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

Bibliography for “Hope Rising: 1 Thessalonians for Today”

When I conclude a sermon series, I usually share resources I utilized in my study and preparation for sermons. Here is the bibliography for our recent series, “Hope Rising: 1 Thessalonians for Today.”

Bibliography for “Hope Rising”

John Calvin. The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Romans and to the Thessalonians. Trans. Ross Mackenzie. Ed. David W. and Thomas F. Torrance. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1961.

J. M. Everts. “Hope.” In Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid, 415-417. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993.

Cain Hope Felder. “1 Thessalonians.” In True to Our Native Land: An African American New Testament Commentary, edited by Brian K. Blount, 389-400. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2007.

Peter J. Gorday, editor. Colossians, First and Second Thessalonians, First and Second Timothy, Titus, Philemon.ACCS. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2000.

L. J. Kreitzer. “Eschatology.” In Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Marting, and Daniel G. Reid, 253-269. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993.

Jürgen Moltmann. Theology of hope: on the ground and the implications of a Christian eschatology. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1993.

Josef Pieper. Faith, Hope, Love. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius, 1986.

J. W. Simpson, Jr. “Thessalonians, Letters to the.” In Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid, 932-939. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993.

Jeffrey A. D. Weima. 1-2 Thessalonians. ECNT. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2014.

N. T. Wright. Surprised by Hope. New York: HarperCollins, 2008.

The Weekend Wanderer: 19 November 2022

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.


Landscape“The Roof Always Caves In: Why there is nothing wrong with being doomed.” – Kate Bowler in Comment: “It was in the cowboy days of subprime mortgage lending and a bank was dumb enough to give me money to purchase a bungalow in Durham, North Carolina. I was a twenty-five-year-old graduate student in religion, and my husband and I had recently moved from Canada, where our credit scores were purely hypothetical and the meagre stipend that I received for teaching, researching, and correctly pronouncing Kierkegaard’s name to my classmates (no, look, it’s more like Kierkegore) had really only furnished us with friend-making stories about the time we got vitamin deficiencies and all the skin on my husband’s hands inexplicably peeled off. But we had a house we couldn’t afford, which was still a treat, and the previous owner had left not only a bright green mini-golf carpet in the living room but an entire Elvis Presley tribute in what later would become our guest room. There was a shed in the backyard with all kinds of promise—a simple peaked structure that was two floors high and lined with thick white oak. It had been a carpenter’s workshop for the owner who had built the main house and even bothered to line the edges of the property with elegant masonry quarried from the same blueish gray stone that makes Duke University look like Duke University. But the problem with the shed was the crater, where the roof had sunk so low that termites and wet wood were threatening to pull the whole thing down. We tried to prop it up as best we could—beams here, brackets there—but the only real solution would be a religious one.”


Makoto Fujimura“Makoto Fujimura Awarded Kuyper Prize” – Emily Belz at Christianity Today: “Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary named artist Makoto Fujimuraas its 2023 Kuyper Prize winner, which is named for Reformed theologian Abraham Kuyper, who argued that art was vital to renewing God’s world. Fujimura is the first visual artist to receive the prize, which Calvin has given out annually since 1998. On Tuesday when Calvin announced the prize, Fujimura was in the middle of a private meeting with Pope Francis. A Japanese American and Christian, Fujimura has always related Reformed theology about renewal to his work. He practices kintsugi, taking broken pottery and restoring it with precious metals. He also practices the Japanese technique of nihonga, painting with pulverized minerals that in his work symbolize brokenness and renewal. He has long talked about a framework of ‘culture care’ as opposed to ‘culture wars.’ ‘As Christ followers, we are called to the work of renewal,’ said Jul Medenblik, president of Calvin Theological Seminary in a statement about the prize. ‘What Fujimura is doing through his work is reminding us of the Kuyperian perspective that “The final outcome of the future … is not the merely spiritual existence of saved souls, but the restoration of the entire cosmos, when God will be all in all in the renewed heaven on the renewed earth.”‘”


ddaba2f3-3fb6-4b58-a5c7-c533973e7d2e-AP_Immigration_Border_Crossings“Evangelical voters want the broken immigration system fixed. Will GOP leaders listen?” – Daniel Darling in USA Today: “A record number of migrants – border agents recorded 2.4 million encounters – crossed the U.S.-Mexican border illegally in fiscal year 2022, which ended Sept. 30. Americans are increasingly frustrated with the Biden administration’s hapless border policy. It’s a top issue as voters go to the polls Tuesday in the midterm elections. Evangelicals are among the most influential of those voters and, in new data from Lifeway Research, they told pollsters that they’d like the nation’s leaders to stop posturing and start acting to fix a clearly broken system. Among the evangelicals polled, 71% said it is imperative for Congress to pass immigration reform. What do evangelicals want in a reform package?

►92% demand legislation that supports the rule of law.

►90% say policy should ensure secure national borders.

►94% say it should be fair to taxpayers.

►78% would support legislation that would both increase border security and establish a rigorous process to earn legal status and apply for citizenship.”


wendellberrysocial2“Media-Friendly Sins of Other People” – Jeffrey Bilbro in Plough: “Wendell Berry’s new book The Need to Be Whole: Patriotism and the History of Prejudice covers many topics: family history, the Civil War, racism, the nature of good work. But, odd though it may seem, at its heart is an entire chapter about sin. Berry suggests that beneath all the political vitriol and public condemnation of people who don’t share our views lies a distorted understanding of sin. He offers an older, broader conception of sin that might enable us to debate contentious public questions honestly while still loving those with whom we strenuously disagree. The public certainly retains a keen sense that some actions and attitudes are wrong, and public figures often condemn particular offenses with totalizing ferocity. As Berry notes, the ‘old opposition to sin’ remains, but he worries we have narrowed the acts that count as sin. He warns that ‘nothing more reveals our incompleteness and brokenness as a public people than our self-comforting small selection of public sins.’ There are a few egregious ‘media-friendly sins’ that provoke ‘vehement public antipathy,’ but as long as we manage to refrain from committing one of those, we can feel pretty good about ourselves. Different political or cultural groups might have different lists of unforgivable sins, but the narrowness of the list – and the resulting self-congratulatory feeling most of us maintain – is widespread. Sure, we may be guilty of run-of-the-mill venial sins that everyone slips into, but we’ve avoided thosemortal sins: we haven’t said the n-word or applied blackface or had an abortion or sexually harassed someone.”


Cancel Luther Calvin“Should We Cancel Luther and Calvin?” – N. T. Wright in Christianity Today: “Cancel culture knows no bounds, even historical ones. Based on some un-Christlike writings by Protestant reformers John Calvin and Martin Luther—along the lines of burning heretics—there have been some recent discussions about “cancelingthese paragons of church history. The debates sound similar to conversations we’ve had about secular historical figures being canceled for owning slaves, for example. Unfortunately, it seems every generation of Christian leaders and teachers has had its own problems and blind spots. We should seize these opportunities for self-reflection, to determine if we ourselves might have similar weaknesses. In 200 or 300 years (if there are still 200 or 300 years of history left ahead of us!), what are we going to look back on as seriously problematic? It’s only recently that most Christians I know have given up smoking, for instance. There have been great social changes since the 16th century, a time when most Christian leaders considered burning heretics an acceptable practice. In their view, heresy on key issues of the faith was such a serious problem that genuine apostates could not be allowed to live and had to be put to death as a lesson to others. I live in the middle of Oxford, a few hundred yards down the street from the Memorial to the Martyrs Ridley and Latimer, who were burned at the stake in the 1550s. Those were terrible times. We look back and say, ‘How could they possibly have done that out of misplaced zeal and loyalty to God and the gospel? What was that about?'”


TASS_20426370“How Russia’s War in Ukraine Has Impacted its Christian Image” – Ryan Bauer in The Moscow Times: “Over the past decade, the Russian government has taken pains to present itself as a bastion of Christianity and traditional values. The Kremlin has used this image of religiosity and its close relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church as a mechanism to promote its interests domestically, as well as cultivate ties with similarly fundamentalist-minded supporters abroad. Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, however, there have been noticeable cracks in the receptivity of this messaging strategy. Traditional religious allies of Russia in the West have begun speaking out against the war and, in particular, the Russian Orthodox Church’s support of it. This recent trend of criticism, and declining global support for both Moscow and the Church, presents a significant and under-appreciated challenge for Russia’s ability to promote its interests and influence. In the U.S., Russia has long garnered support from various groups and figures in America’s conservative Christian communities. In these communities, Putin and the Church have successfully cast themselves as champions of Christian values, willing to do battle with what many parishioners perceive as a moral decay in the West. Russian propaganda has bolstered this perception, as well as the supposed danger of liberalism pushed by Western governments, which Russia portrays as a threat to conservative ideals.”


Music: U2, “Grace,” from All That You Can’t Leave Behind

I believe in the resurrection of the body

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 Apostles’ Creed in our daily lives.

This weekend I continued preaching on the third article of the creed: “I believe in the resurrection of the body.”

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


“Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’” 

(John 11:25-26)

The Resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:3-8; John 20)

The physical death of Jesus

The physical resurrection of Jesus

Present Resurrection for Us through Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:12-14; Ephesians 1:18-20; Colossians 3; Galatians 5)

Joined with Jesus’ death and resurrection through faith now

Resurrection power at work within our lives now 

Future Resurrection for Us through Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:20-49; 1 Thessalonians 4; Revelation 20)

Our future bodily resurrection will look like Jesus’ bodily resurrection (1 Cor 15:20-28)

Our resurrection bodies will be like and unlike our present bodies (1 Cor 15:35-49):

  • Perishable → Imperishable
  • Dishonor → Glory
  • Weakness → Power
  • Naturally animated body → Spiritually animated body

Living Out Our Belief in the Resurrection of the Body

Praise God the Father for the resurrection of Jesus resurrection

Live by faith now in our bodies for God’s glory 

Live with hope for future resurrection bodies


Dig Deeper

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

From there he will come to judge the living and the dead

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 last phrase of the second article of the creed on Jesus the Son, which concludes with this statement: “From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.”

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.


“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.” (Matthew 25:31)

“From there he will come” (Acts 1:11)

“To judge the living and the dead” (Matthew 25:31-32; John 3:16-17)

Jesus and Judgment Now

Judgment now as Jesus speaks truth (Matthew 7:28-29; John 5:24)

Judgment now as Jesus bears the Cross (John 12:31-33; Isaiah 53:40-6)

Jesus and Judgment in the Future

Jesus and our death – encountering judgment at death (Hebrews 9:27-28)

Jesus’ return – the revelation of Jesus as judge at His second parousia (Matthew 25:31; 2 Timothy 4:1)

Jesus and the final judgment – King Jesus sets makes things new (Luke 12:8-9; Matthew 7:21-23; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; Revelation 21:1-5)

Living in Light of Jesus’ Return and Judgment

Walking with Jesus now everyday

Speaking of Jesus to othersLooking forward in faith and hope to our future with Jesus


Dig Deeper

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

  • Memorize Matthew 25:31-32 or Revelation 21:1-5
  • Draw, ink, or paint Revelation 21:1-5 as a basis for prayer. Take time to talk with God as you depict these verses in your own way. What is God speaking to you?
  • Consider reading: