The Weekend Wanderer: 7 January 2023

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within these articles but have found them thought-provoking.


Pope Benedict“Former Pope Benedict XVI dies at 95” – Emily McGarvey at the BBC: “Former Pope Benedict XVI has died, aged 95, almost a decade after he stood down because of ailing health. He led the Catholic Church for fewer than eight years until, in 2013, he became the first Pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415. Benedict spent his final years at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery within the walls of the Vatican where he passed away at 09:34 (08:34 GMT) on Saturday. His successor Pope Francis will lead the funeral on 5 January. The Vatican said the body of the Pope Emeritus will be placed in St Peter’s Basilica from 2 January for ‘the greeting of the faithful.’ Bells rang out from Munich cathedral and a single bell was heard ringing from St Peter’s Square in Rome after the former pope’s death was announced. The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, said Pope Benedict was ‘one of the great theologians of the 20th century.’ In a statement he said: ‘I remember with particular affection the remarkable Papal Visit to these lands in 2010. We saw his courtesy, his gentleness, the perceptiveness of his mind and the openness of his welcome to everybody that he met.'”


1*CHrJ77kfeEJu2W9a27QUcw@2x“Real Christmas” – Kenneth Tanner at Medium: “I have come to appreciate when the retail-driven Christmas draws to a close and the more ancient celebration of the Twelve Days of Christmas begins. Our cultural routines are lately predictable: on December 26 the easy listening channels stop broadcasting 24-hour Christmas music, Valentine candy replaces Christmas candy in the grocery and drugstores, and folks post pictures of their packed-up ornaments and tossed-out trees on social media and everyone — including a lot of Christians — simply ‘move on,’ as we say. You say ‘Merry Christmas’ on December 27 or January 3 and for some folks it just does not compute. I get it. And I do not wish to judge this way of keeping Christmas. Below the tinsel and lights and shopping malls and parades, there is a genuine longing to connect to the deep hope offered by the real Christmas. And this anonymous desire for Christ, these pursuits of joy in disquise, indicate that many still understand that something authentic needs to be celebrated even if they cannot name the hope and peace and love they long for, and Christians need to rejoice that this is so. But when the rest of the world — and too many of my brothers and sisters in Christ — moves on, when the hustle and bustle of pre-Christmas frenzy comes to that abrupt close on December 26, then the church can get down to the authentic work of worship, of communion, of contemplating the unfathomable mystery that God has become human so that humanity might participate in the divine life.”


Malcolm Guite“A Poet for ‘Bruised Evangelicals'” – Kara Bettis in Christianity Today: “On a cool, drizzly summer day in Vancouver, a few Regent College students trailed after their visiting lecturer into a standard American-fare restaurant. But their 65-year-old professor’s tweed jacket, his shoulder-length white hair and full beard, the tap of his black cane, and the sweet, lingering scent of his pipe tobacco seemed to transport them to a smoky British pub where they were slowly imbibing Guinness and dialoguing about theology and literature. Malcolm Guite tends to create such worlds. Much like the sonnets he writes, he lives wholly in this world yet transports those around him to an ethereal one.’ The teacher in me, the poet in me, the priest in me who’s administering the liturgy, the pastoral counselor in me, it all turns around words,’ Guite told me. His calling, he feels, is ‘to kindle my own and other people’s imagination for Christ.’ Guite is an anomaly that somehow makes sense: He’s an Anglican priest, poet, academic, and singer-songwriter. He enjoys smoking a pipe and rides his Royal Enfield café racer through the English countryside. He meanders on lengthy daily prayer walks and sings and plays guitar in a blues band called Mystery Train.”


Albanian mosaics“Some of the most magnificent frescoes can be found in the ‘Paris of the Balkans'” – Ben O’Donnell at National Geographic: “Deep in southeastern Albania, a tiny hamlet holds five churches that have one of the most magnificent concentrations of Orthodox Christian fresco art in the world. From the outside, the churches in Voskopojë resemble stone barns, a reflection of their 18th-century heritage as Christian gathering places in the Islamic Ottoman Empire. Inside, however, they reveal painted masterworks of brilliant blues, reds, and yellows that come to life in themes both awesome (Christ the Almighty, or Pantocrator) and eccentric (St. Nicholas outsmarts the goddess Artemis). ‘For us, it’s like the Louvre,’ says Albania’s Minister of Culture, Elva Margariti. There are no other sites in Albania or in the world quite like the Voskopojë churches and their 43,000 square feet of frescoes. The government designated them Cultural Monuments and, in 2020, it recognized the village center where most of them are located as a Historic Ensemble. Perhaps more importantly, the frescoes are a striking East-meets-West artifact of a multicultural, multireligious Albanian identity many feared would be extinguished under the former Communist regime.”


Congress 2023“Congress’ new class has much higher percentage of Christians than American public” – Adelle M. Banks at Religion News Service: “The religious makeup of the new Congress bucks the trends seen in American religious life, a new report finds. The Pew Research Center says the Senate and House members are ‘largely untouched’ by the continuing decrease in the portion of Americans who identify as Christian and the comparable increase in the share of those who say they do not have a religious affiliation. Christians comprise 88% of the voting members of the 118th Congress who are expected to be sworn in this week (week of Jan. 3), a number that has not changed much since the 1970s, when 91% of members said they were affiliated with that faith. The American population, on the other hand, has seen a drop in those identifying as Christians, from 78% in 2007 to 63% currently. Close to 3 in 10 Americans (29%) say they are religiously unaffiliated — atheist, agnostic or ‘nothing in particular’ — a far larger portion than 16% in 2007. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an independent from Arizona, remains the only member of the new Congress who uses the description of religiously unaffiliated. Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., described himself as humanist. Huffman also said he was ‘the token humanist in Congress’ when he spoke via videotaped remarks to the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s annual convention in October.”


Statements-from-Prominent-Biblical-Scholars-about-Women-in-Ministry“Prominent Biblical Scholars on Women in Ministry” – Marg Mowczko at her blog: “Some Christians think that only people who have a ‘loose approach to scripture,’ or who reject its authority, can believe that women should be leaders and teachers in the church. I doubt any evangelical Christian would regard these scholars and theologians as having a loose approach to scripture, yet each of them believes that appropriately gifted women can and should be leaders and teachers in the church. Here is a sample of various statements made by these prominent scholars some of whom are now deceased.*” The list goes on to look at eight widely revered scholars, including: F. F. Bruce, Gordon Fee, Craig Keener, I. Howard Marshall, Leon Morris, John Stott, Ben Witherington III and N. T. Wright. 


Music: The Porter’s Gate, “Wood and Nails” (feat. Audrey Assad & Josh Garrels) from Work Songs

The Weekend Wanderer: 29 October 2022

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within these articles but have found them thought-provoking.


Gordon Fee“Died: Gordon Fee, Who Taught Evangelicals to Read the Bible ‘For All Its Worth'” – Daniel Silliman in Christianity Today: “Gordon Fee once told his students on the first day of a New Testament class at Wheaton College that they would—someday—come across a headline saying ‘Gordon Fee Is Dead.’ ‘Do not believe it!’ he said, standing atop a desk. ‘He is singing with his Lord and his king.’ Then, instead of handing out the syllabus like a normal professor, he led the class in Charles Wesley’s hymn, ‘O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.’ Fee, a widely influential New Testament teacher who believed that reading the Bible, teaching the Bible, and interpreting the Bible should bring people into an encounter with a living God, described himself as a “scholar on fire.” He died on Tuesday at the age of 88—although, as those who encountered him in the classroom or in his many books know, that’s not how he would have described it. Fee co-wrote How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth with Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary colleague Douglas Stuart in the early 1980s. The book is now in its fourth edition and has sold around 1 million copies, becoming for many the standard text on the best way to approach Scripture. Fee also wrote a widely used handbook on biblical interpretation, several well-regarded commentaries on New Testament epistles, and groundbreaking academic research on the place of the Holy Spirit in the life and work of the Apostle Paul. ‘If you had asked Paul to define what a Christian is,’ Fee once told CT, ‘he would not have said, “A Christian is a person who believes X and Y doctrines about Christ,” but “A Christian is a person who walks in the Spirit, who knows Christ.”‘”


221020-newsmentalhealthfade“How to Read the News Without Sacrificing Your Mental Health” – Mitchell Atencio in Sojourners: “When Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, Daniel Burke felt overwhelmed by the pace of the news cycle. ‘The images and the stories, particularly about young children and schools … being bombarded [were overwhelming.] I have young kids and I felt pretty deeply affected by these stories,’ Burke told Sojourners. ‘The way we make news these days … it’s like a firehose … it’s really easy to become overwhelmed.’ Burke, a former religion editor at CNN and contributing editor at Tricycle, is not alone in feeling overwhelmed. Forty-two percent of people in the U.S. will ‘sometimes or often actively avoid the news,’ according to a 2022 Reuters Institute and University of Oxford report, and nearly half of those respondents said they felt the news had a negative effect on their mood. Yet the majority of people in the U.S. — 81 percent — say that news is ‘critical’ or ‘very important’ for democracy, according to Gallup and the Knight Foundation. This can be especially true for Christians who follow 20th century theologian Karl Barth’s adage to ‘take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.’ If God is calling us to build more just communities, we are first called to know what is happening in those communities — and for that, we often need the work of journalists. But engaging news should not come at the expense of one’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. Here’s how engaging the news can be a personally and societally beneficial process.”


131502“Christians Say Sayfo Martyrs Should Get Genocide Status” – Jayson Casper in Christianity Today: “In the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, evangelicals laid down their lives for their Lord. Living in Nusaybin, once home to the ancient theological school of Nisibis, they were among the firstfruits of the Sayfo (‘sword’) martyrs. Overall, modern estimates posit half a million deaths of Syriac-Aramean Christians at the hands of Turkish and Kurdish soldiers, concurrent with the Armenian genocide that claimed 1.5 million lives. Today this Christian community, still speaking the language of Jesus, seeks its own recognition. In June 1915, the Muslim-majority city—now located on Turkey’s southeastern border with Syria—had about 100 Syrian Orthodox families, and an equal number belonging to other Christian sects. The Protestants were rounded up with Armenians and Chaldeans, marched to the front of town, and shot dead. The Orthodox families were promised peace by the local leader, but 30 men fled and sought refuge in the rugged mountains. A monk, trusting authorities, led soldiers to their hideout seeking to reassure the frightened band. According to reports, along the way they turned on the monk, demanding he convert to Islam. Upon his refusal, they cut off his hands, then feet, then head. Returning to Nusaybin, the soldiers assembled the remaining Christians, leading them out of town. In joyful procession the believers sang hymns of encouragement: Soon we will be with our Lord Jesus Christ.”


Warren - angels“Praying in the Night: Our Q&A with Tish Harrison Warren” – Mockingbird interview Tish Harrison Warren for their upcoming sleep issue: “The book begins in darkness — under the fluorescent lights of a hospital room. Enduring a brutal miscarriage, Tish Harrison Warren enters what she refers to as her “dark night of the soul,” a term coined by the sixteenth-century Spanish priest and mystic Saint John of the Cross to describe a time of spiritual crisis, when God seems absent. Prayer in the Night details Warren’s journey through that night, and serves as a guide for others in the midst of it. Written in direct, accessible prose, Warren’s honesty about suffering is matched only by her enduring faithfulness through it all. Of the weeks following her miscarriage, Warren writes, ‘Unlit hours brought a vacant space where there was nothing before me but my own fears and whispering doubts.’ At such a time, especially if you’ve been raised to believe you have to come up with it on your own, prayer can seem taxing and absurd — a kind of one-sided conversation in which the person praying does all the work. In such a case, following a script written by someone else might be helpful. Warren explains: ‘When my strength waned and my words ran dry, I needed to fall into a way of belief that carried me. I needed other people’s prayers.’ Specifically, she means Compline, an age-old service of evening prayers, a portion of which goes like this: Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen. In Prayer in the Night Warren meditates on each line of this remarkable invocation.”


Cultural Humility“Cultural Humility” – B. Hunter Farrell and S. Balajiedlang Khyllep at the Renovaré Blog: “One day I had an all-day meeting at a mission hospital an hour away from the seminary where my wife, Ruth, and I worked in DR Congo. Ruth decided to visit a sick friend and invited two young Congolese boys to go with her for some fun exploring the hospital grounds. The boys seemed to enjoy the day, and at the end of the hot afternoon they sat, watching some of the hospital personnel playing tennis. One of the employees asked the boys if they would each like to have a tennis ball. The boys’ eyes lit up and they eagerly accepted. When we returned home, Ruth asked the boys if they wanted her to write their names on the balls so people would know whose they were. They did. Then seven-year-old Mikobi asked if she would write his brother Tshejo’s name on the ball too. She thought how nice that was and wrote ​Tshejo.’ Then, Mikobi asked if she would write his friend Dilunda’s name on the ball. Something stopped her in her tracks — maybe it was a fear that there would be confusion over whose ball it really was. So Ruth paused and said, ​Mikobi, this is your ball.’ He looked at her, confused, and finally said, ​Mamu, if my friends had gone on the trip wouldn’t they have gotten a ball?’


Abraham Kuyper study“Kuyper the Mystic” – Clay Cooke and Steven Garber write this 2010 article in Comment: “The truest truths are never new. And the most important questions are always the perennial ones, the ones that human beings always ask. As my favorite poet, Steve Turner, once put it: History repeats itself. Has to. Nobody listens. I am an Augustinian, and I am a Bernardian, and I am a Calvinist, and I am a Kuyperian—and in and through it all, with the Puritan Richard Baxter and the Oxbridge don C.S. Lewis, I am a mere Christian. I would not have it be any other way. What are the Confessions if not an autobiographical yearning, from the first page on, for intimacy with God? I want to know you, and be known by you. Is it possible? The story of Augustine’s first 30 years of life is one of an increasingly hard heart, knowing the truth about God and himself, but resisting its metaphysical and moral meaning. And then, strange grace, he was awakened to reality—and his vision of God and the human condition shaped the next millennia, and for many all over the world, the centuries beyond. Bernard of Clairvaux’s marinated meditations on a true love for God, moving beyond creedal orthodoxy and intellectual assent, still echo across the centuries for those with ears to hear. Calvin quoted Bernard second only to Augustine, and when he set forth one of the deepest of all truths in the first pages of the Institutes, we hear him remembering his teachers. We cannot really know ourselves unless we know God; and then he argues, the reverse is also true. Everything else grows out of that thesis. Everything. But as I am shaped by this story of Augustine, Bernard, and Calvin, I am also shaped by Kuyper.”


Music: Rich Mullins, “Growing Young,” from The World as Best as I Remember It, Volume 2

I believe in the Holy Spirit

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we continued our preaching series entitled “Living the Creed: Connecting Life and Faith in the Apostles’ Creed.” This series walks through the Apostles Creed as a basic summary of our faith but also as a way to live our faith out with God in the world. Each weekend of this series will explore the biblical and theological roots of the Apostles Creed, while also providing specific spiritual practices and approaches to living out what we know as we ‘proclaim and embody’ the Creed in our daily lives.

This weekend I preached on the first phrase of the third article of the creed on the Holy Spirit, which begins with this statement: “I believe in the Holy Spirit.”

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3)

The Nature of the Holy Spirit

Powerful – ruach; pneuma

Personal – parakletos

Two Gifts Given: Jesus’ Incarnation and the Holy Spirit’s Impartation

The Father gives Jesus the Son (John 3:16-17)

The Father gives the Holy Spirit (John 14:16, 26)

The Holy Spirit and God’s People

The Presence of the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17; Ephesians 1:13-14)

The Guidance of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17; 16:13)

The Fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:19-26)

The Giftings of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:1-11; Romans 12:4-8)

The Mission of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:7-8; 2:1-12)

Living Our Belief in the Holy Spirit


Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper in one or more of the following ways:

Resources for Resurrection Hope

From time to time people ask me what resources I utilize in preparing sermons or series. This was something I encountered quite a bit with the series we just finished at Eastbrook, “Resurrection Hope,” on 1 Corinthians 15. So, let me pull aside the veil a little bit on how I approached five weeks on this brilliant chapter from Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth.

I always begin series planning far in advance with in-depth study, meditation, and prayer over the text I am approaching. In this case, I spent time reading all of 1 Corinthians, giving particular attention to observe repetition of words, key themes, and flow of logic within chapter 15. I took some time to study parallel passages in Paul’s letters, such as 1 Thessalonians 4-5 and 2 Corinthians 4-5.

For each week ahead of preaching, I studied the passage from the NIV with consultation to various other English translations (e.g., ESV, NRSV, NLT) and the Greek text via the free Logos Bible app, which has an amazing amount of study tools accessible for free.

When I work through a book or chapter of the Bible for a series, I usually choose one biblical commentary as my main companion. This time my companion was Gordon D. Fee with his very helpful volume on 1 Corinthians in the New International Commentary series (I just discovered there is a revision due out in September 2014). Fee is a solid textual and exegetical scholar, with a balanced approach to academic and practical insights.

Along with Fee’s commentary, based upon the verses or themes of each week, I turned to a variety of other resources. Here is at least a partial listing of those other resources: