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December 18th, 2014
By now you know we’re asking the question during Advent, “why does the Incarnation matter?”
A question on perhaps more people’s minds, at least this week, is, “why does Middle Earth matter?” Peter Jackson’s final (some say mercifully final) installment of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit released yesterday and like any good Orc, I hope to soon traipse to some nearby theater with my eldest son to catch the three-hour conclusion.
Why the hype? Is it the film-making? The special effects? Or is it something more substantial like the story or the characters?
Chris Mitchell at Biola University says Middle Earth matters–alongside any number of fantastical tales–because it lifts the veil not just on the mind of the author but on that of The Author. Citing Lewis and Chesterton extensively in this brief talk, Mitchell will argue that embedded in the mythos of stories like The Hobbit we find our own story. We’re not merely being entertained or transported into a fantastical realm; we’re being unpacked, our peculiarities, intricacies, and deepest desires being unearthed.
In this series and every series, we’re trying to “see” Jesus more clearly (that, as the song goes, we might love Him more dearly). And as we noted at the outset of Advent, we’re also out to grasp not just His reality, but His beauty. You might find interesting how Jesus was portrayed artistically from the earliest representations of Him. The image we’re most accustomed to seeing–bearded, with long flowing hair (and perhaps a bit too caucasian-looking)–bears little resemblance to most of the original renditions. Though that visage appears as early as the 4th century. Have a look.
Last Sunday we sought to come to terms with the sympathy of Jesus–a word whose contemporary connotations also (and unfortunately) bears little resemblance to that which is ascribed to Him in the New Testament.
One implication of His sympathy we sought to tease out centered on how we’re to reflect the same we find in Him. Kevin DeYoung made a similar point recently in a post that remind us that “sinners are also sufferers.”
It is always true: we have sinned against God more than anyone has sinned against us. Which means our suffering does not excuse our sinning. And yet, it is also true that every sinner is in some way, often in profound ways, a great sufferer. This does not justify the sin, but ought to give us some compassion for the sinner.Have you ever wanted people to give you the benefit of the doubt? Have you you ever had “one of those days,” and hoped that others would cut you some slack? Have you ever gone through a hard time that left you exhausted, frayed, and afraid? Have we ever considered that we may not know everything going on in someone’s life? People tire of the slogan: hate the sin and love the sinner. Maybe we can get at the same idea by saying: hate the sin and hate the suffering. Life is hard, and the hardest people have often had the hardest life. Confrontation and consolation–that was the ministry of Jesus. It should be our ministry too. What good news that God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Are we?
You can read the whole thing here.
This Sunday we’re back for one last time in the book of Hebrews, actually picking up where we left off two weeks ago: Hebrews 2:10-18, 9:11-14. We appealed to a bit of pop-culture (sans the pop) last week. This week we’ll let a little higher culture shape our understanding of Jesus’ greatest gift to us through His Incarnation: His redemption. In the interim below is a little folk culture to set the tone for Sunday. It strikes the proper blend of humility and hope–what Advent is well-furnished to supply.
We’re gathering for our Christmas Around the World Party this Sunday night at the Harris‘. You coming? You should!
Our Christmas Eve service, “a liturgy by the heirs,” begins at 7pm @ FBC. You can find a bit more detail here. Come one, come all.
Finally, after a (too) long hiatus we’re glad to announce we’re gearing up for our next Introduction to CtK class, Saturday, January 24th, 10a-3p @ FBC. The class is out to explain everything you wanted to know about membership in CtK. Attending doesn’t oblige you to join, but it is pre-requisite for membership. We’ll supply you some reading weeks in advance of the Saturday and then use much of the time together to have a frank and open discussion about what you read, and some of what you didn’t. Lunch will be served and childcare will be provided. Registration will open the first week of January. So put it on your calendar and plan to attend if you have any interest in knowing more about what it means to be a member.
Being a member of a church community for whatever reason clearly enrolls you in a kind of very valuable school for the heart, where the practice, the doing part of the shared Christian life, can build up over time into a powerful, wordless understanding. –Francis Spufford
- those carrying great burdens
- the mourning in Pakistan and Pennsylvania
- our gracious hosts at FBC
- our officer candidates as they continue in training and considering the call to office
- the Introduction to CtK class in January