What convictions has God planted deep within your heart this semester, this month, this year, or the past decade? Northeastern Seminary student, Jae Newman (MAT) reflects on his journey of discovering, writing, and the role of seminary.
Toward the end of my first semester as graduate assistant for Dr. Elizabeth Gerhardt, professor of theology and social ethics at Northeastern Seminary, she asked me to help her edit the book she was working on. This included things like checking sources, making sure things were cited properly (I almost memorized the Turabian style guide throughout this process), and checking grammar. I had already gotten to know her fairly well having had the privilege of serving at an orphanage in Fushun, China, with a team that included Beth and her daughter. So when she told me that the subject matter of the book centered on issues of gendercide and violence toward women and how the church needs to respond, I was on board. It was a topic that I had wanted to learn more about.
Recently, I took our church’s teens on our annual amusement park trip—a cornerstone event in all of my youth ministries. I have to admit it though, I do not like amusement parks. Now, I do like aspects of the park, but the reason most people are there is what I do not like. Nothing about roller coasters excites me. I do not like rides that offer a slow incline only to drop participants almost straight down with the encouragement to lift hands in the air while screaming. I do not enjoy corkscrew turns, riding upside down, or rides that take a person to the highest heights just to drop them from those heights in a matter of seconds. How was this ever dubbed as amusement?
When I was a young Christian, I was led to believe that “worldly” identity and attachments were sinful and all that mattered was worshipping Jesus Christ “in spirit.” Taken to an extreme, the idea meant to me that cultural aspects of this earthly life were temporary and, therefore, obstacles in the way of our eternal and spiritual identity. Perhaps the most memorable example of this came with the push in our youth group to destroy all of our “secular” music and the expectation we would only listen to Christian music. Perhaps another tacit assumption was that the “strong” believers would limit their participation in “secular” clubs and sports, and would devote more time to church activities (student leader board, church choir, youth group, etc.).
The Native American sits next to the Congolese man to discuss the Pan-African/Swahili group. The Nigerian man greets the Anglo woman while the Myanmar-Burmese man speaks with the African American woman. The Rwandan and Eritean men take their seats and prepare to meet. This is not the opening of a United Nations session. This is the leadership team at my church in Buffalo N.Y. sitting down together to ask the questions that will guide and shape their ministries.
The Cross and Gendercide: A Theological Response to Global Violence Against Women and Girls
I often say as I listen to preaching that I can tell where the theological thrust of focus of the preacher is. We preach what we believe. My core belief, the one thought that I hope and try to convey to persons in every sermon that I preach is this: God’s grace is real and available, without qualification or precondition or any stipulation. It is “good to go.”
I entered into lent this year captivated by the idea of anticipating the resurrection. It has been 10 years since I began to observe Lent. During those years I have fasted from habits and I have fasted from food. I have contemplated dying to self, wrestling with sin, and receiving forgiveness. But this year as I entered Lent I was captivated by the anticipation of the Resurrection.
O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Romans 7:24
In the Deep South, although the first day of spring is still officially a few weeks away, the plants and trees around my neighborhood are beginning to show signs of re-birth. Winter is slipping away. Shoots and blossoms, while mostly dormant at present, will soon burst forth with glorious expression.