Archive for March 2012

Easter Week Services

If you live in the southern Saskatchewan area and are looking for some Easter week services, here is what is going on at St. Aidan Anglican Church in Moose Jaw:

Palm Sunday Celebration

Sunday, April 1, 10:30 a.m.

Holy Tuesday
Taize Service 7 p.m.

Holy Wednesday
Tenebrae, 7 p.m. (Psalms and readings marking the themes of despair and darkness just before Jesus’ ultimate victory over death.)

Maundy Thursday
Agape Meal 6 p.m.
Holy Eucharist with Foot-Washing 7 p.m.

Good Friday
Stations of the Cross 10 a.m.
Celebration of the Lord’s Passion 3 p.m.

Easter Sunday, April 8
Lighting of the New Fire, blessing of the Paschal Candle and select readings from the Great Vigil 7:30 a.m.
Full breakfast after the service 8 a.m.
Easter Sunday Celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection with Holy Eucharist at 10:30 am

Education for Women in the Reformation: My Brain Wears Man Pants!

“I should prefer that all women, even of the lowest rank, should read the evangelists and the epistles of Paul…” ~ Erasmus

The issue of education and women in the Reformation era is fascinating. On the one hand, there was a spirit of equality in the Protestant call that the Scriptures be available and read by the common lay person. This included women. On the other hand, there was a distinct difference in the quality and level of education between men and women in Protestantism.

With the closing of convents, women who came from lesser societal ranks who could have entered the convent and received an education, were instead directed to study the domestic skills. (Katharina Luther appears to be an example of a woman from a common background who benefited greatly from her time in the convent. She not only learned theology, she also learned how to interact with nobility thanks to the sisters who came from that higher background).

With the emphasis on gender roles, and on the woman’s duty to submission and modesty, higher education was not seen as appropriate for women whose God-gifted calling was to love her husband, tend house and have babies.

Indeed, learning was, in some ways, a dangerous thing. Women who were highly educated were viewed with suspicion. A highly educated woman was of the same rank as an unchaste woman, because these highly educated women often chose a life of education rather than the God-ordained life of marriage. As Kirsi Stjerna writes, “Learned women, who often opted not to marry, interrupted normalcy and were suspect of unchastity. Normal, chaste women married men, not scholarship.

There was something wrong with a woman who would choose higher education over the domestic life. While this may be a little bit hyperbolic, there is power in the description by Patricia Lablame, “A woman who excelled intellectually disregarded the boundaries of her sex and mental powers…She became an intellectual transvestite.

That is not to say that there were no highly educated women, indeed there were. But these women tended to be women of privilege, nobility or power. We have looked at a few of these women of the Reformation in the last couple of weeks. Women who wrote and spoke boldly on theological issues. Women like Argula von Grumbach, Marie Dentiere, and Jeanne D’Albret.

Further Reading:
Women and the Reformation by Kirsi Stjerna
Women of the Reformation in France and England by Roland Bainton
Beyond their Sex: Learned Women of the European Past by Patricia Labalme

It’s Not a Throwback to the 50’s; It’s a Throwback to the 1500’s

I have been fascinated by the discussion raging between complementarians and egalitarians as to what ideal this notion of biblical womanhood is upholding. For many egalitarians, this complementarian emphasis on ‘biblical womanhood’ it is nothing more than a throwback to the *idyllic* 1950’s.

But as I read through Reformation Era material, I am beginning to see that it is here that the seedbed of wifedom and motherhood as the highest (and only?) calling for Christian women begins to take specific theological shape.
Prior to the Reformation, there was a place for women who did not necessarily want to get married and have children, for those who felt called to full time ministry and desired to study: The convent. The convents became safe communities for single women to pursue religious devotion and study in a way that was both permissible and encouraged. Abbesses would have been strong leaders and well-learned women who had spent decades serving her sisters.

But with the Protestant reformation, many of these convents were forced to close if they were in “Protestant territory.” What was the calling of a woman in these Protestant circles, when convents were closed for being seed-beds of Catholic insurrection?

Not only were convents closed for being relics of Catholicism, but the offices of prophesying and mystical experiences that was also common in Catholicism was frowned upon by the Protestants, because mystical experiences were in no way equal to the firm exposition of Scripture. Thus, the ministry of mystical writings, one in which women could participate in, was also eliminated in Protestant circles.

It is in light of this that a theology of wifedom and motherhood began to be foundational in Protestant thought. The most holy vocation for Protestant service for women was marriage. Motherhood was a divine and noble calling for women. As well, men were commanded to ensure the proper submission of their wives, and in Protestant communities ordinances were passed to ensure that wives practiced the virtues of submission and obedience. Indeed, women would be saved through childbearing (1 Tim 2:15)

Interestingly, a shift in the theology of marriage was also developing. The scriptural foundation, “Be fruitful and multiply” was replaced with “it is not good for man to be alone.” As well, marriage would become more than a legal contract; it became a spiritual covenant entered into freely by both partners. This was due in large part to the decline in bethrothal marriages. There was no guarantee that a baby born in one faith (Catholic or Protestant) and promised to another child at the age of two would still be a Catholic (or Protestant) when they came of age.

The Reformation created the vocation of Pastor’s wife. It was not uncommon for nuns to convert to Protestantism and marry Protestant pastors (just think of Martin Luther and his wife Katherina). These pastors’ wives were expected to keep home, have babies, provide hospitality, and support their husbands in their pastoral duties. They would even be ‘godmothers’ to new believers in the faith. Pastors’ wives became the main Christian office for women who felt called to serve and be active in leadership. But, this leadership was still primarily domestic in nature.

Next up: Education for Women in the Reformation: My Brain Wears Man Pants!

Further Reading:

Crisis and Renewal by R. Ward Holder
Women and the Reformation by Kirsi Stjerna
Women of the Reformation in France and England by Roland Bainton

Motivational Monday

Sunday Meditation

Random Blog Posts and Stuff

New research over at Ed Stetzer’s blog suggests that the Young, Restless and Reformed movement of Calvinism isn’t growing among mainline or non-mainline churches. I find this fascinating given how how prolific their blog/web presence seems to be:

Some highlights of the research:

• 29% are strongly neither – strongly disagree with both the Calvinist and Arminian labels
• 12% are strongly Arminian – strongly agree to being theologically Arminian and strongly disagree to being Calvinist
• 10% are strongly Calvinist – strongly agree to being theologically Calvinist and strongly disagree to being Arminian
• 4% are strongly confused – strongly agree to being both theologically Calvinist and Arminian
• Pastors under age 45 are more likely than other age groups to strongly disagree they are Arminian

Lots of questions remain. There is an assumption out there that Calvinism is growing (hence the books we discussed in the video), but we do not see it nationally through this study. Both people who like and those who dislike Calvinism see such growth, but we do not see it in the survey– and, for that matter, we cannot tell if the 2006 SBC graduate trend continued.


Daniel Kirk dons a hoodie:

And, so, in solidarity with black Americans, who apparently must continue to live in fear that merely the color of their skin will make them objects of violence, I am taking up the theme of the “million hoodie march” and changing my online profile pictures to this…I cannot be in New York or Philadelphia for a million hoodie march, but I can show my little corner of the world that I stand against the evil of racial hatred and the violence that comes from profiling.

Has anyone been compiling a list of the Christian websites or blogs that have been addressing the tragic death of Trayvon Martin? I know that John Piper has written about it. Who else?

Leslie writes A Blogger Remind Other Bloggers Why We Blog:

Some bloggers are, first and foremost, writers. But some are pastors, or professors, or students, or techies, or lawyers, or booksellers, or members of a small band of revolutionaries trying to change the world. Yes, blogs need to be easy to locate, navigate and read. And like anyone to whom God gives even a small platform, bloggers should be committed to becoming better communicators by listening to the people who can help them do it. But rankings, hits, subscribers, and blogrolls are not why we write.

And if they are, we become susceptible to the temptation of saying to God that the voice He has given us isn’t the one we want.

When it happens (and it is a “when,” not an “if”) that a blogger begins to give in to the siren song of thinking that maybe the voice that God has given them should start sounding more like all the other voices (1 Corinthians 12 comes to mind here), it’s time stop writing, at least for a little while, and spend some time in silence listening.

Adam Nigh asks did Jesus’ death satisfy God’s wrath?:

Does God need the death of Christ in order to love us? No! We do! Does his sense of justice stand in his way of him loving us until Christ satisfies it, only then leaving him free to love us? No! It was because God loved us that he sent his only Son (John 3:16)! It is us that need justice to be satisfied. It is us that need the law in order to know that we are sinners (Romans 7:7) and us that need the demands of the law fulfilled on our behalf.


And it is all Eric‘s fault that I want to reactivate my World of Warcraft account. Either that or have a Big Bang Theory marathon. Oh, or both at the same time! All because he sent me this clip on Facebook:

A Few Incoherent Thoughts on Leaving The Church

By now you’ve probably all seen Rachel Held Evans’ two posts on why she left/returned to the church. The conversation over there has been fantastic. One of my favourite reactions/interactions is Hannah’s over at Sometimes a Light. Of Hannah’s 15 reasons to stay, these three are my favourite:

I believe that there is no such thing as Church (with a capital “C”) without church (with a lower case “c”)–as messy and as difficult as that may be.

I believe that 2000 years of church history holds a bit more weight than my personal experience.

I need the church to regularly remind me about the things that I don’t like in the Scripture. Things like God’s anger and my sinfulness–things that if left to myself, I would conveniently ignore or rationalize.

In the midst of all this talk about reasons for staying and leaving, I have also been diligently plowing through Barth’s introduction to his doctrine of reconciliation (section 57 in CD IV/1) for a paper I’m writing for my class on Forgiveness and Reconciliation.

In this section, Barth is discussing how Jesus is Emmanuel, God with Us, and what that means for the Christian message. Jesus, in becoming human, is God with Us. He does not stand apart from us, aloof, or overly spiritual, away from the mess of humanity. He became human. He entered the mess. In becoming Emmanuel, God has covenanted and bound himself to humanity. God is faithful to his promise of covenant, even when humanity is not faithful. And God became human in Jesus precisely because “he cannot tolerate that this covenant should be broken, because He wills to uphold and fulfill it even though it is broken.” (CD IV/1 pg.36)

Jesus came into the mess. That is incarnation. And I think sometimes we forget this. I think we end up spiritualizing the church, in an almost gnostic sense, that it has to be this thing apart from the human mess. But Jesus is the head of the Body. And Jesus was human. He lived in the mess. He covenanted and fulfilled the covenant so that humanity in its very humanity could be reconciled to God. Indeed, Barth says that God’s redemption “does not mean the extinguishing of our humanity, but its establishment.” (CD IV/1, pg.14).

The question then becomes what is the church? Barth’s answer in this particular section is that the church is the witness. Our task as witnesses is to speak “the word of reconciliation” which is proclaiming the reconciliation that has taken place through the atoning life of Jesus, and making it known to the world “which is still in the grip of the most profound and tragic self-deception.” (CD IV/1 pg.77)

In response to ‘God With Us’ we become ‘We With God’ and this is at the heart of the Christian virtues of faith, hope and love. ‘We With God’ means “to admit that God is right, to be thankful for it, to accept the promise and the command which it contains , to exist as the community, and responsibly in the community…” (CD IV/1 pg.15)

Even amidst all the funky stuff that the church does, it is still a witness. Even if we don’t like how it’s done, or the human stupidity that comes with it, the church is still witnessing to the gospel and it is still ‘We With God.’

And so, I don’t think we can separate the church (little c or big c) from the event that Jesus is “God With Us”. We can’t say, “I’m down with Jesus but I’m not down with the church.” And I don’t know that we can say, “I am Christian” while denying the Body of believers who are the Body of Christ. I don’t know that we can separate ourselves from the church, as if we are somehow better, or more spiritual than it is. To do so is to respond to God’s event of ‘God With Us’ with ingratitude instead of gratitude. To do so is to deny the reality of the Incarnation.

I Don’t Want to Be Just As I Am

Sometimes I miss the pentecostal tradition. I miss the fire and enthusiasm. But most importantly I miss the theology that God changes us. I miss the belief and practice that when we encounter the Holy Trinity through the power of the Holy Spirit we are not the same person we were when we walked in the door. I miss the testimonies of lives being radically changed. I miss worshipping and celebrating the God who heals.

I say this because I’m finding myself growing frustrated with the theology I am seeing in North American Christianity. It’s the “Just As I Am” theology. Yes it is true that we can come to God just as we are, but “Just As I Am” theology goes a step farther and advocates that we stay just the way we are.

This theology makes us dictate what God can and can’t do.

It makes us the boss over God. “Here I am God, just as I am, I like it, you can’t change me, you just have to accept me as I am, because I am fine the way I am, and You love me just the way I am.

We not only tell the Church (pastors, elders, official church teaching) that they can’t tell us that we’re wrong, that we’re broken, (who are you to judge? we tell them), but we also tell God that He can’t tell us we’re wrong, we’re broken.

Where does this come from? Does it come from our doctrine of making a decision for Christ? Do you believe? Say this prayer, say these words. Now you’re in. That’s all that matters. It’s a head thing, and an emotional heart thing. But it’s not a life-changing thing.

Does it come from an overemphasis on justification by faith? We are justified by faith, Jesus’ blood covers over us but doesn’t change us, because what matters is that his blood just covers. We are sinners, we always will be sinners, now we’re just justified sinners.

Where is our doctrine of sanctification? Where are our celebrations of how God has changed us, how he is still changing us, and how he will change us? Where is our proclamation that the Holy Spirit indwells us, that the new is come, the old has passed away? Where is our robust doctrine of baptism, that proclaims that through the waters of baptism we have died to our old selves, died to sin, and are raised to new life through Christ?

What happens when we say to God, come in and do what you need to do? Will it hurt? Probably. Will it be a struggle? Sure. But by not opening ourselves to God’s cleansing fire we’re also missing out on the incredible blessing, the incredible intimacy that comes from the Holy Spirit washing us through and through.

I remember who I was and what I was like before Jesus got a hold of my life. I don’t want that. If I had said “Just as I am and you can’t change me” to him 16 years ago, two things are certain: One, I’d be a very different person today. And two, I probably wouldn’t have stayed in the Church, I wouldn’t have stayed a Christian. I am a Christian because I am a new creation. I am a Christian because the God of the Universe loved me so much to not leave me “just as I am.” And he continues to love me and not leave me “just as I am.” God heals. God transforms. God renews.

I don’t want to be just as I am.

The Writing Process

When we were in high school we were all taught how to write a formal research paper: Thesis, outline, etc. There was only one way and the teachers would make us hand in an outline of the paper a week before it was due. I hated this. Usually I would write the paper first, and then create an outline from what I had written. I have learned, after having been in school for so long, that different papers require different approaches.

Sometimes I have a very structured outline to write from, down to every single paragraph.

Sometimes I have a broad outline, structured by theme or major point.

Sometimes I have to just start writing, and not necessarily from the beginning, but from the middle.

Sometimes I have to write the paper backwards.

Sometimes I write my thesis and original ideas and then supplement with sources.

Sometimes I start with the sources and then build my idea around them.

Sometimes the structure isn’t so much linear as it is circular (thank you Barth).

Sometimes I have to start writing it as a devotional to myself, and then go back and take out all the “I” and “we” and replace them with more formal language.

Sometimes I draw the paper out as a flow chart or bubble chart.

It all depends on the topic. It depends on the discipline. It depends on how much experience I have in writing on this particular topic. It depends on my mood. It depends on my deadline. It depends on how creative I am feeling. It depends on the material I am working with.

What keeps all of this from falling apart and becoming some sort of willy-nilly, airy-fairy undisciplined mess, is preparation. I spend weeks researching. I read. I take notes. Then I read some more. I live in the material. The material becomes an old worn out sweater that is comfy and cozy. And once it becomes a little rank from wearing it too long, then I know that I’m ready to take off the sweater and turn it into a 10 page (20 page, 30 page, thesis length) masterpiece. 70% of my time is spent researching, and only 20% is spent actually writing. Most important is the 10% spent editing. Editing is key.

And so, my advice: don’t wait until the last minute to write your paper. If you leave it until two or three days before the due date one, or usually all of the components (researching, writing and editing), will be compromised. And trust me, professors can tell which papers were written the night before the due date.

Motivational Monday