Kennedy at Seminary

Sunday, May 28, 2006

What a weekend

I won't be able to put into words what this weekend has been like, but I'll try. After an interesting first week on the job as a hospital chaplain intern, I was able to step back this weekend and reflect the wonderful friendships God has blessed me with, especially the friends I've made at seminary.

I was an usher at my friends Jake and Michelle's wedding. I had never been in a wedding before. I was honored to be included. Jake and Michelle are a marvelous couple. Any Christian couple would do well to model after them.

The wedding was fun. The reception was my favorite part of the weekend. I danced more than I'd ever danced in my life. Electric slide, chicken dance, swing dance, other fast dances. All with the style and grace of a tall, lanky, white guy. (In other words, not much style and grace.) But it was fun. My favorite dance was a slow dance with a special friend.

Today, I went to Michelle's parents' house for a party. It was more time to hang out with friends and visit with new friends. After the party, I bid farewell to some of my best friends. Two friends in particular I was very sad to see go.

It was a sappy weekend for me. Much reflecting. But it was a good, healthy kind of reflecting.

I thank God for my friends.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Late night and early run

Last night I had two options. Watch the Mavericks game by myself or go see The Da Vinci Code with a group of friends. I wanted to witness the Mavs ousting the evil Spurs from the playoffs (which didn't happen), but I decided I would rather hang out with other people than watch a game solo. The 7:40 showing was sold out by 4:30, so we ended up getting tickets for 9:50. I had a great time with the group. The movie, however, wasn't very good. Too much information crammed into it and weak character development. I think the director needed to pick what was most important from the book and build the movie around that instead of trying to educate (I'm using the term loosely) the public on the entirety of Dan Brown's far-fetched heresy.

I got back from the movie around 1 a.m. I got to bed around 2 ... and got up at 6 a.m. to run a 5K with my buddy Matt. It was at the St. Louis Science Center. Matt told me about it before we saw the movie. I knew getting up would be rough, but I wanted to run another 5K. I've only run one (the seminary-sponsored Faster Pastor in the fall). Matt finished under 18 minutes. He was fourth overall. I was probably 300th overall and



Still, I enjoyed it thoroughly. I was just disappointed at how slow I was. I won't even tell you my time. It was bad. I guess I was taking it too easy. Next time, mark my words, I'll dominate.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Narnia sermon

I have plenty to talk about, but for now I'd like merely to post a sermon I wrote for my C.S. Lewis class. The assignment was to use an image or quote from a C.S. Lewis book and weave it throughout the sermon. The C.S. Lewis text should not overpower the Scripture text, though. That was the challenge. I hope you like the sermon.

On the Other Side of the Resurrection
Text: Luke 24:36-49

How many of you have seen the Narnia movie, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? I thought it was a well done movie. It presented the Gospel in its storyline and was true to the novel, written by the Christian author C.S. Lewis.
How many of you have read the books in the Narnia series? The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the most famous book of the seven-volume series. It presents the story of Christ’s death on our behalf and His victorious Resurrection.
But just as human history has continued to roll on since the time of Jesus’ death and Resurrection, the Narnia series continues with stories taking place after Aslan, the lion who symbolizes Christ, dies and rises again. Lewis alludes to other Scriptural truths throughout the rest of the series, presenting his readers with stories taking place after Aslan’s resurrection. You might say we get to see life on the other side of the resurrection.
An example is in The Silver Chair, the sixth of seven books in the series. At the end of the book, Lewis shows that life after death is not something only the Savior enjoyed. It is something we, too, will experience someday.
We pick up the story in Aslan’s Country, the equivalent of heaven. Beloved King Caspian has just died of old age. Aslan and the two children with him are crying as they look at the dead king lying in a stream of water. Suddenly, the Lion tells the boy, Eustace, to drive a thorn into his paw. Eustace obeys. Blood gushes out onto the dead king’s body.
As the blood splashes onto the water directly above the king, Caspian starts to change. He begins to look young again. Before their eyes, the king stands up and embraces the Lion.
The children are astonished.
Eustace speaks up. He can’t believe what he’s seeing.
The boy looks at Aslan and says, “But, hasn’t he – er – died?”
The Lion answers in a quiet voice, almost as if he were laughing. “Yes. He has died. Most people have, you know.
“Even I have.”
In today’s Gospel reading from the last chapter of Luke, the disciples are awe-struck by the Man who stands before them. The Man who walked and talked with them for three years. The Man who looked into their hearts and told them things about themselves that only God knew. The Man who died on a cross.
Jesus stands in the midst of the disciples and says, “Peace be with you.”
The disciples are startled, afraid that maybe they are looking at a ghost. After all, dead men don’t walk the earth anymore. They’re dead. Once you die, your time on earth is over. You’re done.
Jesus, knowing the doubts in their minds, asks them, “Why are you troubled and why do doubts arise in your minds?”
Then He says, “Look at My hands and feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”
Or picture Jesus echoing the words of Aslan, the lion: “Most people die, you know. Even I have.”
In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Aslan dies so that a sinner can be forgiven. Edmond, one of four siblings to enter the world of Narnia, has become a traitor and deserves to die. Aslan doesn’t debate it. Edmund has sinned and merits death.
But Aslan dies in Edmund’s place, and in doing so, breaks the curse of death. The book describes the implications of Aslan’s death by saying that death begins to work backwards. Death is unraveling. Death is losing its power and falling apart.
In the same way that Aslan dealt with Edmond’s sin, Christ didn’t debate whether we sinners deserved to die or not. The Word of God is clear. Romans 6:23 tells us, “The wages of sin is death.”
God is holy. Nothing impure can come into His presence. He does not tolerate sin.
Recently, I’ve been student teaching for my Pastor as Educator class. For three of the 10 weeks of the course, I have to go to a Lutheran school to teach religion class in the mornings. I’m assigned to Mrs. Neese’s seventh grade class at Immanuel Lutheran School in Wentzville.
By being in the classroom, I see the value of having standards and not compromising those standards. A classroom without rules would become a chaotic environment. No one would learn. It would drive the teacher mad.
Although no teacher has a classroom perfectly under control, teachers have to enforce rules. No talking. No passing notes. No disrespectful or disruptive behavior. No late assignments.
When you break the rules, you get punished. I haven’t had to hand out any punishments yet, but a friend of mine teaching down the hall has. One of the best students – or at least one of the teacher’s pets, he says – didn’t do her homework. Did my friend let it slip? No. He took away the student’s recess. That’s the rule. If you break the rules, you get the punishment you deserve.
God is a strict disciplinarian. He does not tolerate sin. God does not tolerate it when we say something hateful to someone else. God has no patience for our thoughts of greed and lust and prejudice and selfishness. God does not accept sinful actions like stealing and lying. If you sin, you deserve to die. God wants only perfection. Nothing less is good enough.
Jesus did not deny that only perfection is acceptable before God. He willingly took the burden of sin upon Himself. He looked at a creation gone corrupt and had mercy. Because God accepts only perfection, perfection was the very thing Christ offered to His Father on the cross.
Jesus fulfilled the Law, which demands punishment for sin. Sinners must die. Or someone perfect must die in our place.
Now, we live on the other side of the Resurrection. The curse of sin has been broken. Our fate is not eternity in the grave but life without end in the presence of the Lord.
Imagine it. One day, when your time on earth is over, you’ll be in the presence of the One who redeemed you.
The Disciples had the privilege of being in His presence before they died. We read in Luke’s account that the Disciples are still full of doubt, even after seeing the wound marks on Christ’s hands and side. Sensing their lingering disbelief, Jesus asks if they have anything to eat. They give him a broiled fish, and He eats it right in front of them.
Jesus says that everything about His earthly life was fulfilled in His sacrificial death and victorious Resurrection. Then, the text tells us, He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
Jesus died so that all the saints, those whose minds and hearts Christ has opened through the power of the Holy Spirit, may have life without end. Christ died so that His Resurrection victory would be our Resurrection victory. Because we walk by faith in Christ on the other side of His Resurrection, our eternal hope is secure. Because of His death and rising from the dead, everyone who has had faith in Jesus as Lord will join in that glorious destiny, eternity with Him.
I’m talking about your loved ones who have died in faith. I’m talking about the faithful throughout the history of the church. I’m talking about you.
Imagine the day you’ll stand before Him. Maybe you’ll be shocked, thinking, “I’m dead, right?”
And maybe Jesus will look at you with joy in His eyes, rejoicing over His beloved child who has come to be with Him. And maybe He’ll say, “Yes. You have died. Most people have, you know. Even I have.
“But now you’re here with Me and you’ll never die again. Welcome to life on the other side of My Resurrection.”
Welcome to the other side. Amen.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Warfare in teaching, and softball

Lots of exciting things going on for me right now. As is my policy on the blog, I won't post anything personal, but I'll tell you about some things you might enjoy reading.

I just finished my second week of student teaching for Pastor as Educator class. I've been teaching seventh grade religion class at Immanuel Lutheran School in Wentzville, Missouri, about a 4o-minute drive from the seminary. Yesterday, my professor came and observed. We had a good lesson. The kids were well behaved. I told them before class that I wanted them to periodically say, "Oh, that's interesting," after I said something intended to be profound. So I said, "Let's begin our class with a prayer." And I hear from the front of the class, "Oh, that's interesting."

I want to post some pictures from today's lesson. It was so much fun. The lesson was on God protecting the prophet Elijah as he was on the run from evil King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. We compared God's protection of Elijah to how He protects us with the "Armor of the Lord." I had the kids cut "armor" out of construction paper and tape the armor on each other. The teacher, Mrs. Neese, and I cut out devil's horns and put them on our heads. Then we attacked the kids with a big gun that shoots smoke. (Mrs. Neese, being the science teacher, has some great props.) The point was that the Armor of the Lord withstands the devil's attacks. God protects His people in spiritual warfare. Mrs. Neese took pictures of us. She said she'd e-mail them to me, so I'll plan to post them. I think they're very funny. We had a great time. My buddy BJ was teaching across the building during the war. He told me afterward that just as he was getting to the dramatic Gospel moment of his lesson, there was loud, disruptive yelling across the building. Whoops. That would be my class. Another class gathered outside our room the see what was going on. I guess they don't have wars all the time in Lutheran schools. (This is not a commentary on violence in public schools.)

Intramurals update: After compiling a 3-1 record in softball, our team lost its last two games to bring our record to 3-3. We needed to win our last game to qualify for the playoffs. And we did, 11-3! We're looking to win the triple crown (football, basketball, and softball). Tuesday is the playoffs. After that, the Geckos play no more. Sad. But it has been a great year for our intramural team.

I have more to say, but I'll save it for another time. This is long enough for today. Thanks for reading. God's blessings.