I have been a Christian since I was 17. I grew up Catholic, doing the sacraments, but I would not say I took my faith to be personally meaningful until I was going through a bit of an emotional crisis at the beginning of Grade 12. Since taking my faith more seriously, I have been involved in lay-ministry everywhere I have been, being involved in youth ministries and outreach opportunities of various kinds. Over these 13 years, I have always been fascinated with Scripture. Of particular interest for me is how we apply the concepts of Scripture to our lives. As a part of this fascination, I am often listening to podcasts on Scripture while doing chores around the house or playing a video game. I would be very happy to share some podcasts I have following if you are interested!
Professionally, I had been a warehouse labourer and forklift operator for nearly 10 years. As an 18 year old finishing high school, 10 years of warehouse work is not the flashiest “career”, but there is beauty in the daily grind of work, doing your best to feed and house your family. I honour manual labour professions because it is daily work that can be monotonous, but God is breathes on these careers. I applaud the daily work that is faithfulness to God and family. It is an example of love and a powerful testimony of God’s faithfulness to your workplace and home. My greatest ministry experience were in the friendships I had with people where I was simply unashamed of my faith, living it out as I worked. Not seeking to “win” anyone to Christ, but working in acknowledgement of who I am and what God has done in me, ready and able to share that with others.
Three years ago, I started a Bachelor of Social Work in an effort to find ways in which the Church could better love communities, engaging the world in a fruitful manner. I would describe this time as an exercise in both guarding my heart against attacks on my faith, while allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to me deeply about the brokenness occurring in our world. My goal has always been to be a servant to churches and upon finishing my bachelor’s degree this Fall, I hope to be accepted to start a Master of Divinity in the new year to continue my education. I want to help our faith communities better understand who they are in Christ, being unashamed of who God has made us to be as we love communities as Christ has loved us.
I would like to give some thoughts on one of my favourite times of year: Christmas. Yeah, Christmas in July! Christmas is a time that we consider how Jesus came to earth in the form of an infant. It’s one of my favourite holidays because it is literally pregnant with practical and theology!!! What I love about Christmas is how God comes down from His privileged place in the heavens and becomes like us, tempted by sin and victim to the sin of others in this broken world. Hebrews 4:16 points out that Jesus can empathize with our human experience, while Philippians 2:6 notes that Jesus did not count equality with God to be exploited. Christmas is about God forsaking the privileges of being God and coming to us in our humanity to redeem us. God puts His presence in Mary, bearing the fruit of Jesus, who then His presence into us His Church by the Holy Spirit.
We have the living God inside of us. I want that to be a foundational truth as we enter into this study. God has gifted many people to do various things and He has gifted our context with the academy to study things with intense detail. As I said before, I really love these details, but something I appreciate hearing from these scholars is that God does not speak to them alone. They use their tools to get the most they can, but God is not interested in a relationship with doctrines or details. God is interested in a relationship with YOU. No matter where we are in our faith journeys, the Holy Spirit is our guide, and He is faithful to convict us of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8). The Holy Spirit is speaking to each of us, it is important for us to read in relationship with each other to hear how God is speaking through our community. I encourage you to share any concerns with me. Share any encouragement you are gaining. Share your own insights from reading, as well! We are here by God's will to grow together.
God is in our midst. Take a moment to think on that and maybe imagine what that’s like to have Him near you. Christ came to us with the announcement, "Immanuel, God is with us!" We are not reading to become smarter or more intellectual; we are reading to know God more deeply. This optional prayer is a good place to start:
Lord, I believe you are here with me. Please help me to feel your presence and hear your desire to do wonderful things in our lives. Please speak to me through your Word. Guard my heart and my mind as I read and learn. Holy Spirit, teach me throughout this summer. Amen.