Summer is in full swing in Florida. Heat. Humidity. Afternoon showers followed by even more humidity. it's summer! I have been working as Organizing Pastor for a new church start near Amelia Island, Florida. We recently made the decision that this work will not continue, so I am seeking another call and wondering what's next. In the meantime, I am doing some interim work for a congregation that has just begun to search for a new pastor.
Just finished Greg Garrett's The Other Jesus. Everyone probably ought to read it.
In fiction, couldn't put down Welcome to the Fallen Paradise by Dayne Sherman. Read it in almost one sitting. Good southern stuff.
John S. Kloppenborg's Q The Earliest Gospel. Interesting, especially the connections between Q and James.
Douglas Ottati's Theology for Liberal Presbyterians and Other Endangered Species, which I heartily recommend, even for those who will need help getting past that word in the title. I'm with him: either we believe and trust grace, or we don't!
Martin Thielen's What's the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? Turned out to be less than I had hoped it would be, but still helpful. Would be fun to do a short term discussion with a group.
Right now, I'm indulging myself (Yes, I know it's Lent.) by reading the first four years of New Stories from the South, a collection of stories I've been reading at Christmas for years. Finally got the first four years I didn't have and and treating myself.
We're settling back into a more routine schedule at church after all the calendar shifting involved in Lent and Easter. That means our Kerygma Bible study groups are diligently moving toward completing that fourteen-week study of that Gospel we began in September! This week, we had a newcomer--not to the church, but to this particular study group. I'm always happy to see newcomers at educational events or other things we do, and it's particularly interesting to see how those folks perceive what goes on in those settings. Our conversation this week was lively (When is it not?), and we didn't cover nearly as much ground as we had set out to do. The group was small, but everyone there, including the newcomer, participated in meaningful ways. I talked to our first-timer at another church event (We all do spend a lot of time together! Welcome to new church world.) and asked what she thought and if it might be something she'd be interested in continuing. One of the descriptors we used for the session was that it had been fun. Then she asked, "Is it supposed to be fun?" I certainly hope so! I suspect that's why our Kerygma groups are not any larger than they are (couldn't be my teaching, surely. Who the heck knows what Kerygma means in the first place? And how many are going to venture out of their comfort zones to find out. If it has to have a Greek name, it must be over my head, right? Wrong! At least if I do it. That got me to thinking about how people with even less understanding of who we are and what we do must perceive what we're doing in the Church. I suspect fun is not usually among the words they choose to describe what they think we're doing. I know the authors of the Westminster Confession and Catechism are probably not the first folks who come to mind when we think about having a good time, but they did begin the Catechism with the classic statement that our chief end is "to glorify God and enjoy God forever." Somewhere along the line we decided that glorifying God and having fun had become mutually exclusive. It's about to be Shrimp Festival weekend here in Amelia, and I doubt there will be a Bible study booth among the fun things to do there. But that doesn't mean that Bible study or worship or anything else we do in the Church can't be fun. It may say more about my social life than it does about the quality of my teaching, but that study group has provided some of the most fun I've had this week. I look forward every week to see what kinds of new understandings members will bring and how others will agree or disagree with them. I hope our newcomer comes back to Kerygma. And I hope we keep having fun discovering God's Word together. Even more, I hope whatever study follows this one (We really are going to finish Matthew in May--or at least quit!) will be something on which other newcomers will take a chance.