Pastor's Bible Study

Every Wednesday morning during the school year, Dr. Furr teaches adults on a wide variety of topics with discussion – often a book of the Bible or some aspect of the Christian life or doctrine. All you need is a Bible and an inquisitive mind! Occasionally, a particular book is ordered for everyone who wants to purchase a copy. This group meets on Wednesday mornings from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Adult Seminar Room across from the Library. Find current topics under Latest News. Please join in.

 

Pastor's Column


 

Invitation to a Journey

In 2010, I was part of a group of ministers who went to Israel together on a pilgrimage. We were all Protestants—Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, UCC, and Episcopalians, along with one Mennonite for good measure. We were used to going on trips as church leaders, but this was different. We went as pilgrims.

Pilgrimage is not a familiar term for Protestants and surely not Baptists. A friend of mine once said our spirituality is “extroverted, programmatic, and evangelistic.” Being silent, mystical contemplation, and things like pilgrimage smacked of Catholicism and when I was growing up that was negative, even if I didn’t have a clue why.

In recent years, the notion of a more reflective faith has become more comfortable for me. My heritage was a good one—we learned the Bible, we were experts in fellowship and acts of mercy to people in need. We were the gold standard for organizing to get things done. On this trip in 2010, though, we were invited to a different pace. We did not rush around to see as much as we could cram into our time. We were given time to reflect. We walked into old Jerusalem singing and praying as we walked, reading the gospel story at each traditional site leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

One morning we got up at dawn and met the priest who managed the guesthouse where we were staying, the Notre Dame Center of Jerusalem, across the street from one of the entrance gates to the Old City. He had invited us up to the roof just before dawn for an orientation to the city. From that place, we could see from the Mount of Olives to the Dome of the Rock, where the ancient temple of Herod stood and the temple of Solomon before that. He walked us through the last week of Jesus’ life, ending with the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. On which site Queen Helena originally had a church built in the fourth century to mark the spot where Christ died and was buried, according to local tradition at the time.

He turned to us after the stunning retelling of the story we’d known all of our lives, looked at us intently, and said, “Don’t forget. You are not here for a tour. You have come here to meet the Risen Christ.” The power of his sentence has stayed with me.

The invitation of God is to a journey. This fall, as we get busy again, consider making space for a journey to seek and follow the Risen Christ. On September 11, 18, and 25, several offerings will, in different ways, emphasize this “different pace.” The study I will lead is based on the book by the late Robert Mulholland, Invitation to a Journey. We will look at the personal journey of a disciple and learn how the Holy Spirit is at work in us to lead us to meaningful lives for the Lord. Invest in your spiritual life.

In his book, Simply Christian, NT Wright says there are four traces of the call of God in every human being. They are the echoes of the Creator’s voice in us.

1. The Longing for Justice

2. The Quest for True Spirituality

3. The Hunger for Relationship

4. The Delight of Beauty

These four echoes are truly the best of what it means to be a human being. Since if they truly represent God‘s highest purposes in life, then those of us who aspire to that life should see evidence of these things as we make progress.

If you would counter the ugliness of the present moment and avoid the despair of our violent culture, consider making these four things the focus of your activity and choices. What leads you to one or all of them? Take these paths and you will have a plan to resist the darkness and shallowness of our current culture.