July 27, 2007

Strangers [guest]

There was a summer when I began to come alive. It happened following a very dark, difficult and confusing period in my life. I began to know God in new ways, which also helped me to understand myself as well. I felt connected to the world, humanity, and was positive about my future, knowing it was good, although I didn't know exactly what my path was to be. It was during this time that I got a new hobby: talking to strangers.

I discovered that the people around me were fascinating. I met a girl on the bus who was reading her Bible. I asked what she was learning and she talked about the how the word "today" kept coming up in a certain passage and how God's faithfulness is new every day. I met a man in an airport who works with autistic children. It was fascinating to learn about his knowledge of autism and his role in training people who have autistic children, and how rewarding his career must be. Places of transportation seem to be good places to talk to strangers. It's easy to strike up a conversation because you know that you have something to relate to others about - you are both on your way to 'somewhere.'

I met a middle aged woman on my way home from work one summer day. I had an hour commute and shared about half of the ride with her. There was an empty seat beside her at the back of the mostly full bus. I sat down and glanced over her shoulder at the newspaper she was reading. I made a comment about the latest celebrity gossip, and we got to talking.

She was the kind of woman that you know a lot about just by looking at her. She was a little too thin, with overly bleached blonde hair --likely dyed at home rather than a salon-- that was straggly and hadn't been cut in quite a while. It seemed obvious that the lines in her face had were etched there by more than just age; she had evidently lived a difficult life. When she mentioned her daughter and the father of that daughter, I realized she must have lived through many things that broke her heart, things like love lost and relationships broken.

During the conversation I noticed that when I tried to add something to the current topic, she just kept talking. It was a bit frustrating to be ignored, but I eventually realized that this was not a conversation that was going to go two ways. She was a person who just needed to be heard, and hey, don't we all need that now and then? Her reason for being on the bus that day was very different from mine. I was heading home from work, and she was delivering cookies - not as a job, she had just promised some people that she would bring them cookies, and wanted to make good on her promise. It had taken her awhile to make the cookies because apparently she had run out of one ingredient after the other. She said her philosophy in cookie making was "go big or go home" so when she had finally gotten everything she needed, she made her cookies and I had run into her while she was on her delivery route. I liked this cookie philosophy, told her so, and she offered me one. I accepted. The cookies tasted just like the Dad's cookies my mom used to make when I was a kid.

Then, in the split second after I took that first bite, I freaked out. Who was this woman? A complete stranger? And not a clean, well-dressed, trustworthy, good-first-impression, sort of stranger either... and I had just put this stranger's food in my mouth! Maybe she didn't wash her hands, or had some weird germs or disease... I just took food from a STRANGER!!! What is wrong with me?!??

Then I had a completely different thought. I remember Jesus saying something about giving a cup of water in his name (Mark 9:41). I couldn't give a cup of water, but I could eat a cookie. So eat a cookie I did, in the name of Jesus. In a way, my receiving from her (listening, eating a cookie) was the best way for me to give to her.

As the cookie lady got off the bus that day, she asked me my name.

"Karen," I replied, "What's yours?"


"Hey, my middle name is Louise!"


We connected in that moment, but I think Louise and I share more than just a name and a love for cookies. We are people who are broken, who need to be made whole, and who just need someone to really listen to us once in awhile. What I've enjoy most about talking to strangers is finding out that they are not really so strange; we are not so different from each other at all.

Karen Styles is a 28 year old Canadian who is still trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. She enjoys knitting and conversations.... especially with strangers.

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July 26, 2007

A Change of Clothes [justin]

For sanity’s sake, at least one good road trip a year is needed. Road trips help in two ways with life. The first is that of getting away from what you know. The second is returning to what you know. The first deals with adventure, the expansion of worldview, and leaving your comfort zone. The second deals with stability and common day appreciation.

This year the trip happened to be a four and a half day, seventeen hundred mile, camping, hiking, burger eating road trip with the guys. As I was packing things up the night before, I decide to go simplistic on the clothes since I wasn’t going to be around the wife. And maybe it was the granola in me rebelling against the 9-5 desk job, but I felt kind of proud that I wasn’t taking as much of my wardrobe as I should.

On the third day, after two nights of sleeping and a three hour hike, it was time for a shower and a change of clothes. Luckily, the place we were at had the Hilton of campsite shower facilities: four minutes per fifty cents, hot water that didn’t take three minutes to attain, quality nozzle pressure, and a locked room all to your self that was bigger than most apartment bathrooms. Factor all those in together and it equals glorious. The smell of coconut, uhm… I mean manly musk, was present; the slight campers itch was gone; my hair didn’t hurt anymore! And as I put on a new pair of underoos, shorts, and a fresh tee, I was re-livened. I felt like a new man both emotionally and physically and was now ready for the next half of the journey.

Woven throughout Scripture, the model of changing and repenting present the ground rules for a godly lifestyle. We can see the Gospel message in Acts to turn from worthless things and turn to the one, true, living God (Acts 14:15). Paul encourages Timothy to flee from evil desires and instead pursue righteousness and its offspring (2 Ti 2:22). Even in regards to our identity and character we are told to put off our old self and its ways of darkness and to put on our new self and be clothed with Jesus Himself (Eph 4:17-24; Ro 13:12-14).

The concept of changing seems simple enough: step 1 – take off old clothes; step 2 – put on new clothes. But when changing involves more than our fashion trends and actually deals with the fabric of our souls, it can get messy in many ways.

For practicality’s sake, both putting off and putting on need to work in harmony and not in ignorance of each other. In my walk over the past few years, I can see where I’ve done one of the steps, but not the other. When we empty ourselves but then don’t replace it with something redemptive, we end up back to where our familiarity left us. Our junk returns with guilt and shame and oppression to reinforce it.

There are also times when we prematurely put on virtue without being undressed of vice. We become wolves in sheep’s clothing and attain a form of godliness that has no power because underneath we are still wearing the old person. It’s like taking up humility without putting pride to death. Nobody who boasts about how humble they are has really been cloaked in God’s grace.

I believe this is the harder of the two. We can know of good things but still not use or live them. And it’s so much harder to put down something that is inheritably good, but used in the wrong way, and have it be redefined to us after we thought we knew it. But God wants us naked. God wants to strip us to our core and work in us at an intimacy that is closer than our flesh. He also wants to clothe us with His Son... to have us experience the victory of His sacrifice and how deep and visible that redemption is.

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July 20, 2007

Play-World [jana]

My guilty pleasure…or one of them…is children’s or youth literature—the best of the genre, at least. I’ve been reading lately a variety of different authors lately, and just as a brief disclaimer, there’s a world of difference between the childlike and the childish but the lines are easily blurred, and of course, sometimes both childlike and childish elements occur within the same stories.

Childlikeness, especially for me as I’ve grown up soaked in Scriptural Sunday-school classes, is a description suggestive of childhood, innocence, and a simple way of viewing the world; the simplicity of the “Our Father, who art in heaven…” and of the loaves and fishes.

Childishness, on the other hand, is representative of a more simplistic view of the world and is associated with a sense of negative immaturity.

Childlikeness has a wisdom of its own, childishness is perceived as self-focused and a rejection of wisdom in favor of emotion-based reactions. Childishness views the world in black-and-white absolutes, childlikeness in black, white, and the silver of mystery, true and present.

This acceptance of the mysterious is a trademark of good children’s literature. Think of some of the best stories you remember…Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, Madeleine L’engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, E. Nesbit’s Five Children and It, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, L. Frank Baum’s the Wizard of Oz, along with more modern titles like Kate DiCamillo’s A Tale of Despereaux, Louis Sachar’s Holes, Lois Lowry’s The Giver, and Gail Carson Levine’s The Princess Tales. Also, titles that are less strictly “magical,” more of an imitation of childhood, like Katherine Patterson’s A Bridge to Terabithia, L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, Elizabeth George Speare’s The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Donald J. Sobol’s Encyclopedia Brown, and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie. Even these more realism—focused works (I don’t say realistic) embrace imagination and the whimsical in a less obvious way.

I don’t want to get into a distinction of quality of writing, or the qualifications that make a good story into a great one. I know there are not-so-great children’s books which address mysterious concepts like Magic, witchcraft, fantasy, and even the Occult. And, most likely, even some of the titles listed above will garner arguments about their right to be included in this discussion. What I would like to discuss and hear from readers in return is more the subject of that quality of the mysterious or otherworldly in youth/children’s literature.

Why is the theme of otherworldliness or supernatural essential to almost any story you can pick in the youth section of Barnes and Noble or Chapters? The Newberry award winners’ shelf alone contains books on time-travel, magical practice, fantasy, utopian society, dystopian society…dinotopian society. Dragons, talking animals, mythical creatures, superhumans, even gods and goddesses are the players in these tales.

My idea is that it has something to do with the mindset of living in the present. Michael Card wrote an article for the Discipleship Journal some years ago called “Acting Like a Child: The more we become like children, the more we become like Jesus.” He writes that four areas of Jesus life are reflected in the outlook of a child: simplicity, naivete, living in the present, and reckless confidence. In regards to living in the present, he writes,”

When children are at play, their game is all that exists. The concept that we have to go somewhere by a certain time is lost on them. They are absorbed in the present moment, and for them, that is all there is.

I see the same quality displayed in Jesus’ life. Though the most important agenda on earth awaited Him, He lavished attention on even the most seemingly insignificant person. Anyone who had His attention was the most important person in the world right then. Jesus was absorbed in the present moment. {Discipleship Journal : Issue 61. 1999 (electronic ed.). Colorado Springs: The Navigators/NavPress.}

This willingness to absorb oneself completely into the story is part of that byline of non-realism writers, the “willing suspension of disbelief,” the name that is sometimes given to the ability to take in, wholeheartedly, the fantastic, the mythical, the unbelievable; making the choice to suspend factual judgment and accept a reality other than that presented by our rational senses.

How to end this post? My interest in this discussion is in parallels and possibilities, not necessarily conclusions and developing a position on the issue. In what sense have stories spoken to you about the nature and character of belief? And in simple, childlike writing can we find, as one of C.S. Lewis’s most-loved characters said, “…a play-world which licks your real world hollow…”? {The Silver Chair. C.S. Lewis.}

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July 13, 2007

F/Killing Time [matt]

I think there is nothing I hate more than admitting how much I have been shaped by the surrounding culture. Not the consumerism, nor the belief in redemptive violence. No, I have somehow been sucked in to the matrix that is American busyness.

For instance: I am at my computer, typing this on Friday, July 20th at 5:55 pm. The issue with that is, I was supposed to have written this two weeks ago! On top of that, I am taking a group of high school students on a mission trip in exactly 35 minutes. And I just started typing this! Who does that sort of thing?

I wasn’t always like this. I barely graduated from high school because I was more interested in being with friends and sleeping-in than being responsible. In college I was temporarily a recreation major for goodness sakes! Even today I value reading, writing, and time with friends and family. And yet these are often the things that I am too busy to do.

Life, and in particular the American life, fills time. Our time gets filled with small things that take an hour here, a day there, or even the occasional weekend. Days become full of things like “running errands,” followed with some cleaning, then putting up our feet after a long day and watching a movie. We work too many hours, or at least I do. I do a lot, yet how much of it is really meaningful?

Annie Dillard once wrote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Such a simple statement, and yet it strikes right to the core of me. If you are anything like me, you fill your time with too much garbage and ultimately kill your time off.

During the next six days, I will be taking teens around Bellingham. It is a mission trip, but it is actually much different. They are going to spend hours at local parks. We are going to meet people on the street and, instead of asking them “have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and savior” (I’ll write my thoughts on that question a different day) they will be encouraged to just chat with people and hear their stories. In other words, we’re going to spend our days “wasting time.”

Of course, wasting time is a phrase that belongs to the dominant culture and needs to be flipped on its head. “Wasting time” is a phrase used by the same sort of people who say things like “time is money.” But if “time is life,” than who really wants to spend all of theirs trying to “make it,” “work up the ladder,” or whatever other disgusting term you want to use.

I propose that we (I say “we,” though it may just be me) start wasting more time. We can change our language and call it “milling time” (not to be confused with Miller time). It’s not killing time or filling time. To mill can also mean to refine. This is the time that refines us, the time that is not enslaved to work or obligations or errands or chores. It is the conscious choice to slow down, to leave the race because it leads to a dead end. It is a choice to live a life that is worth living. The Bible calls it Sabbath. And that sounds like a better use of my time. I’m in.

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Everyday Stories [justin]

Visuals stimulate a part of the mind that awakens a need to know more. The actualities of the situations have already passed my sphere and cannot be known, but where fact has abandoned me imagination and wonder overtake. Covers of stories I will never read walk past my window, sit next to me on the bus, wake me on what was a Saturday morning slumber. We are all saying something. Some are screaming hoping that the reader won’t make it to the second chapter; others mumble like a shy sky wanting its high and wispy nuanced clouds to be gazed upon for more than just a fleeting moment. The truth past the glance makes not so much the difference now as does the hope of being seen (even if never known) and being re-created, painted over again into a fantasy, an everyday story, maybe farther away or closer to reality but nevertheless being read in a world of lonely people who think they are forgotten. To these souls I say, I see you…

The morning is warm but drizzly. Britney doesn’t mind the passing rain as it keeps her company while she waits for her dad outside the stamp and coin shop. It’s their day together once dad takes care of some things. Brit is at that age, around 8, where innocence and knowledge are not yet separated though will be within the next school year. She wears clothes that match a little too much and that cover her growing, bulging body but are a size too small.

Her time in limbo is mostly spent sitting on a bench kicking her legs back and forth, watching the sparse traffic of both cars and pedestrians. A few times, though, she’ll get up, not so secretively looking back to make sure dad isn’t watching though the shop window, and start walking up a concrete structure whose origin is the curb and inclines to barrier state to separate sidewalk from road. Little by little she goes, proud of her inching accomplishments and half scaring the motorists trying to judge which way she might fall. Not knowing yet how to be graceful, she awkwardly leaps with a grin sidewalk bound from no more than an average mans knee height. She lands with the force of her over-weight but rebounds like children do; she hasn’t bought in yet that “fat people” aren’t supposed to do that sort of thing. The shop door opens upon her last attempt and dad comes out with a brown bag in one hand and with his other reaches out for his daughter. Britney skips along to take his hand and they disappear around the corner.

Edward frequents the local Y about three times a week. He just recently retired and needs activities to fill up his days; the ten hours a week he helps out at the retirement community doing general maintenance doesn’t nearly occupy his hands and mind nearly enough. He always wears the same clothes at the gym – a plain white t-shirt tucked into not only his tan, lightweight corduroys but his underwear as well (which has its waistband showing slightly about his hips). Ed fights with appearing somewhat senile at times and just not caring. The normal machines greet him as he walks through the room quietly. Sets are not his goal – just doing enough to get tired is. His small frame hides his strength earned in the military and later refined in factory work where, if you didn’t move fast enough or push hard enough, you didn’t survive.

His small studio apartment is by choice, open spaces make him feel his aloneness. There is always some small breakfast food cooking in the kitchen area no matter what meal of the day. Laying the spatula aside and letting the eggs cook, he fiddles and turns his wedding band with a stare at the stove that is really a vortex into a memory replayed. He always cooked her breakfast… that was the one thing around the house she would let him do. Joyce, his wife, died fours years ago.

Edward still blames and forgives himself over and over for her death as much as any husband would. He asked his wife to run the errand that he was late in getting to. It was just a couple of blocks down from their house at the time where she was hit in a crosswalk. He didn’t see it, but felt it when it happened. He could barely make the last swing of his hammer that finished the wooden swing that he was making for them to enjoy their evenings together. The sirens creeping closer in the background made him nauseas as he connected his feelings with reality.

Ed and Joyce had a difficult marriage for many years as they battled with their only son’s leukemia which they eventually lost too. It had been for what seemed like an eternity before they connected again. As time healed them, a touch and a look started to mean something again… playfulness from their youth returned and a life together they thought they may never know was finally born in their days of gray hair and vintage faces. The recent years prior were a gift of grace. Still, Ed almost wishes that their love would never have truly been awakened. The loss of that love is now much more destructive than one can bear. He wishes to live his last years simplistic and well, but hopes for time to speed towards death where he can sit with his lover on their wooden swing for the first time.

Britney and Edward are real. Britney and Edward are fiction. They are no different than you and I. Our everyday stories that we see and write about in our minds and even live out may be immature and awkward, but why should we expect anything otherwise from creativity in puberty? We have and live these ordinary stories and can use them to convey a deeper meaning and truth without necessarily involving completely factual information. They can speak of childhood and family, love and death, fear and hope. We should always keep a hand in the dirt and an eye on the mystery of life.


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July 10, 2007

A Few Shelves Up [jenna]

Nobody appeared to notice me particularly the day I slipped into the children’s library and hid myself down the R aisle, but I felt conspicuous all the same. Besides being nearly six feet tall and having no small fry in tow, I hadn’t exactly gone in after Curious George and that weighed on my mind as I wandered in the aisles, unsure where to look. It took me nearly an hour of hiding and hesitating to find the Harry Potter books—on their own shelf, of course, neatly and clearly displayed near the front door.

I was one of the original cave-dwellers who never even heard of Harry Potter until the release of #4, and one of the suspicious types (ashamedly) who attended a church showing of Jeremiah Films’ Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged. When I picked up that first book, I fully expected to be bothered by dark thoughts and horrified by pagan ideas. Instead, I found a kinship to Harry and companions that took me through the story in less than two days, kept me reading and re-reading sections all week and made me hardly willing to return it to the library even to get the sequel.

My week with the first book proved to me that the Harry Potter stories are not about witchcraft. Nor does the backdrop of magical imagery bear any real connection with actuality. Harry Potter is to wizardry what Tim Allen’s Galaxy Quest is to space travel: fiction based on fiction. The forms of Harry’s magic—wands, brooms, cauldrons, spells, charms, etc.—may be traced to a wide selection of pagan spiritualities, but the use of those items is drawn from magical fantasy and fairy tale, and J.K. Rowling obviously took care to keep religion out of it. Rowling also pokes sly fun at some of it, having her characters use things like leech juice and beetle eyes in potions, and she openly mocks the “imprecise” art of Divination:

“Harry, at least, felt extremely foolish, staring blankly at the crystal ball, trying to keep his mind empty when thoughts such as ‘this is stupid’ kept drifting across it … Professor Trelawny rustled past.

‘Would anyone like me to help them interpret the shadowy portents within their Orb?’ …

‘I don’t need help’, Ron whispered. ‘It’s obvious what this means. There’s going to be loads of fog tonight.’”

I do, however, have a caveat on the books. Two, actually; neither having anything to do with sorcery, though I have heard it said that “young children cannot tell the difference” and for very young children this is reasonable. The first is simply that there is an element of horror in the books that will trouble people with certain sensitivities. The second is that Harry and friends get away with more than I’d want my children attempting—lying to get out of trouble they shouldn’t have gotten into in the first place, for instance. The stories are PG—I’ll not deny that, and as each novel matures with the characters, this applies particularly to books 4 and up.

But these are good books—great books, even. Friends of mine who have studied literary technique respect the books. I don’t have much expertise there; as a reader and writer, though, I can say that the plot is extremely well-developed, the prose clear and smooth, the use of mystery and humor brilliantly creative, and the scenery well-drawn. And of all the strengths of Ms. Rowling’s writing, her characters come out at the top.

Part of this is due to her apparent choice to keep agenda from cluttering the stories. Her girls behave as girls, rather than displaying unnaturally masculine emotions or fighting tendencies. Her boys think and act like boys, with the physical roughness and without feminine softness. Racial diversity is acknowledged and respect for it championed (centaurs, giants, house-elves), but it is not treated as though ethnicity were in and of itself a virtue. In the current culture of “obligatory reference”, a story that is just a great story without any kind of forced notice is refreshing and respectable.

Through the characters come the great truths and delights of the story. Courage forms a central theme in the books, as the main attribute of the House of Gryffindor and of Harry himself. Yet it is shown in complexity: tainted by evil (Bellatrix Lestrange), and in cowardice shown by the otherwise good (Horace Slughorn); also, courage is not limited to daring personality: Neville Longbottom is a Gryffindor student. Self-sacrificing love and strength of character also define the stories through Lily and James Potter, Dumbledore, Harry, and many others.

Throughout the books, as the good gradually marshal themselves against the rising of the darkest and most powerful forces of evil known to wizard-kind, the army-roster of Davids preparing their stones against Goliath reads not unlike the list of Christ’s disciples, or simple human heroes anywhere. Among the adults are numbered the werewolf, the thief, the poor couple with seven children, the convict, etc.; among the students are the know-it-all, the klutz, the school pranksters, the tabloid editor’s daughter, and more. And the whole admirable, ragtag lot pays honor to one of the brightest, most complex and offbeat personages ever to smile bemusedly out of the pages of popular fiction: Albus Dumbledore.

With the seventh book less than two weeks from release, and all us desperate nerds just days away from finding out who lives and dies, whether Harry’s scar is a horcrux and where Snape’s true loyalty lies, I look forward to reading and re-reading that last book like all the others. When I have my own children, I look forward to sharing Harry with them—gradually, for the stories are something to grow into. The books will wait for my children, a few shelves up; and if my kids gain half the understanding of courage and love and right through those stories as I have—not to mention enjoyment—the read will be worth their while.

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July 3, 2007

N.T. Wright’s Parable [editor]

…let me end with a little parable. Returning one more time to the story of the two on the road to Emmaus and barring in mind something Jeremy mentioned in Matthew Arnold’s poem about Dover Beach with the sea of faith once full which had now retreated leaving ignorant armies clashing by night.

Two serious minded unbelievers are walking home together, trying to make sense of the world of the mid 1990s. The dream of progress and enlightenment has run out of steam. Critical post-modernity has blown the whistle on the world as we knew it. Our two unbelievers walk along the road to Dover Beach. They are discussing animatedly how these things can be. “How can the stories by which so many have lived, have let us down?” “How should we replace our now deeply ambiguous cultural symbols?” “What should we be doing in our world now that every dream of progress is stamped with the word Babel?”

Into this conversation comes Jesus incognito. It’s a good job they don’t recognize Him because modernism taught them to disbelieve in all religions and post-modernism rehabilitated so many that Jesus is just one guru among many. “What are you talking about?” He asks. They stand there looking sad. Then one of them, we better call him Jack, says, “You must be about the only person in town who doesn’t know what a traumatic time the 20th century has been. We had a war to end wars and we’ve had nothing but more wars ever since! We had a sexual revolution and now we have AIDS and more family-less people than ever before! We pursued wealth but we had inexplicable recessions and we ended up with half the world in crippling debt! We can do what we like but we’ve all forgotten why we liked it! Our dreams have gone sour and we don’t even know who we are anymore. And now even the church has let us down, corrupting its spiritual message with talk of cosmic and political liberation.”

“Foolish ones,” replies Jesus. “How slow of heart you are to believe all that the Creator God has said. Did you never hear that He created His world wisely and that He is now active within His world to create a truly human people? And that from within this people He came to live as a truly human person… and that in His own death He dealt with evil once and for all? And that He is even now at work by his own Spirit to create a new human family in which repentance and forgiveness of sins are the order of the day… and so to challenge and overturn the rule of war and sex and money and power!?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets and now also the apostles and prophets of the New Testament, He interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.

They arrived at Dover Beach. The sea of faith, having retreated with the outgoing tide of modernism, was full again as the incoming tide of postmodernism proved the truth of Chesterton’s dictum that when people stop believing in God they don’t believe in nothing, they believe in anything. On the shore there stood a great hungry crowd who had cast their bread on the retreating waters of modernism only to discover the incoming tide had brought them bricks and centipedes instead. The two travelers wearily began to get out a small picnic basket totally inadequate for the task. Jesus gentle took it from them. And in what seemed like moments he had gone to and fro on the beach until everyone was fed.

Then the eyes of them all were open and they realized who He was and He vanished from their sight. And the two said to each other, “Did not out hearts burn with us on the road as He told us the story of the Creator and His world, of His victory over evil?” And they rushed back to tell their friends what had happened on the road and how He had been made known in the breaking of the bread.

The part of Jesus in that story is to be played by you.

That is the so what?... that is why we have been given the Spirit. That is why we have been given the scriptures… that is where they find their truest authority. We are so to tell the true story of the world that God’s puzzled children find their hearts burning within them. We are so to act symbolically from breaking bread to healing the sick that we will be recognized as Jesus’ people. This is the so what? that results in our being found by the light and truth of God.

Comfort, comfort my peoples, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and cry to her that her warfare is accomplished, her iniquity pardoned. Lift up your voice with strength, lift it up. Be not afraid. Say to the cities of Judah, “Behold – your God.”

Transcription from part of N.T. Wright’s lecture, So What?, found on the Veritas Forum. - jB

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