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  • Getting Schooled – Thanks IWU!

    Red Acorn

    It was another busy week here in Peregre Exilium (Exile Abroad). Explorer extraordinaire, Dwight Gibson, and I visited Indiana Wesleyan University for a screening of For the Life of the World.  I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, the students showed up that night to learn. Some were actually taking notes during the films. This should have been sign number one that I was about to get schooled…

    Per usual, at the end of the screening, Dwight and I participated in a Q&A session. A hand went up in the back of the dimly lit theater. Referring to the final episode (Church), the young man connected to the hand asked something like, “What do you mean by ‘lived-memory’ and the ‘not-yet-now’…and how does that apply to the overall vision of the church today?”

    Yikes.

    Usually in these Q&A sessions people ask about the farm house or the scriptwriting process or how I’ve personally been affected by the series. This kid went right for the graduate-level, seminary-student, all-systems-go, “these go to eleven” question…

    My eyes widen. My stomach dropped. My pupils dilated. I panicked and thought to myself, “Oh no…where do I even start? Lived-memory (anamnesis) and the not-yet-now (prolepsis), these are really big ideas. Do I go with the Greek? No, that’s insane! What about the Hebrew? No, you’re an idiot. Do I start at the Last Supper? How do I reduce this question to a sound bite?! If I ran screaming out of the theater right now, would that be weird?”

    Deep Thoughts About Acorns...

    Deep Thoughts About Acorns…

    All of these thoughts raced through my head, but I remained. Instead, I chose to talk about the nature of an acorn. Yes, an acorn. I talked about (read: fumble my way through) how an acorn in my hand tells me something of the tree that is to come. That is, I can know by an acorn that there will be a tree, and everything the tree needs is found in the acorn in my hand. And, in many ways, the acorn is the “not-yet” of the kingdom of God, “now.” As clear as that may sound in my writing (or not), I’m certain it did not sound all that clear leaving my lips. Dwight took over and offered a response, and then the moderator offered some good insights that I told him I was going to steal. In truth, though, none of us answered the young man’s question. Looking back, I’m not sure one solid answer to his questions is possible.

    In fact, as the week has progressed, I’ve been mulling over answers I wish I could have given to that incredibly intelligent lad. They only lead to more questions. But, for the sake of that student, whomever he is and wherever he may be, he’s what I’ve come up with:

    Lived-memory and the “not-yet-now” are two sides of the same coin. When we live the memory of God’s purposes in the world, live the memory of Jesus, and the Saints–offering ourselves–we then enter into a vision of Heaven and what is to come; we reveal a glimpse of the “not yet,” heaven itself, right now. How? Living the memory of Jesus means humbly, obediently, and gracefully gifting every part of our lives to Him. This is the vision of life that is to come when our Bridegroom returns and we pour ourselves into each other, offering ourselves to one another in perfect union for all eternity.

    Gulp.

    Now, regarding the overall vision of “the church” today: by offering ourselves to God and the world, we are to be a vision of Heaven (grace, gift, union, offering). Do we think about that very much? Do we go that deep? Do we need to go that deep? What is the current vision for “the church” today? What do I even mean when I say “the church?”  What does this all mean for my church? Does my church seem like a glimpse of Heaven…or something else? What image does my church project to the world? What do lives of offering really look like?

    I could keep writing questions…but I’ll stop, because I learned something about myself (and all of us, I think) during my short time at Indiana Wesleyan.

    I think we want too many of God’s truths to fit in nice soundbites. I know I do. I wanted to give that future scholar a wonderfully charming and pithy answer. I think all of us up there wanted to that night. I think that student wanted to hear one, too! The result of our well-intentioned haste, however, was a bunch of 2D answers to an incredibly 3D question. This is a tragedy I fear happens too often in our Christian circles.

    Photo by Thomas Hawk

    I Saw the Light by Thomas Hawk

    So, let’s try something. From here on out, let’s not be too quick to reduce the rich meal of God’s Wisdom to a few bland bites. In our desire to make use of God’s precepts, let us take time to ruminate on them, hear them– not for what they can DO for us, but because they are His. Let us not seek to merely manage God’s ways, but explore them–to answer questions with questions, live in “three dimensions”–that we may learn more of his sovereignty and grace.

    And, for all you education-minded people out there – don’t worry: this will not be on the test.

     

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    • Pastor Steve in Tn

      You know, growing up I wish I would have gotten your final answer to my questions as a kid. When I would tough question that would not fit well with previous information about God the common answer was, “well thats just the way it is.” That answer took a toil on my faith a little at a time. I wish that the mystery of God being a positive thing would have been explained to me along with the idea tha even the teacher or pastor was in it with me trying to figure outhow to apply and live faith in Jesus. I than God that I have trouble comprehending all of his ways and my vocabulary is to limited to explain them. If I could God would be a very small god. Thanks Evan for not being able to answer the studeet question.

      • FLOW_Evan

        Thanks for sharing, Pastor Steve! Here’s to sitting in the unknown and knowing more.

    • Pastor Steve in Tn

      Wow I have got to stop using a tablet to make comments.

      • FLOW_Evan

        Ha!

    • gleiphart

      Your answer was great and you are so right in trying to give 2D answers to 3D issues. I like how you resigned to not reducing things to sound bites but rather enjoying and ruminating on them because they are His! For me, this topic links to some of C.S. Lewis’ commentaries on the issue and concept of time and that God can both be here in the now as well as in the “not yet.” Keep up the great job. Wait until we get to heaven and we will really see how deficient we were in trying to define all these things!

      • FLOW_Evan

        Thanks for comment! Tell me more about the Lewis commentaries!

        • gleiphart

          I will have to take a look at specific references and get back to you.

    • Gabe Kish

      I think the acorn analogy is a good one, and it got me to thinking also, that when we hold the acorn firmly in our hands, as we would God’s promise in our hearts, we have a taste of the “not yet” and at the same time, participating in the “now” by conforming to His will by as you say, living the memory of Jesus. Good stuff, keep up the good work!

      • FLOW_Evan

        Thanks, man! Good insights!

    • Annie Brownell Crawford

      First, I have to say, that the comments need to NOT be in white text. I can’t really read them wihtout my eyes hurting, and frankly. I am not going to work that hard.

      Secondly, this is why I love to be a Eucharistic focused community. I am using FLOW for a class at my church and I keep coming back to communion. The blood and body of Christ, though which we practice both anamnesis and prolepsis, we live the song of the bridegrooms offering of himself and we practice the joy of the marriage supper of the lamb in one mind-blowing, spirit-filling, sacramental moment that binds us altogether as the church, young and old, male and female, rich and poor, brown and pale…. We remember the already not yet in the bread we eat and the blood we drink. It isn’t a pithy sound bite but it is the sacrament that stands at the center of Oikanomia. Therefore, let us celebrate the feast. Thanks be to God.

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