November 29, 2012

A Cross In The Water-An Artistic Reflection On Isaiah 49:1-52:12

by Ryan Owens, Class of 2013 

Being a designer I tend to think in a more abstract way than most people. But for me that is more satisfying. So when I was asked to do this reflection I instantly turned to the blogs that I follow to try and find an image that can express what I feel in regards to the reading. Many of the photographers that I follow are surrealist photographers which means their work centers more around the hyper natural state of things, the images have an other-worldly quality to them. I connect with that type of imagery more so than some paintings and abstract artwork.

 

What stood out to me in the reading this week was the question posed of "what does it mean to be the servant of the LORD?" That question became very personal when I applied that question to how I try to be a servant to God and others. For others it is easy because of their presence in my life physically, but for God it is a little bit different. After reflecting on that and looking through some photography I found an image that communicated what I thought about being a servant (See the image here). The image is of a man and woman carrying a cross through the water. The symbolism within the image is very powerful, the cross representing the life of Christ, his death and resurrection, and the water representing the baptismal qualities of Christ's life. Relating to me personally it communicates the need to be as "Christ-like" as possible to be his servant. Trying with his help to be the best representation possible, and by representing Christ we are sharing his story with others that we encounter and empower those around us.

 

I hope the image had a meaning for you and is a fun different perspective to see from!

 

November 26, 2012

God’s Confetti – An Alumnus Reflection on Isaiah 40:1-48:22

by Elaine Nguyen, Class of 2012

Here’s the thing about me: I am a planner. It’s how I function and it’s what I do, often to overwrought and borderline obsessive detail. During autumn quarter of my freshman year, I walked into my faculty advising appointment with all four years of college planned out -- down to what quarter I would take so-and-so class required for my major and fully aware of which courses were only offered every other year. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We haven’t even touched my extensive lists or penchant for color-coding information -- all done via cloud computing to easily sync multiple devices and provide cross-platform compatibility. Of course.

Why exactly am I disclosing this? Because I want you to be able to gauge what it means when I say this week’s Lectio -- on subverted messianic expectations and plans going awry in God’s upside-down kingdom -- resonates with me. With its many doubts and re-evaluations, I feel like this past year has been an exercise in ruined plans and unanticipated changes. Transitions like graduating can do that to you. This summer, in particular, was all sorts of unexpected.

For one, I moved around a lot. Over the span of four months, I finished out a lease, sub-letted, house sat, couch surfed, and then returned home. For another, I was still job hunting. Given that most of my fellow accounting majors had received job offers six or more months ago, I was rather frustrated. Working at my internship took up more space than intended, and many life-giving relationships weren’t given space at all. So on and so forth. It wasn’t a terrible or overly tumultuous situation, by any means, but it’s certainly nothing I would have chosen for myself. I like steps falling neatly into place and, needless to say, post-graduation goals didn’t involve such steps as living with my parents.

And yet -- this was the summer I needed. Oh, don’t get me wrong; I resisted and resented being caught in suspension. But having my expectations broken was a slow revelation, a begrudging transition that led to its own remarkable transformation. Remarkable, really, because it basically happened in spite of me. Remarkable, yes, in that way deserts look like coarseness and desolation until you look again. (That’s a lesson I keep learning -- always look again.)

Look again, and it turns out displacement can be a space for generosity. It’s the strangest feeling to house-sit for people who manage, even in their absence, to extend the warmth and hospitality of their home. It’s a wonderful and curious thing.

Look again, and y’know that whole job thing? There might be biases to confront and ways to re-imagine your context. For me, putting aspects like business networking (which I was inclined to decry as thinly veiled self-interest and disingenuous conversation) in terms of pastoral ministry (i.e., “What does it look like to minister and serve someone I’ve just met?”) shifted my entire perspective. After all, networking involves meeting real people who have real qualities about them if you’re willing to honestly engage.

Look again, and there’s reason enough to be thankful for family. Car problems and a series of doctor appointments taught me -- as much as I fuss about being independent and having everything under control already, gosh -- young adults still need their parents. What ever the shape or scope of our (sometimes strained) relationship is, I am knit to my family.

When you don’t get to choose for yourself, you are put in the incredibly humbling place of learning to receive. When I am stripped of my tools in desert exile, I cannot fashion the image I most like -- human plans with human forms and human beauty; I cannot twist my creative capacity to cast my own limited visions. (Or, at the very least, it’s much more difficult to do so. I’m pretty good at mucking things up and finding ways to build a golden calf or two in the wilderness -- all the while thinking myself terribly resourceful for melting what gold rings and material I do have -- but that illusion gets thrown down rather quickly.) If I respond faithfully, it is posture of dependence. It’s waiting like a baby bird to be fed, open need and all.

A friend once put it for me like this: sometimes God makes confetti out of our big plans for ourselves and uses it to celebrate God’s greater design for the kingdom. On my part, I am learning how to not be a party-pooper when the time calls for it -- how to celebrate when the barrenness of the desert becomes a source of renewal, how to see divine glory when pagan kings are used as instruments for deliverance, how to rejoice when dead has come to life and what was loss has been found.

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October 9, 2012

 

The Center for Biblical and Theological Education

and the School of Theology at Seattle Pacific University

PRESENT:

The School of Theology Book Celebration

Featuring these recent publications from School of Theology faculty members:

Please join us for coffee and snacks, as well as a brief overview of each book. Those in attendance will receive a free copy of one of these books. Space is limited, so RSVP early in order to ensure your place and select a free book.

We hope you can join us for this special opportunity to celebrate theological scholarship geared for the life of the church!

Thursday, October 18

3:30–4:30 p.m.

Fine Center, First Free Methodist Church (adjacent to campus)

3200 Third Avenue W. | Seattle, WA 98119

RSVP to Kelsey Rorem (krorem@spu.edu), with your preferred book choice by Tuesday, October 16.
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March 5, 2012

Paradigm Shift

A guest post by SPU professor, Roger Feldman, reflecting on his participation in a recent art installation ("Paradigm Shift") based on the gospel of Mark. Check out photos of the installation HERE!

Now that we are nearly two months from the construction and installation of “Paradigm Shift,” there are several things that continue to surface in my mind as important ingredients to this installation.  The first has to do with process.  As our team went away for the summer, we had each read and re-read the book of Mark from beginning to end, multiple times to prepare for our conversations in the fall.  During fall quarter, we met weekly and found points of overlap in our communal understanding of the narrative.  What surprised me was not the sense of certain scriptural accounts standing out, but rather the themes that surfaced.  One of those themes was how events were repeated, and the disciples still didn’t get it. Moving by boat on the Sea of Galilee from one place to another, the wind and waves arise and the disciples fear for their lives as they wake Jesus.  Jesus rebukes the storm and the disciples are amazed.  (Chapter 5) Jesus says “ Do you still have no faith?”  In chapter 6, Jesus tells his disciples to take a boat and go ahead of him.  Again, he walks on water and they are terrified when they see him in the storm.  He got in the boat with them and the wind died down.  Mark’s account says “they were completely amazed.”  This repetition of similar events, including the feeding of 5,000 and 4,000 point to Jesus’ sovereignty over normal reality, normal paradigms associated with the way things work.  And the disciples lack clarity to see what is going on.  So repetition became a theme that acted as a visual element to be included in the piece.

“Immediately” is used over and over again in Mark, and provides short-segmented glimpses in the narrative.  This idea of glimpses became an element reflected in the way walls were lifted slightly (16”) to allow viewers from the outside to get glimpses of others moving through the piece.  There is an awareness of engagement from the outside, but one doesn’t know what is being “engaged” unless they enter in themselves!  Christianity from the outside is only as good as engaging what is “inside.”  Throughout Mark, the outsiders seem to be more perceptive than the insidersInside/Outside became an important ingredient.

There are two possible entrances.  One is a triangular door, and many people have tentatively poked their head in to see what might be inside, then chose not to enter.  (These are all metaphorical actions, by the way).  The other opening is a small doorway with an angular top. (4’6”)  In fact, inside, there are two more short doors, requiring one to duck low to gain entrance.  Through humility, one can enter the semi-circular space through this door to come into a confining space and move through two more humbling entrances.  It is this humility that brings one into a tall semi-circular space that cannot be experienced or understood unless one enters in.  By the time the viewer enters and leaves this space,  they have changed direction, they have “repented.” As a group, we saw this as the “Holy of Holies” space.  After talking with a number of people who have experienced the piece from the inside, this tall space seems to have done it’s job.  People come in, look up, and often spend more time in this space.  When Jesus breathed his last (Chapter 15:37) the next line says, “ …the curtain of the temple was torn in two, top to bottom.” (v.38).  The sail that hangs down references this event, recorded in three of the four gospels.  Immediately, across town, the curtain in the temple ripped from top to bottom, signaling a “Paradigm Shift.”

Finally, the beam across the top connects the tall curved wall with the tall-slim leaning wall creating the triangular entrance.  This beam acts as a continuum and serves as a support for the sail-curtain in the Holy of Holies.  The Holy Spirit continues to guide, reveal, and enable each generation to see the larger reality that we attest to.  Mark had the courage, foresight, and tenacity to put forth his collection of encounters with Christ, and led the way for the other gospels.  Indeed, Mark is a “Paradigm Shift” for the early church and for us.

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February 27, 2012

Immerse yourself in a weeklong study of Isaiah by learning the interpretive practice of a close reading of Scripture and exploring how this powerful and prophetic text can speak to today’s church. Then, in the fall, consider leading your congregation or small group through Isaiah with Lectio, our free online guided readings and podcasts.  Course taught by Old Testament scholar Bo Lim, Ph.D.

COST: $189; $250 with 3 Continuing Education Credits. 

Please inquire about receiving seminary credit.

WHEN: July 9–13, 2012, 9 a.m.–4 p.m., Cremona 201, Seattle Pacific University campus

WHO: Open to pastors and lay leaders alike.

Registration available by going online, or feel free to

contact our offices directly (cbte@spu.edu).

 

** Please note, if you're interested in signing-up for CEUs, this requires a separate registration.  Please inquire with us directly about CEU credit.

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