Tuesday, April 18, 2006 

Perspective, Part 1

I had never attended an Orthodox-tradition service before last week. The Eastern Church is not talked about much in the circles I run in, and congregations are few and far between. There was familiarity with some parts of the worship service, yet other parts were wholly foreign. The invocation of deceased saints to intercede on my behalf was particularly alien. Mary was invoked, as was Peter.

I would be less than honest if I said I was comfortable with this intercession. They were, after all, dead. No matter how holy and prophetic they were in their time, and no matter how enduring their legacy is through scripture and tradition, they no longer live (in a tangible, I can touch them on earth kind of way). They are dead.

But the preacher beseeched us at the beginning of her sermon to blur the line between living and dead. If Christ really did defeat sin and death, then it follows that there must be at least some people still living! Just as we would ask a close friend, and one that we might consider to be close to God, to pray for us in times of joy and crisis, so too does the Eastern Orthodox tradition believe that we should ask those who have gone before us, especially those who have been great examples of the faith, to pray as well.

I think that this blurring of the lines has much to teach us. While those of us who are protestants might recoil at the thought of asking someone who is dead to pray for us, I wonder how it might change the way we look at the world if we really start believing that Jesus' life, teaching, death, and resurrection gives us abundant life - now and forever - in this life and the next. Not only do we live, but we live and love to the fullest.

Then again, I guess abundant life might be a matter of perspective. Praise God if it is.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006 

A new day

The obligatory first post should always include something about me, so I am told. So here are the highlights behind the highlighted:

*I am married to the most wonderful woman in the world. We have a dog, Cosmo and a Cat, Ty.
*We live in Fort Worth - funkytown usa.
*I am an associate pastor/director of student ministries at Arborlawn UMC
*I am finishing my degree from Perkins School of Theology at SMU.
*I have every social advantage imaginable. I am white, heterosexual, male, protestant, from the United States, and an upper-middle class family.

Intellectual honesty drives my inclination to tell you these things about me. I write from a very particularized context, and one that is riddled with blind spots. My hope for something like this is that some of my blind spots will be revealed, and perhaps I can begin clearing up the fog on the windows. My other hope for this is that this will become a beacon for conversation regarding the way Christianity (Christendom?) interacts with a hurting world.

I am committed to the gospel, and not just any gospel, but the gospel of Jesus Christ - revealed most acutely in the incarnation. I am committed to people, and not just particular persons, but all people. I am committed to the church, as it is called to be the body of Christ in the hurting world. And, I am committed to a life that is better than the one each of us has now - one of peace, wholeness, and one where oppression, of all kinds, exists no more.

To further complicate the matter, I am committed to good theology - to theology that really seeks to get at the depths of who God is, what God does, and what our role is. To do anything less than put full effort into that pursuit trivializes the greatest commandment: love God with all your heart, mind, and strength. I believe that Divine revelation exists, and that it exists most acutely in the scriptures, but that God is constantly revealing divinity in the world around us. To put a methodist spin on it, I am committed to the idea that God reveals Godself in tradition, experience, and reason. I too believe that God is not done revealing, and will continue to reveal up to the end (whatever and whenever that might be).

So, take this as an invitation. Join the conversation, whatever your background is, or wherever your commitments reside. Let's talk this thing out.

Grace and Peace,

Paul G.