The official word came the other day from China: we have been approved to adopt our son.
It came along with a document in Chinese, translated into English that we had to sign. A document that says we accept this adoption.
We have been committed from day One. From the moment we realized we were intended by God to care for an orphan.
But to hear the word from the People's Republic of China? To sign our names to this official piece of paper?
Overwhelming. Understatement of the century.
All of the moments in the past month when I could and should have been spending my time making forward progress on various projects, but instead I was crazily pursuing background checks and driving an hour each way to have something notarized. All of the times when I was trying to keep things simple so we could enjoy each other's company, and yet finding myself filling every minute with more and more items on my "Must Be Done Now" list. All of the ambiguous conversations about adopting a child are coming down to this moment when we put pen to paper and say Yes, we will adopt this child.
We breathe a huge sigh of relief just before we start hyperventilating.
And then I go for a run. The fog is consuming in the chill night air. It dampens the noises, and I am enveloped in silence.
In the silence, I feel the presence of One who is in control. And He tells me to breathe. To lay it at His feet. That just as in every time past, He will provide what we need.
I continue running, still scared but ready to keep on keeping on. Some things are just important like that.
Yes, that is a kangeroo and a beer. Our pastor has a gift for finding slides that both enhance and distract from his sermon simultaneously - but no one can deny their awesomeness.
Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving... and pie. We're continuing our current series "Shadows" as a lead up to celebrating Christmas, this week's message is "Something in the Shadows."
Our special music is from John Mayer's most recent album, a song entitled, "Shadow Days."
A couple of things to be aware of:
- We're continuing conversations with various groups and charitable organizations in the community and partnerships are forming... if you'd like to be involved - contact Dwaine or Selma and they will get you connected.
- We're caroling on December 9th at 2:15 pm after the morning service and lunch... at a local assisted care facility. If you're interested in joining, please contact Greg Johnson, and check the website for more details.
- Our Christmas party is shaping up to be a great event. Saturday, December 15th, featuring a dinner starting at 6pm, our own Karen Reiss (harp for the White House) and the group Non Sequitur with upbeat arrangements of Christmas carols and you all can sing along! Bring a friend - this will be a really lovely evening of music and food.
Next week, we're continuing the Shadows messages with Emerging from the Shadows... a look at Old Testament prophecy related to Christmas!
Have a great week!
Give thanks with a grateful heart,
Give thanks to the Holy One,
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son.
And now let the weak say, "I am strong,"
Let the poor say, "I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us."
Give thanks! (Henry Smith)
“I probably won’t die from this,” muttered my housemate George.
“I predict a full recovery,” chirped his girlfriend.
George suffered from Medical Student’s Disease. People studying to be physicians and nurses quite often get Medical Student's Disease. Their textbooks and lectures spotlight irregular heartbeats, swellings, and pallid skin. And sure enough, George found these symptoms in himself!
English majors can acquire their own version of Medical Student's Disease. Such a housemate one autumn became obsessed with foreshadowing. When someone spilled milk at breakfast, Marv speculated that a Big Revelation would come later. Did his basketball game go well? This, he forecast, meant that he would also slam dunk his next paper.
Surge Bible studies recently have asked the question, "What does this tell us about God?" This question usually is worthwhile. However, as with Medical Student's Disease and Foreshadowing Syndrome, we should be wary of seeing what we want to see, whether less or more than the intended meanings.
Around the year 231, a Christian scholar named Origen recommended asking of every scripture passage these three questions:
Today we stick to the literal meaning and application. But to Origen and others, symbolic explanation ruled. Origen demonstrated this kind of Bible interpretation throughout his Homilies on the Gospel of Luke. First, let's review how Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke chapter 10:
“As a man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, some robbers attacked him. They tore off his clothes, beat him, and left him lying there, almost dead. It happened that a priest was going down that road. When he saw the man, he walked by on the other side. Next, a Levite came there, and after he went over and looked at the man, he walked by on the other side of the road. Then a Samaritan traveling down the road came to where the hurt man was. When he saw the man, he felt very sorry for him. The Samaritan went to him, poured olive oil and wine on his wounds, and bandaged them.
"Then he put the hurt man on his own donkey and took him to an inn where he cared for him. The next day, the Samaritan brought out two coins, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of this man. If you spend more money on him, I will pay it back to you when I come again.’”
Concerning the Samaritan, Jesus concluded, "Go and do what he did!"
Simple application was not enough for Origen. He explained that there is more in this story than meets the eye:
Origen saw the whole Bible as having a symbolic, allegorical layer worth more attention than the literal reading and application.
His students eventually distinguished symbols about heaven from other symbols. These four perspectives —the literal, allegorical, moral, and aetheric—were sometimes represented as a team of four strong horses, the quadriga, that carried the believer away from error and closer to God.
By the 400’s, you were not hearing a good sermon unless it found symbols in every phrase of a Bible verse. A preacher in France named Caesarius left a sermon on David and Goliath, observing, “Jesse his father sent David to search for his brothers, and God sent his only-begotten Son.” That would preach today.
But Caesarius was just warming up. The ten cheeses David brought? “The ten commandments, which bound us to the Law!” The valley where David met Goliath? “This world, where Christ faced the devil!” David’s critical brother Eliab? “ The Jewish people, who jealously slandered Christ the Lord!” Caesarius felt he had slacked if he failed to insult Jews.
Luther, Calvin, and other reformers could not entirely break from the fun of allegorizing. But they generally concluded, whoa, this has gotten out of hand. The practice of finding allegories had mutated from pious meditation to distraction and nonsense.
The 1997 Catechism of the Catholic Church prioritizes the literal and makes the quadriga less lampoonable:
"According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral, and anagogical senses. …
"The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal.
"The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God's plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ's victory and also of Christian Baptism. The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written "for our instruction". The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, “leading”). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem."
This Vatican statement commends what many Reform Christians approve: The words of scripture have only one meaning, period. However, some events and objects recorded in scripture are not just historical, but also are God’s show and tell:
“The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves.
For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make
perfect those who draw near to worship… we have been made holy through the sacrifice of
the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews 10
The question to ask: Is each event in scripture an object lesson, a shadow, a sign for the observant?
Certainly one can draw application from events in the Bible, such as the rebellions against Moses:
“Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they
did. … We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not
grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.” 1 Corinthians 10
Application requires discernment. Just because one suffers a calamity does not mean God is punishing him or her. Joseph ran from an affair, and was thrown in jail. Jeremiah spoke truth to power, and was thrown in jail. Peter healed a man, and was thrown in jail. Paul preached the gospel, and was thrown in jail.
My med student roommate George finally found that his palpitations were better explained by a combination of not enough experience and too much coffee. He healed, and became a healer.
Likewise, my English major friend Marv stopped seeing falling leaves as prompts for despair. Perhaps it was the trick endings of O. Henry that restored him, perhaps it was a girl. The world lost an oracle and gained a professor of English. Marv has since authored illuminating books on prayer, C.S. Lewis, and various literary subjects.
Where your treasure is, there will your analogy be also. Sometimes, a cheese is just a cheese.
Good morning Surgeons!
Hope you are doing well as you prepare for Thanksgiving week. It's a time for eating, being thankful, and taking time to remember how irritating our families can be over a several day stretch!
We're beginning our Countdown to Christmas Series, "Shadows" this week with the Paradox of Giving...
Speaking of giving, some folks will be looking for an opportunity for year end gifts and we would love to assist. You can give in the offering boxes at the back of the Theatre, or online here. Thanks for your continued generosity!
Our third Saturday concert with SAW was last night and it was a great evening of music. Our next one will be on Dec 15th, which is also our Surge Christmas Party! Don't miss it, it will be a great evening.
We're caroling again this year, on December 9th after the morning service.
Christmas Caroling at Powhatan Nursing Home!
Sunday December 9, 2:15 - 3:50 p.m.
2100 Powhatan St, Falls Church, VA
This is the same spot we visited the last several years.
We bring caroling booklets in case you have forgotten how many "la's" there are in "fa-la la-la la....", how many "o's" are in "Gloria", or how many kings from Orient Are.
We tend to spend an hour in group singing and then visit with bedridden residents.
If you plan to come please check in with: Greg.JohnsonG@gmail.com 573-239-8412
Also contact Greg if you have questions, suggestions, or a conga version of Little Drummer Boy to audition.
Next week we'll continue our Shadows series with "Something in the Shadows!"
Travel safe and beware of food coma!
Good morning Surgeons!
We're wrapping up our Armor All series this weekend with the Sword of the Spirit. We're going to go through Psalm 84 using the process of reading that is being done every week in our small groups, and it's going to be a wonderful service.
Our special today is the blues standard, John the Revelator... and should be fun :)
Remember that if you're new, we would love for you to fill out a connection card... and while we care more about you than your money... we do believe that giving can be a wonderful opportunity to invest in what God is doing - so thank you for your faithfulness and generosity! We have offering boxes in the back of the service, and the ability to give online as well.
Next week, we're doing a stand alone sermon on the Paradox of Giving and it should be a great service.
We also have our Third Saturday concert with SAW, so come out and support our local artists and songwriter's (and cheesecake makers).
Save the date! Our Christmas party will be gearing on Saturday, December 15, details to come very soon!
Have a great week everyone!
Good morning Surgeons!
Continuing our Armor All Message Series this week, talking about the Helmet of Salvation!
Special music today is a nod to the election with Politicians, by Switchfoot.
If you're visiting, please fill out a connection card, we'd love to stay in touch with you!
Remember our second and third Saturday events with SAW, in the open mic and concert series respectively.
Also, save the date! December 15 is our Surge Christmas Party... featuring a special SAW concert with our very own Non Sequitur, doing great arrangements to Christmas Songs you'll be sure to enjoy.
Thanks and have a great weekend!
At The Surge we love doing things together... that includes writing a blog! Here are a few of our main contributing authors:
Our fearless leader, Dwaine is the lead pastor at The Surge. His experience in counter terrorism with the CIA prepared him for ministry and he likes dogs and babies even more than E does.
E (short for Eric Reiss) is the Wingman at The Surge and likes dogs, music, Mexican food, his wife Karen and his little girl Evangeline... not necessarily in that order.