The Weekend Wanderer: 4 April 2020

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.


Washington D.C.'s National Cathedral Webcasts Sunday Mass Due To Coronavirus“Christianity Offers No Answers About the Coronavirus. It’s Not Supposed To” – NT Wright’s essay in Time speaks to how lacking most answers are right now and how important it is to recover one of the most biblical responses to a situation like the COVID-19 pandemic. “Rationalists (including Christian rationalists) want explanations; Romantics (including Christian romantics) want to be given a sigh of relief. But perhaps what we need more than either is to recover the biblical tradition of lament. Lament is what happens when people ask, ‘Why?’ and don’t get an answer. It’s where we get to when we move beyond our self-centered worry about our sins and failings and look more broadly at the suffering of the world.”


116514“Arab Christians Have Lost Easter Before. Here’s What They Learned” – Our church has good friends around the globe, many of whom are in the Middle East: Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and more. The instability of the region during many years caused disruption of worship services and fellowship that have parallels to our present moment with the COVID-19 pandemic. This article from Christianity Today reflects largely on the Coptic and Maronite Christian realities and what we might be able to learn from it.


Anti-Asian Racism“Statement on Anti-Asian Racism in the Time of COVID-19” – My wife, Kelly, and I were talking with a dear friend from Asia who related to us some of the ways prejudice against Asians is rising in our country, including recent anti-Chinese graffiti at the UW-Madison campus. In talking with another friend living in the Middle East, I heard about similar things happening there. As Christians, we must unequivocally stand against this sort of thing. I was glad to hear the Asian-American Christian Collaborative drafted this “Statement on Anti-Asian Racism in the Time of COVID-19.”


Screen Shot 2020-04-03 at 11.12.55 AM“Pregnant in a Pandemic: Coping and Hoping” – Betsy Childs Howard: “A month ago, my mind was filled with the normal concerns of a first-time mom anticipating birth. What did I need to buy for the baby? What should I take to the hospital, and how would I get there? Who would be available from our family to help me after the birth, and when should they arrive? Then we all became aware of COVID-19, and I realized the remaining weeks of my pregnancy would be far from normal.”


ap_20089618290522_custom-4f7db72fa3acfc7d781ba78ee98ab2da873fd7a9-s1500-c85“States Consider Whether Religious Services Qualify As ‘Essential'” – After the arrest of controversial evangelist and pastor Rodney Howard-Browne for resisting state guidelines for public health during this pandemic, states around the country continue to debate whether to consider religious services as “essential” or not. South Korea has wrestled with this as one cult group became the source of a major outbreak and the government is considering legal action against those who defy public health guidelines . Regardless of the governmental orders, the joint statement by the NAE and Christianity Today (which I posted here last week) offers some guidance on how to think about whether to cancel or not cancel services. That being said, in the midst of a clear global health emergency, we have to wrestle with what it means to love God with all of who we are while also loving our neighbor. I would like to suggest that foolishness in regards to public health is neither honoring to God nor loving to our neighbor. If we’re honest this is less about cancelling than about retooling in a time of crisis so as to love God and love our neighbors well.


richc“Rich Christians in an Age of Coronavirus”Matt Soerens of World Relief takes Ron Sider’s old book title, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, and applies it to the current moment and the expected stimulus Americans will receive from the government. In a time when so many needs loom large, Soerens asks, how then should we live, as rich Christians in an age of coronavirus? What would happen if we offered our portion of the stimulus to help those in need?


Stone Churches Ethiopia“Dreams of Stone: Searching for paradise in Ethiopia’s rock churches” – This is not your typical look at churches as Ishion Hutchinson, a Rastafarian from Jamaica, experiences the ancient Christian tradition in Ethiopia. Sometimes it’s good to see your own tradition through different eyes. “As we neared Biete Medhane Alem, a service was underway; the sounds of Geez, the ancient Ethiopic liturgical language, resonated through the mighty stone pillars that greeted me before the structure itself—an auditory monument, the presence of numinous poetry, an intimation of the enormous space before me, undulating and wide….as I turned a corner, I saw the praying people. Robed splendidly, mostly in white shawls, the supplicants shuttled through the rock passages.”


Old-Vintage-Books“Why Pastors Should Be Good Readers” – Here is Philip Ryken, President of Wheaton College and former Senior Pastor of Tenth Presbyterian in Philadelphia, speaking to the reading life of pastors. While studying with Phil’s father, Leland Ryken, at Wheaton College, I made the life-changing decision to become an English major instead of a Bible major as an undergrad. Of course, after college I went on to receive the MDiv degree with all the Bible and theology classes necessary. However, I am so glad I made that decision in my earlier studies.


 

Music: Fernando Ortega, “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded,” from Hymns and Meditations

[I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to help me think more deeply and broadly.]

April 16 Update on Pastor Andrew Brunson

Andrew Brunson 2.jpgAs a graduate of Wheaton College (IL), I received this email just moments ago related to Pastor Andrew Brunson, who is also an alumnus of the college. While this is a call to prayer for the Wheaton College campus and extended community, I encourage you to join in the spirit of this intercessory prayer wherever you may be.

As even mainstream news media have reported, Brunson is caught up as a pawn in the political machinations between the United States and Turkey. Even for those who are not Christians or religious at all, this should cause concern for religious freedom and tolerance in the public square. Sam Brownback, US ambassador-at-large for religious freedom, who is observing the trial, said: “The United States cares deeply about our relationship with Turkey. That relationship is going to have difficulty moving forward as long as Andrew Brunson is incarcerated.”

Earlier today Rev. Andrew Brunson ’88 began to stand trial in a Turkish courtroom. We invite all Wheaton College alumni to join our campus community in praying for his acquittal and immediate release. For more information, read the call to prayer below from the Office of the Chaplain.

Philip Ryken
President


TO: Campus Community
FROM: The Office of the Chaplain
RE: Prayers for Alumnus Andrew Brunson

Dear Friends,

As many of you know, we have been praying for the release of ’88 alumnus and Protestant Pastor, Andrew Brunson, from the time of his arrest in Izmir, Turkey on October 7, 2016 to the present. Imprisoned and held on false charges of terrorism, it is widely believed that Andrew is being used as a political pawn by the Turkish government to leverage the extradition of Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania and is believed by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to be behind an attempted rebellion to overthrow the government in July of 2016.

Prior to his arrest, Pastor Brunson had peacefully lived and ministered in Turkey for 23 years.

Rev. Brunson has been scheduled to appear in court this Monday, April 16 at 9:00 am (1:00 am on Monday our time). If the charges against him are upheld — claiming he supported both the secessionist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) guerrilla movement, and the outlawed organization of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, Pastor Brunson could be sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Please pray for God’s peace to enfold Andrew, his wife Norine and their children. Pray that Andrew will know the reality of God’s presence with him and His love for him, and be able to trust Him with his life and future. Pray for the Lord to give Andrew words to say before the Turkish lawyers and government officials who are trying to trap and condemn him. Pray for the Lord to oversee all that happens in the courtroom.

Most importantly, pray for the glory and renown of the Name of the Lord in the country of Turkey, once the seat of power of the Christian ruler Constantine. Pray, as in Daniel’s day, the power of the Lord will be revealed and the fear of the Lord would spread, overtaking the government rulers and officials who seek to dismiss and destroy His own. Pray that many in the country of Turkey and in the world will believe in the Lord as an outcome of Andrew’s imprisonment.

If you would like to join others in prayer, students have planned a prayer vigil in Gold Star Chapel in the Beamer Center throughout the day and night on Sunday, with plans to sing his hymn at 8:00 pm.

Thank you for praying and seeking the Lord on Andrew’s behalf.

Chaplain’s Office

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