Tell us about: God

You will find and introduction to my BOM theological paperwork here: Doctrinal Exam

 

¶324.9.a:  Describe your personal experience of God and the understanding of God you derive from biblical, theological, and historical sources.

 

I can sum up my experiences of God in one word, surprising. I was not around religion very much growing up, and what I did hear about Christianity was usually negative. Although, there is one saying I have carried with me that was more positive. My aunt said it often, “Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart, all you have to do is let him in.” God worked in me through this simple phrase, before I knew it or could have responded. That phrase has echoed in my heart my whole life. One day a few years ago, I did open the door to my heart and let Jesus in. I was a stay-at-home mom, college dropout with no plans for my future. I had no plans to change and no desire to do anything different. After a dramatic encounter with God’s Grace I felt my life reorienting, turning away from fear of not being enough and turning instead towards God’s will for my life. Since that experience in 2007, I have found abundant life in almost everything I do. Today, I have completed my undergraduate degree, have almost earned my Master of Divinity degree and am working towards ordination as an Elder in the United Methodist Church. God is surprising. Divine Grace works in mysterious ways, it does amazing things in the lives of the people that open the door of their heart to the mystery and surprise that divine grace promises.

 

As I reflect on Scripture and stories from our tradition, I see God’s Grace showing up in surprising places again and again. John Wesley sought God in his “exacter diary,” indicating, every hour in precise detail the resolutions broken and kept.[1] Wesley wanted to earn God’s love by removing all sin from his life. After years of trying to become worthy of love, he found that he already had all the love he was seeking when he felt his heart strangely warmed. After this, he turned back to his life with a complete trust in Christ, “I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation.” [2] Wesley, in his search for God’s love, discovered the surprising truth that God had loved him all along.

 

God’s surprising love is found throughout our tradition and the Scriptures. Paul, persecutor of early Christ followers, can see, not because God opened his eyes, but because God shut them. Turning Paul, from persecutor to willingly persecuted, “I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear” (Philippians 1:12-14). God shows up in the most surprising places, pointing us towards the most surprising choices.

 

As I examine my experience, and the traditions passed on through many communities, I find myself surprised by God. Even the core of our story, the story of Jesus, is surprising at every turn. From telling stories of an arrogant, insolent son that encountered his father’s love, to costly parties thrown to celebrate a few found cents, Jesus is surprising. God bent down, and washed the feet of the one that would deny him and the friend that would betray him. It is surprising. Our God, suffered on a cross. There is no moment more surprising than that.

[1] Wesley and the People Called Methodists by Richard P. Heitzenrater, page 53

[2] John Wesley Journal, May 24, 1738

Midnight Prayer

On the agenda today...transformation. As a peo...

It is definitely after midnight. I am home from youth group, my “due at mid-night” homework is in my professors inbox…and finally I had time for my prayers. My United Methodist History class requires me to pray for thirty minutes six days a week. The blogging is not required, but I am hoping it will help with the paper I need to write (I hope writing is good for my soul too of course!) After a long day…with many twists and turns I finally have a moment to pray with the Scriptures.

James 5:13-20

Questions for the text:

Why do these two translations sound so different? What does the original Greek really say?

NSRV

My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

The Message

My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God.

 

Why did Elijah pray for no rain for 3 1/2 years? Does James talk about Elijah in other places? Can we sing if we are suffering? Can we pray if we are cheerful? When James said to call the elders, did he mean a man with an MDiv degree, ordained, with a church under his care? Or did he simply mean the elders of the church? The ones not afraid of  our illness and willing to pray even over the sickest because they’ve already seen it all?

I wonder about the ancient people who read this letter. A few weeks ago when I started reading James, it sounded so harsh. Mean at moments. But as I listen and study more, I think we need some of this. We…all of us…churchy, non-religious, anti-religious, devout ..we all need to learn how to live in community. John Wesley’s small group met 3 to 4 days a week!!!! Seriously! Maybe the people that James wrote this letter too had some of the same “distracted with life, don’t know how to live in community” moments just like us. (And very much unlike John Wesley apparently.)

 

Questioning the text…

via tiffkei

GBOD

September 23, 2012

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

Read the texts online at the Vanderbilt Divinity Library:

Proverbs 31:10-31
Psalm 1 (UMH 738)
James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a
Mark 9:30-37

Color: Green

I like reading the text, I enjoy allowing it to wash over me, shape me, form me, live in me. But really, I like asking it questions. From brainstorming questions to studying academic essay’s on a text…that is just as fun. It’s interesting…I allow the text to shape me and I get to take it apart verse by verse!

Questions:

When was James written? Who is the author? Why does the lectionary skip James 4:4-6? Why was the author so mad? Who was he writing to? “You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder.” Ouch…that’s harsh! Do pastors still need to do this today? If so how? “Where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind” does this mean that anywhere there is disorder and wickedness that there is envy and selfish ambition? Did the community change after this letter? What were they fighting over in the first place anyway? Where else is wisdom used in the Bible? Where does is talk about earthly wisdom and wisdom from above? Is wisdom “Sophia“?