Friday, May 30, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
One week from today we will check our bags, carry-on our luggage and board our series of flights. We will, at last, be on our way to Africa. This week has been peppered with quick stops and here and there to get almost-forgotten items. There have been new lists complied about securing domestic affairs while we are away. It seems some details do not descend on you till the last minute. Sigh.
This week I have enjoyed meals with friends that I will miss during my months abroad. I sit with them and soak in their smiles, savor the sound of their laughter and take pleasure in sharing a few more stories together. These are pre-departure delights! I will miss your proximity, no doubt. However, I believe that distance does not have to diminish a friendship; it has the potential to highlight new contours and textures. Our friendship will grow richer if we tend it well even as we have miles between us. So please stay in touch, and I commit to do the same. Maybe we will discover new things about each other this summer – things that will make us laugh deeply when we reunite in the fall!
A few of you have refused to say ‘Good Bye.’ Those can be hard words in juxtaposition to the tenderness of friendship. I understand your refusal. And, after all, this is not farewell to our relationship, just recognition that we have a new season upon us. During your triple-digit heat I will be in double-digit humidity… feeling as hot, I assure you! But goodness can be found in our continued connection, regardless of continent and time zone. So to you I simply say: See you soon!
You have given me good gifts to take with me, memories that will sustain me when I feel pangs of homesickness! How I cherish you...
Monday, May 5, 2008
Ten days till departure, but who is counting? Okay, I confess, I am counting the days! I find myself to ready to zip up the suitcases, which now line our bedroom wall, and get moving. At this point we either have it or we don’t. So let’s get this party started…
Actually, there are still local logistics to tend to before we drive away for the summer. I still have to get keys into the hands of friends who will care for our home and other domestic matters. I have a few more friends to see before I can leave with my heart at peace. Emma still has a few days of school left, and a hair appointment to clean up her dreads for the trip. But Justin, he has his passport and is totally ready to go! Ron and Sarah still need to move in the rest of their belongings and set up their rooms. And Claude, well his focus is firmly forward! He is securing international insurance for the family, our lodging in Burundi, etc. So maybe we all (save Justin) have some more to do before we board our flights!
But my spirit is ready to go. I am eager to embrace this summer of African Days (thanks to Kym for that wonderful image). I know there will be hardships, moments of frustration and pangs of homesickness. But I am also anticipating fresh adventure, deepening relationships and the joy that comes from participating in God’s restoration project in Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and South Africa!
As I shared with our friends at Fellowship Church yesterday morning, it feels like I am stepping out of the comfort of my boat onto the lake. Anyone familiar with walking on water? Water is a strange surface to walk on, but I am getting my sea-legs and learning to walk in faith, eyes fixed on Jesus.
Ten days and counting!
Thursday, May 1, 2008
My sense about eternal living came from as season of hope rising, as best I can trace it. Influenced by Brian McLaren and Ron Martoia, I began a process of recovering from an abridged soteriology which limited salvific movement to discussions about having a personal relationship with Jesus, going to Heaven after you die and being evacuated from this tragically deteriorating world before its destruction. This truncated view of salvation routinely ignored injustice, like extreme poverty, neglected the care of creation and held little hope for the future beyond the rapture. This understanding offered an anemic view of the afterlife that only involved inactive bliss for eternity. But I have been recovering, as I said, a sense of hope for the true salvation God has in mind for the cosmos (and us in it). I believe that our story begins with creation, which moves toward restoration of all things in Christ. He is not tossing earth into the rubbish bin, as some eschatological schemes describe. I believe that He is restoring creation and inviting us into this enterprise. I sense the lift, the spiral upward!
But reading N.T. Wright challenged me with the fundamentals, basic truths the early Christians believed and built their faith around. Resurrection, okay, I believed it. Bodily ascension, really? While I had doubts about rapture as illustrated by Hal Lindsey and a recent string of apocalyptic novels, I had never seriously thought of the alternative. I had not seriously considered the true consequence of believing the resurrection, ascension and the second coming of Jesus. These bodily actions have solid ramifications.
While I believed in God’s restoration project, I still had hidden in me residue from Western fallacies, that Heaven and the afterlife would be spiritual, a disembodied sort of life. While I rejected the notion of a continued state of uneventful glee forever, opting for active engagement in Kingdom work on the other side of eternity, it never occurred to me that I would, once again, have a body. An actual material body. I had been lulled into believing that bodies were for earth and spirit was suited to the high altitudes of Heaven. I guess I envisioned (in an unconscious way) doing the new works for the new world as a spiritual being. It did not enter my imagination that I’d be engaged in an embodied spiritual life when the New Jerusalem married the New Earth. While I have come to believe that I will be part of God’s resurrection, I had a latent belief that even I would be radically changed. But again, it never occurred to me that a body would be involved!
So why does this matter? What difference does it make if I am embodied in an incorruptible physicality or not? How does this realization alter my self-understanding? So I’ll have a body again – so what?
I don’t quite know why this thought has captivated me. Maybe, in part, I am a bit in shock about how far adrift I’ve been from the bedrock understanding of early believers. They utterly believed in future bodily resurrection after Heaven, once the new creation was at last manifest.
They thought that upon death they would go to Paradise (or call it Heaven, if you wish) to be with Christ in a sort of temporary lodging (the many mansions Jesus spoke of). But they firmly believed when the New Heaven and Earth appeared, they would have new bodies. I was never taught this two-step understanding of the afterlife, yet it is the clear witness of the biblical text and the early church. How is it that I, a life-long Christian and seminary graduate, never really knew this? I don’t know if I ought to be angered, astonished or ashamed. So somehow these thoughts about being embodied again feel new to me.
But I think I am also captivated by the utter completeness of God’s restoration of all creation, down to a person. Down to every person, really! We will be embodied as Jesus is embodied, we will walk in His resurrection footsteps. We will be like Him in ways I’ve not ever imagined. He took on our body in the loving move of Incarnation, but then we are invited to take on His body in the Resurrection. Amazing, indeed. But this also means that restoration will be complete. We will again, as in the Garden, have incorruptible bodies as He originally intended. Incorruptible bodies died in the Eden, but we will finally inhabit the Garden as He designed; and so God’s dream for His world comes true. Nothing will be lost, so comprehensive is His restoration and new creation.
And one day I will be personally, physically and incorruptibly in the presence of Jesus. We will dwell in a new world together. When I meet my Maker, I will actually be able to shake His hand, to embrace Him and say Amahoro!
P.S. I don’t really know why this matters, but I step into the mythos and say that, somehow, it does!