Reflections on Bringing the Word to Life

August 12, 2011

Today marks two weeks since I started writing this blog. It’s Saturday, so I’m hoping you will give me a moment of personal privilege. In this post I’d like to reflect on what the writing discipline is meaning to me, some of the feedback I am getting from my readers, and some commitments for its continuance.

Bringing the Word to Life

“Bringing the Word to Life” has been my passion for decades. I am a teacher at heart and thrive in an environment of learning and transmission. For a long time, my particular concern has been to equip folks who have not gone to seminary with the basics of biblical theology. Various ideas to accomplish this have captured my imagination, but then “life happens” and they do not come into being.

However, my sense is growing more urgent that bringing Word to Life must be a focus of our life together, or we will lose a generation of elders (and perhaps their pastors) to the theological drifts lapping at our boat (the PCUSA).  It is probably more accurate to say that these theological drifts have become riptides, pulling our people under water and out to sea.

My Commitment

For this reason, I will continue what I am doing, with the hope that what I write can be useful to my readers for teaching, correction, and even rebuke if needed—though when I mention rebuke, I am first talking sternly to myself! You can help me “scratch where you itch” by sharing the theological drift(s) you perceive to be confusing God’s people in your part of the garden. Please post a comment at any time to get my attention, and I will respond to you directly.

Meanwhile, this writing thing has become a significant part of my life and spiritual disciplines. I hope to post Monday through Saturday and reserve Sunday for Sabbath (that is, no writing).  There will be exceptions to this general rule due to travel, but I trust you’ll hang in there with me over time. If you “subscribe,” then you’ll always be alerted when a new post has been uploaded.

My general goal as to length is between 500 and 600 words. If I seem to stop short (like “More Garden Theology” yesterday), it’s probably because I realized I had reached my limit. The great thing about a blog: there’s always tomorrow to elaborate!

Your Commitment

Because these pieces are meant to be useful, permission is granted to copy them with attribution (by Mary Holder Naegeli, wordtolife.wordpress.com/) for private or instructional use, but not for sale.

Housekeeping Matters

I have been requested to increase the font size and boldness for easier reading. Tell me if this post is more readable. The whole blogging enterprise is new to me; I need a little “reverse mentoring” from the web masters in my life.

I will be expanding my Categories options so that my readers can find past posts more easily. “Garden Theology” will be one of them, since it is one of the quotes by which people remember me: “It all started in the Garden!”

May the Lord bless every one of my readers as they toil in their row of the Garden. Thank you for your support and prayers.

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11 Responses to “Reflections on Bringing the Word to Life”

  1. Jake Horner Says:

    Mary,

    I think there is an urgent need to educate elders in the fundamentals of the Reformed faith. Our theology is really a beautiful reflection of God’s revelation in Scripture; my experience is that our elders just don’t know it. And we know that ‘nature hates a vacuum.’

    There is a tremendous amount of ground you could cover, based on your comments above. I might boldly suggest choosing one to the historic confessions and using it as a framework for your musings.

    Jake H.

    • revmary Says:

      Thank you for the back-up, Jake! I’m not clear on what you meant by your very last sentence (is a word missing perchance?) Or do you mean “choose one of the historic confessions as a framework”?

  2. Jake Horner Says:

    Whoops! you are correct. It should read “…choosing one of…”

  3. William L. Goff Says:

    To this point your blog seems to be dedicated to a campaign to save the church (at least the UPCUSA) from the evil of homosexuality. How about a little background on how you came to this issue? How about going beyond the legal techanalities of who should be denied ordination and the hermaneutics you use to defend to your position to a personal and pastoral concern? How do you treat the lesbian Christian woman in your congregation? Should she be told her same sex attraction is a sin that is condemned by God? Would you encourage her to get reprogrammed? Would you allow her to marry a same sex partner? Would you encourage elders to stone her to death based on a verse in Leviticus?
    You are aware that devout, Bible believing Christians have held to the idea that the earth was the center of the universe, that slavery and the subordination of women were God’s will. Where did these believers go wrong? What made them change their minds? Should this history not give us all a sense of humility as we wrestle with the perplexing issue of the inclusion or banning of homosexuals in the church and society?
    The Rev. Dr. William L. Goff (honorbly retired from UPCUSA)

    • revmary Says:

      Good morning, Dr. Goff! Your post poses several questions, each one of which is involved enough to be answered in a separate post. Jake, in reply, did a nice job of encapsulating pastoral responses—I have not met Jake, but it sounds like he and I are singing off the same page. . . I will make just two brief comments here, otherwise, “stay tuned.” Firstly, I am dedicated not to saving the church—not my job—but to bringing the word to life. That means applying the Word of God to real life, believing the Scriptures to be “a lamp to our feet, and a light for our path.” Secondly, you’d probably be surprised at the pastoral concern I have had the privilege of extending to gay/lesbian people and couples over the years. I don’t talk about that here, because for the people involved, confidentiality was important and tenderly guarded. There is one story I will tell, in a blog post later, that might explain a lot about my engagement with “this issue.” But not until I have finished my current topic and reflected on the Minneapolis meeting. Blessings to you in retirement; I’m glad to see that you are cultivating and modeling humility in your intellectual pursuits. In truth and grace, Mary

  4. Jake Horner Says:

    Mary,

    I get up earlier than you since I live on the East coast : D
    so I thought I’d take a shot at responding to Dr. Goff.

    My $0.02:

    Q: How do you treat the lesbian Christian woman in your congregation?
    A: The same as everyone else.

    Q: Should she be told her same sex attraction is a sin that is condemned by God?
    A: Sexual attraction is adiaphoron, as far as I can tell. The issue is not how you are wired (everyone’s wiring is messed up since the fall), but what you do with it. The scriptural (and loving) response to anyone who habitually engages in any practice that the Bible names as sin ought to be subjected to the discipline of the Church for their own wellbeing. This is the loving response of a loving church.

    Q: Would you encourage her to get reprogrammed?
    A: no. I would trust Jesus to work in my parishioner’s life to bring about the transformation of her entire life—that we are all in desperate need of—that only the Holy Spirit can bring, and I would look forward to seeing what Jesus does.

    Q: Would you allow her to marry a same sex partner?
    A: It’s not my job to either allow or disallow her. But I would tell her that I would not do it myself, and that doing so would endanger her salvation. This is my loving response under the Gospel.

    Q: Would you encourage elders to stone her to death based on a verse in Leviticus?
    A: no.

    You are aware that devout, Bible believing Christians have held to the idea that the earth was the center of the universe, that slavery and the subordination of women were God’s will. Where did these believers go wrong?
    A: Those are all straw men.

    Q: What made them change their minds? Should this history not give us all a sense of humility as we wrestle with the perplexing issue of the inclusion or banning of homosexuals in the church and society?
    A: We should all be humble regardless of the issue confronting the Church, we are all sinners redeemed by grace after all. But that doesn’t mean we cave on the issue Satan is using to attack the church in our generation. As Martin Luther said: “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God except that point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved and to be steady on all the battlefields besides is mere flight and disgrace if [s]he flinches at that point.”

    I’m looking forward to your wisdom, Mary.

    In Christ,

    Jake H.

  5. Jake Horner Says:

    True confession: I’m not a pastor yet, I’m a student at PTS (Pittsburgh). At this point I’m trying to discern whether or not I want to be ordained in the PCUSA.


  6. Jake – The Aquila Report would like permission to reprint from your blog from time to time. We will start with the July 4 post. thanks.

    email to don@metokos.org. I am News Editor

    Don

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