"The fulfillment of my life's work is to have it here at the seminary," said Calvin College Professor of Art Emeritus, Edgar Boeve, when he spoke about his artwork hanging in the seminary chapel hallway. Boeve addressed the seminary community and invited guests on Friday, October 24, 2007, and explained his lifelong passion for bringing artwork into the church. "My life is fulfilled with the exuberance and the wonder of the I Christian community that surrounds me. And as the Holy Spirit has worked through me all these years, this artwork is the result."
Many people come to church each week teetering on the edge of hopelessness. Some are on the verge of losing their jobs. Others have fallen behind in mortgage payments and fear losing their homes. Still others know that the medical condition they have been trying so hard to ignore probably signals something bad. Marriages are falling apart. Addictions have tightened their grip. The fog of depression thickens. The gathered congregation waits for a word of hope, a word from God, but too often sermons fail to deliver what the congregation so desperately needs.
"Nice sermon, pastor," the friendly woman said as she breezed through the narthex door. "That sermon just didn't do anything for me," the disappointed man said as he tugged on his coat and headed to the parking lot. The one comment tells the preacher generally that she may have done a good job; the other tells the preacher generally that something may have gone wrong. But in both cases it's that adverb "generally" that is the problem.
My testimony about getting through my battle with acute leukemia in the Spring of 2008 is that my wife, Sugar, and I knew, felt, and experienced that we were "upheld by the prayers of many." There is no question that one of the strengths of our Christian community at Calvin Seminary, at La Grave CRC in Grand Rapids, and at Third CRC in Denver, as well as with friends near and far, is prayer. We were held up, sometimes carried when we could barely walk, by the prayers of people known and not known who called on God in intercessory prayer on our behalf. No question.
Can prayer change things? Does talking to God have any effect whatsoever on what happens? If we are sick, does asking God to heal us make a difference in whether we get better? If a friend has rejected the Lord, is there any point in pleading for his salvation? These are not just theological questions. Our trust in God is at stake. On one hand, the Bible assures us that the Lord answers prayer. On the other, it teaches that God is the sovereign Lord who knows and rules all things according to his perfect will.
An Economy of Abundance
In contrast to the logic of scarcity with which we are all too familiar, Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann put his finger on the pulse of God's economy by describing it as a "liturgy of abundance." God's economy, he pointed out, assumes the abundance of creation and so refuses the miserly hoarding and competition yielded by the myth of scarcity. It's Pharoah's logic, he suggested, that generates an economy of fear: "There's not enough.
Four continents, five languages, twenty people, one purpose—to spread the word about the Word In November 2009 CTS [Calvin Theological Seminary] hosted a consultation on using Bible software effectively in the classroom and in the pastorate. The ultimate goal of those who attended was that seminary students would continue to use their Bible software in the church for their personal study and sermon writing, as well as for preaching, teaching, and discipling their congregations.
One of the foundational elements of growing into the fullness of Christ is growing in knowledge of the Scriptures. How can we grow as Christians ourselves or lead others into the fullness of life in Christ if we don't have basic literacy in the divine revelation that testifies about him?