Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Bridging the Word and the World

4/5 2012

Stations of the Cross on Good Friday

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The Open Door (a Church Plant started by two PTS graduates) is sponsoring the Stations of the Cross Art Exhibition on Good Friday. One of our own students, Will Jackson, has an original piece that will be presented. The station that he has chosen is the one in which Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns. This piece will reflect the pain and suffering that goes on in the world. It will reflect the nations, thus he gives it the title, Missio Dei, or the Mission of God. He will be presenting an airbrushed scroll which will be newly unveiled for the community.

By His Wounds is an invitation for artists to participate in The Open Door’s 7th annual Stations of the Cross exhibition, on view Friday, April 6, 2012, 11:00 a.m.- 9:00 p.m. at the Union Project 801 (N. Negley Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206). Held on Good Friday each year, this exhibition is intended to encourage contemplation and artistic response to the last hours of Jesus’ life, leading up to his crucifixion. By His Wounds invites artists to create works in response to one of the traditional Stations of the Cross. In doing so, artists are welcomed to consider the reality and cost of suffering — both personal and global, as well as its transformative (and even healing) power. Artists are encouraged to consider how such suffering intersects with the wounds of Jesus. All attendees of the exhibition are invited to engage the works on view and participate in a collaborative artwork. This exhibition is free and open to the public. It will be featured as part of the First Friday art gallery openings.

The Rev. John C. Welch, MDiv graduate, and Vice President for Student Services and Dean of Students

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3/29 2012

Borders, Passports, and Christ

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Last week the Seminary organized a symposium on the issue of Christian faith and immigration. Mark Adams, coordinator of Frontera de Cristo, a cross-cultural PC(USA) border ministry in Arizona (see http://www.fronteradecristo.org/ ) told us about his work, and PTS faculty helped students to think through the theological and ethical issues.

“Immigration” is a touchy topic in this country, and pastors may shy away from it being afraid that it will divide their congregations. But the Christian community should not without reflection accept the way politicians and commentators have set the terms of debate. We have our own story to tell, and that story is shaped by very different considerations than the ones that normally determine the conversation.

At the symposium we talked about an interesting passage in Paul’s letter to the Philippians (3:17-21). He there tells the Philippian Christians that their citizenship is not in Philippi, but in heaven, where Christ is. To understand what a powerful statement that is you need to know that at the time of Paul’s writing Philippi was a Roman colony in Greece, used by the Roman army to house veterans who, as the Army contracts stipulated, at their retirement received both citizenship of Rome and a place to live – for example, in Philippi. It is very well possible that a good number of the small Christian congregation in Philippi were such army veterans. To them Paul writes now: I know that you are proud of your newly acquired citizenship; I know that it is something that for you feels as if it shapes and expresses who you are. Have you not throughout your life put your life on the line for the Roman Empire? Nonetheless, in having met Christ, you received something that is more important than this, something that more than your Roman citizenship ought to shape your identity. As a baptized Christian, you are now a citizen of heaven, of the place where Christ is. And that trumps your alliance to Rome! As an example he tells about his own life: how once he was a Jew, proud of his heritage and ancestry, but on meeting Christ he regarded all of that as “rubbish” (3:7). You ought to do likewise, Paul writes to the Philippians: “Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me” (3:17).

When we come to issues of immigration, we often feel torn between neighborly love and our sense of national identity and what might be in the interest of our nation. But we need to realize that in the New Testament nations and national identities are ranked under the powers of the old age, an age that does not have a future and that is fading away; while in our baptism we receive to participate in the new age, in the times of the world to come. Therefore, when it comes to negotiating issues of politics, including immigration, Christians have a distinct and different approach, because for them their baptismal certificate trumps the nationality listed in their passports.

That’s a radical approach. But the New Testament tells a radical story. Seminary education is about helping to live into that radical story, so that later on grads can do the same with their congregations.

The Rev. Dr. Edwin Chr. van Driel, Assistant Professor of Theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

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3/23 2012

Life on Cruise Control

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It is so easy to go through life on cruise control. You wake up, go to work or class, study, run errands, and then go to bed. Seminary is a wonderful time of preparation for ministry, but it is also a place where ministry has already begun. As a Christian, we ought to live our life as a blessing for others. Habits that effective pastors have built into their everyday routine did not all of a sudden appear when they became ordained. They were habits that were developed long ago before they ever were called or appointed to a church.

I write this blog post to encourage all of us not to live our lives on cruise control. We are so blessed to be able to have the freedom and opportunity to come to a place to learn, realize our gifts, discern our call, meet other Christians that are passionate about the same things, and to have the opportunity to live into an effective ministry-filled life right now. Sadly, many of us – myself included – reason our way out of risks or opportunities to be a blessing to others. We find ministry to others to be inconvenient, and sometimes we lack the courage to step out in faith and allow the Holy Spirit to work in us.

Pittsburgh is a city bursting at the seams with opportunities to positively touch the lives of other people through the many ministries and organizations. My prayer is that all of us are living a life that is intentional about hands-on ministry shaped by our theology. My hope for us all is that we would be bold enough to allow God to use us to bless, encourage, minister, love, and to reach one person. I leave you with a quote, “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” As Christians, we are all called. Let’s allow God to use us to make a difference.

Brian, Senior MDiv student

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