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Friday, December 10, 2004


Farewells 

Tonight was the celebration of Fr. John Dreibelbis' ministry as Professor of Christian Ministries at Seabury and it was a festive occasion. Lots of alumni showed up to honor him and I think he was really touched. A great professor and a wonderful example of Christian life and work, John represents what many of us aspire to become. When I first met John, I referred to him as "sir" and he looked around and responded by saying, "Who are you talking to?" That was last year. Last week, by force of habit, I referred to him as "sir" again, and he put his hand on my shoulder, looked me square in the eye, smiled, and articulated, "My name is John." He then told me how a few years back he had another student from the southern part of the U.S. who "sirred me all the way up through graduation." We had a nice chuckle about that and I promised him I'd try to do better. That is just a small testimonial to what kind of guy John is; we sure will miss him. Fare thee well, John, and may the blessing of the God whom we serve be with you always.

Tomorrow, I'll say farewell to the state of Illinois for about three weeks as I once again board a plane - I'm starting to get to know the people at O'Hare by first name - and head down to Florida. It will be a busy, but fruitful, time off as I have several meetings scheduled with various people to talk about the next steps in my process as well as, oh, yeah, Christmas. The host of our traditional New Year's Eve party is fleeing to Maryland this year to see her boyfriend, so we'll have to come up with an alternative plan for that event. Camping has been mentioned, which I think would be a fine idea.

Finally, I said farewell yesterday (really, this is a stretch of the word) to N.T. Wright's little treatise For All the Saints?. It was really, really good; quite the worthwhile read, I must say. His basic premise is that current practice doesn't match up with current theology surrounding the way we talk about and commemorate Christian dead. Focusing on the outmoded doctrine of purgatory and the celebration used to highlight it (All Soul's Day), he posits that because we no longer believe in purgatory it makes no sense to pray for the people suppossedly there. He looks at what we say about Heaven and reenvisions that as well by stating that Heaven, biblically, was never the final goal of the Christian hope, but just the penultimate. Rather, the Kingdom of God, when Heaven and Earth meet after the last day and the faithful are bodily raised to life everlasting, is the ultimate hope. He concludes by rewriting the common prayer for the dead to reflect his new ideas so that is says, "May (x person) and all the faithful departed, by the mercy of God, rest in peace and rise in glory." Amen to that.

-R

1 Comments:

Actually, he also pretty much asserts that nobody (or very few outside of seminaries, if that many) knows the current theology either. In short, that current theology doesn't match up with current theology.

By Blogger Dave, at 8:25 AM  


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