Blog — 28th October 2019
Helen Lawson MA Theology
The last year has been one of change for us as I stepped out of my pastoral role with our much loved Sheffield Church of the Nazarene. After a sabbatical, I’ve been enjoying the Masters course part-time, a slower pace with family life, and pushing doors to see what God has for us next.
In this last year Marriane Williamson’s words have resonated in me a lot: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
In this season, studying is helping to enlarge my vision and engagement with God and God’s work in the world; sometimes it scares me! Sometimes it keeps me awake at night with anticipation and sometimes it presents me with a choice of walking with God or not.
It’s been 13 years since I last studied, years of adventures with God and people, and there are some questions that have stayed with me to which I want to give more time and attention. Most of those questions are about what the kingdom of God, sin, the cross and resurrection means and looks like in the 21st century: What words, images and practices will and are now demonstrating good news in a world God loves? What are the powers at work in the world which God charges us to confront? What does it mean for our use of power that Christ gave up ultimate power and pursued a different path?
One of the best things about this has been being around the table with a mix of people
For us, truth is a person who is calling us out of and into every culture and place, horror and wonder; cross-scarred and risen, manifesting and demonstrating the good news, enfleshed anew over and over again, ‘immeasurably more than all we ask for or imagine’. So… the questions, adventures and challenges abound! I feel so fortunate to have this time to learn, imagine and ask. My lecturers have been passionate, engaged experts in their areas and learning under them is lifting glass ceilings off theology, practice and connections.
Speaking of connections, I’ve done two intensives and have spent a week both times with a new group of students and lecturers. One of the best things about this has been being around the table with a mix of people: Hungarian, Episcopalian, older, happy-clappy, Nigerian, rich, Korean, younger, American, Pentecostal, straight-laced, a nun, Independent, poor, Australian… All believing – doubting – hoping – getting stuck in – discovering (on repeat).
To be doing theology at a table like this is heaven and hell! On the one hand, being part of the breadth of culture, practice and belief within the Body of Christ is humbling, stretching and inspiring. On the other hand, we sometimes rub each other up in all the wrong ways and can’t get consensus on what we think matters to God! Given our globally-connected-but-segregated world, opportunities to gather round the table like this is pretty hopeful. We’re learning from one another, growing in character and love, and affirming difference as well as unity within the Body of Christ. So far, so good!