Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Thoughts After Roaming the British Museum

This is not especially profound, I don't think.  But yesterday I roamed the British Museum all afternoon looking over different exhibits.  I went fairly quickly through it, didn't really spend a lot of time looking over things.  Part of that has to do with the fact that at a certain point a realization dawned on me, which is that everything in the museum is more or less the same!  By that, I mean there are only a handful of concepts used as to create all the different artifacts and  that the variety is merely minor variations on those concepts.  For instance, across every culture represented, any instrument used to hold water, be it a bowl or a vase or a jar or whatever, is always round.  Coffins always take on basically the same shape.  Statues always show people in more or less the same of one or two pose options.  Now, I'm not trying to take away from the magnificence of the artifacts.  It was quite an impressive collection and quite a bit of variety in the details of what was painted on the jar or what color was used or how decorated with jewels something was.  But my point is, the enormous size of the collection and the repetition of ideas that occurred in it also showed the very common set of concepts that people hold to that form the basis of all these other ideas.  Now, what that might mean, what conclusion might be drawn from it, I will save to explore on another day…

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Going on Holiday!

After packing up my life into little cardboard boxes, loading it into two cars, and driving six hours to my parents house in TN where I am temporarily residing before I move to New Haven to start Yale Divinity, I now get to take a little bit of a vacation, or perhaps a holiday, I should say. I'm off to visit my family in England for about two and a half weeks. Will probably be next to nothing posted here. Hope to have some stories to tell when I get back!

Farewell to a Church, Part 7:

Last Sunday was my final day with the church that I have been working at for the past year or so.  The pastor asked me to speak and I am now posting a slightly modified version of the manuscript here in bite sized chunks.

Part 7:  A Charge

And so the third thing I want to do this morning is to leave you all with a charge of sorts. And that charge is to keep your foundation in this gospel. Do not tolerate teaching that removes the gospel from this world to focus on an “other” reality somewhere else. And do not tolerate teaching that selfishly hides from the reality of life in this world, the reality that desperately needs the hope we have. Instead, cling to the gospel of hope. The director of University Christian Fellowship gave a talk shortly after the earthquake in Haiti and one of the things he said that has really stuck with me was this: “If our gospel cannot make sense to a survivor of the earthquake in Haiti who has lost everything, if it cannot be meaningful to them, if it cannot give them comfort and hope, then it is not worth believing.”

The second part of this charge is to say that I’m not sure it’s enough to just talk about hope from the comfort of our lives here that are largely sheltered from the harsher realities of this world. We have the message of hope, but we are not meant to keep it to ourselves. We as a church are tasked with bringing that hope to those who desperately need it. I have been so thankful that this church does make an effort to do exactly that. Whatever else you do, never stop making that effort to give the hope of the gospel to those who need it. And always be looking for new ways to share our hope with the hopeless.

To close this out I want to read one of my favorite hymns, a hymn that I think perfectly captures this message of hope even in dark times and has been a tremendous comfort to me over the years. It’s called Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul:

Dear refuge of my weary soul, on Thee, when shadows rise,
On Thee, when waves of trouble roll my fainting hope relies.
To thee I tell each rising grief for though alone can heal.
Thy word can bring a sweet relief to every pain I feel.
But oh, when gloomy doubts prevail I fear to call Thee mine,
The springs of comfort seem to fail and all my hopes decline.
Yet gracious God, where shall I flee? Though art my only trust.
And still my soul would cling to thee, though prostrate in the dust.
Hast thou not bid me seek thy face and shall I seek in vain?
Or can the ear of sovereign grace be deaf when I complain?
No still the ear of sovereign grace attends the mourner’s prayer.
Oh may I ever find access to breathe my sorrows there.
Thy mercy seat is open still, here let my soul retreat.
With humble hope attend they will and wait beneath thy feet.
Thy mercy seat is open still, here let my soul retreat.
With humble hope attend they will and rest beneath thy feet.

May this gospel of hope ever comfort us, and may we be used to bring that same comfort to many others. Let’s pray.

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