Theological ThinkTank

EMMANUEL – Christmas 2012

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Good afternoon/evening my friends!

So, just as promised, here I am blogging twice in one week! aghast! But I was really motivated this time to talk about something I noticed was a constant theme this year during the Christmas season.  Not only was it a theme to be reminded of during the hardships of the month of December worldwide but also I went to TWO separate Christmas eve services where this topic was referenced in the sermon… and, well, there’s a christmas carol “O Come, O Come…”….

EMMANUEL
The word “Immanuel” comes from a combination of a few Hebrew words.   Simple words really.  But they have an enormous impact.  “Imm” is a participle and cane having meanings of “with” or “among.” The second portion “anu” refers to a 1st person plural of “us” or “our.” And the final part “el” is actually a translation for “lord, master” but in the couple times it appears in the biblical text, refers to the LORD or God himself. According to the BDB manual for Hebrew words it means “with us is God” and symbolizes the presence of God to deliver his people.  Isaiah 7:14 use it and the Gospels point to this as the description of Jesus the Messiah…Immanuel, God with us. In fact, Matthew quotes the Isaiah text to point to Jesus’ birth…
After understanding the meaning of the word–it is easy to see why this is important to the Christmas story.  It is one of the names of Jesus (next to the term “Messiah”) that steams from the history of the Old Testament that predicts a coming deliverer or savior that will actually mean God has come down to His people.  It is a reflection of God amongst the Israelites in the wilderness, in the tabernacle, living in the Holy of Holies.  Ironically, this is the connection that John makes in his Prologue when he is talking about the WORD and dwelt among us.  It is the same meaning in Greek for the Hebrew of tabernacling.  
Connecting it to modern events : bad things have happened around the world this Christmas season.  Newtown, CT, China, Philippines, ongoing war in the middle east… And people always want to ask “Where is God.” And though I feel personally like my response would not necessarily help someone going through a tragedy, I always want to point out this theme, this word… that God is with us.  It’s not a question of where is He, because He is already there…the question is much deeper… more like why did this happen and how am I to move on… but blaming someone or trying to avoid the question cane sometimes be easier. 
So in conclusion– I think we should all think of Christmas as the Immanuel Season…the time of year we are reminded that God came to be with us, to live among us and to guide us through the life He not only experienced beside us but that He also has full control and authority over.  
–Shalom in Christ!–

CHRISTMAS IS A NEW BEGINNING…

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Once again, blog delayed.  In order to proper blog– must keep up to the daily thing.

So, I figured since the Christian’s year starts just before christmas… what better time to restart the blogging! And as I write this, I am watching the ever christmas favorite “Muppet Christmas Carol.” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Muppet_Christmas_Carol )  And the reason I prefer this version of the time-honored Dickens’ story is 1) The Music, 2) the Muppets and 3) the Message.   Here are the reasons why….

1) Music
       The music for MCC is unique.  For once a Christmas movie doesn’t take the traditional songs and bash them or take the department store songs and play them over and over.  The songs I believe are written for the movie, involve both the storyline and the characters (which is part of the reason I watch this version.)  It reminds me of Jim Henson’s funeral…the Muppets (including Big Bird and Elmo) were part of the service. Here’s a link http://youtu.be/KSE1Mtnnm4Y 

2) The Muppets
      Unlike most muppets movies, this is one that uses the muppet characters as characters in the Dickens’ story.  In fact, Gonzo is Dickens with commentary from Rizzo the Rat.  Kermit is Bob Cratchet, Fozzy as one of Scrooge’s employers.  Working with the humans (which, btw Michael Caine makes the best Scrooge, especially after you think of him as Batman’s butler and so forth…)  I think as a kid using the muppets made something familiar understandable and enjoyable.  Something we probably need to remember as a life lesson somewhere down the line.

and the most important….

3) The Message
    Now–the Christmas Carol message of giving and selflessness is standard.  You expect the ghosts, you expect the change of Scrooge.  It’s part of the tale.  HOWEVER… most christmas carol stories are afraid to play this out.  Afraid to even describe it.  But with MCC, Dickens (aka the Great Gonzo)  is narrating the story… so there is no adjustment from the book (minus creative interpretation.) MCC also incorporates the traditional muppets message of peace and giving.  Hence the ending song “the Love we Found…” It points to the importance of what Christmas leads to: the gift that came, the selflessness act of God coming as a child in Jesus.   Something unique to christmas stories.  Yay for Muppet Christmas Carol…

Yay for Jesus!

So remember the true meaning of Christmas…. and enjoy your christmas traditions that bring you there…

Busy Busy Busy

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Again I apologize for the far and few posts… Seminary has become a lot more busy this quarter since I have a total of 4 papers, 1 presentation and 3 full books to read within 10 weeks. I didn’t sign up for this because it was easy though… it just takes a lot of time to get through all these things

But blessings be! I have finally turned in my candidacy paperwork! Last Thursday to be exact. Now I am beginning the initial interview processes and psych evaluations which again, takes more time. Luckily these are necessary things I don’t mind doing since I truly feel God is calling me this way. There’s a joy and peace I only experiences when I’m at school or within “church” which seems to be lacking at work
Hopefully when I get a break at the end of March I can write something more in-depth and reflective 🙂

Just some Rambling again

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So this quarter at Fuller I’m taking another Systematic Theology class. Except this time of tryingto understand the many facets of God & the Trinity & what it means to be human, we’ve moved onto Christology (study of Christ, who He is & What He has done) and Sotierology (the study of salvation.) Say that 3 times fast.

Now–I will admit something I have never really thought of– though I am a Christian I have really evaluated my thoughts about Christ. I know, sound silly. Usually I think I throw my thoughts about God into the bunch & include Christ (because I think of the 3-n-1 more together all the time) but this class is causing me to really think of my definition. Not to question authority, just to think. Which has lead me to thinking about more of what I believe and what I believed I’m called to do.
There are many names & adjectives for Christ– Victor, Liberator, Savior, Lord, King of Kings, Prince of Peace… and all of these names really shape who

Christ becomes to a believer. I have realized that speaking truth (Scripturally speaking) of who Christ is will encourage those who are listening. Let me explain this better: I have been reading about Liberation theology–a thought that Jesus is more of a liberator for those being oppressed. Personally I believe that this is who Jesus is/was/will be all along. I mean, didn’t Jesus do this in the Bible sorta? Doesn’t what Jesus does in the Bible show He sets the captives free!? So my initial reaction to that liberation theology ends up being “well of course, duh…”
But I have become to realize that those who are oppressed, the ones it is directly affecting, need and should point out who Jesus is to them… because that is the real point. Jesus is real, His love, His death, resurrection. And to make it real people have to connect (something I would argue that 90% of the world refuses to do because of the effort it takes and the commitment it might mean) And as someone who wants to go into ministry… I suddenly realize that me learning all this stuff (which I love learning anyways…) is to eventually be able to show how Jesus and God and belief and faith and all that junk people think seminarians and ministers and priests learn that is too beyond their minds is actually what matters, what becomes important….is actually what they want to know, hear, speak, … LIVE.
So in layman’s terms… I am beginning to figure out why this all matters. Because though I love knowledge and I may have a gift of learning knowledge, God has created me to be able to use that gift. So, I think i’m getting somewhere…

New Year–New Stuff

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Hello everyone,

I apologize for the long awaited update. November was a busy month scholastically and December was just insane between finals & my long awaited sinus surgery. However, I figured as the New Year begins today (welcome 2011!) I would start off by updating my blog.
My first semester of seminary was fantastic! I think I enjoy the people the most. Everyone is there to become better equipped in whatever ministry they are doing and there is no hesitating claiming Christ out loud of praying in the middle of class. Sometimes I wish all learning in school was this exciting but we all know that’s just a wishful dream 🙂 I begin classes again for Winter Quarter on Monday– again back to the 3 nights a week after work and lots of reading & studying. In fact I just ordered my last books for class. I’ve never been so excited about all of this.
On a second note I did experience some wonderful things over break. One of the most amazing services ever was one of my seminary friends had her ordination. In addition to see the Bishop throw his hands up in praise while in his fully robs it was just an amazing service to watch someone publicly proclaim their ministry for the church. Keep in mind I grew up in a Methodist Church where ordination was 1 ceremony a year with everyone as opposed to other denominations who are ordained when they reach their church or ministry field. It was truly amazing!
Well, I’m outside @ Victoria Gardens right now and “cold” is beginning to define what I feel like. I will leave you all for now.
Shalom In Christ

Out of the ordinairy

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As I write this, I am hearing the buzzing of bugs & the chirp of crickets. yes folks, I’m in the South. South Carolina to be exact. Even though I am currently attending Fuller Seminary, the Lutheran candidacy requirements 1 year residence at a lutheran seminary so I am visiting Lutheran Southern Seminary in Columbia. This is a complete change from what I am used to. Even for what used to exist in Evansville. I feel completely out of my element & confused beyond belief. Yet… someone confused me for another student about 1/2 hour ago… as I was coming back into the apartment they are letting me use for the weekend. I’m really excited about this– I think it will all unfold as planned tomorrow when the event actually starts. And luckily there is a Lutheran church in walking distance that doesn’t have service until 11am! Wow… I can sleep in!

I don’t know what God is going to show me. I still feel he is calling me to Fuller–that I see revealing itself in my classes & fellow students. But at the same time I was walking around campus and noticed the amount of people who love dogs (dog stickers on cars, in the windows of apartments) and think that these people too may also be good. Maybe that is the message. I will have to spend some time digesting it.
Well, back to studying. Despite the “mini-vacation” (if you can call it that) I still have work to complete by Monday/Tuesday for classes… isn’t seminary exhilarating!

Blessings from Heaven

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So seminary studies are within full swing. And I feel that I am being showered with blessings and revelations from God in every class, with every interaction and through everyone. For example… I was struggling today with what it means to be a theologian and why I get excited about something I am not sure I what my calling is. and tonight in my systematic theology class we defined theology and what it means. And it was encouraging words to here the discussion of the lecture. I connected old memories with new ones, related my crazy Christian hippy music to a quote the teacher made of Thomas Merton (thank you Psalters) and felt the presence of God living there. I think that is truly the best part about seminary. And actually that was the answers to my prayer in class.

Lately I have been considering why I do theology. I think about this because I want to make sure this is what God is calling me towards: a life studying theology and either teaching it to people through a classroom or through a pulpit. Tonight we talked about how prayer & theology should be interrelated and I really enjoyed how Dr. Ok explained different theologians directing towards always inviting God into our studies because that His glory and promotion of his Kingdom is the ultimate goal. And especially we should pray because we are talking, speaking, dealing with the Lord’s “material” essentially and we should get our stuff straight (sorry–its late, my theological jargon is a little off.)
Another thing I have been trying to answer is why i get upset at my mom sometimes (yes, its related… if I should be acting in Christian love I shouldn’t be yelling & fighting with my mom.) So in praying to God about this concern over the last two nights in class I have heard how in Scripture we are called to live life & “always giving thanks to God” for what we go through, whether it be suffering of joyous. Last night in Greek we talked about this section in the text, tonight in systematic theology we look at the question “Did God cause 9/11?” and even if so (which I do not believe God would cause suffering) we are called as Christians to give thanks for such great mystery of faith & belief. Its scripture based, is encouraged by fellow believers. I think I should be more gracious. And tonight, by no action of my own, I realized I was thanking my mom for raising me in the church which allowed & supported my theological studies and thinking. And I thanked her for be herself, brains and all, for without that my brother and I would not be so… geeky. And I realized I was not only living out what I need to learn more of but also loving my mom as Christ does… which I know my mom needs more of.
Gracious living listening to God. That is my discovery for the day.