Thursday, September 08, 2005

A Tale of Two Journeys

This morning I went to Cisco. Sounds mundane to many, but when I say this morning I mean this morning. At 2:50 A.M. I went with 3 students and 4 professors to meet evacuees of Katrina in Cisco, Texas.

As I rode with strangers from ACU on the way to this new home for several people from Louisiana, I wondered what I would see. As I was in a van silently pondering what the campsite would be like and unsure of what my task would be, I could only imagine how different my life would be if I were an evacuee on a bus with strangers to an unknown place I would call home for months. To evacuees without a map, Cisco, TX, must be just as foreign as another country. They were in a bus with people who they didn't know trusting that they were going some place where they would be taken care of.

This was truly a tale of two journeys. I came knowing I would go home to see my wife hours later, while these evacuees went with their families to a new home with every unknown imaginable.

When I got there, one busload had already gotten there and the people were already sent off to bed. An hour later another busload of about 30 got out. These were the faces of a tragedy I had seen on tv. TV never does justice. Their eyes were yellow and red, they smelled terrible and their stories were amazingly vivid.

One family I spent time with was made up of a husband, wife and 7 kids who were all under the age of 14. As we talked to these people we heard their amazing stories. This family was from New Orleans and was evacuated Tuesday of this week. They had spent over a week in the second story of their flooded house. Halfway through the week, the roof collapsed on them. After a week, finally they were airlifted to Baton Rouge and shipped off to Cisco. What a journey it had been? They were not bitter. They were not desiring to loot as many of the television stations might portray them. Rather, they were thankful people who needed people to talk with and share their amazing stories.

Now, I have faces to go with this tragedy. I will go back, you can be sure of that. Money is a good thing to give, but I believe this morning was the first time I actually gave a cup of cold water to a thirsty man and his son. This morning was the first time I had ever personally given clothes to the near naked. This morning was the first time I was able to give shelter to a family who had none. It feels good to give people hope and give in the name of Jesus.

Is social justice important? Just ask this family who thanked us over and over again for just water, sweaters, blankets, and a roof. You could tell clearly from the looks on their faces that they would say, "Yes, it does matter!"

As I came back to Abilene, I realized how blessed I truly am. I was able to go back to my warm shelter, comfortable clothes and cold water, but these people remain all over the United States. Get involved in the lives of these evacuees because I can tell you that Jesus is waiting to be fed and clothed!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Trinity

Yesterday in Church History we discussed the topic of heresies and the Trinity. Today in Systematic Theology we are discussing the Trinity. I don't have any idea what the Trinity is after reading page after page. Sure, I know the church answer. We believe in the Trinity. That's easy enough to say, but what does it really mean to belive in the Trinity and how does that affect our lives as Christians? Does it really matter?

It's easy to throw out easy analogies to help us understand it. Several of these have been easy ways to understand heresies. For example, the Trinity is like an egg. There are three parts: the yolk, the egg white, and the shell. We tend to use these analogies to help us understand the incomprehensible, but this example only explains a heresy of the early church. I know some of this is important. I realize that theology shapes our worldview and every church needs a trained theologian to help get through its tough times and questions, but it's easy to say it doesn't matter that much.

I'm struggling and the Trinity will not be the end of my struggle. Theology is difficult mostly because no one knows the right answer. Let me end with this statement. I'm struggling to figure out these matters, but I continue in this quest because I hear that it does matter.

If anyone else out there can sympathize with me. Help me out. Or if you have an answer for the Trinity let me know. Until then, let us live in the faith of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who was fully divine and fully human and who has given us eternal life. That sounds good but what does it really mean? Wow, I really am confused!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

War In Our Backyard

I can't believe the scenes on the news! I cannot believe them! If I didn't know about Hurricane Katrina, I would swear the scenes all over our news channels are scenes from the Middle East or Africa. As I hear of looting, raping, and setting fires in a time of great need, I cannot imagine that we are talking about a city about 600 miles from where I sit. It is a war zone. Survival of the Fittest. It is a modern day city of Atlantis hanging in the balance. I ask myself, how can people be so callous to need the military to come in and settle things down?

I am taking Systematic Theology right now, which you may think has nothing to do with Katrina, but in a sense, it has everything to do with Katrina. Now is the time more than any other when people are asking ministers to do theology through questions of why and how that are directed at God. So, I ask the question like so many others, "Why, God? Surely if you didn't cause this disaster, you didn't prevent it, which I believe you have the power to do. Why did you not just put your thumb over the broken levees to stop this disaster from growing worse and damaging lives?" And creation moans together in unison, "How long, Oh Lord?"

How can people be so callous that they would loot, rape and pillage a city? But then I say to myself, "Collin, surely you aren't asking this question. Surely, you are much the same when you call yourself and Christian and fail to live up to that name much of the time." I think we only have to look within ourselves to see that we are fallen creatures who seek after things that make God moan in the same way we do about this situation. As David says in Psalm 51, "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." We are all sinners in our inmost being.

Fortunately, we serve a God who offers grace if we only confess our sins and let Jesus' blood cover over them.

God work in your ways that we cannot understand. Work to make good out of something we couldn't dream to make good out of even if we tried. Be with those who will hurt for years and for those who will never recover. Give them your grace as only you can and mourn with us as we mourn for those who need comforting, for you will surely give it to them.