Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Theology of Telling the Truth and Inspiring Hope

   My parents were the first to share with me the devastating news by telephone: the family of one of my high school friends had been involved in a serious car accident while back home visiting Statesboro and his two children were critically injured. We learned that they had been rushed by helicopter to a hospital in Savannah and we should begin praying for all of them. Conversations like that, updates on Facebook and, later, the site became a norm for the family and friends of David and Ellen Murkison in December 2011. We were praying for the health of their sons and, soon, for miracles to happen.
   The Murkisons will be with us this Sunday morning to share some of their story. I've been reading the book that Ellen has published this year and I must say, it is powerful. She is a really gifted writer, but there is something more going on than the retelling of a powerful story: Ellen is a theologian. It is not a title she would probably readily claim, based on her own words. She says as much to start the third section of the book, Prayers from Fiji,

I have no theological background, but I am person of faith. By writing this book, I am trying to follow what I believe is God's plan for me, namely to give others hope by sharing the extraordinary events of Brian's recovery. It would be a somewhat safer venture if I were to stop at this point to just let the events themselves be the story. Yet, I have heard a voice in my head saying to write on. [What follows]... are reflections on my journey through this experience from a faith-based perspective, and I humbly offer them up, flawed and imperfect as they are, from my heart and as honestly relayed as I can. (page 113)

I love her humility. She wants us to know that she does not have a theology degree in her past, but I cannot help declaring that what she is sharing is her own claim to a theological present. Ellen writes from a theology of 'this is what happened.' Like the Gospel writers of the New Testament, she writes about what she knows. She goes on to share the truth, as her family has lived through it, in sections about faith in the unknown, perseverance, community, forgiveness and gratitude. She writes openly about the Holy Spirit and the presence of God. I cannot wait to hear from them in person this Sunday at 9 AM and 11 AM in worship.
   We don't need more theology degrees in the church. We do need people to live into their calling to be theologians. We each possess the essential qualities needed: senses to be aware of what is happening around us and tools to share what we have seen and are experiencing. Here is what I know: the world is desperate to hear, from real people, a message of what God is doing in the world. We can inspire hope by simply telling the truth of what God is doing.
   Grace and Peace, Scott

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