Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Back to school
Isaiah 61:10
"I delight greatly in YHWH; my soul rejoices greatly in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation" (NIV).

Delight greatly. Rejoice greatly. There's something about the activity of God that triggers an extraordinary emotional response. I just need to remember that it's okay to feel, that it's okay to rejoice and delight greatly in God.

So this is the first day of class. I've got inductive Bible study of Matthew at 2:30, and it's a typical first day--syllabus, schedule and opening remarks. The professor is exceedingly friendly, approachable and available. He knows his stuff, with big seminary words that I guess is what I'm paying for, but a dry lecture on the theory of inductive bible study methodology. I make a note that the difference between bible study theory and bible study is akin to the difference between talking about sex and acting out the event. One is infinitely more preferable than the other.

Followed up right after this is Church History I at 4 o'clock. This professor is a direct contrast. He's dynamic, engaging, or maybe it's just my infatuation with the subject matter. He's got a tinge of a New England accent, and I'm later told he's from New York. And while this course includes four sizable books that need to be read, there will be no papers and just three tests that will be entirely multiple choice. I'm going to like this class.

Later in the evening I made my next church stop at Vine and Branches, a group I've found online and through Alan's weblog. Now, maybe I'm just really open-minded and naive, but finding a "house church" online didn't strike me as weird at all. At least, not until I drove up and knocked on the door and the realization finally hit me that these people are total and complete strangers. I had told a couple of guys on the floor what I was doing. They gave me this look. I said if I wasn't back by 11 or 12 to call the cops and let them know I was kidnapped by a cult.

Alan gets a bit of a kick out this when I open up a bit later. No, there was no Kool-Aid, no funny robes. Just apples and caramel, coffee, fresh bread, fellowship, Nicene Creed, some discussion of Thomas Merton and communion. This is church to me, and I'll be back.

I got to thinking later about the lack of music. I mean, I'm used to groups that have some time of worship, and by worship I mean guitar and singing. There wasn't any of this, and I found that refreshing. I think, at least for me personally, music becomes something of a formula. Praise and worship. Discussion. Prayer. And it's just that, a rote formula. But there's so much more to worship than another chorus of "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever." Our most simple and honest expression of gratitude to God is the only thing I can find that satisfies my communion with God. And sometimes a simple prayer, Creed and wine and bread is worship greater.

Relationships as "sacramental" (a comment Alan made) is the morsel I'm taking home with me to tuck away for later.

posted by Peter at 10:13 AM
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