Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Once A Semester Musings

I start with an apology as I have the last five posts or so. I have to admit, I'm responsible with many things, but with blogging I am irresponsible. It's definitely not first on my list.

One thing that has turned me off to blogging recently is the negativity present in most of the blogs I frequent. We need prophets who continually critique the church's current practice. My Old Testament class has convinced me of this, but if all we do is critique, who is there to pick up the pieces and do something about? (Wow! This is a great argument. I am being critical of those who are critical.) I just tire quickly of those who critique without any praise and I would rather not post if all I have to say is prophetic. The church has a lot wrong with it. Everyone who knows me knows that I believe that, but the church has a lot of good going on as well. This is not a sufficient excuse not to blog, but it has kept me from writing much lately.

This semester has been difficult for me. I am currently in Christian Spiritual Formation, Ancient & Medieval Church History, Advanced Introduction to the Old Testament, Narrative Evangelism and Supervised Practice of Ministry. As has often been the case in school, God usually brings certain passions to my life through the course of each semester. Somehow the material in all of my classes and the rest of my life causes me to become passionate about something. In past semesters, this passion has been for church unity (denominational and racial), Missional Church, the issue of civil religion in America and preaching. This semester I have been challenged to become more involved in social justice and make it an emphasis in my life.

Christian spiritual formation has caused me to see my spiritual life as a broader thing than I have seen it as in the past. I used to believe prayer, Scripture reading and going to church were the practices of formation, but this semester has forced me to see how many more things are formative. Social justice and contemplative spirituality have not been emphases of our tradition in Churches of Christ, but they are integral parts of a person's formation. Intro to the Old Testament has forced me to struggle with parts of the prophets I have never really thought much about. Scripture cares deeply about justice for the poor and oppressed and worship without an ethic of justice is worthless to God. This flies in the face of our tradition where we have focused on correct practice rather than worship that demands an ethic to follow it out the door of the sanctuary. Ancient & Medieval Church History has also challenged me to think about asceticism and ethical living. The church made a huge difference in Roman culture because of its care for the poor. Following is a quote that continues to haunt me from Jerome:

"All riches come from iniquity, and unless one person suffered loss another would not make gain. Hence the popular saying seems to be true: A rich person is either wicked himself or the beneficiary of someone else's wickedness."

How are we complicit in the plight of the poor? What is our responsibility as Christians to the poor and oppressed? Surely, we don't think our political views and voting are the answer. It takes getting our hands and feet dirty in order to meet more friends who are not like us.

If Jerome is right, Americans have a lot of explaining to do. How can I responsibly argue for having lots of money in the bank when there are so many that could use the money that I invest so that I can be secure when I retire? There seems to be a disconnect somewhere. God help us! We save so that we don't have to have faith that you can provide. How can we better help the poor with our abundance? How can we believe it is perfectly fine to put so much money into our cars and homes while so many have no food to eat while our pantries are full. These are disconcerting matters that I would rather not think about, but people are dying as we begin to move this matter to the back of our minds.

Just something I've been thinking about. What do you think?


Chrissy said...

Hey Collin.
We've been wrestling with these same questions. At this point (without many answers) we're praying for guidance from Christ and trying our best to follow Him. Keep posting your thoughts and learnings.
Blessings on you and your sweet wife!

Collin Packer said...


It's great to hear from you. I try to keep up with you guys on Steve's blog. Hope things are going well in Boston.