Monday, April 16, 2007
We'll be looking specifically at N.T. Wright's "For All the Saints?" and using the Episcopal Church's "Faithful Living, Faithful Dying" collection of essays and practical guides as reference. I think we're gonna get a couple of guest speakers to talk: a hospital chaplain, and a lawyer at least. This is an important topic for us all and I think there is a lot of misinformation out there about it.
So, we started off by making two lists: one of everything that came to mind when we heard the word "heaven," and likewise, another list for "hell". It was pretty informative, with a lot of folks saying things like, "I know that this isn't the way it really is, but when I hear "heaven" I think of_______". Fill in your own blank.
I gave them a packet of information about the topic, including a few definitions out of the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, and a non-exhaustive list of New Testament scriptures dealing with these subjects. That stuff will form the basis for next week's discussion, and the week after that we'll dive into the texts (when we all have a common working vocabulary for this stuff!).
I know this isn't the way it really is, but when I think of heaven I think of life pretty much as it is right now except without the unsettling prospect of death out there. All too often, I feel I'm forced to make decisions about what I want to do with my life because "my life" is a finite thing. If I had five or ten lifetimes to live, I could make different choices in every one of them (spend one life as a comedian, one as a pilot, one as a teacher, one as a doctor, one as a traveler, etc), but sadly this life is singular. One can only hope that the afterlife affords the opportunity to make those choices over again. Anything more than that just seems like icing on the cake to me.
Beal (not sure how this will sign with a google account)
What do you think about "For all the Saints?"
I really liked "For All the Saints?" when I read it the first time. It was eye opening and really helped ground me in what the Scriptures actually do say about all this. It is easy to get sidetracked by what culture and tradition say about all this, and I found his little book very helpful as a signpost pointing the way back. There were probably little things I might quibble with, but by and large I found it enlightening, instructional, and useful. As to how it will work out in a Sunday School class, well, I'll let you know.