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 doing Vacation Bible School this week. Like most everything else about new church work, Vacation Bible School requires a lot of flexibility. This year we're focusing on the story of Joseph from the Book of Genesis, and our plan is to equip the kids to tell Joseph's story in music and drama at the end of the week. Our first exercise in flexibility came when we wound up with a bunch of preschool and elementary aged girls and one little boy. OK, so we won't be the first drama troupe to use females in male roles. The fact that music is not the primary gift of some of those little girls is something we figured we'd deal with. At the risk of sounding sexist, what they lack in musical ability, they more than compensate for in drama queen-ness! In the midst of music and drama, we're injecting a little Bible study (we're funny that way) into the schedule. Last night, we talked about covenant and how Joseph and his family were descendants of Abraham and, thus, in the same covenant relationship with God as Abraham and us. I thought covenant was one of those theological concepts I understood reasonably well. I studied under Hubert Morrow in seminary, so I have lived with covenant theology for years. His book, A Covenant of Grace, is just one reminder of what I learned from him. So for Bible study last night, I had made up a handout with a list of things in one column that God promises to do for us: to be our God, to love us, to forgive us, to be with us always...). Of course, each promise came with a citation from Scripture which we dutifully looked up and read. The other column of the handout had space for group members to write or draw something about promises they were ready to make to God. We talked about those promises. We prayed about those promises. We gave time for them to write or draw about their promises. Some were predictable given their ages: to pray, to come to church, to read the Bible, to be good to their siblings (unlike Joseph's slave-trading brothers), to be helpful at home. All good promises. One particularly precocious girl had another thought. After looking again at God's promises and considering hers, she said, "How 'bout if I just write, 'Right back atcha, God!'" I'm not sure what Dean Morrow might think about her covenant theology, but I think she's onto something.