Northwestern Is Trashy!

The photo above is DISGUSTING!  It is not disgusting to me because of the trash.  It is disgusting because there is so much in that can that is not trash!  I can not believe the amount of recyclable material that gets trashed on Northwestern’s campus. As I look around campus I wonder where all of the recycling bins are!?!  Maybe you need a secret password to use them or maybe they are invisible…because I can’t imagine that a university this size would not have the resources to maintain nice looking recycling receptacles around campus if they really cared.
To be fair there is recycling available on campus, but Northwestern needs to do two things:
1.•Put outdoor recycling for cans and bottles along Sheridan Road and other main arteries of campus
2.•Initiate recycling and environmental education programs around Northwestern and the greater Evanston community.

As an on-campus faith community, I believe that Garrett-Evangelical could be a part of the solution.  Just about every night I have been walking my 10,000 steps and along the way I find myself picking up trash off of the ground.  As we care for our bodies and walk around campus, why not pick up trash and grab recyclables that are right on top of the trash can to keep our environment in shape, as well?!?

The Dean’s Challenge

Tonight during worship Dean Lightsey made a challenge to us that we keep our bodies as healthy as our minds and our spirits while in seminary.  Firstly, she walks every morning at 5:30 a.m. and invited all of us to join her.  No way that will happen, but she (G-ETS) purchased pedometers for all of the students and she has further challenged us to at least 10,000 steps per day.

As I finish the night and head off to bed, I have only gotten 2,706 steps completed… but we only got the pedometer at 6:30 p.m. tonight and then I had class all evening….  There I go making excuses for exercise already!  I am going to get serious about this.  I will try to remember to tell you all how I’m doing with this!

Going To Church
Well this was my second week to worship with First United Methodist Church in Evanston.  The young adults were invited to a cookout that evening at the pastor’s house.  I got a ride and really enjoyed myself.  It was a great way to get to know others my age in the church and there were about 21 people who showed.  I thought that was pretty good.
The church is about half the size of Green Bay, but otherwise very similar in size, atmosphere, etc.  I asked about volunteering in the Sunday School and I’ve been told that there is a six month waiting period before new people are allowed to work with youth.  That’s cool, but I just want to get involved in the church and I really miss being around youth all of the time.  I can’t believe how much I miss it, in fact.  After six years of youth ministry I realize how much the youth have had an impact on me.  You all have kept me young and, from time-to-time you’ve even inspired me!  😮

In the mean time, I think I will continue meeting with this young adult group.  It was a lot of fun and I really enjoy all of the people I met.

Construction, Ugh!!!

Northwestern is doing work nearby and I don’t know how long it will go on.  I don’t know what they are building or fixing, but it involves cranes, trucks, concrete, jackhammers…   I am so sick of construction.  I hate the noise of jackhammers wake me up in the morning and the dust that is everywhere!  Construction can be a real pain in my backside.
The University seems to have a problem. Apparently Evanston won’t allow them to buy more property than they already have or something (the city and the University don’t really get along).  I think our faith works like that sometimes.  The people of God are constantly under construction.  New people come into the faith, new churches spring up and, at times we must tear down in order to build anew.
Sometimes as evangelists (yes, even a liberal gets to use that word) we must make some noise (and DUST) if we are to truly grow the faith.  I’m tired of sitting patiently in a pew waiting for our church to start construction.  I’m tired of ‘waiting’ until it is my turn to make a difference.  We must connect the social gospels with the holy spirit.  We must become a church of deep commitment both to God and also to all people around us.

We may have to sacrifice in order to do this.  We may have to raise a ruckus, but I believe lives will change and it will bring a pleasing scent to God’s nose.

Lamenting A Loss…

So I’m watching “The Focus Group” the third episode of “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”.  I am lamenting the loss of this amazing show.  It is appalling that such a witty, smart, deep and competent show would get cut midseason (last February).  There are many shows that did not do well during their first season…take seinfeld, for example, but that was before reality tv.  Networks want instant gratification.  They are willing to put large quantities of junk on the air…shows that aren’t quality and won’t last, just for quick ratings.
Maybe Studio 60 was ‘too smart’ for America…but then again, perhaps the network needed to give show with intelligent content some time to catch on.  The problem seems to be the network executives who were incapable of giving America the benefit of the doubt.  Hello, we do have brains!  After great success with West Wing, the network owed Aaron Sorkin the benefit of the doubt.  I am tired of television that does not challenge me intellectually.  I am tired of television that is ‘safe’.  I am tired of reality-garbage that drains my brain rather than the smart and witty scripting from shows like West Wing and Studio 60.  NBC needs to grow a pair and bring back this show.

The early episodes of Studio 60 spoke deeply about cultural issues of America, but, even more importantly, this show poked fun at hollywood and network executives and – well – the whole TV industry.  I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that it got cut. Okay, I’m done with this tirade, but don’t be too angry with me.  Lamenting is Biblical.  We are allowed to be angry and express it.  In this case I am cursing a network, but from time-to-time we all feel a need to lament our situation to our God.  Go for it.

What Does the Lord Require Of Us???
Last night we began talking about the sacrifice traditions in our Old Testament class.  As a class we basically avoided the discussion and side-stepped by talking about Moses as an intercessor between the people and God…  ANYWAY- That isn’t the point…the point is that we are uncomfortable in talking about sacrifice.  It is much easier to simply discard Sacrifice as an Old Testament thing, but as I pointed out to the class:
It is a shame that we fail to truly understand Sacrifice.  We have sacrifice as part of our ritual every Sunday morning in church- the offering.  The early people placed an animal, their food, upon the altar.  This was the most valuable commodity there was!  This was not just a small thing they could do without…this was the ultimate sacrifice they could make (short of sacrificing themselves)!
This sacrifice was about keeping covenant – about their relationship with God.  We will fail the people of our churches if we do not help them understand that to sacrifice is essential to understanding the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  We can not just sacrifice what is comfortable, but what will be hard to do without! To sacrifice is to draw closer to our Lord Jesus Christ and to our community of faith.

When I talk about offering, I talk not just of money but also of time, sweat and prayer.  That is not to say, “Oh, I would rather give my time than my money.”  We could do that, but we wouldn’t grow.  We must inspect, seriously, what the Lord has gifted to us and then determine a sacrifice that we will, with God’s help, endure.  We are given help with that:  The Bible says 10% and although it may seem difficult, I suggest we begin there!

Vocation is a complex idea.  Have you ever thought deeply about the term “vocation”?  In today’s society we think of our vocation as our job, but let’s look back to history.  In the New Testament we find “klesis” which really meant ‘divine calling’.  This was not just a job this was God’s pull on a person’s entire being.
At the time of the reformation, Luther translates klesis into the german word “beruf” which basically means job.  Luther suggested that our job defines our call from God and that we should remain content to serve God through our occupation.
How is it that we find our divine calling?  Is it simply our job, or is that too limiting?  Above you can see a photo taken during one of my classes in seminary.  Here we have students studying to be professional pastors.
I believe that we limit ourselves – even pastors – if we limit our calling to our occupation.  God calls us, every facet of our being, into service.  We must use our occupation to glorify God and better the lives of other.  We must also, however, use our time with our family to grow (communally) in closer relationship to God.  Finally, we must join with others of faith to build faith communities that glorify God and  bring all into a closer relationship with God.

Consider carefully how you answer the question, “What is it that you do?”  or  “What is your job?”.  It is time that we accept God’s call on our lives and become strong, proud and caring MINISTERS of GOD!

Community Dinner

Each Wednesday the Garrett-Evangelical community comes together for an evening meal together.  The school even pays, yay!  It is great enough to just get free food, but there is more to it than that.
Just like the early disciples, we find ourselves sitting together and sharing stories, jokes, laughter…and, I’m sure, at some point: tears.  Just as dinner was a way for the early apostles to grow closer to one another and Christ, so it is, also, with the seminary community.
I really had a great time tonight with friends.  We got scolded about our calcium intake, laughed about spaceships, and learned about one another’s families and outside lives.
I already value the Garrett-Evangelical community and I am proud to say this is my home and family.
The Trinity
Some of you are probably wondering what exactly a person learns at seminary.  Last night we spent a great deal of time discussing the trinity during History of Christian Thought and Practice.  I want to share a bit with you:
The first person to really give us the language for discussing the trinity was Tertullian at the turn of the third century.  He used the word trinitas in his writing “Against Praxaeus”.  In short:  he developed the idea of three persons possessing one substance.
Growing up in the church I never really had a great deal of clarity about the claim of trinity and I suspect many other people in the church don’t know much about where this ideology comes from.
From where does this all come? The western church (Rome and Carthage) focused on the “oneness” of God and the Eastern Church (Jeruselem, Antioch, Alexandria) focused on the “three-ness” of God.  Especially in the Western Church there was a great movement to preserve the one-ness of God and this was called Monarchianism.
One school of thought was called “modalistic monarchianism” that God ‘changed modes’ or ‘wore different hats depending on who / what God needed to be.  People with this ideology believed that Jesus was just “God the father” in disguise.  The other school of thought was called “dynamic monarchianism” which argued that Jesus was simply human, not divine, and God “adopted” Jesus because he was the first perfect human being.  This ideology suggested that Jesus provided salvation to the world by providing an example.  These both came to be regarded as heresy by the early church, by the way.
These might seem a little ‘out there’, but Dr. Papandrea reminded our class that we see examples of the modalistic monarchianist heresy in the United Methodist Church when we use creeds that replace the language of the trinity with “Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer”.   In this language we assume that God ‘changes roles’.  Dr. Papandrea also reminded us that Jesus was a creator, the Old Testament saw Yahweh as one who saves, etc.  In other words, God transcends all of these typologies and labels.

I have a lot of trouble personally reconciling the trinity.  I have not yet processed my understanding of the trinity, but this lecture helped me immensely in understanding how the early church understood the trinity.

Miriam and the Tambourine
Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took the tambourine in her hand; and all the women when out after her with tambourines and with dancing.
And Miriam sang to them:
“Sing to the Lord, for he has
        triumphed gloriously;
Horse and rider he has thrown into
        the sea.”
Exodus 15: 20-21  (NRSV)