Photo courtesy of former student Rev. Teri Ditslear
So here it is!! The much anticipated book list for my Finding Your Voice: A Course on Preaching Offered this summer online at Anderson University, beginning May 30, 2013.
This course is open to Anderson University School of Theology students and non students. For more information on how to enroll click here.The course is dedicated to helping preaching persons develop skills in reading life and communicating grace; strengthening the spiritual muscles needed to sift through what seems mundane and profane in search of the sacred.
This is an experience in shimmering words and haunting images where we acquaint ourselves with the groaning’s of this world and the need for visions of hope and light in our darkness. Barbara Brown Taylor, The Preaching Life (Lanham, Maryland: Cowley), 1993.
George Martin, Game of Thrones: A Song of Fire and Ice, Book 1 (New York: Bantam), 2010.
Lauren Winner, Still: Notes on a Mid Faith Crisis (New York: Harper), 2012
Will Willimon, Preaching Master Class: Lesson’s From Will Willimon’s Five Minute Preaching Class (Eugene, OR: Cascade), 2010
Texts will be augmented by numerous podcasts and primary sources from early mystics such as Hildegaard, Julian of Norwich, Teresa of Avila and John of Chrysostom.
Students will experiment with different preaching styles in order to find the one that fits and work to understand the office of preacher as midwife, enduring with others to help them birth forth new life in hearts, homes, and communities.
I grew up avoiding the holiday altogether, spending the day with my mom and sister and friends at our local theme park. We would laugh, eat five dollar snow cones and stand in line for hours to get soaked in the rapids of the Grizzly River Rampage.
My mom’s mother died suddenly at the age of 47, and for as long as I can remember the pain was too great to bear; the church service where the pink carnations were passed around in honor of Mother’s Day, the poems and the tributes left my mother’s already broken heart vanquished.
Instead of donning corsages, we engaged in pure bliss; built new traditions out of the ashes, felt the sun warm on our skin and thanked God for the gift of each other. It has now been two years now since my sweet, strong, sassy mother passed on Mother’s Day and I am reflecting on how hard it is to face this day for so many of us whose mothers are no longer in this world, for those who long to have children but cannot, who have never known a mother’s love.
I am no expert in grief, hold no degrees in loss and love but have lived it enough to want to share what I know. For my part, holding her hand while she drew her final breaths, being fully present with my Mother in her final moments as she had been with me in my first kicks and cries felt like a passage, entre into the wide circle of life, a birthing into full womanhood and the great privilege of my forty years. So as I look to this day, it only seems right to celebrate the gift of her, the goodness of her wisdom and to honor her legacy of love.
Here are some helps I’ve learned along the path that might help you through:
1. Sew love: If there are others around you for whom this day is difficult for a myriad of reasons, invite them to join you for brunch. Eat, laugh and lift glasses, thank God for the goodness of family born in Christ Jesus and the bonds of brokenness that unite.
2. Celebrate feminine voice: Go hear a good woman preacher. Immerse yourself in images and the prophetic, poetry and prose of women who inspire, challenge and encourage you. Relish the gift of being born a woman, graced with the office of bringing forth, nurturing, embracing and releasing life.
3. Give thanks: Send notes, facebook posts, surprise text messages to all those girlfriends who run themselves ragged between board meetings and ball parks, who rock high heels and burp cloths; squeeze their babies, affirm their world changing call and work.
4. Plant goodness: Find the perfect rose or peony and set it in the dirt, press it down and drench it with water in memory or honor or in hope of what might come. Send bouquets to women who have stood in the gap, who have mothered you, loved and seen you through.
The end is near. These are the days of the last class, the last exam, the last of the cookies and cake; thanks be to God. Time now to pack your belongings and set out into the world armed with your call, equipped with education. These are the days when we dust off the cap and gown and wrap arms around you and wipe away the tears.
This is where we speak a word of gratitude to you, whisper a prayer of thanksgiving for all the joy, hope and healthy tension you have brought into our lives; we embrace you and wish you well though we’d like to hold on for just a little while. We teach because we love to learn and you have taught us well. Your convictions buzzing around your head that you dared to speak, forbidden questions you found the courage to ask that caused us all to stretch and shake and know God; for this we give thanks.
We honor you with tassels and golden cords; drape you in the scarlet of theology as if to wrap you in the full armor of God though we send you out not to do battle but to sew goodness and light. We pray that by our stamp and seal you will remember your hermeneutic is love that your priority is not fortune’s folly but those who are broken and bruised, crushed under the feet of this world who await the kerygma you sing with your life, and they will know you by your love.
May the Holy Scriptures be your guide, not your idol nor your weapon but a testimony to the love that never fails, never ceases, endures beyond the grave. In the pages, worn and studied may you be reminded that you are never alone in your fear, in your doubt, in your struggle. May you be what Cain could not, the keeper of your brother and sister, the one who heeds the call of the prophets to remember the poor and will follow Christ to serve the least of these.
As you exegete Scripture, remember also to exegete life, find time to reflect, to center, to pray; may you hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church. Look hard for grace and redemption where they can be found and call them out. Laugh loud, work hard and forgive yourself when you make mistakes. Remember the Shabbat, find a way to keep it, you need space for rest and trust in your life.
As you go, remember this is your home, that in this place you found your way and that in these hallowed halls walk people who believe in you.
The Last Judgement, John Martin 1853
As the spring semester comes to a close in central Indiana the pear trees are in full bloom, the daffodils wake to push up through the cold, wet earth and stretch their sunny mops towards the glory of Heaven. Meanwhile our Introduction to the New Testament course is reading through the Apocalypse of John.
This is a survey course so, sadly, we will take only two weeks to read and review some of the most enigmatic material in the New Testament. As I prepare my students to read the material, I offer some helpful tips in approaching the text and thought I’d share them with you!!
1. “Revelation” is an English translation derived from the Greek Apocalypse of John. It is singular, not “Revelations;" you’re welcome :)
2. The Apocalypse of John is highly symbolic literature and the symbols are multi-valiant, have many layers and usually point to elements in the natural at the time of the writing, harken back to the Hebrew bible and have a cosmic sensibility as well.
3. When reading the Apocalypse, it is most helpful to read from beginning to end so that you get a sense of flow and connection in the text. You will note recapitulation throughout and utter destruction achieved over and over again. How to understand the restatement of the punishment of the wicked and the devastation of creation is an interpretive move.
4. The Apocalypse of John is supposed to scare you to death if you are among the wealthiest 8% of human beings on the planet. Privileged Western Christians should find it very hard to empathize with the martyrs of the earliest centuries. If you have food, a home, insurance, means to justice within your legal system you are not in the same position as the martyrs. Those of us with power in this world are more closely aligned with Rome.
5. Apocalyptic literature is a genre that emerges in the 2nd century BCE and together with Wisdom literature will be the dominant themes understood and embraced by the New Testament authors. Apocalyptic literature reflects a way of reading life in the ancient world, from a position of powerlessness the followers of Jesus seek justice and meaning and hope in the world to come, the great and final triumph of good over evil.
6. The Apocalypse of John is not a formula or a code to break, it is literature written in the late first century depicting a vision into another realm; it is not future or past it is--John is seeing into the heavenly realm just as Ezekiel and Isaiah had before him. John writes, “And I saw…”
7. The anti Christ is not mentioned in Revelation, rather is found in I and II John. While we want to avoid over domesticating this text, John names some of his monsters, thus the 666 is a Hebrew number structure that corresponds to the alphabet and spells Nero.
8. The date of writing of the Apocalypse is debated but most scholars place it in the late first century 90-100 A.D., thus during the reign of Emperor Domitian who was widely acclaimed as the Second Nero.
9. The major movements in the text are determined by the visions as described by John using the literary device εν πνευματι. We are told that John is on the island of Patmos in the Spirit on the Lord’s day (1.9,10); he is invited to come up to the throne room in Heaven where he reports he is in the Spirit (4.1,2); he is carried away in the Spirit into the wilderness (17.3) and finally, is carried away in the Spirit to a great mountain (21.10).
10. In many ways, this text, though polyvalent and multilayered, prophetic and apocalyptic contains a consistent motif that maintains throughout Scripture; the justice of God is displayed and judgment is accompanied by salvation.
Church of God Clergy Women Delegates, Estes Park, CO 2013
This past weekend hundreds of Wesleyan Holiness women clergy gathered in Estes Park, CO for the bi-annual “Come to the Water” conference.
On behalf of Church of God Ministries, Dr. Ronald Duncan shared current statistics regarding women clergy in a forum for denominational leaders.
The following information is taken from his report.
1347 women clergy, active and inactive in the Church of God
284 are licensed or commissioned but not ordained
215 are senior pastors (of total 2145 Church of God congregations which is about 10%)
594 women clergy serve as associate pastors
265 women clergy who are retired or currently not serving in a ministerial capacity
77 women clergy serve in higher education, as chaplains, etc.
75 women clergy are currently seeking positions through Church of God Ministries
2 of 7 persons on General Director’s Executive Team are women
Current Ministries Council Chair and Vice Chair are women
These statistics demonstrate a 31% increase of women clergy in positions since 2010
Center Rev. Ada Cooper, Hermitage Church of God, Hermitage, TN
In response to Patheos.com “Why I am a…” in 200 words or less:
I am Church of God, Anderson, IN because I was raised up in love. I have been reared in the tradition that also loved and fostered my parents and grandparents. I was born into a local church where a founding pastor of the 1930’s had been a woman, raised up under a sense of welcome and inclusion, taught the distinctions of our Wesleyan-Holiness heritage.
I was reared in a church where I was invited to sing a special at six years old, where I watched women kneel and wash the feet of other women, spread the feast for a pie social and gather for Tuesday morning prayer.
As an adult I pursued ordination in this tradition and have attained graduate degrees at our School of Theology where I now also teach and I am committed to the fierce, radical passion for justice and evangelism that animated the earliest days of our Movement. I am the Spirit daughter of Lena Schoffner, pioneer Church of God preacher who demanded the rope separating races be torn down, I am an heir to the Movement who would welcome Every One to the table of love.
It's not too late! If you are a clergy woman or a woman preparing for ministry, join us for Rise Up, the tenth annual Wesleyan Holiness Clergy Woman Conference
. This was the single most encouraging event of my formation as a woman called to ministry and academy. Here you will worship with other women on a similar path, you will be challenged and equipped for ministerial life. The conference is conceived around workshops that are both academic and practical along with up close and personal time for networking with other women in your tradition and field. Break out sessions include: Narrative Preaching, Balance in Ministry, Responding to the LBGT community, Interfaith Dialogue, Prostitution and Sex Trafficking, Exploring Publishing, and a new Social Justice track added this year. If you need to be refreshed, inspired, encouraged, empowered, if you need to laugh and cry and worship with other women in your vocation; this is the place for you!! Join us in Estes Park next week!!
Fracctico Panis, Catacombs of Priscilla
Below freezing outside, the ground blanketed with new fallen snow, they come in from out of the cold, wet galoshes and heavy down coats dropped by the door. It is Friday morning, mid-winter in Indiana and they bring butter cake, cranberry muffins and clementines; the flames dance in the fireplace, the coffee pot hisses fragrant hot steam and we come together and thaw.
My home, visited by wisdom personified: women, leaders, ministers, seekers, sisters, daughters, mothers, mentors. We sip our coffee and share our lives. There are new babies to brag on, photos of the living dolls to pass around and fawn over, there are stories to tell, ground covered on the journey from last time until this. There are miracles to claim, praise to be given for those angels keeping watch, there are burdens to share, there is pain to confess. We laugh and eat and testify and my mind drifts to a place like this before us.
Far below the centuries of civilizations long come and gone on the Aventine Hill in Rome there lies a chamber beneath the rubble, inside the ancient Catacombs of Priscilla. Beautiful reliefs are painted on the wall throughout, images of women, pillars of the early church, Mary the Virgin, Theodora, Thecla and the Magdalene, their stories of surrender and grace all but lost to us now. Except for this funerary chamber, this cavern in the ground, this shrine for women valiant in the faith, this safe space where it seems they gathered for centuries to worship in Jesus’ name.
It is no secret to any student of Scripture that there was a time in the early days of the community of the baptized when women taught and encouraged, led and gathered the believers into their homes, those safe abodes and first sanctuaries of early Jesus followers. Even in the turmoil of the first centuries, in the midst of the struggle for identity and the battle to sustain what the Spirit had birthed, we find these sacred places hewn in the stones of the earth where holy women gathered to share the Lord’s meal to kneel and pray.
After the sanctuaries of the home had been abandoned, given way to cathedrals, long after women had been silenced in the church, still they gathered and we know some came here, to Priscilla’s Catacombs to this chamber because they believed it to be the resting place of St. Prisca, early church leader and ministry partner of Paul. An ancient fresco is stained into the stone commemorating seven women gathered together to share the Feast of the Lord.
I sample the butter cake and I think about them and us, all women, all called, all struggling to stand and sustain what the Spirit has birthed. I think about how much we all need each other, how grateful I am to have been visited today by my wise companions, those gathered now and those who gathered before us. I raise my hands and I give thanks for women wise and sacred space.
This is a video recently prepared for Church of God Ministries and the 12-12-12 Ministry Tool Box initiative. To access other videos such as this visit http://www.chog.org/12-12-12