undivided love

"What is undivided love? Love which shows no special favour to those who love us in return. When we love those who love us, our brethren, our nation, our friends, yes, and even our own congregation, we are no better than the heathen and the publicans. Such love is ordinary and natural, and not distinctively Christian. We can love our kith and kin, our fellow countrymen and our friends, whether we are Christians or not, and there is no need for Jesus to teach us that. But he takes that kind of love for granted, and in contrast asserts that we must love our enemies. Thus he shows us what he means by love, and the attitude we must display toward it."

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer ("The Cost of Discipleship")


to keep its story straight

"Theology is the delicate art necessary for the Christian community to keep its story straight. That story consists of beliefs and behavior that are actions required by the content of the story. The work of theology is, therefore, never finished. The work of theology can never be finished not only because we live in a world of change but, more important, because the story we tell resists any premature closure. That story, the seven words of Jesus from the cross, forces us to acknowledge that the past is not the past until it has been redeemed, the present cannot be confidently known except in the light of such a redemption, and the future exists only in the hope made possible by the cross and resurrection of Jesus."

- Stanley Hauerwas ("Cross-Shattered Christ: Meditations on the Seven Last Words", p. 17)


the good news about life & death - session one

For the next eight weeks University Hill Congregation is hosting a conversation called "The Good News About Life and Death". We are meeting in two groups - one on Thursday nights after dinner together at one of our member's homes and the other on Sunday mornings over coffee and dough-nuts in my study prior to worship. Each week I am going to post a brief report of the conversations shared so that others in the congregation who are unable to attend either session but who are interested in the subject can have a sense of what we are learning together.

Our first session gave both groups an opportunity to share the reasons for participating in the conversation. In weeks to come our discussions will be focused on particular passages from scripture which speak of life and death and life beyond death. But our first time together provided room for us to talk about what it is that we would like to learn and to discuss. A number of people shared that their participation is primarily grounded in their desire to be in Christian community, reading scripture and sharing life together. This is one of the primary reasons for such small group study - the building up of the koinonia (the communal life) of the church. Having said that, our conversations were rich with wonder about the gospel about life and death. It was evident that a number of us come with grief and ache which longs to be heard and to know healing. Beyond this, included in our conversations was discussion about:

completely and entirely and utterly hope

"Christianity is completely and entirely and utterly hope - a looking forward and a forward direction; hope is not just an appendix. So Christianity inevitably means a new setting forth and a transformation of the present. Eschatology (the doctrine of the Last Things) is not just one of Christianity's many doctrines. It is quite simply the medium of Christian faith, the keynote, the daybreak colours of a new expected day which bathe everything in their light."

- Jurgen Moltmann ("Experiences of God", p. 11)