21 April 2007

returned from France

my friends and i have returned from France. i do not have words adequate to describe our experience but if you were here to ask me about it now, i wouldn't be able to stop myself from getting a silly huge smile on my face. and i would say that it had been good. good in the sense that southern France is lovely and i got to see what many people wish they could see (i saw mountains and churches and the Eiffel Tower on the way home). good in that i laughed a tremendous amount this past week. good in that my friends and i spontaneously sang in the Cathedral (Palace) of the Popes of Avignon. good in that i was with Dave, Crystle, and Judith pretty much constantly for 5 days straight - and i never had to worry whether they'd still love me after all that time together nor did i doubt that it would be a joy (even if i was unable to express or feel that before leaving). vacation wasn't perfect but by God's grace (most often shown through my friends and/or the delights in this world), i feel that my soul has been refreshed after a demanding winter.

and with this feeling of contentment and refreshment, i was able to receive the official response to the draft of my thesis (for my Th.M. at Calvin Seminary). it has not been accepted as it is now. i had had some warning of its inadequacy before i left for France, but as i do not have the time nor really the energy to make it better now, i was hoping that it nonetheless was still good enough to get some closure on my time as a student at Calvin Sem. but it's not good enough, and i won't be graduating from there this May. which is disappointing. it's a blow to my ego (but i'll get over it). more so, it feels a bit that what the sacrifices i made during lent to finish this weren't really worth it. which fills me with some sadness. thankfully, the sadness is off-set by the sense that i have learned quite a bit from this process of writing - and there is some closure in being done this stage of writing (and letting it go until i finish my VU Thesis). and there's some encouragement in that my profs back at Calvin believe that i am capable of more.

i do have to agree that i have not yet adequately expressed what i have learned - not only in my head but also in my heart - as i studied the prophetic task as shown through Jeremiah. the challenge, of course, is that i am still learning about how i myself can live out the task in its expression here in the community. and more so, i am still learning how to express the experiential part of my learning this year (how my heart has been shaped and my emotions are being drawn upon in serving God) to people primarily versed in the language of academics. as i feel that i still have so much to learn about just expressing who i am, it's hard to know how to express well the things that have so much shaped who i am. but i hope and pray that time and a lot of discussion with others will help with this.

16 April 2007

tulip fields and the sea

as preparation for going to France tomorrow, we took public transportation through Holland's tulip fields to get to the North Sea. the sea was wet and windy. and the tulips were lovely. i truly am on vacation (and except for my books on Jeremiah's confessions will thus disappear from the world of academia for the next week).

stay tuned for pictures.

15 April 2007

pictures of life in Amsterdam

Dave, Crystle, and Judith are great at taking pictures - and since Dave and Crystle have their computer here along with an internet connection, they have been happily uploading them on Dave's flickr account. and despite the fact that one of the pictures is absolutely horrible, i thought i'd share them with you as they display life here. he's even included a video of us biking today (Crystle is the main focus of the pictures - and I'm the one in front of Crystle. and just so you know, Dave's taking the picture as he's biking on a cobble-stoned street).

thesis for Calvin Seminary finished and mailed in

my thesis for Calvin Seminary has been finished and mailed in (on friday). it's not the end of my work on the topic, but what i've done so far is acceptable enough to be the basis of a conversation with my former OT professors. after that, i revise and hand something in in order to receive a Master of Theology degree. however, i will be struggling and living through the topic for years to come (and am thankful to remain interested in the questions even after all this study, which was not always pleasant).

to give you an idea of what i've learned, the following is my conclusion:(the first paragraph tells you what i've proven academically and the following indicates how it corresponds with what i've learned from living in community)

This thesis has demonstrated that Jeremiah’s feelings are not only his own but also represent those of God and his people. It has demonstrated that, as McConville succinctly states: “The figure of Jeremiah . . . [is] very complex. At once, he represents the people, he represents YHWH, and he remains himself.”192 Through evidence given from the biblical text and dialoguing with secondary literature, this thesis has fleshed out Williams’s claim: "[The description of a prophet includes] the prophetic responsibility to communicate faithfully the message received from the Lord, as well as the responsibility the prophet bears to the community of which he is a member. It involves the prophet’s words, behavior, affections—indeed everything about the prophet as a human being. This perspective of the essential prophetic task that will shape all of our subsequent considerations of his individual, specific actions is that the prophet is fundamentally a representative. He represents God, the community of which he is a part, and, of course, himself in way that are unique to this special office he occupies."(Michael J. Williams, The Prophet and his Message: Reading Old Testament Prophecy Today (Phillipsburg, N.J.: P & R, 2003), 71). This representational nature of the feelings is part of the prophetic task and is elucidated and confirmed by other prophets. Furthermore, it provides a fuller understanding of God and a call for the use of feelings as part of Christian witness.

The challenges and joys of participating in the prophetic task was something I personally experienced this year by living in Christian community. The community strives to live out in daily life the prophetic task. This is partially done through displaying the joy of fellowship and celebration to a world that is trying to proclaim that what is valued and sold in Amsterdam’s Red Light District as a source of joy and truth. It is also inviting others to participate fully in the life of community and experience the joys and sufferings in others’ lives. Through doing this, we become all too aware of the fallen humanness in Christians and non-Christians, but we also have the opportunity to represent God to each other. In writing this thesis, I have been given the language to explain why living here matters so much to me. It is also providing me with a better understanding of how I can further continue here as part of fulfilling the contemporary prophetic task.

The participation in Christian community has also shown me that along with the overwhelming aspects of the prophetic task, there is much grace and joy mixed in with the sadness. The joy is found in seeing how a single mother rejected by her strict Christian parents is learning to believe more and more that she and her children are truly loved and appreciated. The laughter is found in watching a blind man shiver when someone anointed his feet with oil after washing them. The grace is found in people being willing to fix your things for you. The comfort is found in having people watch out for you when you are sick. The delight is found in having at dozens of people around with whom to celebrate feasts and holidays properly! In these ways, during the last few days of community life, I have been a recipient of others’ fulfilling their prophetic task in representing God to me. Certainly, I have discovered that the prophetic task is overwhelming but I also experienced the joy and laughter and grace that makes pursuing this life to the fullest.

12 April 2007

friends safely arrived!!

Dave, Crystle, and Judith have all safely arrived after a mostly sleep-less flight from Toronto. They once again have proven to me that i really do live in a delightfully confusing place. [they've debated about installing a buddy system so they can find their way back to their own rooms]. but other than being slightly sleepy and disoriented, they are enjoying the stroopwaffels, fair trade coffee, delightful views, and uniqueness of my life here in Amsterdam.

and i'm just delighted to have them.

and the thesis has 3 full chapters in final draft form. half the last two are getting there - and some work needs doing on the last chapter. it needs to be done by tomorrow!!! and then i get to truly join my friends on vacation :)

08 April 2007

Easter is come!

i finished the last chapter of the rough draft of my thesis last night! the revision process will continue for the week and i hope to have it sent out by the end of the week.

and this morning, i waited for the sun to rise and celebrated the coming of Easter with about 50 people.

so it truly feels like Easter is come. Hallelujah!!

05 April 2007

can't lent be over now already?

writing my thesis has become the symbol of lent this year. there have been good moments along the way, but i can think of many other ways which i'd like to spend so much of my time and the focus of my energy.

and i have been not feeling well these past few days. i've been sleeping a lot to try to get better. but even if my throat really is sore and i do have a nasty cough, i'm pretty sure that i'm sick partially because i don't want to get better. my being sick is a way of not having to focus on my thesis.

only a few more days. pray that i might have energy and motivation. the hope is that this thesis will mostly be done by Easter. and when it is done, it will feel like Easter is come. and i am really, really looking forward to Easter...