Thanksgiving Day, 2060 – David Gushee – Baptist News Global

Thanksgiving Day, 2060

On marriage, covenant and Thanksgiving Day, 2060.

By David Gushee

Follow David: @dpgushee

My wife Jeanie displays a famous Norman Rockwell painting every year around this time. It depicts the patriarch and matriarch of a large clan gathered around the Thanksgiving table preparing to tuck into a freshly cooked turkey.

Except from the turkey’s perspective, it’s a happy scene. And it’s a scene Jeanie and I often talk about when doing marriage preparation work with young couples. We say something like this:

Look closely at this scene. See the aged grandparents surrounded by their children and grandchildren at the Thanksgiving table. Everything you are doing right now to get ready for marriage is, in a sense, preparation for that day. Right now, Thanksgiving Day 2060 is the furthest thing from your mind. You are thinking about your wedding, your honeymoon, and … well, many things other than what will happen in 2060. And nothing in our culture leads you to think about 45 years down the road.

But marriage is never just about the couple. If you are blessed with children they will become your greatest responsibility. And one aspect of your responsibility to them will be to exert every effort to keep your marriage covenant healthy and whole through your entire lives and thus much of their lives. Your marriage is the scaffolding on which they will construct their wedding,lives. Your practice of marriage will become their default understanding of marriage. Having you happy and together and devoted to each other over their childhood and much of their lifetime will provide for them an indispensable model and an equally indispensable sense of security and order. If your marriage shatters, their sense of security and order will also shatter. You are playing for keeps here.

The dirty little secret of the wedding day is that while it may seem to be about your impossibly youthful and beautiful selves it is actually at least as much about the even more impossibly youthful and beautiful creatures you will bring into the world and raise to adulthood. If all goes well, they too will marry and start their families and then you will be grandparents like this couple in the picture here.

This is one reason why marriages take place in public. Indeed, it is the main reason why the state cares about marriage at all. Because marriage has social and intergenerational significance, not just personal significance. Marriage is not just an extended dating relationship with an oddly expensive celebration day. Marriage is a link in the chain crossing all generations. It is a baton being handed from one set of adults to other young adults who will bring forth into the world the next generation that will one day be adults. You have your own responsibilities that commence right now and that you cannot avoid.

This is one major reason why Christian faith teaches that marriage is a sacred covenant. People date as long as it is fun for both. People in a secular culture marry when, and for as long as, it suits them. But Christians make sacred covenant oaths to God, each other, and the church community. It is perfectly natural for God-created, relational-sexual adults to want to find a suitable partner (Gen. 2:15) to love and make love with. But human beings are also sinners. Our sinfulness affects all our relationships, including (perhaps especially) our most intimate ones. You are blissfully happy today, perhaps. But one day you won’t be. One day you’ll be very frustrated with this or that thing about your spouse. One day you might find another person enter your field of vision in a way that entices you. One day you will grow bored. One day you will grow weary of conflict. One day you will wish that your character, both its good and bad parts, was not so clearly known by your partner. One day you might just feel like blowing up your life and starting over. And all this will one day be true of your spouse as well.

But if you have exchanged genuine sacred oaths before God and with each other, and if you are people of the character who mean what they say and do what they vow, you both will realize that on the day you married you made promises that you cannot now break. You said: I will be with you for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live. You promised to love, honor, and cherish each other. You promised fidelity and exclusivity, not just when you feel like it, but when you don’t. And so, when a hard day or hard season comes along, you will remind yourselves of the covenant you made. Your covenant — and the God of covenant love — will secure and hold you. Within the shelter of that covenant you will ride out the hard times. You will return to each other again and again.

And then, before you know it, you will look up and it will be 2060. It will be Thanksgiving Day and you will have gray hair. You will by God’s grace have children and grandchildren gathered around a table groaning with food and filled with laughter. You will look at each other and think: we did it. Our covenant held. And many generations will call you blessed.

In honor of my late father-in-law, Dr. W. Vance Grant, Jr., 1924-2014, and my late mother, Janice Elizabeth Gushee, 1933-2014.

David P. Gushee is senior columnist for faith, politics and culture for Baptist News Global. He is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University.

Sinning and Then Follow Me by Nicola MENZIE- christian Post Reporter

ovember 10, 2014|3:11 pm

Pastor Perry Noble of NewSpring Church recently shared that he believes that Christians for too long have been putting unnecessary focus on telling people what not to do instead of simply asking people to “follow Jesus” in order to make disciples.)

Perry Noble, pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson, South Carolina, speaks via a pre-recorded video during The Nines 2014 online conference held Nov. 3 and 4. The annual event was presented by Leadership Network. Noble, claiming that tax collectors and sinners were viewed as “scum of the earth” in first century Palestine during Jesus’ time, insisted that still today, “All of us, whether we want to admit it or not, we have certain categories that we label people in, as far as sinners.”Top of Form

 

The founding and senior pastor of the multi-campus NewSpring Church in South Carolina spoke on the topic of Christian Civility for The Nines 2014 online conference last week, which was themed “Culture Clash: When Church and Culture Collide.”

The aim of this year’s online conference was to highlight areas churches have to “deal (with) now or later,” such as same-sex marriage, inclusive culture, and Christian civility, which was Noble’s point of focus.

Sharing a brief message titled “Follow Jesus and Be Nice,” the megachurch pastor used Matthew 9:9 as an illustration of his point that some Christians have been not been following Jesus’ example of making disciples.

The passage found in the first four books of the Gospels tells of Jesus calling on Matthew, a tax collector, to follow him and be one of his disciples.

The passage, in context, is highlighted below:

9 As Jesus went on from there (his own town), he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

“You could literally look at this verse and say, ‘Jesus saw Matthew sinning.’ And it wasn’t like your average, ordinary everyday run-of-the-mill sin. It was tax collecting, the worse sin imaginable in the ancient world,” said Noble, who went on to explain how this verse “gripped” him and affected how he has done ministry.

“Jesus did not ask Matthew to stop sinning. He didn’t say, ‘Stop tax collecting and then follow me,’” explained Noble. “He said, ‘Hey, Matthew. I want you to follow me.’ Because Jesus knew something. Jesus knew that if he could get Matthew to follow him, eventually he would walk away from the sin he had become enslaved and addicted to.”

Noble insisted that the challenge for any Christian leader dealing with any issue is not to convince people that they must stop sinning, but to convince them of their need to follow Jesus.

“If people are pursuing Jesus, they cannot pursue sin,” said Noble, adding that the Christian church for too long has been in business of behavior modification. “It has not worked,” he claimed.

Going back to Matthew 9:9, Noble shared that, based on the four Gospel accounts, he believes Matthew followed Jesus “because Jesus was actually nice.”

“Jesus was a likable person. Jesus was the person that everybody else wanted to hang around,” explained Noble. “So I believe, as a church, we can and should tackle issues of same-sex marriage, the legalization of marijuana, immigration issues. Name a controversial issue, I believe we should tackle it, but I believe the emphasis should be on challenging people to follow Jesus, and being nice.”

“I believe if we do that, we’ll make a greater difference that we ever thought imaginable,” said Noble.

Noble, whose multi-campus church gathers more than 32,000 weekend worshippers, was among 130 scheduled pastors, church leaders, and parachurch directors that appeared either via pre-recorded video or live webcast during the free, two-day Nines conference. The annual online conference, first organized in 2009, was presented by the Leadership Network, and presented discussions on: The Church and Same-Sex Marriage, The Church in an Inclusive Culture, The Church and Christian Civility, The Church and Changing Sexual Norms, The Church and Social Justice, and The Church and Immigration.

Last year, Nines organizer Todd Rhoades was criticized for including only four women among the event’s 112 listed speakers.This year, the number of female guests was 14.

Speaking to the concern of diverse representation of speakers and viewpoints, the Leadership Network insists in its Diversity Statement: “We strive to create a respectful, diverse group of speakers and contributors for our online events that allow for these different perspectives and points of view. We do this through invitations to a wide variety of prospective speakers from a broad range of ethnic, racial, gender and age ranges.”

The Nines conference has been known to attract thousands of viewers. The Christian Post was not able to obtain viewership numbers for this year’s event before press time. Learn more about The Nines online: http://thenines.tv/.

Follow this Christian Post reporter on Twitter namenzie

 

Profiles in Goodwill – Mitch Carnell – www.ethicsdaily.com

Profiles in Goodwill: Mitch CarnellEthicsDaily Staff

Profiles in Goodwill: Mitch Carnell | Mitch Carnell, Profiles in Goodwill, EthicsDaily Staff

Mitch Carnell, an EthicsDaily.com columnist, admires Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter and Pope Francis.

Mitch Carnell is a consultant specializing in effective communication and the founder of the Say Something Nice Day and the Say Something Nice Sunday movements.

Mitch’s articles that have appeared on EthicsDaily.com are available here.

1. Where did you grow up?

Woodruff, South Carolina.

2. What is your favorite Bible verse, book or story? Why?

Matthew 22:37-39.

I think it sums up all of Scripture and gives us unmistakable guidance.

3. What is your favorite movie? Why?

“Driving Miss Daisy.”

It demonstrates in a beautiful way how love and respect can overcome racial, cultural and religious biases.

4. Who are three of the people you admire?

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter and Pope Francis.

5. What is one little known fact about yourself?

I taught practical speech to Cuban refugees in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Because of the popularity of the television program, “Sing Along with Mitch,” it quickly became known as “Speak Along with Mitch.”

 

We believe in the communion of saints – Dr. Molly Marshall – Baptist News Global

Recalling those who have gone ahead of us like navigators, to lead the way.

By Molly T. Marshall

A cluster of important days crowds the liturgical calendar in late October and early November. We will celebrate All Hallows Eve, All Saints and All Souls during this week, and it is a good time to give thanks for our forebears in faith whose witness continues to inspire us. I will spare you the church history lecture, but these ecclesial holidays go way back.

In the Middle Ages these days were given to remembering the dead, and all the accoutrements of Halloween (witches, black cats, ghosts and, more recently, zombies) came later. The earlier versions included fun and revelry; we are not the only generation to find reasons to dress silly and have a good party!

As Baptists devote more attention to the Christian year, we could profit from celebrating these important days. Some congregations use Memorial Day as a time of remembering those who have departed in the prior year — solemnly reading their names, often accompanied by a tolling bell. Why not make the Sunday nearest All Saints a time of giving thanks for their lives? It would be a way of keeping good company for some of them!

Celebrating Eucharist on that day could further enrich the service. The church gathers with Christ’s whole Body — with those whose rest is won and those still running the race. It would be a way to draw near to the dead in Christ as we remember their graceful imprint on our lives. Death cannot sever the unity of the Body of Christ.

The lectionary reading for All Saints gives us a vision of the faithful gathered in the life to come: “After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10).

This encompassing body expresses the hope of Christians: that ultimately we will be found in God’s safekeeping.

Along with confessing our belief in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting, Christians confess that we believe in the communion of saints, a “Christian symbol that speaks of profound relationship,” in the words of Elizabeth Johnson in Friends of God and Prophets.

This relationship is surely enjoyed by those who have departed in faith, but the communion of saints speaks of an ongoing connection between those alive in Christ this side of death and those treasured in memory and hope. It is possible to be near to them both, in the thinking of theologian Jürgen Moltmann. Because we are the one Body of Christ, we are closer together than we may realize.

Remembering those who have shaped our lives is an instructive spiritual discipline. This past Sunday I preached at First Baptist Church of Ann Arbor, Mich.; there I encountered the daughter of my beloved teacher, Dr. Dale Moody, of blessed memory, professor of theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Dr. Moody helped me integrate Scripture and science in creative ways, which was a lifelong scholarly passion for him. He encouraged me as a woman in ministry and theologian, even as he continued to interrogate a patriarchal system where women were not welcome in the pulpit or as professors in theology. It was his advocacy that helped me become the first woman to teach theology at Southern. Seeing his daughter, Linda, prompted an overflow of gratitude for this saint in my life.

Even more important than our remembering these who have moved through death to life is the reality that God remembers them. As the Psalmist says, “The Lord redeems the life of God’s own servants; none of those who take refuge in God will be condemned (Psalm 34:22). God knows the names of those who have been largely forgotten; God remembers them and creates a space for them in God’s eternity. For this, we give thanks.

As we celebrate All Saints in our churches, we recall those who have gone before us with profound trust in the Living God. They died with confidence that God was making room for them in God’s own eternity.

And so we pray with St. Cyprian: “We must not weep for our brothers and sisters whom the call of the Lord has withdrawn from this world, since we know that they are not lost, but have gone on ahead of us; they have left us like travelers, navigators, in order to lead the way ….”

Communing with them and with those with whom we make our slow way across the earth reminds us that we need their saintly ways to shine light for our pilgrimage.

OPINIONViews expressed in Baptist News Global columns and commentaries are solely those of the authors.

What Our Languages Are Telling Us – John Chandler – Baptist News Global

What our languages are telling us

What is the language reach of your congregation?

By John Chandler

Language creates culture. What we say, and how we say it, not only reflects who we are but also shapes what we will become. With that in mind, we can forecast where the world is heading by watching what languages are ascending and descending.

BBC research estimates that up to 7,000 different languages are spoken around the world. Ninety percent of these languages are used by fewer than 100,000 people.

Over a million people converse in 150-200 languages, and 46 languages have just a single speaker. (How exactly is it a language if only one person speaks it?)

Some 2,500 languages are at risk of extinction, with one quarter of the world’s languages spoken by fewer than 1,000 people. Interestingly, 2,200 of the world’s languages can be found in Asia, while Europe has a mere 260. The boats to the U.S. will be coming across the Pacific, not the Atlantic.

The world’s most widely spoken language, both native and learned as a second language, is Mandarin Chinese. English is second. UNESCO fills out the rest of the top 10 as follows: Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Bengali, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, German and French. Honestly, who saw Bengali that high?

For native English speakers, the five most difficult languages to learn are Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Korean. The old international joke holds true: “There are three kinds of people: multi-lingual, bi-lingual and American.”

This is becoming more problematic for the church, because 75 percent of the world’s population doesn’t speak a word of English. Believing we can reach today’s world with the gospel in English only is like opening a shoe store that only plans to stock Size 9.

The United Nations uses six official languages to conduct business. The European Union has 23 official and working languages. What is the language reach of your congregation?

It may well be that one of the major reasons to connect with a denomination in the future is that that denominations may become the most strategic way to fulfill the vision of Revelation 7:9: A multitude in heaven “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”

OPINIONViews expressed in Baptist News Global columns and commentaries are solely those of the authors.


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