Wednesday, January 26, 2011

2010 in a nutshell

Hola Pfiles!

Winter “Break” has come and gone, and your favorite Seminarian Duet is ready to start singing odes and odes to you. 2011 has found us determined to get organized, with God's help. To that end, we're getting ready to put a bow on 2010 and call it a success. We'll tie that off with some shots of our Christmas (see below, wonderpful photography by Noel), which was spent in snowy Ambridge, minus a great blitz to Maryland on Christmas Day where we got to hang out with Greg's mom (hi mom!), and a spontaneous family reunion with Grandparents, and Aunts and Uncles and Cousins of yore...good times, so good to see everyone and catch up after so many crazy years!

Our first semester was challenging in terms of getting back into “school mode” and finding a healthy and doable balance of work and class. Financially, we held up okay... many thousands of thanks to the Pfiles out there who, anonymously or not-so anonymously supported us last semester, we sure needed you and felt so blessed by your support. Also to those who stayed in touch, what a refreshing joy to hear from you (or see you!)... please keep us in the loop as we loop you in as we are able (and organized!). The end of the semester gave us a chance to look back and reflect and marvel at the hand of God en accion. Refreshed and rejuvenated and inspired to get organized, and with yet another class already under our belts (thank you Extension Ministries for Jan Term wherein we can take a full semester's worth of class in 5 wild days of learning!) We sat under Bill Taylor for our Intro to Missions: best Missions class we've ever had. We have the privilege of continuing our friendship with Bill (Moody grad, what-what!?!) and working on a Top Secret project which we will keep....a secret.

Since we're getting so organized, be on the lookout for more and better communication on our end (like regular e-mail updates and invites to RSS feeds and Facebook and Skype prayer sessions and all the wonders of computer-aided telecommunication, muhahahahahaha!!!!) Boy howdy, that's a good coffee pot we got for Christmas! With the way it keeps coffee hot and delicious and flowing like rivers of caffeinated goodness, coursing through my veins... my eye is twitching, I should probably cut back.. but Lent is still many weeks away

Blessing to you Pfriends, thanks for reading and writing and arthimetic-ing(?). We love you dearly and look forward to staying in touch this organized 2011!

Fiber-optic Christmas Tree! 3 ft tall and an adequate temporary replacement for the one we may have left in the Isemans' basement in Chicagoland

She's not faking that smile, Pfiles! Snuggie is a pfreezing grad's student's best friend

"The cave is collapsing!  This is no cave."

Highly Recommended reading for the living and undead alike

DahnTahn Picksberg

Monday, January 24, 2011

some more incomplete works

 On a personal note:  Noel dedicates this "essay", an assignment for Early Church History, to write an article, as for a church newsletter, on the practical implications of the doctrine of the Trinity, to the good people of Holy Trinity Anglican in San Antonio, TX (not least of which to her parents who dubbed it thusly).  Thank you for worshiping God as He reveals Himself; as the loving Trinity.  Noel is very excited to worship with you one day soon.

Greetings, church! As we approach Holy Trinity Sunday, let us imagine together our ordinary days profoundly lived in the light of the One God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit whom we worship. What do you imgine when I say that? Do you think of an apple? Water? A flame? While these analogies can be helpful in certain matters, what I want to address here will glean little help from them lest, as Gregory of Nazianzus says, “we be frenzy-stricken for prying into the mysteries of God” (Guy, 280). So, let us proceed in humility. Because we take God at His word that He has revealed Himself as Trinity that this should have an impact on our daily lives. But, perhaps, we might ask, I know we affirm, pray and worship the Trinitarian God on Sunday morning and in morning and evening prayer, but I’m still fuzzy on the details, can you fill them in? I hope St. Augustine might be of some help to us on this. He says,

“has redeemed us through His own blood, giving His soul for our souls,
His flesh for our flesh, and has also poured out the Spirit of the Father
for the union and communion of God and humanity, imparting indeed
God to human beings by the Spirit, and on the other hand, attaching
humanity to God by His incarnation, and bestowing upon us at His
coming immortality durably and truly, by means of communion with God.”

This is a good synopsis of God’s working out of our salvation in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as well as through the indwelling of the Spirit. What do we see that can help us in our daily living? How does this effect how I go to work tomorrow or hang out with my kids tonight?
Well, first of all, we can trust in the mediation of Christ that Augustine spoke of, both His mediation of Himself to us and of our humanity into the life of God. Isn’t that amazing? That sends shivers down my spine to think that God did that! We receive this mediation through the Spirit, moment by moment. And friends, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom! 2 Corinthians 3 goes on to say that in this freedom, we reflect the Lord’s glory and are being transformed into Christ’s likeness by the Holy Spirit. And He is with us always as Christians. So, engage Him at all times of day with confidence, ask Him to join you to Christ’s likeness and to live into those good works He has for you. Ask Him to help you really love and care for Jim in the cubicle next to you whom you are sure has a fingernail growth condition for as often as you hear his clippers being used! Be assured that the triune God is working in your workplace, at your home, in your grocery store, at the post office and He invites you to participate with Him as a minister of reconciliation in the world. So, repent for those times you have been unwilling to participate and ask Him to help you understand Him more and to help you be more like Him.
Another means of practicing our Trinitarian faith is through remembrance. Friends, we as Anglicans, stand in a long tradition of those who have chosen to remember and celebrate God’s events in history. You might notice that much of our liturgy involves this recollection with gratitude, nowhere noted more than in the Great Thanksgiving, Eucharist. By remembering the salvation trajectory, we can know Father, Son and Holy Spirit for willing together to sustain the creation even after sin entered, for destroying the power of sin and death, and restoring us to new life in communion with God, as Augustine said. In all things, thank God for the ways in which He does these things in your life now, recall them with others, use them to tell others the Good News. Even ask the Spirit to help bring these things to mind as part of practicing this Trinitarian way of living.
Last but certainly not least is that our Trinitarian God is within Himself love and relationship. The source of all our love, ability and yearning to relate is in Him. He is known in relationship and it is for life in Him that we are saved. When Jesus prays, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know you sent me and loved them even as you loved me,” He is not just saying something nice and comforting. He is expressing the reality that the triune God desires for us, that the Church be Christ’s body, one with Him and the Father. After Jesus ascends, He sends the Spirit of Truth to work in those whom He loves the reality of unity that is the same unity between the Father and the Son. How do we know this? Because the Spirit is also one with the Father and Son as God! So, we are, in a profoundly real way, being bound together in love as members of Christ’s body, the same love that is found in the Trinitarian God of the Universe. So, love in freedom! Practice our Trinitarian faith with risky love through hospitality, gift-giving, gift-receiving, prayer for one another, asking the Spirit to help you see others needs and a way to help, carrying others burdens, befriending the lonely, and all of those things that Jesus did in the Gospels in the power of the Spirit. We are living into our call as the royal priesthood when we welcome others into loving relationship just as we were welcomed into the loving relationship of the Triune God by the mediation of Christ worked out in us by the Spirit.


We will explore more of these themes and perhaps imagine a few more as we explore the vastness of the doctrine of the Trinity in our Christian Ed series beginning in Pentecost. All of this here has been just a tantalizing morsel of what is to come and at the least you’ll learn some new cool words to impress friends and family! We will meet together in the hope that “we, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

some Noel works

Noel Collins Pfeifer, Reviewer

Making Room: Recovering the tradition of Christian Hospitality
by Christine Pohl

Pohl begins with a historical excavation into the ancient Christian tradition of hospitality and finds it to be a quintessential part of the Church’s identity. The material is well-researched and well-presented. She gleans strength from her treatment of Scripture, tradition, reasoning a plausible re-shaping of it in contemporary culture and being shaped by the experience of historical and present day hospitality ministers. Pohl writes of hospitality as a deeply Biblical practice that God even forged into the Covenant with Israel through their “identity as aliens and related responsibility to sojourners and strangers.” (27) They even saw it as a place of sacramental meeting with God. Pohl is also critical of many aspects of today’s particularly Western context that have and may continue to impede hospitable churches and homes. These include fear, busyness, loss of a sense of Church as family and the valuing of individualism. However, Pohl has not lost hope and continues to explore the possibility of reconstituting hospitable attitudes and practice with the help of God and the wisdom of those who have previously taken up the mantle. No conversation on hospitality would be complete without defining “stranger”, the art of welcoming, the dignity of persons, the power of recognition, communal meals, multiple Church or family co-operation, and the importance of laughter. She also outlines many of the challenges inherent to this ministry and those nitty, gritty, honest fears and questions that may very well keep people from ever even attempting hospitality. Pohl does not pull punches or minimize the loss of this hallmarking tradition, but it is clear that she believes in an educational-conversational approach rather than simply making Christians feel guilty about it. She speaks as a prophet in, for and to the Church. Overall, it is a vastly helpful book for those who recognize that our society is truly yearning for belonging, and that the Church is in a unique position to offer genuine belonging and love through open hearts and open doors. It is a highly accessible read, enabling to the hospitable of heart and exhortative to those who are not gifted but consider hospitality a valuable tradition to be resuscitated in the Church. For further practical help, she includes some brief information from existing hospitality ministries worldwide and an extensive bibliography. Making Room is an important asset to this Biblical discipline’s rediscovery and incorporation, which Pohl would say, and I would agree, is paramount to the proclamation of the Gospel and the symbol of our eschatological hope of feasting together at the wedding banquet of the Lamb.