This past Sunday, our 10th graders did a mini-retreat as they prepared for their Affirmation of Baptism (confirmation) that will take place on October 28th.
In one of our activities, we spent time talking together about the faith questions that have emerged for them as they have learned and grown over the past three years. The group had fantastic questions. You can tell that they have really been stretching and growing in the last few years.
We gave them time to think of their questions, and to ask them anonymously. And then, pulling them out of a box randomly, we talked about and “answered” as many of the questions as we could. But there were more questions than we had time. We agreed that I would answer, or at least address, the remaining questions here in this blog. So over the next few weeks, I am going to try and tackle a couple of their questions at a time.
Question 1. “Why do we not hold the Old Testament as high as the Gospels?”
That’s a great question, and one that really made me stop and think. I don’t think it’s accurate to say that we don’t hold the Old Testament as high as the Gospels. We believe that all of the scriptures is the inspired Word of God, meant to anchor us in our life and faith. And the teachings in the Exodus are as important and valuable to us as anything else in the scripture.
Having said that, I also need to admit that there are lots of different kinds of literature in the Bible: history, poetry, letters, prophecy, songs, stories, and more. And of course, there are the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. While I’m not sure I’d say that the Gospels are more important, I do think that they get more attention. This because the Gospels tell the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. And Jesus is the center of our faith; and all the rest of scripture, Old and New Testament, points to and reveals Jesus.
The Gospels are not necessarily the most important part of the scriptures, but Jesus is the most important part of our relationship with God and of our faith. And because the Gospels tell the story of Jesus, we do spend more time and energy focusing on the Gospels. (We even stand up when the Gospels are being read!)
As 2nd Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.”
Question 2: “What is your favorite thing about being a pastor?”
Thanks for the question! I love being a pastor. I think it’s the greatest job on the planet. Every week I get to stand in front of people I love, and I get to tell them good news. It just doesn’t get any better than that!
When you are a pastor, people open windows and doors into their lives and let us enter in. We get to be with people at times of great joy, and at times of great sadness. We get to help people tap into God’s imagination as we think about living out the mission of the church.
I love all of these things. But mostly, I think I love being able to spend time with people as we go through life together.
Question 3: “How do you know Jesus is a dude?”
I think this question actually has some layers to it.
We believe that Jesus was male because the Gospels tell us that he was. Biologically speaking, I’m pretty confident that Jesus was a guy. But sometimes people assume that this means that everything about God is male. I don’t believe that this is true.
Remember that Jesus is just one aspect of God; one part of the Trinity. God is much more…much larger than Jesus. We talk about God the creator…we talk about Jesus the redeemer…and we talk about the Holy Spirit who works in the world.
In Genesis it says that humans were created “in God’s image.” It doesn’t say that men were created this way, or that women were. It says that all of us were created in God’s image. That means that God contains the images of all of creation, regardless of how you identify your gender. And beyond that, when God created humans, God said that “it is good.” God affirms us as beloved children of God!
In fact, the name for the aspect of the trinity that we call the “Holy Spirit” comes from the Hebrew word, “Ruach,” Which literally translates to “breath” or “spirit.” This word, in Hebrew, is a feminine pronoun. In Hebrew, the assumption was that the Holy Spirit, that aspect of God that we believe is active in the world, is nurturing and caring, was feminine.
So, “was Jesus a dude?” Yes. But God is much more than that. And God is never confined to our definitions and labels.
Look for more thoughts and answers related our 10th graders questions in a few days!