As you obviously noticed from the previous blog picture posts, this trip has already been outstanding…FOUR LICENSE PLATES ALREADY, PEOPLE! And, for the rest of you interested in my astute observations on mundane life, I’ve been musing about how weird it is to be three time zones away from the people you love the most. But I anticipate myself.
Here’s how the trip has gone so far: we left Newberg at 4:30 am PST Sunday morning. Flew to Denver on Frontier Airlines, and had our first beautiful thing: in honor of Super Bowl Sunday, we had FREE DIRECT TV right in our seats. How cool is that? Got to see Super Bowl pre-pre-pre game analysis (“I think the team that scores the most points is going to win. That’s what it’s all about.”) Saw U2’s video of “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” on Classic VH 1. Saw a documentary on 9-11. ALL FOR FREE!
Continued on to Minneapolis, and like I wrote last night, had a great time with the Barnhill’s especially and worshipping at Solomon’s Porch. Adjusted the watches 2 hours ahead, and stayed up until 11:30 CST on four hours of sleep. We had to leave the hotel at 4 am, fly to Chicago, change planes, and landed in Hartford Connecticut at 10:30 EST. I realized that I’d been up almost 7 hours, made two hops across the country, and Elaine was just leaving the house to take Talli to school. Hence the weirdness of time zones. We all napped this afternoon, for like three hours, and since that was about as much sleep as I got the previous two nights, it feels like I gained an extra day. I travelled to Minneapolis on Sunday, travelled to Connecticut on Monday, and now it feels like Tuesday. But it’s Monday.
Is this scintillating blogging, or what?
Ok, what I really want to say is about the Theological Conversation we came here for. Tonight’s format was really simple. Tony Jones, Emergent’s coordinator, interviewed Miroslav Volf for two hours. We got to hear about Volf’s life, his theological method, and all kinds of fun stuff. He said tons of great stuff, but here’s what really connected with me.
He talked about bad churches and bad sermons. Bad sermons are the kind that you listen to and feel psychologized and moralized. Bad sermons are the kind that tell you to “be different” somehow, to do something different to change the world. Bad sermons are mostly about telling you what you have to do differently to be a better person.
Good sermons trust God’s power in Jesus Christ. Good churches are communities that live out the realization that it is God who has done and is doing something in us, changing us, accepting us, loving us. The gospel, the good news, is about God and what God has done in Jesus. It’s not fundamentally about us or what we do. It’s about what God has done in us and for us and with us.
I think the reason that stands out to me is not because it is a new thought, but because it is a reminder, a little corrective for me. I love Newberg Friends, but I see so much of what we could be. My life over the last 6 or 7 years has been God yanking me out of my comfort zone time and time again, pushing me deeper, leading me outside of my life and places to see people around me that tend to be invisible. In my longing for us to be people who live like Jesus, I’m probably guilty of speaking a little too much about what we ought to do, as opposed to what God has done and is doing in us.
And that’s what I wanted to blog about, so that I’ll remember. I want to live in a way that draws attention to (and comfort from) what God has done and is doing.
(Ok, I also have to indulge a little. Personally, it was just so fun tonight. I went through many classes at Fuller Theological Seminary with Tony, and from Volf. My other favorite prof from Fuller, Marianne Meye Thompson, is here too. The two absolute bestest parts? Hearing how Tony’s changed. I remember pushing him in seminary to act like God really did still exist and the Holy Spirit really did still act, and tonight, he pushed that point himself. And, when I went and talked to Marianne, not only did she remember my name, but she said, “You’re were a Quaker, right? I assume you still are?” Oh yeah!)