Your Word for 2018: THEOLOGY

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Your Word for 2018: THEOLOGY

Well, it could be.

I know several folks who choose a word as their theme for each year.  I’ve done it myself.  One year my word was “Discipline”.  I know others who’ve chosen words like  “Happiness” or “Deliberateness”.  It’s kind of a nice substitute to the seldom-kept New Year’s Resolution.

May I suggest the word THEOLOGY as your word for this next year?  I think I’m going to make it mine.  It’s probably not the first word that might occur to you as an underlying theme for your life for the next 360+ days, but here’s why I think it should be:

1. WE NEED SMARTER CHRISTIANS.

I swear I’m not impugning your Christian IQ!  But as I’ve looked around this year, I’ve seen instance after instance of Christians who either don’t know what they believe, or why they believe it.  People claim deep seeded values and practices based on their faith, but they don’t have the understanding that goes with it!  Theology is the deliberate work of understanding God, God’s people, and God’s creation.

2.  WE NEED A ROAD MAP FOR OUR ROAD MAP.

To be effective in ministry, we’ve got to know where we should be going and what we should be doing.  That’s what the Bible is for, right?  Absolutely, but there is so much history, translation, literary criticism, and deep symbolism involved that we need a road map to help us read our road map.  Theology helps us understand the Bible with more clarity, depth and meaning.

3.  WE NEED AN INFORMED ETHIC.

Christians, at our worst, spout values and morals with little thought to the ethical system behind them.  Jesus taught an ethic of service, acceptance, obedience, and action that calls for deeper refection than many of us give.  The more we study God, the stronger a foundation we have to launch our work in the world.

4.  WE NEED MYSTERY.

I think the worst Christians are know-it-alls.  As if every question has been answered, and every shadow has been illuminated. Not so!  The greatest theologians in history published volumes and volumes of their systematic theologies, but that did not mean they’ve “solved” theology.  There’s always more to understand about God.  There are theological concepts, problems, and approaches that you and I have never pondered.  These mysteries give a robustness to our faith, and challenge us as believers!

5.  WE NEED THEOLOGY IN OUR DEVOTION.

After writing these devotions for some fifteen + years, I look back at my writings and see too many of them summed up with a simple “God is Love” punchline.  While I suppose my faith could be summarized in those three words, there is so much more to say.  To that end, I plan to engage a deeper level of theology in my work going forward.  I want to share more study of this learning, direction, ethic, and mystery in my life and my work. 

How about you?  No matter what Word you pick (or don’t pick) for 2018, you can choose to be resolute in your journey to know God, God’s people, and God’s creation. 

Remember, the only qualification for being a Theologian… 

is being a Curious Christian.

Have a great week,

Mitch

(If you’re interested in a place to start, here’s a bit of United Methodist theology:  A Few Methodist Basics)

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Father McKenzie

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I’ve been wondering…

Am I Father McKenzie?

I hope not.

I’m built to be a preacher.

Writing and preaching sermons is my favorite part of ministry.

I look at it as a spiritual art form.

I may not always score a bulls-eye with my sermons, but it’s what I do and who I am.

I don’t think I’ll ever want to stop.

And that’s a problem.

You see, apparently, Millennials tend to hate sermons.

So, 20 years from now will this be me?

Father McKenzie, writing the words
Of a sermon that no one will hear
No one comes near.

–The Beatles, “Eleanor Rigby”

Gulp.  I hope not.

My anxiety is this:  Am I part of a dying industry?

Are sermons on their way out?

Am I Father McKenzie?

I hope not.

I’m willing to change.  I’m willing to grow in my craft and my calling.  To find new ways to proclaim the old, old story.

I’m willing to listen, to share space, to adjust my words so they might best be heard.

I’m willing to do the hard thing, because I love God, and because my heart longs to make a connection.

But with whom?

Maybe with “all the lonely people”.

No matter the age.

All the lonely people who are searching, who feel disconnected from God and from other humans.

20 years from now, I hope these are the people I am preaching to.

Romans 10:14 says,

 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

I don’t want to be Father McKenzie, wiping his hands as he walks from the grave, where no one was saved.

So I am committed to preaching the Word the best I can,

to children of this new century,

and every Eleanor Rigby.

Have a great week,

Mitch

P.S. Eleanor Rigby on Youtube

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Magic Words

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I long to find the perfect words.

Words that will open every door.

Words that will make sense to folks on the left and the right of me.
Words that will keep a Church from the threat of schism.
Words that will bring the world to its senses.

“OPEN SESAME!”

(Nothing).

I wish God would put magic words into my mouth.

Isn’t that what the Holy Spirit is supposed to do?

Words that will bring people back to Love.
Words that will make things clear.
Words that will cut through every artificial barrier.

“PLEASE?”

(Nothing.)

. . .

I spend so much time trying to choose my words,
trying to search for the right thing to say,
trying to be eloquent,

And so little time trying to JUST BE.

Hmm.

Maybe I should try THESE words:

“SPEAK, FOR YOUR SERVANT IS LISTENING.”

(Welcome to Lent)

 

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Have a great week,

Mitch