So I have been reading NT Wright. A friend turned me on to him a few years ago. I hadn’t spoken to this friend for years, and all of a sudden we started chatting up a storm over the course of a year, a couple of years ago now. We now are Facebook friends and comment on each other’s status occasionally, but a while back he suggested starting a blog. It has been a while, I think a couple more years since that suggestion. We worked at camp together in mid 90s (could it really be that long ago?) and rediscovered each other online. We have different theological traditions, so it was fun over the course of those chats, catching up on each other’s lives, and musing about many things theological.
Anyway, he is a big NT Wright fan, so I got some books. I’ve breezed through one on the Lord’s Prayer which I used for a summer series, but have had one sitting on my shelf for a long time starting me in the face. It was brand new when I got it, and the cover says 2008, so it has sat there long enough. A brief conversation with our seminary intern about NT Wright triggered some thoughts about Wright, and my friend, so I decided to pull it off the shelf and give it the old once over. Since it is only a week after Easter, I turned to the chapter on the topic leading to the creation of this blog.
NT Wright –
“This is our greatest day. We should put the flags out. In particular, if Lent is a time to give things up, Easter ought to be a time to take things up. Champagne for breakfast – of course. Christian holiness was never meant to be merely negative. Of course you have to weed the garden from time to time; sometimes the ground ivy may need some serious digging before you can get it out. That’s Lent for you. But you don’t want simply to turn the garden back into a neat bef of blank earth. Easter is the time to sow new seeds and to plant out a few cuttings. If Calvary means putting to death things in your life that need killing off if you are to flourish as a Christian and as a truly human being, then Easter should mean planting, watering, and training up things in your life (personal and corporate) that ought to be blossoming, filling the garden with color and perfume, and in due course bearing fruit. The forty days of the Easter season, until the ascension, ought to be a time to balance out Lent by taking something up, some new task or venture, something wholesome and fruitful and outgoing and self-giving…It might bring some Easter to your innermost life. It might help you wake up in a whole new way. And that’s what Easter is all about.” (NT Wright, Surprised by Hope. [New York: HarperOne, 2008], p. 257.)
Like many pastors and so many faithful Christians across time and space I find Lent and Easter wonderful, the apex of the year, the center of our faith. And like many, by now, I’m exhausted. But I am trying to take Wright to heart on this one. Easter is worth celebrating, not just on that great day, but for the season, if not our whole lives. We are supposed to be people of Easter after all. Baptism seems to me to make such a claim on us. Jesus does indeed make all things new, even for we who forget while working so hard to make sure others hear it.
So I have started something new. It is the Monday after the second Sunday in Easter, 12 April, 2010. Today I started this blog. I want to think out loud a little bit about the church, faith, life, and whatever else is on the mind. I’m going to try hard to stay on topic, and look constructively at what I am doing and what others are thinking about when it comes to these things. There is enough negativity out there about a great many things, and I’ve contributed along the way to such discussions. But Christ is risen and the old has passed away. I want to think positive about what I can do to be faithful, and use a forum like this to gather and share ideas.
Len Sweet talks about “throwing the anchor of tradition forward.” (Leonard Sweet, Aqua Church 2.0. [Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2008], pp. 87-91.) The idea is probably worth another post later on, but I think he is really on to something. How do we throw forward our tradition and faithful witness into the present and future, in a world torrent with so many crashing waves?
This is my question to take up, in joy, in faith, in conversation, and maybe with a little champagne.
Christ is risen!