Reflections by Fellow, Joanie Fasulo

Winter break is one of the only times in the year when I get to wake up to a blank calendar. Other than familial commitments and the occasional phone call, I get to spend my time freely and can even make the choice not to do anything productive. There is little to no question if I will be able to read my Bible or spend time in prayer  – time is in abundance. 

During the academic year, this is not the case. I go to bed each night, thinking about the flurry of activity that will begin the next morning – generally not stopping until late the next evening. Of course, I am the one choosing to live this hectic life – running from a morning behind the counter at Grit to a seminar on African American Political Thought and then to a lecture in the English department on Little Women. After that, it is off to spend time with community youth partners at Friendship Court and then to grab dinner at Newcomb before heading to Alderman for the night, taking little time in between any of these things (generally being late to most). 

These are all things I am happy to be doing. I love the people that I work with and I love that I get to listen to brilliant professors and peers talk about topics that interest me (and with one semester left, I have become even more grateful for my education here). However, during these hectic days, it is all too easy to get caught up in the here-and-now and neglect any part of life that isn’t on my to-do list (something we reflected on with David Foster Wallace’s This is Water as Horizons fellows). This can mean seeing far too few friends who draw me closer to the Lord, reading my Bible or going to church; or any combination of these things that help me to remember that I am a daughter of the King and that I have been promised life to the full. Forgetting my identity makes it harder to give and receive grace, love others well, and commit to a servant’s attitude – things that aren’t all that easy in the first place. After a summer diving deeper into many theological questions and practices, it became rather clear that the answer is almost always to spend more time with God – to seek comfort in the hard times and to celebrate in the good. So many of us know this to be true, yet we still struggle to do just that – at least, I know I do. When I came back to grounds this fall after my time spent working in a kitchen at a Christian study center on Martha’s Vineyard (perhaps the most idyllic summer job), I was so grateful that I had signed up to spend a larger chunk of time with the Theological Horizons team. 

As an Intern and a Fellow, the chunks in my calendar designated to TH are set apart from the rest of my commitments (and not just because they have their own color in my elaborate attempt at organization– one of my many outlets of procrastination). I step out of my frenetic pace and into the spaces that TH creates for me. These spaces are marked aside and often begin or end in prayer. Not only do I get to hear wisdom from vintage Christians on Fridays, I get to learn about their lives and read their quotes in preparation for sharing their words with students via weekly emails or social media posts. I get to receive wisdom and advice from my mentor who is further along in her walk with the Lord and is also passionate about caring for the community around her. Engaging in times of fellowship and encouragement extend beyond the times like evening prayer (here is a shameless plug for y’all – Wednesdays at 6pm, Lawn Room 47 West) or monthly Horizons meetings. It is in our weekly planning meetings where Christy will catch us up on the latest episode of On Being and Karen will read a piece to bring us into prayer and a time of sharing (this was where I learned of the spiritual practice of statio – taking intentional time during transitions to rest in the moment.) Fridays spent in the office with Megan offer a time to catch up from the week as either of us work on various duties as interns (often involving envelopes) – we give each other briefings on what has happened and how we’ve been doing with the quiet times (Megan is a seasoned pro at making these happen in her own busy schedule, I am often in awe). Perhaps the highlight of both of our semesters, has been the steady supply of trail mix available in the office (aside from the times when our fellow intern, Garrett, has stolen all the chocolate). 

Fittingly, I had not taken a break long enough to reflect on how I spent my time over this semester until it was over. Looking back, I am able to fully appreciate all of the different ways that my time with TH draws me out of my calendar and myself and into a beloved community. In a time in my life when the next step is uncertain, I am unbelievably grateful to Theological Horizons and the people it has led me to and the restful times it has given to me. 

Before the Rush resources

Sorority rush begins at UVa soon--a process that sparks many urgent questions:  Who are my friends?  Where do I find my identity?  Am I beautiful?  How do I deal with stress and disappointment?  with judgement?  Where is God in all of this?  These are questions that we all ask throughout our lives! 

As students return to the university, we want share two precious resources: short audio talks that are just one click away.  Listen to these talks from our past "Beat The Rush" events.
 
These talks for ALL women students--whether you are rushing a sorority, in a sorority already, not in a sorority!  Like me, you are seeking love, acceptance, friendship...and struggling with insecurity, fear and doubts.  It is so important to be reminded of how very beautiful and loved you are.  So do yourself a favor and listen up...
 
The first talk is by Susan Cunningham on "Finding Your True Identity".  Susan was named Best Psychologist in Charlottesville, and her words are so wise and so kind...Don't miss the truth about who YOU really are.   Click HERE to listen to Susan's talk.
 
The second talk is by Miska Collier on "Knowing the Light and Love of God".  Miska is a spiritual counselor--30 seconds into her talk you'll be hooked.  Click HERE to listen to Miska's talk.

We'll be hosting a Before the Rush lunch for women on Friday, January 13th from 1230-1:45pm at the Bonhoeffer House. All woman are welcome!

 

What Does Every College Kid Need? Good Friends. - Jodie Berndt

We are doing a book give away of Jodie's new book, Praying the Scriptures for your Adult Children! Email us your name and mailing address by midnight, Friday, January 12th and we'll announce the winners early next week!

I remember the high school counselor asking Robbie and me what we were looking for in a college for Hillary, our eldest. He expected, I guess, for us to say something like “affordable tuition” or “strong academic reputation” or even something lofty, like “opportunities to pursue bio-medical research.” I think the guy was a little stunned when I gave him my answer:  I wanted my daughter to go someplace where she would make good friends and enjoy strong Christian fellowship.

Fellowship is a tricky word. Author John Ortberg says it is “churchy,” and that it “suggests basements and red punch and awkward conversations.” I get that. But I also understand what Ortberg means when he says that fellowship is something we can’t live without. And when the time came to send Hillary—and then later, her siblings—off to college, my first prayers were for them to find life-giving friendships, the kind marked by things like loyalty, joy, and a vibrant commitment to Christ.

God answered those prayers, but the road to connectedness has not always been easy, or quick. I remember dropping Hillary off at U.Va. on Move-In Weekend. Someone had chalked a cheery greeting on the sidewalk steps: 

 

Steps.jpg

The words held such promise! But, two months later, as the newness wore off and homesickness set in, they seemed almost hollow. Hillary had a great roommate and her life swirled with classes and social activities, but she had not yet discovered “her people.” There was friendship space that had yet to be filled.

Our kids need good friends. We can’t make them for them, but we can certainly ask God to provide. And as we pray for this need—as we partner with God to accomplish his good purposes in our kids’ lives—let’s look to the Scriptures for insight on what matters most. There are, obviously, all sorts of ways we might pray; here are three of my top friendship requests:

Constancy. The Bible offers several portraits of friendships marked by loyalty, dependability, and faithfulness:  Jonathan and David. Ruth and Naomi. And of course Jesus, the one who promised to be with us “always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Let’s ask God to give our kids faithful friends and to draw them into a life-giving relationship with Jesus, the one who gave up his life “for his friends” (John 15:13).

Next, Transparency. When I was a student at U.Va., I had two roommates (Susan and Barbie), and we gave each other permission to be what we called “brutally honest.” It didn’t matter if we were critiquing an iffy outfit or confronting each other about a questionable behavior; we spoke the truth. We tried to do so with love, but even the gentlest rebukes sometimes hurt. “Faithful,” Proverbs 27:6 says, “are the wound of a friend.” Let’s ask God to give our college kids friends like that—friends with whom they can admit their mistakes and find restoration, forgiveness, and genuine love.

And finally, let’s pray that our kids will enjoy friendship with other believers, the “fellowship of the Holy Spirit” that Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 13:14, the kind that fosters connection, not just on the natural level, but also in the deepest recesses of the soul. Friendships forged around common interests (sports teams, Greek life, good books) are wonderful, but when the common ground of eternity comes into play, the most satisfying relationships—the kind that transcend things like race, age, and socioeconomic background—can take root. Let’s ask God to surround our children with friends who will “spur them on toward love and good deeds” and run alongside them as they “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.” (Hebrews 10:24, 2 Timothy 2:22)

If you like praying this way—taking the words we find in the Bible, and using them to give shape to our prayers—you’ll find hundreds of prayer prompts in my new book, Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children. In addition to the prayers about friendship, the book covers grown-up needs like getting a job, resisting the party culture, and making the transition to adulthood with wisdom, purpose, and grace.

It doesn’t matter how old our kids are, or how far away they may go. We never stop loving them. We never stop wanting God’s best for their lives. We might not be able to pick their friends (or anything else they might choose), but we can pray. We can slip our hand into God’s—the One who loves them enough, and is powerful enough, to do more than all we could ask or imagine—and trust him to do what he promised.

It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)

_____________________________________

Jodie Berndt is a 1984 graduate of The University of Virginia and a former co-chair of the U.Va. Parents Fund Committee. The author of nine books (including the popular Praying the Scriptures series), Jodie is a speaker, writer, and Bible teacher. Find her writing at JodieBerndt.com, or connect with her on Facebook (Jodie Berndt Writes), Instagram (@jodie_berndt), and Twitter (@jodieberndt).

Jodie and her husband, Robbie (Class of 1985), have four Wahoo children and two Hokie sons-in-law. Which, except during football season, is not such a bad thing.

 

 

A Sonnet for Epiphany by Malcolm Guite

Artwork: detail from "Epiphany" by Christen Yates

Artwork: detail from "Epiphany" by Christen Yates

It might have been just someone else’s story,
Some chosen people get a special king.
We leave them to their own peculiar glory,
We don’t belong, it doesn’t mean a thing.
But when these three arrive they bring us with them,
Gentiles like us, their wisdom might be ours;
A steady step that finds an inner rhythm,
A  pilgrim’s eye that sees beyond the stars.
They did not know his name but still they sought him,
They came from otherwhere but still they found;
In temples they found those who sold and bought him,
But in the filthy stable, hallowed ground.
Their courage gives our questing hearts a voice
To seek, to find, to worship, to rejoice.

To listen to Guite explain and read his poem, click here

Portrait of Malcolm Guite by Bruce Herman.

The shimmer of angels' wings: Advent 3

The Annunciation by John Collier

The Annunciation by John Collier

The Annunciation by Malcolm Guite

We see so little, stayed on surfaces,
We calculate the outsides of all things,
Preoccupied with our own purposes
We miss the shimmer of angels' wings.
They coruscate around us in their joy,
A swirl of wheels & eyes & wings unfurled;
They guard the good
we purpose to destroy,
A hidden blaze of glory in God's world.
But on this day a young girl stopped to see
With open eyes and heart. 
She heard the voice--
The promise of his glory yet to be
As time stood still for her to make a choice.
Gabriel knelt & not a feather stirred.
The Word himself was waiting on her word.
 

Annunciation Magpie by Allen William Seaby

Annunciation Magpie by Allen William Seaby

Magnificat by Mary F.C. Pratt

Under pine trees in the snow,
the chickadees around my head,
I wept for the will of God,
this hungry woman fed.
All the shadows shifted,
while my back was turned.
Once and always on my finger
one soft and small gray bird.
Not a twisting due to prayer
but all its own, and mine together.
And so I bear the gift,
carry it through time--
this deepest darkness.
astonishing grace.
 

annunciation houselander.jpg

The World is Wild! Advent 2

angel of the sea burne-jones cropped.jpg

"The House of Christmas" by G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam; 
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home. 
The crazy stable close at hand, 
With shaking timber and shifting sand, 
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome. 

For men are homesick in their homes, 
And strangers under the sun, 
And they lay on their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done. 
Here we have battle and blazing eyes, 
And chance and honour and high surprise, 
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun. 

A Child in a foul stable, 
Where the beasts feed and foam; 
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home; 
We have hands that fashion and heads that know, 
But our hearts we lost - how long ago! 
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky's dome. 

This world is wild as an old wives' tale, 
And strange the plain things are, 
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war; 
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star. 

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come, 
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome. 
To the end of the way of the wandering star, 
To the things that cannot be and that are, 
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home. 

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The Shaking Reality of Advent

Alfred Delp (1907-1945) was Christian condemned for his opposition to Hitler.  He wrote this reflection on Advent shortly before his execution.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. – Luke 1:51

There is perhaps nothing we modern people need more than to be genuinely shaken up. Where life is firm we need to sense its firmness; and where it is unstable and uncertain and has no basis, we need to know this, too, and endure it.

We may ask why God sends whirlwinds over the earth, why the chaos where all appears hopeless and dark, and why there seems to be no end to human suffering. Perhaps it is because we have been living on earth in an utterly false and counterfeit security. and now God strikes the earth till it resounds, now he shakes and shatters: not to pound us with fear, but to teach us one thing – the spirit’s innermost longing.

Many of the things that are happening today would never have happened if we had been living in that longing, that disquiet of heart which comes when we are faced with God, and when we look clearly at things as they really are. If we had done this, God would have withheld his hand from many of the things that now shake and crush our lives. We would have come to terms with and judged the limits of our own competence.

But we have lived in a false confidence, in a delusional security; in our spiritual insanity we really believe we can bring the stars down from heaven and kindle flames of eternity in the world. We believe that with our own forces we can avert the dangers and banish night, switch off and halt the internal quaking of the universe. We believe we can harness everything and fit it into an ultimate scheme that will last.

Here is the message of Advent: faced with him who is the Last, the world will begin to shake. Only when we do not cling to false securities will our eyes be able to see this Last One and get to the bottom of things. Only then will we have the strength to overcome the terrors into which God has let the world sink. God uses these terrors to awaken us from sleep, as Paul says, and to show us that it is time to repent, time to change things. It is time to say, “all right, it was night; but let that be over now and let us get ready for the day.” We must do this with a decision that comes out of the very horrors we experience. Because of this our decision will be unshakable even in uncertainty.

If we want Advent to transform us – our homes and hearts, and even nations – then the great question for us is whether we will come out of the convulsions of our time with this determination: Yes, arise! It is time to awaken from sleep. a waking up must begin somewhere. It is time to put things back where God intended them. It is time for each of us to go to work – certain that the Lord will come – to set our life in God’s order wherever we can. Where God’s word is heard, he will not cheat us of the truth; where our life rebels he will reprimand it.

We need people who are moved by the horrific calamities and emerge from them with the knowledge that those who look to the Lord will be preserved by him, even if they are hounded from the earth.

The Advent message comes out of our encounter with God, with the gospel. It is thus the message that shakes – so that in the end the entire world shall be shaken. The fact that the son of man shall come again is more than a historic prophecy; it is also a decree that God’s coming and the shaking up of humanity are somehow connected. If we are inwardly inert, incapable of being genuinely moved, if we become obstinate and hard and superficial and cheap, then God himself will intervene in world events. He will teach us what it means to be placed in turmoil and to be inwardly stirred. Then the great question to us is whether we are still capable of being truly shocked – or whether we will continue to see thousands of things that we know should not be and must not be and yet remain hardened to them. In how many ways have we become indifferent and used to things that ought not to be?

Being shocked, however, out of our pathetic complacency is only part of Advent. There is much more that belongs to it. Advent is blessed with God’s promises, which constitute the hidden happiness of this time. These promises kindle the light in our hearts. Being shattered, being awakened – these are necessary for Advent. In the bitterness of awakening, in the helplessness of “coming to,” in the wretchedness of realizing our limitations, the golden threads that pass between heaven and earth reach us. These threads give the world a taste of the abundance it can have.

We must not shy away from Advent thoughts of this kind. We must let our inner eye see and our hearts range far. Then we will encounter both the seriousness of Advent and its blessings in a different way. We will, if we would but listen, hear the message calling out to us to cheer us, to console us, and to uplift us.

From Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas.

On Saint Nicholas

It is common and appropriate to decry the commercialization of the Christmas season. There are fewer voices raised to mourn the trivialization of St. Nicholas. Well does he deserve to be the patron of children, and well might they delight in his name. But he might be remembered not only as the jolly source of toys and treats but also as the protector of those whose lives and innocence remain threatened today, as they were in the time of St. Nicholas, by violence, poverty, and exploitation.

From All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses For Our Time by Robert Ellsberg

From “Life of Saint Nicholas”  by Michael the Archimandrite, (written between 814 and 842)

Nicholas, the famous champion of those languishing in travails and prophetic high priest, by God's choice, of the metropolis Myra, was born in the city of Patara, one of cities then illustrious in the province of Lycia, although now it is said to scarcely preserve the appearance of a village. His parents were thoroughly noble and well-off, and surpassed many in their reverence toward Christ, on account of which they kept themselves free of worldly glory and were always eager to devote themselves to the works of justice. For the ever-pious understand that the person who touches tar is not free of its stain.

After his parents had gone to the Lord and left him much property and an abundance of money and possessions, he reckoned that he had God as his father. Gazing chastely on Him with the eye of his soul, he firmly begged the good God that he surrender his life and all his possessions, if that seemed good to Him. He said: "Teach me, Lord, to do Your will, because You are my God" (Psalm 143.10) as well as "Make known to me, Lord, the path upon which I am to journey, because to You I have lifted my soul from all triviality and worldly lowliness." (Psalm 143.8). He seemed to hear God, as it were, speaking clearly through the holy prophet David: "Even if wealth abounds, do not surrender your heart" (Psalm 62.11). And similarly the author of Proverbs plainly teaches: "Let almsgiving and acts of faith not abandon you, but fasten them around your neck and you will find grace" (Proverbs 3.3) as well as "That person benefits his soul, who has pity on the destitute and those who happen to be poor in their livelihood." (Proverbs 11.17). Nicholas did not cease to continually hand over his abundance — to store it up in the secure treasure-houses of heaven. So he was repaid in full by the impoverished.

There was a certain man among those who were recently famous and well-born, and he was a neighbor, his home being next to Nicholas'... He had three daughters who were both shapely and very attractive to the eye, and he was willing to station them in a brothel so that he might thereby acquire the necessities of life for himself and his household. For no man among the lordly or powerful deigned to marry them lawfully, and even among the lower-classes and those who owned the least bit of something there was no one well-minded enough to do this. And so the man looked away from his salvation and, as it were, fainted at the thought of prevailing upon God with persistence and prayer. By this logic he came to assent to situating his daughters in the abyss of such dishonor.

But the Lord who loves humankind, who never wishes his own creation to become hostage to sin, sent him a holy angel — I mean the godlike Nicholas — both to rescue him, along with his whole household, from poverty and destruction, and to restore readily his previous prosperity. …By the expenditure and very generous donation of his own money, Nicholas became a most ready resource for their defense, and he saved them, though they were already being led away to a death of profligacy...

The true model of purity and author of sympathy, Nicholas, wishing to use his own money to help the man, and to lead him with his daughters away from the shameful and dishonorable deed which had, in truth, already been decided for them — what does he do? He does not appear to him in person or speak about a gift or any other type of relief, thereby freeing him from shame while at the same time very carefully1 taking the trouble not to trumpet his own charity. After hurling a bag containing a large amount of gold into the house through the window at night, he quickly hastened home...

As Bishop of Myra, Nicholas lived the qualities that caused his fame and popularity to spread throughout the Christian world. His vigorous actions on behalf of his people and in defense of the Christian faith reveal a man who lived his convictions. Nicholas was not timid—he did what was necessary and was not easily intimidated by others' power and position. His concern for the welfare of his flock and his stand for orthodox belief earned him respect as a model for bishops and a defender of the faith.  His active pursuit of justice for his people was demonstrated when he secured grain in time of famine, saved the lives of three men wrongly condemned, and secured lower taxes for Myra. He taught the Gospel simply, so ordinary people understood, and he lived out his faith and devotion to God in helping the poor and all in need.

Welcome, all Wonders! Advent 1

Advent ("arrival")

has been observed by Christians since ancient times. It is a season of inward preparation for God's wondrous coming into our midst: a time of gladness and fear.  This God who came to Bethlehem---and who will come again in glory---conquers darkness, scatters the proud, humbles the mighty, feeds the hungry, and sends the rich away empty-handed (Luke 1:51-53).  How will we get ready for such a coming?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer gives us a picture of Advent as "a prison cell, in which one waits, hopes, and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside." The essence of Advent, then, is expectancy and readiness for action: watchfulness for every small opening, and a willingness to risk everything for freedom and a new beginning. 

John 114.jpg
Conversion” by Marci Johnson

How can word
become flesh?
Belly. Bone.

Tongue—the feel
in the mouth a word
rolling around. Word,

not a kiss not the thing
itself—a name. The arch
of a foot. Your face

in my hands, just
a name. Blue sky lolling
beyond the window
frame—eyes open.
Just a way of looking.
Begin with a change.
Annunciation Icon 1.jpg

from Frederick Buechner:

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary," and that is the beginning of a story – a time, a place, a set of characters, and the implied promise, which is common to all stories, that something is coming, something interesting or significant or exciting is about to happen. And I would like to start out by reminding you that this is what Christianity is. If we whittle away long enough, it is a story that we come to at last. And if we take even the fanciest and most metaphysical kind of theologian or preacher and keep on questioning him far enough – Why is this so? All right, but why is that so? Yes, but how do we know that it's so? – even he is forced finally to take off his spectacles and push his books off to one side and say, "Once upon a time there was...," and then everybody leans forward a little and starts to listen.

 
We want to know what is coming next. There was a young woman named Mary, and an angel came to her from God, and what did he say? And what did she say? And then how did it all turn out in the end? The story Christianity tells is one that can be so simply told that we can get the whole thing really on a very small Christmas card or into two crossed pieces of wood. Yet in another sense it is so vast and complex that the whole Bible can only hint at it, a story beyond time altogether.  Yet it is also in time, the story of the love between God and humanity. There is a time when it begins, and therefore there is a time before it begins, when it is coming but not yet here, and this is the time Mary was in when Gabriel came to her. It is Advent: the time just before the adventure begins, when everybody is leaning forward to hear what will happen even though they already know what will happen and what will not happen, when they listen hard for meaning, their meaning, and begin to hear, only faintly at first, the beating of unseen wings.  
 

by Richard Crashaw 1612-1649

by Richard Crashaw 1612-1649

On Bread & Roses by Perkins Fellow Isabella Hall '19

From sweat, dirt, and enduring swarms of mosquitoes comparable to the army of locusts depicted in the book of Joel, to traveling to Princeton Theological Seminary for a conference on race and food, my partnership with Bread & Roses through the Perkins Fellowship has been an adventure. Bread & Roses, a ministry of Trinity Episcopal Church, is a non-profit which focuses on nutritional outreach. Some of the ways this is accomplished is through the community garden and cooking clinics which are hosted at the church as well as collaboration with other organizations working toward food justice in Charlottesville. One of the reasons I was attracted to Bread & Roses at Trinity Episcopal is its rich heritage as an intentional multiracial community of reconciliation. The Church is located on Preston Avenue, a stone’s throw away from my home, the Perkins House. I am grateful to be partnering with a ministry that serves, and is situated within, my neighborhood.

My time at Bread & Roses has primarily been in the garden alongside the volunteers, most of whom are Trinity Episcopal members, who gather weekly to tend to the garden. Beginning in June, I started attending garden work days and quickly realized how little I knew and how much there was to learn! I was always asking questions, taking directions, attempting to soak up the extensive knowledge of the more seasoned garden workers, like Sally and Martha. I was shown so much patience and overtime, a vibrant little community had formed as we planted, weeded, and watered. We began to share meals on a monthly basis. After we completed the garden work, we’d gather over fresh food, often prepared using produce from the Bread & Roses garden or the personal gardens of the volunteers. These meals were never lacking in laughter and gradually, the various quirks and idiosyncrasies of each volunteer became remarkably endearing. It was, and continues to be, a dynamic group with a wide range of ages, occupations, ethnicities. Our once monthly meals transitioned into a biweekly event and suddenly, there was never a gathering without fresh food and a time of fellowship. I really cannot find the words to describe my gratitude for these relationships, none of which I would have had I remained within the narrow boundaries of the University community. Seeing these friends and working alongside one another in the heat and the dirt became a rhythmic occurrence each week, an essential piece of my lived liturgy.

Another component of my involvement with Bread & Roses has been thinking deeply about our food systems—the mechanisms by which we produce, acquire, and consume our food. Bread & Roses was generous enough to send me to Princeton Theological Seminary’s “Just Food” conference on race and food where I learned a tremendous amount about our centralized, mass-producing food industry known as the Food Regime. Some of the problems of the Food Regime include the exploitation of migrant and farm workers, the degradation of the land and natural resources, gentrification which displaces the poor, unequal access to healthy and affordable food options, and an increasingly centralized system which depletes local production and small-scale, sustainable farming. What’s more, these macro problems inordinately affect women and people of color, such as Latino/a migrant workers to inner-city African-Americans. While these problems are systemic and cannot be rectified with individual actions, confronting the reality of the situation certainly gave me pause and caused me to reflect upon my role within these systems. How am I to eat justly, sustainably, in a way that is honoring of my body, my neighbors, and the land? This is where “alternative food orders” become so vitally important. What’s an alternative food order? Think operations or organizations which connect people more closely with the production of their food—locally owned supermarkets like Reid’s, buying from local farms, community gardens and other forms of community supported agriculture (CSA) like farmers markets. These operations nurture local economies and social networks, thereby strengthening communities, in addition to reducing the environmental impact of agriculture. At first blush, a plot of land upon which neighbors get together and grow vegetables may not seem a revolutionary endeavor, but in fact, it is! Think of how countercultural this act is in light of the way most people obtain their food—purchasing foods that have traveled thousands of miles, grown in lands we have little connection to, by people we don’t know, who may or may not have been fairly compensated.

It’s important to recognize that not everyone has the time, money, or luxury to be so conscientious about the origins of their food. Particularly in the case of working class individuals and families, such concerns seem remote in the face of combatting hunger and food insecurity for oneself or their children. However, as a University student, I feel that I have a responsibility, in the wake of the privilege I have been afforded, to be thoughtful about where and how I consume. Another challenge to the work of food justice, and community development more broadly, is a lack of time. As University students are acutely aware, we operate under serious time constraints. Many people who would perhaps like to participate in one of the many community gardens Charlottesville has to offer, are simply unable to because of lack of time. I feel this challenge quite poignantly because in the garden, in my scholastic work, in the spheres of racial, economic, food, and housing justice—the work is never finished. I sympathize with the exasperation of the disciples commanded to feed five thousand men, “Well Jesus, that’s a really sweet sentiment but we only have a few loaves of bread and two fish!” (Matt 14:17, IZH translation). Seemingly, I do not have enough time or money or the social capital required to be impactful. At this point, I must reckon with my own insufficiency. My doing or being “enough” is not the point. Jesus is enough. Perhaps Jesus will multiple my time and efforts like the fishes and loaves, but even if he does not, I am intimately acquainted with the heart of God through pressing into these seemingly insurmountable issues. In fact, the reality of our individual limitations is an invitation into relationship with others. I recently attended the Christian Community Development Association annual conference and was struck by the following statement, “Kingdom sized vision requires Kingdom sized collaboration.” Rather than become exhausted and embittered by our finitude, might these limits instead remind us that we are members of a larger body, working together toward a Kingdom that is both now and not yet.

As we quickly move through the fall season and pull the last of the sweet potatoes out of their beds, my role at Bread & Roses has shifted, but the community has not. In fact, the garden crew has now entered into a book study together in which we read and discuss “Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today.” This book has yielded countless insights on what it means to live in community as well as what it means to monastically approach the daily grind. The author, Joan Chittister, writes, “The monastic looks for holiness in the here and now, unburdened by strange diets or esoteric devotions or damaging denials of self. The real monastic walks through life with a barefooted soul, alert, aware, grateful, and only partially at home” (10). Engaging with the practical wisdom of the Rule of St. Benedictine has been an invaluable resource for life as a resident within the Perkins House. As an eclectic Evangelical and a student of religion, I have really enjoyed exploring the Episcopal tradition, through Trinity Episcopal, and its unique expression of worship which is an integral piece of the body of Christ. As the winter season approaches, we turn toward grant writing, researching food policy, and the administrative tasks which make Bread & Roses possible.

Perhaps the greatest gift of my time at Bread & Roses, has been my relationship with Maria. Maria is the director of Bread & Roses, runs breakfast at the Haven a couple days a week, lives in Charis community, and shares my affinity for dark, caffeinated beverages. Her mentorship and friendship has been a tremendous blessing. Maria is a paragon of steadfastness and hopefulness, two virtues which are indispensable to the cause of doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God. My conversations with Maria remind me that it is Christ and not I who has been tasked with carrying the weight of humanity’s sin. Her very presence reminds me to be thankful and from here, I know more about what it means to follow in the footsteps of Christ.

For more information about the Perkins Fellows program, click here

Words for your Thanksgiving table

“O Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come into God’s presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to God with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.”  Psalm 95:1-3

Do not let the empty cup be your first teacher of the blessings you had when it was full. Do not let a hard place here and there in the bed destroy your rest. Seek, as a plain duty, to cultivate a buoyant, joyous sense of the crowded kindnesses of God in your daily life.

--Alexander Maclaren

But we who would be born again indeed, must wake our souls unnumbered times a day. –-George MacDonald

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.--Colossians 2:6-7

Saying Grace
Here is supper.  It smells good.
It looks good.  It tastes good.
It is good.
All good things come from You.
Let the sweet taste of You
Become the constant blessing on my tongue.  ---Gunilla Norris

"Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, God’s love endures forever." Psalm 118:29

Every moment and every event of every person’s life on earth plants something in her or his soul.  For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men and women.  Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost, for such seeds as these cannot spring up anywhere except in the good soil of freedom, spontaneity and love –-Thomas Merton

"I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Ps. 9:1

Every moment is a new gift, over and over again, and if you miss the opportunity of this moment, another moment is given to us, and another moment. We can avail ourselves of this opportunity, or we can miss it, and if we avail ourselves of the opportunity, it is the key to happiness. Behold the master key to our happiness in our own hands. Moment by moment, we can be grateful for this gift.

Does that mean that we can be grateful for everything? Certainly not. We cannot be grateful for violence, for war, for oppression, for exploitation. On the personal level, we cannot be grateful for the loss of a friend, for unfaithfulness, for bereavement. But I didn't say we can be grateful for everything. I said we can be grateful in every given moment for the opportunity, and even when we are confronted with something that is terribly difficult, we can rise to this occasion and respond to the opportunity that is given to us. …Most of the time, what is given to us is the opportunity to enjoy, and we only miss it because we are rushing through life and we are not stopping to see the opportunity….

So how can we find a method that will harness this? How can each one of us find a method for living gratefully, not just once in a while being grateful, but moment by moment to be grateful. How can we do it? It's a very simple method. It's so simple that it's actually what we were told as children when we learned to cross the street. Stop. Look. Go. That's all. But how often do we stop? We rush through life. We don't stop. We miss the opportunity because we don't stop. We have to stop. We have to get quiet. And we have to build stop signs into our lives.

When I was in Africa some years ago and then came back, I noticed water. In Africa where I was, I didn't have drinkable water. Every time I turned on the faucet, I was overwhelmed. Every time I clicked on the light, I was so grateful. It made me so happy. But after a while, this wears off. So I put little stickers on the light switch and on the water faucet, and every time I turned it on, water. So leave it up to your own imagination. You can find whatever works best for you, but you need stop signs in your life. And when you stop, then the next thing is to look. You look. You open your eyes. You open your ears. You open your nose. You open all your senses for this wonderful richness that is given to us. There is no end to it, and that is what life is all about, to enjoy, to enjoy what is given to us.

And then we can also open our hearts, our hearts for the opportunities, for the opportunities also to help others, to make others happy, because nothing makes us more happy than when all of us are happy...Stop, look, and then go, and really do something. And what we can do is whatever life offers to you in that present moment. Mostly it's the opportunity to enjoy, but sometimes it's something more difficult.  But whatever it is, if we take this opportunity, we go with it, we are creative, those are the creative people. And that little stop, look, go, is such a potent seed that it can revolutionize our world.

---Brother David Steindl-Rast

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Col. 4:2

Life itself is an exercise in learning to sing ‘alleluia’ here in order to recognize the face of God hidden in the recesses of time. To deal with the meaning of ‘alleluia’ in life means to deal with moments that don’t feel like ‘alleluia moments’ at all. -- Joan Chittister

Alleluia is not a substitute for reality.  It is simply the awareness of another whole kind of reality—beyond the immediate, beyond the delusional, beyond the instant perception of things. One of the oldest anthems of the church is Alleluiah means simply “all hail to the One who is.”  It  is the arch-hymn of praise, the ultimate expression of thanksgiving, the pinnacle of triumph, the acme of human joy, It says that God is good — and we know it.  In the Hebrew Scriptures the word is an injunction to praise, a call to the people to summon up praise in themselves.  It is a challenge to see in life more than is seeable in any single moment and to trust it.

--–Joan Chittister & Rowan Williams

Thou that hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, a grateful heart….
Not thankful, when it pleaseth me;
As if thy blessings had spare days:
But such a heart, whose pulse may be

Thy praise.                       --George Herbert (1593- 1633)

O Lord, that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness. –William Shakespeare

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
wich is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

---e.e. cummings

"And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful." Col. 3:15

Reflections on the Perkins Fellows program by Evan Heitman '19

“And Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ And the blind man said to him, ‘Rabbi, let me recover my sight.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.” - Mark 10:51-52

Like many (all?) of the stories of Jesus, this one about Bartimaeus the blind beggar is remarkable. It is actually one of my favorite ones in the whole Bible. I think Bartimaeus has much to teach us about what faith is, what faith takes, and where faith leads, especially for college-aged Christians like myself. Asides from being a profound example of the kind of faith that Jesus loves and expects, this story speaks to a major theme of my coming to Christ my first year of college, and, by the grace of God, I hope it characterizes far more than just my experience in college and my experience putting my faith in Jesus for the first time. I hope that the example I find in Bartimaeus is the example I will make of myself and I pray that I would never falter in seeking new ways to carry my cross so that this hope may become reality. In a way, my work volunteering with Abundant Life through the Perkins Fellows program this year has been a means to that end and an extension of this greater theme in my life. So, without further adieu, let me explain what exactly I’m making this whole fuss about (feel free to read along in scripture as I go into further detail).

The story of Bartimaeus opens with him sitting by the roadside as the great crowd following Jesus passes by. Mark says that when Bartimaeus heard that is was Jesus who was going by, he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” After which, many rebuked him and told him to be silent. Far from being discouraged, the text says that  “...he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!'” I find this part of the story alone to be so incredible. Bartimaeus had never met Jesus, and being blind, he had no way of knowing that Jesus could even hear him or that it was really Jesus at all. Even though he was already an outcast and looked down upon, he fearlessly shouted out for the Son of David, the promised king, that he might look upon him and have mercy. Not only did he get no response from Jesus then, but those around him pressured him to stop asking and to just be silent and accept his lot in life. Showing incredible strength of faith and character, Bartimaeus cried out even more than he had before. I find this story to be so powerful because in my first year, I felt a hopelessness that I imagine is of a similar kind, if not degree, to what Bartimaeus must have felt at that point in his life. I felt utterly blind and lost about who I really was. I felt like everyone around me had a life they were truly living while I was just merely existing. I felt like a puppet dancing along the stage of my years but I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to grab hold of my own strings. I wanted to have faith in God and I tried to believe, but my doubts rebuked me and told me to stop asking. With no small amount of stumbling along the way, I tried my best to cry out all the more for God to do something, anything, in me, despite what I saw to be slim odds of that really happening. 

Jesus stopped. That's what the text says in Bartimaeus’ story. Jesus, the King of Kings, God of the universe, heard Bartimaeus’ plea and altogether stopped what he was doing. And then he called to him. And just as Jesus changed Bartimaeus’ life forever, he changed my life forever. He showed me that He is living water and the bread of life. He called to me that I might have life and have it to the fullest. He took my heart in his hands and taught me to cry at the beauty of who He is and how wonderfully, perfectly real life with Him really is. This is the first chapter of the story God started writing in me and for reasons I don’t fully understand, He has asked me to coauthor the whole thing with Him. I believe that God has reasons for writing our early chapters the way that He does. I think that He uses our experiences as young children in His eternal family, so to speak, to shape and set the stage for the spiritually mature adults He calls us to be. The lesson I began to learn as a new Christian and the one I saw reflected in Bartimaeus’ life two thousand years ago is one that I think will be an important motif throughout my life and I think it's one that Jesus is trying to teach me a little more about this year through my participation in the Perkins Fellow Program.

One part of the chapter I currently find myself in is my wrestling with empathy. Really, I think this is just picking up where my previous struggle left off. God has brought me so far in learning to love being alive with Him, but often times, I feel as though I have an impossible distance left to travel when it comes to loving that life in others. I have a hard time entering into the pain of others. It makes me uncomfortable and I don’t think I do it particularly well when I try. Even when I am able to provide comfort to others, I fear that it is shallow, that I lack the ability for my comfort to come from a place of radical, selfless love. And then, for every time that I find my attempt at empathy lacking, there is a time when I reject the desire to empathize at all. I find myself making my own thoughts and my own experiences my god and resisting the call to humility. I commit the sin of partiality and become a judge with evil thoughts. I haven’t yet found the magic button for letting go of my pride, but too often I’d rather not let go of it at all. I see the degree to which I love my neighbor as a manifestation of how deeply I understand the steep price Jesus paid to win them for Himself and I don’t understand it even close to how much I wish to. As a Perkins Fellow, I have been provided an opportunity to cry out to Jesus to have mercy on me in this. If I’m being honest, I don't even know which direction to shout in, but I have to hope that Jesus hears me anyway. I have been given a chance to learn from Jesus how to love those who are growing up and have grown up as a minority, how to love those who are growing up poorer than I did, how to love kids whose childhoods have been more fraught with violence and evil than I can wrap my head around, and how to love fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who hold political ideas with which I fundamentally disagree. I hear the difficulty of all this (and it is hard) pressuring me to stay silent, to simply put in my required service hours and be done with it, but I pray for the strength and faith to cry out all the more.

Interview with Kyle Potter for the Goodwin Prize

Kyle is a native of Appalachian Kentucky, and holds the MTh (Applied Theology) from the University of Oxford, the MTS (Liturgical Studies) from the University of Notre Dame, and is a doctoral candidate in Systematic Theology at Marquette University, where he serves as a Teaching Fellow. Kyle’s primary research interests are ecclesiology, political theology, ecumenical theology, and the sacraments. He is a lay Preacher in the Episcopal Church.

Paper title: No Greater Love: Friendship as the Enactment of Charismatic Ecclesiology in the Small Asketikon of Saint Basil the Great

What inspired you to pursue an advanced degree in theology? 

For as long as I've been a believer, I have been fascinated the diverse ways in which people have lived and experienced the Christian faith. My studies have broadened my thinking about God, worship, and mission, and enabled me to share the riches of the Christian tradition with others.

What do you hope to do with your degree?

I just want to teach! I would love to teach at a seminary so that I can help form future pastors and lay leaders for ministry. I am trained as a generalist, so I will be applying to religious colleges and universities as well.

Where do you see connections between your personal faith, your intellectual work and the other aspects of your life?

I am an academic who stands firmly in the Church. My major research interests — ecclesiology, liturgy, and political theology — are oriented to questions of how believers can best understand their live with God and one another as they consider God's call to serve the world. 

How would you summarize your paper for someone without a theological background?

From my vantage point in 21st century America, our culture suffers a dearth of models for supportive, life-giving friendship. Like other contemporary writers, I went digging into the ancient monastic traditions for help. Basil of Caesarea's Small Asketikon is one of many guidebooks for living in Christian community that got passed around the late Roman Empire. I picked it because Basil was famous for some strong and stormy friendships, and for being persnickety about his regulations. In examining them, however, I discovered that he had a sophisticated understanding of human nature, and how Holy Spirit transforms lives in the context of committed friendships.

How might this award make a difference in your life?

My mentors have encouraged me to focus on my development as a writer, so the award is first a great encouragement in my vocation. Beyond that, I hope it will help me meet people that I might not meet otherwise, and of course, the prize itself will help in a quite practical way when I log on to the ACA Health Insurance Marketplace this month.

How do you spend your time when you are not studying?

I throw parties, develop my culinary talents, and read horror novels. Oh — and I take a lot of cat photos.

Any other comments?

I'm grateful to Theological Horizons for this recognition. I am grateful as well for Dr. Marcus Plested's guidance on this research project, and for the encouragement and careful criticism I have received from Dr. Susan Wood. I've become a better writer for it. 

For more information on the Goodwin Prize, click here.

Interview with Erin Zoutendam for the Goodwin Prize

What inspired you to pursue an advanced degree in theology?  

I started my master’s degree in theological studies for very pragmatic reasons: I thought I might like to go into academic editing, and a master’s degree seemed like it would help. But I very quickly fell in love with what I was studying, and I had some excellent professors along the way who encouraged me in what I was doing.

I’m now on my third theological degree, and I kept going for the same reason that I think a lot of people keep going: I still had (and have) questions about God.  I’m especially interested in historical theology and retrieving wisdom from the historical church. A lot of my research has focused on women’s theological writing, on the theology of contemplation and prayer, and on how people have historically read and interpreted the Bible. All of those areas touch on my own life; indeed, the questions I have in my own faith have tended to drive and shape my research.

What do you hope to do with your degree? 

I hope to teach someday, particularly at a seminary or divinity school. When I was pursuing my MTS and ThM degrees, I loved being in class with people who were going to be ministers. I’d never been around so many people who love the church and who are so committed to it. My classmates were really a gift, and it gives me great hope to know that someday the church will be in their hands. I would love to teach people like them in the future.

Where do you see connections between your personal faith, your intellectual work and the other aspects of your life? 

In a beautiful essay called “Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God,” twentieth-century mystic Simone Weil writes that the heart of prayer is attention: focused and unwavering attention to God. School studies, as she calls them, train and develop our faculty of attention. When I first read this essay, it made sense of why I have always loved my studies. Even when I was young, I found myself able to be interested in almost any subject. Part of this was because my parents, who are both very faithful people, did a wonderful job encouraging curiosity, wonder, and age-appropriate kinds of reading and research when I was young.

What my love of learning taught me was a disposition of attentive wonder. I have always had a sense that there is something new to learn just around the bend. That disposition is something that I try to bring to my personal faith. Of course, there is always a danger, at least for me, that study will come to eclipse spiritual practices: it is easy to spend all day reading about prayer and still forget to actually pray. So while I am by no means an “expert” at prayer or faith—and in fact I’m pretty poor at those things—I do try to worship and pray in a state of attentive wonder.

This disposition of wonder, which was nurtured by my studies as a young child and integrated into my faith as an adult, feeds right back into my intellectual work. Sometimes “’academic” theology is stereotyped as dry or abstract, but I find God everywhere in my work. I’m particularly drawn to theological writers whose lives and theology are one, and one place I find that is in medieval female mystics, although certainly it exists among many other theologians.

How would you summarize your paper for someone without a theological background? 

Crying is something that everyone does—in fact, it is the very first thing you do when you’re born. And yet, scientifically speaking, we don’t know that much about tears. But historically, tears have been understood to possess great power: the power to communicate, the power to persuade, the power to heal, the power to redeem. This was never more the case than in the Middle Ages, when weeping was a common devotional practice. The question underlying my paper is how we might reclaim a theological understanding of tears. I explore this question through the lens of Catherine of Siena’s writing on tears in The Dialogue. Catherine was a fourteenth-century Italian mystic, theologian, and activist.

In my paper, I propose that Catherine viewed tears as an embodiment of individual desires. In other words, tears are a way for what is going on in your soul to become manifest in your body. I also argue that Catherine saw desire not as something bad to be eliminated but rather as something to be redirected. In other words, there is bad desire—greed, envy, the desire for vengeance—but there is also good desire—namely, the love of God. The goal is to convert bad desire into good desire, which is a lifelong process. I think that for Catherine, tears, as an embodiment of desire, could be ordered toward an end: self-knowledge and spiritual formation. I hope that by exploring the spiritual dimension of tears we can better understand how to learn from and be formed by our own tears.

How might this award make a difference in your life? 

First of all, it is affirming on a personal level to know that my work resonates with other people.  This particular paper has been near to my heart since I began writing it, and while I had a few affirming conversations with friends as I was researching it, it is encouraging to know that the work is of interest to others.

From a financial perspective, I hope to use the prize to further my studies. A lot of the research I am interested in is in German (as are some of the primary sources), and my German simply isn’t very strong yet. I hope to use the prize to take a German course in Germany and become much more confident in my language abilities.

How do you spend your time when you are not studying? 

I’ve recently taken up birdwatching. My husband jokes that I like birdwatching because of the “taxonomical potential”—that is, because I’ve always been a sorter, a list-maker, and a bit obsessive. All of those things really pay off in birding! Learning the field markings for different species of sparrows is very exciting to me, which I know sounds odd. So my husband is not wrong, but I also think birdwatching is—like prayer, like studies—fundamentally about attention and expectation. You can’t summon birds, although you can try to put yourself in the right place at the right time.

When I’m not studying or birding, I like to read literary fiction. I enjoyed gardening before we moved to our apartment this year, and I also like traveling with my husband and spending time with our two cats.

Any other comments? 

I would like to thank the professors who helped with this paper. I originally wrote it for an independent study supervised by Dr. Han-luen Kantzer Komline, whose careful reading and sharp eye for argumentation made the paper significantly stronger. And I first read Catherine of Siena’s work with Dr. Frans van Liere, who  took a semester to read through the works of eight medieval women with me—a semester that has profoundly shaped my academic career. It was he who first suggested to me that there might be something of interest in Catherine’s chapter on tears.

 

To learn more about the Goodwin Prize in Theological Writing, click here.

Interview with Daniel Eng for the Goodwin Prize

Daniel K. Eng | University of Cambridge, PhD candidate

What inspired you to pursue an advanced degree in theology?  

I am pursuing a PhD in theological studies for three reasons. First, as a pastor I’ve witnessed the need for quality theological teaching in connection with the church, which I am preparing to help meet. My aim is to join a growing group of pastors and scholars who promote biblical literacy in both the church and the academy.

Second, I have an intense desire to discover more about the biblical text. It was my parents who instilled in me a love for the Bible and for the church. Their loving guidance over the years has enabled me to pursue theological education. I am now appreciating this season of dedicated time to research and write as I investigate the texts that bring meaning and hope to so many people.  

Third, I am motivated to communicate these truths and concepts from the Bible to others. The PhD process and degree offer opportunities for me to communicate in various settings. I’m grateful for the mentoring I received in different places in my life, from Talbot School of Theology to Evergreen Baptist Church SGV. The sum of these experiences has given me the tools and motivation teach the biblical text clearly.

I chose to come to Cambridge because of the world-class faculty and resources to which I have access. I am especially grateful for the library and conversations at Tyndale House Cambridge, an outstanding biblical research community, where many of the concepts for this paper were shaped.

What do you hope to do with your degree? 

I am hoping to equip others through teaching biblical studies at a seminary or Bible college. I am grateful for fantastic experiences teaching in different capacities at Talbot School of Theology, Cru’s Institute of Biblical Studies, Tyndale House Cambridge, and Training for East Anglia Ministry. I especially hope to guide those who engage in church ministry, as I impact the church at large through teaching and mentoring. In addition, I plan to continue to preach and minister at a local church in some capacity.

The invigoration I experience through every teaching opportunity has driven my desire to fulfill this purpose in my life. I particularly appreciate the times when I facilitate foundational material to others, on which they can build and use to understand the biblical text well.

Where do you see connections between your personal faith, your intellectual work and the other aspects of your life? 

One of my professors at Talbot School of Theology, the late Dr. Robert Saucy, once shared with me that he kept a sticky note at the place where he spent every morning reading the Bible and praying. The note read “Trust Me.” He placed it there as a reminder that his faith in God would always drive his daily activity.

As I follow Dr. Saucy’s example, my relationship with God motivates my intellectual work. The apostle Paul preached to a crowd in Athens that in God that “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 18:28). This statement deeply resonates with me, as I find my purpose as part of God’s unfolding redemption of creation.

The good news of the cross and the empty tomb provide motivation for me to investigate the biblical text. The gospel of Jesus Christ offers hope and meaning in all I do, and I endeavor to bring him glory in my intellectual work. I cannot think of any higher pursuit for myself than studying the character and message of God and communicating it to others. I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to engage in this as a vocation.

Upon moving to Cambridge, my family has found supportive community at both Tyndale House and Christ Church Cambridge. Both groups of believers have sustained us with encouragement and have given us opportunities to use our abilities to impact others. My wife Sanjung and I are committed to modeling faith in Jesus Christ to our three daughters: Joanna, Josie, and Jessica.

How would you summarize your paper for someone without a theological background? 

In teaching about the kingdom of God, Jesus told many parables: short stories that illustrate profound truths. This paper explores one of the most well-known of Jesus’ parables, the Prodigal Son. I examine the dynamics of honor and shame in this parable, offering a fresh reading of the story through this lens. In a culture that valued the collective over the individual, Jesus taught to his first hearers that the movement he was creating would be characterized by a widening of the community’s circle.

The message of Jesus is then applied to the modern American church in the context of care for immigrants and refugees. While steering clear of a commentary about public policy, this paper calls the church to embody the message of the Jesus movement by expressing inclusivity and love towards those who are displaced and marginalized among us.

How might this award make a difference in your life? 

I’m honored and grateful that my essay has been chosen for this award. My hope is that it will spark more conversations about how the church can embody Jesus’ message of a widening circle. I’m looking forward to seeing how these concepts can make an impact.

On a practical level, I am grateful that the privilege of receiving the Goodwin Prize communicates the quality of my research to potential employers. Some of the prize money will be used for something special for my wife Sanjung, who has been very supportive during my PhD journey.

Above all, this award has been an encouragement for me to press on through the demands of the PhD journey. As my morale can often ebb and flow, moments of affirmation like this inspire me to persevere.

How do you spend your time when you are not studying? 

When I am not studying, I enjoy spending quality time with my family. I build deeper connections with my wife Sanjung and find opportunities to guide my children as they mature. We enjoy exploring Cambridge and the occasional trip elsewhere to build memories.

I keep a frequent preaching schedule, as I consider it a privilege to communicate the life-giving message of the Bible from the pulpit. Sanjung and I are actively involved at Christ Church Cambridge, volunteering with and participating in various ministries.

We also enjoy connecting with people through strategy board games. Our recent favorites are Kingdomino and 7 Wonders.

Any other comments? 

I am very grateful to the Board of Directors at Theological Horizons for choosing my essay for this award, and to the donors for their generosity in encouraging theological writing.

I would also like to thank two of my mentors, Dr. Benjamin Shin of Talbot School of Theology, and Rev. Cory Ishida of Evergreen Baptist Church SGV, for encouraging me to pursue this PhD. These two men have spent countless hours investing in me, and their influence in my life has shaped some of the concepts of this essay. 

Women, Work and the Myth of Balance | Some resources

Our 12 Horizons Fellows meet monthly to mull over a couple articles around the themes of faith & calling. We recently discussed the idea of calling itself and especially how women have a complex relationship with calling and careers.  Here were our readings:

CALLING & CONSTRAINT

Jon Malesic – Don’t Search for Purpose, You Will Fail

Kate Harris – Constraint and Consent

And here are some questions to ruminate on further:

1) What would it be like (if I'm a guy) or how do I think about this idea as a woman of having to choose between motherhood and a career? What has my church or family or current context taught me to think about this?

2) How can we promote more equity in work and caregiving (which shouldn't be seen as second tier for either men or women) for women of all races and classes in our communities and country? 

Anne-Marie Slaughter has loads of fascinating articles on The Atlantic website. Here are some if you want to dig in a little deeper:

Why Women Still Can't Have it All - one of the most read Atlantic articles in history that inspired Kate Harris to write her above critique.

The Having it All Debate convinced me to stop using the term Having it All

The Failure of the Phrase: Work-Life Balance 

 

 

 

Directionally Challenged | Horizons Fellow Ellie Wood '18

“Arrive at Christy’s house by 8pm” -- a simple direction, with a not so simple destination. As a Horizons Fellow, I have the unique opportunity to meet with the other Fellows every month to discuss theology, chat about life, and learn how to live a life for Jesus.  Christy, our fearless leader, has been gracious enough to open up her beautiful home out in the countryside for our monthly meetings. On this particular night, Margaret Draper (another Fellow) and I decided to carpool out to Christy’s house. Now, for those of you who don’t know me, you should know one thing: I am perpetually late.  I have always been and most likely always will be at least 10 minutes late to the party.  Following this pattern, Margaret and I were already running late to our Fellows meeting when we lost cell phone service and as a result lost our sense of direction.

Snaking down unknown, curvy roads, we quickly realized we had missed our turn. As we drove aimlessly, we discussed our post-grad plans and realized neither of us had any concrete ideas. We both had joined in on the typical UVa business consulting career frenzy but through our conversation, I realized I had no idea why I “wanted” to go into consulting. Within my major at the Batten School, everyone feels the unsaid pressure to have the best job in the best city while singlehandedly changing the world through policy. Somewhere along the way, consulting became the route to achieving all of this and more, so I wanted to get in on it.  I didn’t consider whether or not I would actually enjoy consulting nor did I even attempt to ask God about it. I was captivated by the world’s definition of success but deaf to the Lord’s voice in my life. God calls us to a much higher purpose than to simply “be the best.” In 2 Peter 1:3, Peter addresses this calling by saying, “his divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” The key to this verse for me is ‘our knowledge of him’—and I realized that night that through my pursuit of knowledge in my major and in my job search, I’d forgotten first and foremost to seek knowledge of the Lord.

Despite arriving 30 minutes late, Margaret and I eventually made it to Christy’s house, and everyone welcomed us in with cookies and laughter. Although we may have taken the longer route to get there, the conversation was well worth it. As a 4th year, life often feels like a journey with a not-so-simple destination. But, since that car ride, the Lord has gently reminded me that He is the one holding the directions. 

2017 Goodwin Writing Prize Winners Announced!

The Louise and Richard Goodwin Writing Prize for Excellence in Theological Writing was founded in 2001 to recognize upcoming scholars in the theological field. The writing prize is awarded by the Board of Directors of Theological Horizons, a non-profit corporation fostering reflection and responsibility in the church, the community, and the academy. Award are given to essays that demonstrate:

  • creative theological thinking,
  • excellence in scholarship,
  • engagement with the Christian tradition, and
  • commitment to the well-being of the church.

After four rounds of readings of the exceptional essays submitted from across 40 schools, the board of directors of Theological Horizons has awarded the $2,500 prize to Erin Risch Zoutendam (Duke University) for her essay, "The Body, the Heart, and Desire: Catherine of Siena's Theology of Tears."  

The $1,000 prize has been awarded to Daniel Eng (Cambridge) for his essay, “Jesus' Shameless Message: Honor and Shame in the Parable of the Prodigal Son and its Significance for Immigrant Care and Refugee Relief.”  

Kyle Potter (Marquette University) has been awarded $500 for his essay, “No Greater Love: Friendship as the Enactment of Charismatic Ecclesiology in the Small Asketikon of Saint Basil the Great. ”  

Congratulations to the winners and a big thank you to all who submitted papers.

Abstracts of the winning essays and biographies of the writers will be posted on the our website soon.