NORTHEASTERN
SEMINARY BLOG

Welcome to Wonder

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Every Advent season, I carefully reflect on the nature of God’s coming among us. It’s a time of remembering, of reviewing the surprising ways that God has broken into our world and into our individual lives. Advent is about God getting involved against all human odds.      

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Emmanuel ... Again

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And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectations of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.  Luke 21:25-28.

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For Righteousness in Our Neighborhoods

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People and organizations seem to be particularly generous this time of year. Donations of coats, toys, and food roll in intended to spread holiday cheer. People seem to think that the plight of the poor is the lack of resources when the reality of the matter is that joy and contentment have little to do with material possessions or the lack thereof. While most recipients are grateful for the seasonal relief, the rest of the year they are left to make ends meet on much less. Once the new year rolls around, the merriment of the season is replaced with the reality that little is changed by a few gifts or a free turkey. No one wants to rely on handouts. What people really need are jobs that pay decent wages, affordable childcare, and the opportunity to give their families a happy, healthy life. More than a few trifles that will be forgotten after a few days, what is truly needed is change in our economic, educational, and legal systems that remove barriers to living flourishing lives.

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God’s Expressions of Hope

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During this time of the year, humanity is reminded of the masterful artistry of God as we observe the variety of distinct colors displayed within the fall foliage. Each year, as senior pastor and pastor of Higher Heights Fellowship in the heart of the city, my wife and I enjoy seeing the masterful artistry of God being displayed specifically throughout the congregation and the community.

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Prayerful Reading

ASR_Icons.jpgI arrived Friday night. It was the perfect opportunity to relax, meet the retreat presenter, and mingle with seminary friends. Between the fellowship and worship time together the tone was set for the rich sense of community that permeated our retreat.

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Surrendering My Brokenness at the Table

Two icons were projected on the wall. The first depicted the Father, Son and Holy Spirit sitting at a table. When asked where I was in the icon as the viewer I discovered I was sitting at the edge of the table in the foreground—not only welcome at the table with the Trinity, but already sitting there. The second icon was “The Harrowing of Hell.” It showed Jesus Christ after he was crucified and descended into hell. I was told that “harrowing” was taking a long tool and plunging it into the soil to bring the nutrients to the top, a powerful metaphor for Jesus’ message to the lost souls: “this is not what you were made to be, come with me.”

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God’s Transformative Gift

I cannot tell you exactly what happened within me during the spiritual retreat at Northeastern Seminary, but it did. More proof, I suppose, that transformation comes as a pure gift. Sometimes it comes at unsuspecting moments, sometimes after years of waiting and hoping. Perhaps it was the silent space made available for honest admission to God; an invitation to realize, in blunt honesty, my buried desires. Perhaps it was the community which, once again, welcomed me back with open arms. Maybe it was the content of the retreat itself given by a presenter whom I admire. I suspect each of these were facilitative, preparing a space within me to receive the gift of God for which I have been postured. While it is true I no longer live local, this occasion was worth the nearly five-hour long journey. It felt akin to pilgrimage. Indeed, I was a pilgrim in a mobile prayer-space hoping if I showed up, God would, too.

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Being Military Friendly is Just the Order of the Day

This article military-chaplain-prayer-178747-edited.jpgwas originally published in the November 2013 issue of Northeastern Seminary’s ResOund Newsletter.

It is affirming to be named to the list of the 2013 Military Friendly Schools®, a list that honors the top 15 percent of colleges and universities in the country that “deliver the best experience for military students.” It is great to be recognized for “leading practices in recruitment and retention of students with military experience” and for “programs and policies for student support on campus, academic accreditation, credit policies, flexibility, and other services to those who served.” But we have to admit it. We have not singled out military students and provided them with special services. This is just how we treat all our students.

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A Glitch in God’s Intentions?

It was three years ago that my sister delivered her first child. The birth produced many tears, dreams for the future, and much excitement as the family came together to provide this child an atmosphere through which he would be able to learn, grow, and develop into his own person. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years as we patiently watched him learn how to crawl, walk, and graduate to baby food. Books were read, games were played, and inaudible responses of love and thankfulness were received with joy. It wasn’t until recently that we realized that he wasn’t speaking real words. At three years he was still making noises and crying in order to communicate his needs.

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Vulnerability Re-Imagined

The truth is, we are all deeply vulnerable down to the core of our beings. We may be strong, yet not as strong as someone else. We may be intelligent, but awkward with our hands. We may be lonely, anxious, over weight, or not as good looking as some others. We must all come to a place of acknowledging our vulnerability, and the awkwardness we feel in the presence of others and of God. But the challenge of ubiquitous human vulnerability can be turned to hope for the future of our society if we as Christians are willing to live into this particular truth of our shared humanity. Our very differences and imperfections have potential to bind us together, through hospitality, in God’s kingdom as agents of God’s loving grace.

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