2014 Global Theology Conference: My Thoughts

Well, several weeks later (sorry Brandon), I’ve finally decided to sit down and write some thoughts out about the Church of the Nazarene’s GTC III in South Africa on the theme of “Critical Issues in Ecclesiology.” 

My first thought: wow, it was an honor to even be there, let alone to be one of the few presenters. I’ve long believed that (as far as the CoTN is concerned) NYI and our theologians (aided by the International Board of Education) are leading the way in helping us as a church live into our truly international or global reality. This conference was certainly a step in that direction.

Toward that end, I proposed a paper for the conference several years ago (it was truly a long process) which was accepted. The paper was severely restricted due to conference length criteria, but I was pleased with the end result (I had to omit a lot of the theology, and stick to history and proposal). You can find it here. My paper was proposed to the history portion of the conference, though I always intended to propose some changes to our church’s structure, informed, as it were, by the past. In short, I examine the history of the CoTN, its missionary-led spreading out in particular, and trace how that spreading can or cannot be seen at the top of our governing structure. I closely examine the various “commissions on internationalization” and ask, when will these suggestions come to pass? Perhaps most helpful, I discovered some wonderful papers written by Dr. R.F. Zanner, and thus his still-relevant question of: “are we going to be a global church, or an American church with roots in foreign soil.” Strongly advocating that we avoid colonialism (or further colonialism) I suggest we make a significant effort to embrace the former. 

I was honored and quite amazed at the feedback I received about my paper. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t believe my proposal sufficiently fixes the problem. In fact, it might be completely inept (I hope that’s not the case, though!). My hope, in writing the paper, was to simply point out a very critical issue in our Ecclesiology, with the hopes of furthering the discussion, and actually making some changes. My paper was an attempt to stoke the fire, so to speak. It was critical, but it was loyally critical. I love the Church, and the Church of the Nazarene in particular. Anyway, I had so many folks come up to me with positive engaging comments. I will say that most of these individuals came from outside the USA/Canada Region, which only strengthens my belief that my diagnosis was correct, and my proposals, at least in part, were much needed. 

Leaving my paper aside, (I’m very happy to dialogue with you about it, though. Simply comment here, or email me at rustybrian@gmail.com) I will say that the conference truly embodied a global or catholic spirit. Real effort was put into minimizing the number of North Americans who were present, resulting in a very balanced number of folks from the 6 world regions. Of course, for obvious reasons, the Africa Region had the majority. USA/CAN was probably a close second when those from the GMC and other such staffers were included, but that is to be expected. NCN News provided a detailed breakdown of regional participation a couple weeks back (and yes, I think they caught John Wright snoozing!). I took the numerical breakdown to be a very positive thing. 

The conference was organized around the papers (in my opinion these turned out to be pretty good on the whole), which were broken up into four categories: context, history, bible, and theology. Rather than negotiate the nightmare of audibly translating each paper in the various languages spoken, participants were instructed to have the papers read prior to the conference (or at least prior to the particular session in which a paper would be addressed). We would all gather, and hear a critical summary from a “Senior Scholar” regarding the papers in a particular area. Afterwards, we would break into our small groups – which were the real heart and soul of the conference. After discussing the papers in our small groups, we would reconvene to ask questions of the authors of the papers in a given topic. And of course, in between just about everything there were tea times and meals!

The small groups were where the real work of the conference was done. My group, for example, was made up of a Canadian Professor of NT, a Missionary couple serving in Papua New Guinea, and pastors and DS’s from Zimbabwe, Cote D’Ivoire, Malawi, Haiti, and myself, of course. Due to our having several french speakers, we also had a french translator. I was quite fortunate to know enough French to be able to understand most of what was said by my francophone brothers, though I was not able to speak to them very well without the help of the translator. Together, as a group, we met 5-6 times. We had wonderful discussions. We did not always stay on task as well as we probably should, but we did exactly what was expected of us. Some groups, I know, stayed much more topic and task-driven, while others did not. I suspect much of this reflected the cultural makeup of the respective groups . . . I enjoyed my group immensely. I learned, was shown far more respect than I deserve, and was humbly reminded to listen more and speak less (a perpetual lesson I am and will continue to learn!). 

I also can’t say enough how much I enjoyed the fellowship with old and new friends alike. I’m going through a bit of a healing process right now, and it was so valuable to spend time with good old friends such as my old PLNU and NTS Profs (who seem to have welcomed me in to the “club” as a peer, for which I am increasingly humbled and honored), former colleagues such as Nell Becker-Sweeden and Tim Gaines, and even those who I’ve met on previous international trips such as Gift Mtukwa and Rudy Prescod. I was fortunate to make many new friends, as well, such as Fortune from Zimbabwe, Claus Arnold, David Sharpes, and even David Graves (he ordained me, but I had not really had the opportunity to get to know him yet). The interactions with new and old friends and mentors was a priceless gift to me, one that was received at just the right time.

Finally, the conference was appropriately bracketed with worship services, both of which culminated with the Eucharist. I was very glad to see such intentional sacramentality at this event – this was an important formative step in the right direction. The services were conducted in a variety of languages, and they were not encumbered by the need to overly translate. Rather, it was assumed that the word could function sacramentally as it was read, as we sung, and of course, as the Gospel was proclaimed. At times we all felt a bit like aliens (foreigners) – which is a gift itself. 

All in all, the conference was, in my opinion, a huge success. I’m not sure that we solved anything, but surely such opportunities for Christian conferencing on a truly global scale go a long way in speeding us on the path to globalization. I think that happened in South Africa at the GTCIII and for that I am grateful to God.

In conclusion, a few critical points to consider: from my perspective, of course.

  • Though I applaud the decision to not have the papers read, I think it would have been better to either cut the “senior scholars” in favor of allowing each author time for a 5 minute summary statement and question(s), or else to have allowed for a few moments for each author to respond, in some way, to the senior scholar’s assessment of her paper. 
  • (This DEFINITELY reflects my personality, and my cultural norms . . .) I would have liked to see more direct, critical (not the same as negative) engagement with Nazarene ecclesiology, or lack thereof. To this end, it would have been great to have been able to offer up some sort of statement to the general church/general board regarding our ecclesiology. Of course, though, achieving consensus about such a statement, in such a short time, would have been truly difficult, some might argue, impossible. 
  • A question was raised regarding the CoTN’s stance or intentional lack of a stance during and after Apartheid. The moderator (who was certainly not to be responsible for providing an answer to this hairy issue) for that particular session aptly parried the question to our small groups, but something more should have been done. A lengthy discussion of the matter was held during a USA/Canada regional meeting that night, and though the general consensus was for a need to listen to stories, offer up apologies, etc… political propriety ruled the day and the issue was brought to African leaders. A wonderful statement was made the following day by African Regional Coordinator Filimao Chambo, but I know that as well-spoken and intended as it was, it did not clear the air or adequately convey the sentiments of some of our South African sisters and brothers. This saddens me. Over the next few days I heard stories about things that happened and things that did not happen (at least as far as the CoTN is concerned) during Apartheid. I heard that the same issue came up in Amsterdam at the GTCII 5 years ago, as well. It seemed then, and it seems to me now, that some sort of formal opportunity for South Africans to speak up and discuss what happened, what church leadership did not do, and what church leadership did, is something that is quite needed – both for South Africans and for the rest of us who call ourselves Nazarene. We must learn, so that we never sit idly by again.

Critical comments aside, I can’t stress enough, just how wonderful an experience this was. In Joburg I witnessed the global tribe called Nazarene and I was humbled, impressed, and reminded of just why I love the Church of the Nazarene. I saw plenty of flaws, that’s for sure, but far more beauty. As it was a conference on ecclesiology, the phrase that stayed with me during the conference, and after, is one by the great Roman Catholic Theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar. In discussing Karl Barth’s theology, and therefore, in a truly ecumenical spirit, Balthasar refers to the Church catholic as a great tree that is both “beautiful and marred.” What is true of the whole tree is surely true of each and every branch. For all of her flaws, She is beautiful indeed.


Letter #27

Lily Leaving the Splash Park

Dear Lily,

You are one spunky, full-of-life little girl! Someone said you have moxie the other day! They were right. So, basically, you’re a joy to be around – and you can also really try our patience too!

One of the things I love so much about you is your fearlessness and love for adventure. You can imagine my surprise, then, when you were terrified at your first swim lesson a couple of weeks ago. Granted it had been about 8 months since you went swimming last, but last year we could barely hold you back! You were extremely quick to try to crawl or walk into the water. The Pacific Ocean, the Northern Sea, Loch Lomond, several frigid rivers, and many different pools – you’ve been in all of them and loved them. But last Saturday as we stepped into the YMCA pool for swimming lessons I encountered something I never have from you: fear. Terror is more like it. You spent 30 minutes crying and saying, “OUT!”

I will confess that I was pretty embarrassed. I had just been bragging about you to the life guard, and asking about advanced lessons. That was, of course, prior to getting into the water. I was embarrassed, but I was not ashamed. I was surprised by your fear, and I realized that loving you through that experience was the best thing I could do.

I decided to not let you out early, but to work tirelessly at helping you to have fun. We played with toys, and even poured water on my head. Eventually you calmed down, just as we were getting out. As we got into the car, I told you how proud I was of you for staying I the water. I gave you a sucker, and told you we’d go again later in the week, prior to our next lesson. On Friday we went again, prior to our Saturday lesson. You were still scared, but you only cried once. Eventually you grew so comfortable that you even giggled. I was so proud of you that day, Lily, for facing your fears. I told you that you were swimming like a guppy (Bubble Guppies is your favorite TV show) and you began singing the theme song as we swam around “saving” the various toys in the pool!

Then, the next day we went back for your lesson and your loved it. You didn’t cry once! In fact, the life guard used you to show everyone how to hold your breath under water. We’ve still got a bit of work to do on that but what a turn around! You actually put your face under 10 times during that lesson (I think you finally started closing your mouth and eyes!). Since then you went swimming with your mom once, and you won’t stop talking about going swimming! What a brave little girl you are.

Lily I love you. You are such a gift. I’m sorry that I was embarrassed by your fear, but I’m so glad you shared it with me. Even more than that, I’m proud of you for overcoming your fears and for sharing that process with me. I do a pretty good job of hiding this, but I have fears too. This week you reminded me of the importance of facing those fears, and about inviting others into the vulnerability that requires.

So . . . thanks! I can’t wait till our next swim lesson!


Your Father

June 13, 2013

Letter #26

Dear Baby Bronco,

I can’t begin to describe how happy I am. We found out about you just a few days ago: April 26, 2013 to be precise. What amazing news! I’ve been hoping and praying for you for some time now. I just love being a Father, and I can’t wait for another little baby!

We’re going to do our best to not find out about your sex until your birth. We have names, basically, picked out either way! If you’re a boy – we’ve had your name picked out for a LONG time! If you turn out to be a girl, well, I think we’ve got it figured out. We’re still talking about that, though.

One of the most amazing things about being parents is learning how much more love we are capable of, how much more room for love and laughter there is in our lives, and how much more in love we will continue to grow, your Mother and I, through the process. We learned this lesson with your sister Lily – the love in our lives has grown exponentially! We’re still learning this lesson. And now we’re in for more!

Having been through this once already, I think I’m even more amazed that you – the little child who will laugh, cry, climb, eat, sing, dance, cuddle, and hopefully sleep :-) – that you are infinitesimally small right now. That God is knitting you together in your mother’s womb, causing you to grow, and soon to thrive, is simply amazing. That so much life and love could start out so small – that is truly amazing.

I love you little child. You are already blessing and enriching my life in so many ways. I can’t wait to meet you.


Your Father

May 1, 2013

Embarrassing Inequality

Each week during this school year I’ve had the honor of going to a nearby inner-city school in KC, MO with a few of my colleagues. I spend 30 minutes sitting with my 2nd grade reading buddy, listening to her read, asking her questions about what she’s been reading, and getting glimpses of her life. This is truly one of the highlights of my work week.

The problem is that each time I go I am reminded, and thoroughly embarrassed, about how terribly unequal our education system is in the USA. This embarrassing inequality can easily be traced back to economic and racial inequalities that are still all too prevalent in our society.

I’m used to these types of schools; these are the sorts of schools my amazing wife Lauren has spent her teaching career working in (by choice). Familiarity, though, does not breed acceptance in this case. Rather, I am more and more frustrated and embarrassed each time I step foot in that school – a school that can easily be taken as a representative for so many other schools in KC, MO and the USA as a whole, particularly in urban and rural settings where poverty is the norm. And while surely the school could do more to improve conditions, much of this is a systemic issue that will require a major overhaul in order for conditions to change.

I won’t rant, there are others who have done that well. I’m not really the person to see on this stuff, either, but I do know that Jonathan Kozol has done some amazing work in the area of the inequality of our education system in the US. Here are simply a few things I’ve learned, and observations I’ve made, over this past school year:

  • KC, MO schools are unaccredited. That’s right, unaccredited. All of them. It’s been this way for a LONG time, too. I wonder what sort of future my little reading buddy will have as a result of this tragic reality that will place her on an uneven playing field with other kids her age when it comes time for college? I don’t understand how this is even possible. 
  • The particular school I’m reading at has a mobility rate of around 75%! That means that close to 3 out of every 4 will not finish the school year where they began.
  • Many of the parents of the kids in the school I read at are homeless.
  • The class I’m in has had three teachers this year alone! Fortunately, the young woman who is their permanent teacher has been there for more than half of the year now.
  • Last week as I was walking up to the school I noticed several used condoms lying on the sidewalk, just next to the little garden area. Used condoms. I wonder how many of the schools in Olathe, Blue Valley, or wherever, can boast of that sort of greeting to their children, parents, teachers, and guests?!
  • This week I noticed that the teacher had a desk. I heard her comment about it too – about how nice it was to finally have a desk. School will be over in about two weeks and this teacher just got a desk THIS WEEK!

This sort of thing is just not right, which means that it is wrong. This sort of inequality is sinful. Outside the  USA, I’ve walked into elementary schools in Russia, Mexico, Kenya, Jamaica, Bolivia, and the Dominican Republic – at none of these was I greeted by a used condom, and at every single one of these, the teacher had a desk. The fact that this experience happened here, at home, in the USA, is embarrassing to me. Seriously.

This sort of situation has to be done away with. These conditions must end. Democrats, Republicans, Tea Partiers, No Partiers, Christians, Muslims, Atheists, and everyone in the middle – they all should be embarrassed by this. I want my children to never go to a school like this, and I don’t want that to come true at the expense of hundreds of thousands of “those” kids, over there, who do.

Children – all of them – deserve better.

Covering Up Luther: A Summary


Many have asked for a bit of a summary on my recently published book Covering Up Luther, well, here goes:

Near the end of his life, Karl Barth’s son gave him a rug from a recent vacation. For some strange reason, Barth took the rug and hung it in his study in Basel (as seen on the right). One doesn’t usually hang a rug up, and certainly not over a bookshelf. That is precisely what Barth did with this rug, though. The bookshelf he covered up contained the Weimar Edition of Martin Luther’s Works. Barth would go on to call Luther’s works his Pandora’s box. As such, he wanted to remove them from his sight, but not to remove them from the shelves altogether. Curious. This book, is an attempt to understand why Barth made the decision to cover up Luther’s works in this way.

The book is titled, Covering Up Luther: How Barth’s Christology Challenged the Deus Absconditus That Haunts Modernity. It is available here on Amazon, and here on Kindle.  The same is true for those who might purchase the book in UK, for both paperback and Kindle versions.

The book is my doctoral dissertation, which means that it is a work of Systematic Theology, and one that is meant to be quite specialized. For those interested, I successfully defended my dissertation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary on November 10, 2010, and graduated in May 2011. While the work for my dissertation began at Garrett, the bulk of my research was done while studying at the University of Aberdeen in Aberdeen, Scotland in 2008-2009. When we returned home to the US in 2009, I began writing. That process took almost a year. I wrote chapters 1 and 2 while in Clovis, NM at my parents home. The rest of the book was written in Bentonville, AR, while serving as a pastor at Bentonville Church of the Nazarene.

You should also know that, first and foremost, this is a book about Barth, and not about Luther. Luther certainly plays a role in the book, but merely as seen through the later Barth’s eyes. The title is deceptive in that way.

Finally, before summarizing the book, I will confess to a few major motivations behind the writing of this book. First, my hope is to challenge the notion that Barth’s theology is best understood as dialectical. I am firmly opposed to dialectical reasoning in theology, primarily as a result of reading Barth. He was increasingly opposed to dialectics, a point that has not been given sufficient attention. Second, I am deeply interested in theological or dogmatic (dogma = theology from and for the Church) ecumenical work – particularly between Protestants and Roman Catholics. (I was originally planning to examine and write about both Barth and Henri de Lubac, but this proved to be far to “wide” for the narrow expectations of a dissertation. The research on de Lubac will have to be returned to later!) I believe Barth’s mature theology has been deeply influential on both, and has much to offer in such dialogue. Similarly, given the somewhat unique way that I read Barth, I believe that two groups in particular might want to examine or re-examine Barth: Wesleyans and those who self-identify with the theological sensibility known as “Radical Orthodoxy.” The former, because of Barth’s strong doctrines of revelation and sanctification, the latter because of Barth’s increasing pre-occupation with his Roman Catholic friends and critics.

I should also point out that I’m extremely happy and fortunate to have this book be included in the Veritas series, which is sponsored by the Centre for Theology & Philosophy at the University of Nottingham. The series includes several really amazing books and has an amazing reputation. My hope is that my book will only enhance this reputation. My good friend Eric Lee is hugely responsible for my good fortune here, for getting my dissertation in the hands of Conor Cunningham and Pete Candler. I can’t thank you all enough for your help, and for this great honor.

A Brief Summary

To understand why Barth wants to distance himself from Luther, it is important to examine the nominalist theology that Luther inherited, and, in turn, passed on. This is done in chapter 2. There, I argue that the one of the primary reasons that Barth grew disenchanted with Luther was the latter’s preference for the Deus Absconditus or the hidden God. Luther sought hard to maintain a dialectical tension or relationship between the Deus Absconditus and the Deus Revelatus (revealed God). I believe that as Barth grew older, he saw in Luther’s progeny that the former came to trump the latter, indeed, necessarily so. (Whether Luther himself was guilty of this or not, is not the subject of the book.) Barth was concerned with where Luther’s theology led, and it was this that worried Barth. In examining the theological origins of Modernity, I argue that the Deus Absconditus is actually the God (or the functional theology) of Modernity. In turn, the Deus Absconditus requires the theological system of nominalism (I’m mostly interested in Nominalism as the pure, random, and mysteriously powerful divine will – especially as seen in German Idealism), which itself requires the philosophical framework of dialectic (for Hegel: positive-negative-aufhebung or as is it commonly described: thesis-antithesis-synthesis). I argue that Barth wanted to distance himself from all three (Deus Absconditus, Nominalism, and dialectic), and I attempt to show why in chapter 2. Scrapping dialectic, therefore, I argue that paradox is a much more helpful and faithful category within which to understand Barth’s mature theology.

CASCADE_TemplateIf chapter 2 is even remotely successful, then it is clear that I am working with a somewhat novel reading of Barth. With this in mind, next comes an Excursus, in which I set out to challenge the dominant contemporary thesis regarding Karl Barth’s theology, namely, that Barth is a dialectical theologian. Bruce McCormack’s powerful work on the subject serves as the foil in this section. Here I continue to argue that dialectic is not only unhelpful, but that Barth himself rejects it. I demonstrate that the primary source that McCormack works with to develop Barth’s dialectical theology was, in reality, originally referring to varieties of paradoxes, rather than dialectic.

Chapters 3 and 4 are long, detailed examinations of Barth’s works. My hope in these chapters is to let Barth “speak for himself,” and to thus speak in a way that is quite different from the way that he is usually allowed to speak. In chapter 3 I examine how Barth deals with the way that humans know God, specifically the subjects of the Knowledge of God, the Analogia Entis (or analogy of being), and Natural Theology. In chapter 4 I examine Barth’s Christology, specifically from Volume IV of the Church Dogmatics. Here, I think that the paradoxical shape of Barth’s Christology is clearly on display. I playfully use one of Barth’s phrases to describe Barth’s paradoxical Christology as “the absurd possibility of the absurd.” As I understand it, dialectical reasoning assumes a fundamental antagonism, or conflict. Christologically speaking, this conflict is that of divinity and humanity. I am not satisfied with the notion that Jesus is the aufhebung or synthesis between divinity and humanity, for such a result entails antagonism or conflict. The beauty of the Incarnation is that in Jesus there is no conflict between divinity and humanity, for both co-exist paradoxically in the one whole Jesus – in a way that neither trumps or destroys the other. God remains God, humanity remains humanity, and Jesus is both, in a perfectly whole non-schizophrenic, or chaotic way. This is the paradoxical center of the Gospel, which I believe is central to Barth’s mature theology.

Finally, I conclude in chapter 5 with constructive thoughts on the direction Barth scholarship might now move, specifically in the areas of ethics and ecumenical dialogue (with Roman Catholicism in particular). In this chapter I attempt to parse out why all that I’ve written matters, and how I hope this work might change the way Barth is often encountered, and thus influence the direction for theology in general, and Barth scholarship in particular.

Thanks for your support. If you get a chance to read the book, feel free to comment here, or to email me with questions and/or comments at rustybrian@gmail.com.



Letter #25

Merry Go Round

Dear Lily,

My apologies, dear, it has been far too long since my last letter.  My how you’ve grown over the last two months.  You are now talking all the time – and much of it is intelligible!  You’re also running, climbing, and getting into everything.  Oh, and you’re obsessed with a show called “Bubble Guppies.” You’re favorite word just might be, “Buppies!”  As you grow, you only become more and more adorable and fun.  Seriously, you are a joy to be around Lily.  I can’t wait for 5 o’clock each day so that I can walk in the door and see what you’re up to.  I treasure our times together each evening – and oh how I love the weekends!  You’re delightful Lily bean.  I love you.

The other night, I was talking with your mother, and it hit me that you’re not a baby anymore.  There was a time, maybe 6 months back, when your mother and I would both find ourselves sad about how fast you were growing.  It seemed so obvious that you were growing quickly and you would not be our little girl for much longer.  Somewhere along the way, though, those feelings stopped.  This was not because I wanted you to grow up, but I think because I saw what and who you were growing into and it was even better!  You were growing into a little girl.  You were growing out of being a baby.  While there was some obvious sadness about moving out of the “baby phase” this new phase is wonderful.  You’re becoming a little person: you’re thinking, responding, processing, creating, laughing, and playing in incredible ways.  As I already said, Lily, you are a delight.  Your mother and I love you so much – and we are so happy with the little girl you’re becoming.

Now, don’t get me wrong, you need to be sleeping through the night! Seriously child, what the heck! :-)  But you are doing better, and I suppose you can’t be perfect, can you?

So I guess, what I’ve realized, is that I need to forget about the hopes that you won’t grow up – that you’ll stay so little.  You’re not a baby anymore.  You never will be again.  That is sad.  The good news, though, is that you’re growing into a little girl – my little girl – and you’ll always be just that!

I love you Lily.  Thanks for being the blessing you are.  You’ll never know how much you mean to your mother and I.


Your Father

February 6, 2013

Eucharistic Devotion From Sunday, December 16, 2012


In Night, Elie Wiesel’s account of his Holocaust experiences, the author describes a scene in Auschwitz where a young boy was hung.  Afterward, someone cried out, “where is your God now?”  Upon seeing this boy on the gallows, the reply given is that, “God is there, hanging on the gallows.”  The implied logic of this answer is that God, and thus hope, is dead.

This statement, for Wiesel, served as a basis for the loss of faith in God.  (As I understand it, eventually, Wiesel regained his faith, though in such a way that theodicy, or the question of evil, would always be at center stage.)  I understand Wiesel’s sentiments, his concerns, his pain – after all who am I to critique a Holocaust survivor’s wrestling with evil.  I do, however, disagree with his conclusion.

There is no justification, no explanation that “works” for the murder of innocent children.  Such things do not make sense – and they never will.  If we begin with suffering, pain, and anger, we will make it no further than our beginning.  We have to begin someplace else…

But I do think that the respondent (perhaps it was Wiesel) was right.  God was hanging on those gallows.  Moreover, our God, the Eternal, Almighty, Unchangeable, and Impassible God was shot in a primary school in Connecticut on Friday.  I believe that this is true.  For you see, our God is always to be found with the oppressed, the persecuted, and especially with those too weak to defend themselves from such unspeakable evil.  God was there.

This does not have to make sense – it will not make sense – but it is true.

We will not find suitable answers for such terrible events.  These things simply do not make sense.

BUT, I would urge you to come to this table.  To receive the body and blood of our Lord – if I might be so bold – the slain carcass of Mary’s child.

These elements, this table, provide meaning for the entire world.  Suffering, and such unspeakable acts of evil simply are not intelligible on their own.  But these elements, this table, render suffering intelligible – it is the only thing that does so.  At this table we gather and remember the suffering of our Lord, and the fact that suffering does not and will not remain always with us, but that it will be resurrected, redeemed, and that one day, it will end.  At this table all suffering is encapsulated, and redeemed.  This table is where hope can be found.

When you’re ready, come, and receive the medicine and antidote for our illness, and joy when none else can be found.

Will you come?