To Explore

Here to share an amazing link that just could not wait for the next Reading Stack installment:  You must check out Plough.

From the website: Plough is an award-winning international magazine of faith, culture, and society that appears weekly online and quarterly in print. We also publish a line of books, including literary nonfiction and fiction, children’s books, Christian books, and graphic novels. Founded in 1920, Plough asks the big questions: How can we live well together, and what gives life purpose? Join us in breaking fresh ground for a renewed world.

Plough is the publishing house of the Bruderhof, an international movement of Christian communities whose members are called to follow Jesus together in the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount and of the first church in Jerusalem, sharing all our talents, income, and possessions (Acts 2 and 4). Bruderhof communities, which include both families and single people from a wide range of backgrounds, are located in the United States, England, Germany, Australia, and Paraguay. Visitors are welcome.

qcoversPlease visit the site and read a few of their online articles. Content is organized in a few different ways depending on interests (faith, life, justice, community, culture) or medium (magazine, books, events). You can even sign up for free daily prayers sent straight to your inbox. Enjoy exploring the rich resources offered!

Reading Stack

I feel like my reading material has been all over the map lately. I’m digging deeeeeeep into the Gospel of John right now and hope to write some thoughts on that soon.  Until then, here are a few links that have caught my eye.

  • BioLogos has released “A Christian Statement on Science for Pandemic Times.” The statement is signed by dozens of Christian leaders, calling on Christians to follow the advice of public health experts and support scientists doing crucial biomedical research on COVID-19. CLICK HERE to read and sign the statement.

  • We continue to learn more and more about the coronavirus that oftentimes leaves young survivors with lingering health issues. Read the story of the first COVID-19, double lung transplant patient in the U.S.:  A 28-year-old paralegal and member of the Latino community, one of the groups disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. 

  • “The 19th Amendment, ratified a century ago on Aug. 18, 1920, is often hailed for granting American women the right to vote. And yet most Black women would wait nearly five decades more to actually exercise that right.” Read “‘It’s a Struggle They Will Wage Alone.’ How Black Women Won the Right to Vote,” published in Time Magazine, to better understand how laws don’t always immediately guarantee rights – especially for those who have been socially disenfranchised.

  • Greenville University (Illinois) theology professor Benjamin Wayman sat down with Rowan Williams, the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury and Master of Magdalene College at Cambridge University, to discuss the nature of theological education. For Williams, Christian education and formation are like “learning to camp in a new land, a new creation.”

  • Looking for a little humor after all those heavy reading topics? Check out “Church is Gross,” a guest post on Experimental Theology from Kevin Makins author of the new book Why Would Anyone Go to Church?  Makins readily admits “there is a certain irony in releasing a book about going to church during the only time in human history when literally no one is allowed to go to church.” But trust me, he makes it work and will have you laughing as he tells you how!

Let’s end in a word of prayer…

O merciful Creator, your hand is open wide to satisfy the needs of every living creature: Make us always thankful for your loving providence; and grant that we, remembering the account that we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of your good gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer)

Reading Stack

It has been a tough and challenging time for humanity, hasn’t it? It’s hard to know what to say or where to begin. Today, I’ll refer you to the words of others who have helped me think about and process the hurt, pain, confusion, and sadness so many are feeling.

  • In Reaping the Whirlwind, Eric Crawford (WDRB) works through his feelings after being asked to comment on the recent shootings and protests in Louisville. Take your time with this one and pour over what he has to say. His writing is well worth it.
  • Esau McCaulley, a priest in the Anglican Church in North America and an assistant professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, has written A Nation on Fire Needs the Flames of the Spirit for Christianity Today online. Based on his most recent sermon, this essay discusses how Pentecost can help the church find its voice during times of racial strife.
  • I’ve been blessed to be invited to join my best friend’s Sunday School class that meets over Zoom every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening from North Carolina. We recently read and discussed Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor, which offers “a way to find spirituality in those times when we don’t have all the answers.” It couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. I highly recommend it.
  • Last, but most definitely not least, I found the text of the prayer given by Rev. C.B. Atkins, pastor of First Baptist Church Bracktown in Lexington, KY, during one of Governor Beshear’s press conferences. It was so moving to listen to Rev. Atkins’ words; I pray you find as much in the printed version:

“Let us pray together. Eternal God, the God of all people, because you are omniscient, there is nothing we can tell you that you don’t already know. So let me start by thanking you for clearing up busy schedules, for allowing us to pause to collectively acknowledge you today. We are aware that not all storms come to disrupt our life, some come to clear our path. Your ways are not our ways and your thoughts are not our thoughts. Isaiah reminds us that there is no searching of your understanding. So we did not come today to call you on the carpet to explain, we came to thank you for your power and willingness to sustain. 

“Worldwide COVID-19 has claimed 350,000 reported deaths, 100,000 in the United States, and 400 in Kentucky. These are staggering numbers of the arresting reality of this horrific pandemic. Still I refuse to be guilty either as a messenger of God or a man of color.

“I’m mentioning the racial pandemic that has been devastating a segment of your people in this country for over 400 years, emboldened now afresh by people in powerful positions in public places. It is not that the minority population has been silent, but rather that the majority population has been deaf. The high number of deaths from coronavirus has been needless, and the continuous deaths of innocent black men and women in this country is senseless.

“Frantic searches are underway in laboratories around the world for a vaccine for COVID-19. But even if one is discovered, and I pray it will be, but if we ignore the cure for that pandemic as we have ignored the cure for the racial pandemic, having done so for political, economic, and aristocratic expediency, then all efforts will ultimately be in vain.

“I pray God that you strip us of the false assurance that grows from pride in our powers and ignorance of our ignorance. After you strip us, then bathe us in compassion so our shared pain will generate a powerful passion that will eventuate in reaching a divine purpose.

“As dark as this day may be, I am assured you did not bring us this far to leave us now. Hatred, divisiveness, and even death are but finite happenings. We cling to an infinite hope. You’ve already given us the panacea for this and all pandemics. You have told us what is good and what you require, that is to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before our God. You have not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind.

“If your people who are called by your name would humble themselves and pray, turn from our wicked ways and seek your face, you promise that you will hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land. Comfort us, oh God. Guide, guard, and govern us. God of all nations. Known by many names. Do it through Christ Jesus my Lord. Amen.”

-Reverend C. B. Atkins 5/28/2020

Reading Stack

  • Christianity Today printed an excerpt from Open and Unafraid: The Psalms as a Guide To Life, a new book by W. David O. Taylor, professor at Fuller Theological Seminary. Excellent read.
  • The Bible Project is adding lots of new content. If you’ve never checked them out, you’re missing some excellent video overviews of individual books of the Bible. Highly recommend!
  • Asbury Theological Seminary has added a webpage: Prayers for Turbulent Times. Every day, a student, faculty member, or staff person shares their personal prayer to help others talk to God during these uncertain days. Folks… these prayers are a blessing, and I urge you to either visit the website or find ATS on Facebook and add them to your feed. I end this with the prayer of one of my former professors, Dr. Mike Voigts:

Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, the Savior of our souls and the Holy Fire of our lives, we come before you as a seminary community scattered around this world you created to center our hearts on You. We’re facing a global situation that’s new to our generation, but certainly not new to You or to Your Church. May we follow the example of those in the Body of Christ who have gone before us during their own times of global strife. May Your loving presence shine through us as we represent you in the anxious, unsettled world around us. We celebrate that despite our isolation from each other physically, we remain united in You, Lord, no matter where we are. You are the great strength of our lives, the hope of the world, and we put our trust in You. In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.