., ‘12) senior pastor at River Rock Church. “At worst, many think of them as rejects and outcasts, poor, and a strain on America; and some a bit better think of them as just strange.” What is more alarming is that many people do not understand the unique needs of refugees.

“Imagine you fled your home country with your family, and now lived thousands of miles from anyone you know. You have very few possessions to speak of, little money, and you do not speak the country’s language.” Marie Moy (MATSJ ‘15), a home visitor at Jericho Community Health Center, prompts reflection. “Refugees need help navigating American systems of banking, schools, housing, and medical care.” They often find what seems normal to Americans to be peculiar and overwhelming.

In response to the unique needs, Tice and Moy, among other Northeastern students and alumni, are actively engaging in focused ministry in neighboring cities: Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo. Rooted in biblical principles, refugee-conscious ministries give refugees a solid foundation to build on and the opportunity to thrive in a foreign land.

Patricia Welch (M.Div. ‘09), while pastor of New Hope Free Methodist Church in Rochester, N.Y., oversaw the resettlement of 34 African refugees who were finishing their six-month government-sponsored resettlement program with the Catholic Family Center, also in Rochester. She helped renew benefits with the U.S. Department of Human Services noting that at the sixth-month mark many refugees are at risk of losing their services if the proper paperwork is incomplete. In this ministry, Welch helped refugees open bank accounts, obtain needed household items, liaise with landlords, get to medical appointments, and receive job coaching. Welch also helped develop an English-as-a-second-language program which trained consultants and provided individual tutoring at refugees’ homes for a full year. Her next venture includes setting up an immigration and legal aid clinic to provide additional needed services.

In some ways similar to Welch, Moy supports refugees’ basic needs in the area of healthcare at the Jericho Community Health Center who partners with churches like the Renovation Church in Buffalo, N.Y. where Moy attends. Volunteers serve as English tutors, mentors for pregnant women and single mothers, drivers to take people to medical appointments, homework tutors for middle schoolers, and/or childcare providers for parents attending educational classes. Moy serves as a home visitor through the Parent Child Home Program, providing educational toys and books and preparing pre-school age children for school twice a week. The church’s ministerial efforts of reaching out to those in need are making a noticeable difference. Moy explains, “Low-income children statistically have about a 55% high school graduation rate—with rates being lower in Buffalo. After participation in the program for one year the graduation rate increases to about 63%, and after two years the rate goes up to 84%, which is on par with middle-income families.”

But graduation rates are not the only concern for children. Refugee children require particular attention in the transition process. In Michael Brown’s (MATSJ, C32) field education experience through Northeastern he worked as a co-leader with Hopeprint Summer Kids Camp in Syracuse, N.Y. The camp addressed many basic needs for refugee and non-refugee children with opportunities to engage in English language programs, formal and informal mentoring, tutoring, teen programs, children’s programming, and more. “While we are engaged in many immediate needs,” Brown further clarified, “we are always aware of the broader needs of individuals, families, and communities to develop to their fullest. We are always thinking about two-way mentorships, about leadership development, and about issues of community development.”

By far, a supportive and loving community is one of the most important aspects when working with refugees. The needs of these children and adults transcend the necessity of food, clothing, shelter and work. Refugees need the unconditional support of volunteers, the community, and especially the church.

The Boaz Project at Dongwon Kim’s (MATSJ C32) church, the Korean Church of Syracuse, provides computer services to refugees, teaching people basic skills about operating systems and how to use office programs. “It is a tool for spreading the Gospel [and] we hope the skills help their life,” Dongwon explained. As people serve one another through the Boaz Project, invisible barriers between refugees and non-refugees are broken down and in its place noticeably stronger relationships are built.

At River Rock Church Tice aids in cultivating such a community by encouraging a culturally fruitful environment for people to commune and worship as a single body in Christ. He explains that at “River Rock Church itself we hope we are developing an authentic multicultural church where every culture and race and group has a voice and the opportunity to be empowered in ministry according to their gifts, including the leadership of the church across all its diversity.”

Likewise, Bishop William Turner (MAT ‘01) creates a welcoming multicultural experience at the churches where he serves. Bishop Turner founded the Living Word Temple Restoration Ministries and oversees three sister churches. Whereas some of the members, such as the Bhutanese population, were persecuted for their beliefs in their native country, at church they are able to worship God freely and cultivate a love for Christ.

Showing the love of Christ by spreading the Gospel, reaching out to the refugees, and pouring into their lives is a ministry that is making a noticeable impact in communities across New York State. These ministries, the passion of Northeastern Seminary students and graduates alike, allow refugees to thrive and transition from the foreign to the familiar as God’s love is manifested through the hands and feet of His willing servants.

The content of this article was prepared by Ashley Henry, a Roberts Wesleyan College student and a communication intern at Northeastern Seminary for spring 2015.

About Northeastern

Since opening its doors in 1998, Northeastern Seminary on the campus of Roberts Wesleyan College has continued to grow in prominence as a significant resource for the church community in upstate New York. Northeastern Seminary is a multi-denominational graduate school of theology offering five academically and professionally accredited degrees: Master of Divinity, Master of Arts of Theological Studies, Master of Arts in Theology and Social Justice, Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership, and Doctor of Ministry. The student body is comprised of more than 30 different Christian faith traditions represented among 170 students and over 350 graduates ministering around the nation and world.  For more information visit www.nes.edu or call 585.594.6800.

Tags: community, ministry, compassion

Hosanna: A Shout of Praise or Cry for Deliverance? ..

Posted on Sat, Apr 04, 2015 @ 10:00 AM

cross_on_scripture“Hosanna!” from two Hebrew words literally meaning, “Save us,” and “cry/pray/beseech.”

“Deliver us, we pray” – “We beseech you, save us!”

On its own, the word is a cry for deliverance. A shout of “hosanna” would not recall occasions of celebration, but of desperation. It would have been a cry born out of great need for a rescuer to come swiftly.

Most of us know “hosanna” only as a word of praise, usually employed to a great extent during worship services on Palm Sunday. Psalm 118 reveals the context which turns a shout of “hosanna” into a shout of rejoicing and adoration:

“This is the day of the Lord’s victory; let us be happy, let us celebrate! Save us, LORD, save us! Give us success, O LORD! May God bless the one who comes in the name of the LORD! From the Temple of the LORD we bless you. The LORD is God; he has been good to us. With branches in your hands, start the festival and march around the altar. You are my God, and I give you thanks; I will proclaim your greatness. Give thanks to the LORD, because he is good, and his love is eternal.” – Psalm 118:24-29 (GNT, emphasis added)

It was this Psalm that the crowds were remembering aloud in their shouts of “hosanna” as Jesus rode toward Jerusalem on a donkey. That moment we remember on Palm Sunday prompts me to consider the crowds and what my own cries would have been had I been among them. With loud cries of “hosanna” they proclaimed the mighty rescuing power of the one they were welcoming into their midst and yet revealed their own desperate need to be saved as they would shout for his death days later.

“Hosanna!” “Save us, Lord!” is both the recognition of our need for deliverance and a shout of expectation, hope and praise to the God who saves.

Caleb Matthews ( M.Div. ‘12) serves as director of admissions for Northeastern Seminary.

Tags: Lent, reflection

All the Resources You Need To Take Action Against Modern-day Slavery—You and Your Sphere Of Influence

Posted on Wed, Apr 01, 2015 @ 03:48 PM

NES_conf2_1Unless you are the type of person who is naturally drawn to politics, the world of policy advocacy can seem like an alternate universe. I think this is the case, at least in part, because we view the political world through a television or computer screen. We see this work as something that someone else does, people with more power, skills, or money than we have. We live in a representative democracy. We have folk knowledge about what it means to live in a democracy, but may feel incapable of exacting change because we feel removed and helpless. We are told to vote, that our voice matters. I have wondered if this was true on more than one occasion! We elect representatives that go from a robocall to a ballot box to a screen and from there, where? It is easy to think our voice no longer matters once the person we voted for appears (or does not appear) on my screen. The next layer of frustration can occur when we see our representatives failing to act on social evils and issues important to us, like modern-day human slavery.

Pundits, commentators, and comedians can make their living on our fear, frustration, and disconnection to the political arena. Worse yet, our fear can lead us to acts of dehumanizing each other as well as our elected officials over this disconnection. We treat these women and men as if they were not also made in the image of God and in need of our love and prayers. After all, they become unreal, occupying a screen and not a real place in our everyday world. The discussion of identity and responsibility in 1 Peter 2 would be a good place to start for further reading and contemplation.

The greatest reason to overcome these internal and external barriers is for the sake of the suffering and to be a part of the work of the Christ who suffered. In a representative democracy and in the kingdom of God, our work is not done once we “vote” for Jesus or the right candidate. The Holy Spirit is at work and the kingdom of God is both now and not yet! The prayer of Jesus in John 17 makes it clear that his disciples were not going to be removed from this world and that this was not ever his intention. In Jesus Christ, we have the greatest intercessor and abolitionist for our freedom! It is our privilege and function to model our lives after the life of Christ.

Organizations like International Justice Mission and Shared Hope International will help you and your sphere of influence intercede and advocate for those who are enslaved. Take the time to explore their resources and allow them to help you and your sphere act for those who need your voice.

Prepared by Amy Smith (MATSJ ’15) and Marie Moy (MATSJ ’15) presenters at the 2015 B.T. Roberts Symposium on the Church, Justice, and the Community.

Find out more about the Master of Arts in Theology and Social Justice at Northeastern Seminary.

Tags: reflection, community, Modern-day Slavery

Hope is Alive Through Christlikeness

Posted on Tue, Dec 23, 2014 @ 10:00 AM

For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given and the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

The bells are ringing; the carolEd_Jenkins_advent_reflections associated with Advent are being played on the radio, in homes, and in places of entertainment as well as in department stores. The lights and decorations are already in place. By now most have completed their traditional Christmas shopping.

Many centuries ago, before the first Advent of Christ, it seemed like there were expectations which were evident as the world then looked forward to something new, something exciting, something supernatural which would make for a better future in the world.

Today we long for a time of peace, brotherhood, and mutual respect for one another. There is the lack of respect for human life. The sanctity of life is no longer an ideal to appreciate, embrace or safeguard for some. There are those who engage in barbaric and inhumane beheadings of other human beings for all to see, with no feelings of remorse or accountability for those lives taken. There are mass executions of sometimes innocent human beings, bombings, explosions, etc., which continue to shake the very foundations, existence and future of not only those labeled as terrorists, but also those who endeavor to escape from these areas being bombarded.

The earth it seems is full of violence, not unlike the days of Noah (Genesis 6). In this country we have heard or seen in sometimes graphic videos people being killed before our very eyes. The murder of 20 innocent children and six educators in Newtown Connecticut is still fresh in our minds and is a stark reminder of the need to eradicate from the possessions of private citizens, the kinds of assault weapons used by the perpetrators of such tragedies.

Despite these travails and tribulations, there is, like the time preceding the first Advent, a certain air of expectancy: the atmosphere is pregnant with hope and heaven is about to deliver the blessing that good news is here upon us again. The sounds and feelings of joy are evident that yes, once again we are in the Advent Season and the celebration of the birth of Christ at is imminent.

May this Christmas be one of immense joy, peace, kindness, and goodwill to us all, and may the Christ of Christmas rule and reign in all our hearts. Let us demonstrate Christlikeness in all aspects of our lives and put Christ in Christmas, so fulfilling the real Reason for the Season.

God bless you during this Season. Have a happy, holy, Christ-centered Christmas, a happy Kwanzaa, and a prosperous, peaceful, progressive, and positively blessed 2015.

 

Edward L. Jenkins, Sr. (M.Div. ‘12) is pastor at Ebenezer Wesleyan Methodist Church in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Tags: advent

Sabbath-Keeping: Practicing Openness

Posted on Sun, Dec 21, 2014 @ 01:42 PM

“You don’t have to try so hard. You don’t have to bend until you break.” I hear these words through my car radio and they fill my soul. Colbie Caillat’s song “Try” is not a theological treatise by any means, but it sure is insightful!

Trying describes today’s teens. As I work in a youth group setting I see first-hand how they try. They are trying to: get good grades, earn money, make friends, beat records, get scholarships, help their family, get a car, and even to escape pain. They’re busy. They’re following the adult model. We all want the best. We all want to be the best. We will pay great prices to get and be the best.

The word “Sabbath” is foreign to us. Teens may or may not attend church, but they are likely to do homework Sunday afternoon or evening. Many will even work a paid job on the day that would ordinarily have been set aside to rest. When I wanted a job as a high school senior, I felt that my only option was to make myself available every day of the week. Our culture has lost what it is to pray and play together once a week. Our week is consumed by our busyness. We do not know Sabbath.

Sabbath is a time of intentionally pausing from work and turning toward intimacy with God and neighbor. It is a time instead to rely on God as provider. Remember how the Israelites—wandering in the desert—could not gather manna on Sabbath? It is also a time of healing. Jesus healed on Sabbath.Sabbath_Keeping_Sarah_Grice-1

Sabbath is for stopping work, loving God and others, and for being healed.

People are hurting for Sabbath. I am hurting for Sabbath. I am only practicing the best I can. As I practice, my ability to slow down and focus on God grows. As I practice, I seek to share this Sabbath practice with others. I need rest. I see that the teens I work with need rest. The adults in these teen’s lives, need rest. We NEED to let the divine healer spend time with us.

We NEED to learn to play and pray together. I need that! Can we be angry when we’re sharing milk and cookies; probably not? In a recent lecture, Dr. Matthew Sleeth speculated that it is impossible to break the 10 Commandments while one is napping. And in her book, “Keeping the Sabbath Wholly,” Marva Dawn made a connection between Sabbath keeping and peacekeeping. She believes that Sabbath keeping teaches us to grow in compassion and understanding with one another. Sabbath keeping in community causes us to play and pray together.

Sabbath has become a deliberate choice. It is a choice that we need to make together once more. I pray that God will honor us as we begin to honor the Sabbath once more.

Sarah Grice, M.Div. ’15, is in her final year at Northeastern Seminary, concentrating on spiritual formation.

Tags: interacting with God, reflection, ministry, sabbath-keeping

An Advent Meditation

Posted on Fri, Dec 19, 2014 @ 10:00 AM

An Advent Meditation

By Thomas Worth, 2014

 An_Advent_Meditation_Thomas_Worth

Our dog can sense a visitor a long way off.

He begins to growl and mutter in low tones.

During this Advent season I wait and look and long.

Do I sense a rumble in the distance?

I suppose I growl and mutter in my own way…

 

He, for whom the poets sang,

He, to whom the psalmists prayed,

He, about whom the wise pondered,

He, for whom the Exiles longed—

Draws near with a weight of glory.

He, for whom and by whom all things were made—is coming!

 

I sense the coming of him who defies description

Whose coming is so weighty it almost makes the earth tremble.

Creation seems to utter a subliminal groan

Longing for all the prophets foretold.

 

Will heaven and earth lose its moorings and flee away when he comes?

Or will the trees of the field clap their hands?

I get a sense in Advent of an approaching Immensity,

Something so huge and hard to comprehend—

And then, we hear the soft cries of a baby in a manger…

Tags: advent

Advent Reflection: Holy Intervention

Posted on Tue, Dec 16, 2014 @ 10:00 AM

Advent_Reflection_Holy_Intervention_Northeastern_Seminary_blogThe Bible is full of powerful statements about God's intervention in our lives: God watches over us, God goes before us, and if God is for us who can be against us.

God watching over us talks about God's protection and care for his children. Just as earthly parents make sure their children are taken care of with their needs provided and out of harm’s way, God makes sure that our needs are met and our ways are safe.

God goes before us shows us the Creator guiding our steps and providing direction to our lives. We don't have to worry about having a purpose because God is our guide. We would go through difficulties and obstacles, yet we can rest assured that we would cross to the other side of the valley because the designer of the path is leading us.

God is for us talks about him being our defender, our secure place. The Powerful of Heaven stands in defense of our souls against the attacks of our enemy and we can stand assured that no weapon against us could destroy our soul because the Lord of Hosts is for us, on our side.

Nonetheless, there is one statement that I believe is even more powerful than these.

The prophet Isaiah spoke about Jesus in this way: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

Immanuel. What a beautiful name! Now God would not only be watching over us, walking in front of us, and protecting us. Now God was coming to be with us, to be our companion—leaving a place in glory to be humbled—to be able to relate to you and me in our humanity.

We would not have to be alone any more. The God of the universe would walk by our side every day. God would be right there when we are excited, sad, hurt, and even angry. God would be the shoulder to cry upon, the chest to rest upon. God would be with us in a personal way as never before.

In fact, He is with us today! He is Immanuel.

 

Joanne_Green-ColonA year ago on December 16, 2013, we bid farewell to Joanne Green-Colon, a most faithful follower of Jesus. She will always remain known as a remarkable, talented, energetic, and creative woman who touched many lives in the Rochester community and elsewhere for Jesus.

This reflection, written on November 22, 2013 is published today in honor of Joanne with the permission of her family.

Joanne Green-Colon, M.Div. ’05 was pastor of Heart & Soul Community Church, Rochester, N.Y., and taught Church History and Children’s Ministry in the Certificate in Ministry Program at Northeastern Seminary.

Tags: advent