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Gratitude and Groaning: Living Between the Times Michael Goheen Trinity Western University Langley, B.C.

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Presentation on theme: "Gratitude and Groaning: Living Between the Times Michael Goheen Trinity Western University Langley, B.C."— Presentation transcript:

1 Gratitude and Groaning: Living Between the Times Michael Goheen Trinity Western University Langley, B.C.

2 Living Between the Times Salvation: Renewal of human life to again conform to God’s original intentions Salvation: Renewal of human life to again conform to God’s original intentions Mission: Previews of the way God intended human life to be lived in creation Mission: Previews of the way God intended human life to be lived in creation What is God’s original intention? What is God’s original intention? Central, yet neglected dimension: Gratitude Central, yet neglected dimension: Gratitude

3 The Goodness of God ‘Very good’ of creation (Gen 1.31) ‘Very good’ of creation (Gen 1.31) Shalom Shalom Discovering the potentials of God’s good creation Discovering the potentials of God’s good creation

4 Experience of a Father Delights to give good gifts Delights to give good gifts Delights in our response Delights in our response –Enjoyment –Thankfulness –Love

5 City of Angels Delighting in God’s good creation Delighting in God’s good creation ‘He slowly savours the moments taking delight and joy in the simplest pleasures. He tastes the sweetness of fruit for the first time; he lingers as he smells the pleasant aroma of perfume; he pauses to enjoy the sensation of hot water in the shower; he delights in the embrace of a woman. He takes the time to soak in the joy and delight of these new experiences.’ No recognition of Giver, no thanks! No recognition of Giver, no thanks!

6 Gratitude: The Heartbeat of Pauline Spirituality Gratitude permeates Paul’s life and holds a prominent place in his letters to the young churches.... Gratitude is the prospective attitude that he carries—and expects believers to carry—into their daily life in the world. For Paul, thanksgiving marks the dividing line between belief and unbelief, between the obedient and disobedient heart. It is in the expression of gratitude that one truly honors God as the creator and Lord of the world. On the other hand, a lack of gratitude is a primary sin against God (Rom 1.21). - R. P. Meye

7 Heartbeat of Pauline spirituality For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving... (1 Tim 4.4). And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3.17) If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Cor )

8 All of life as a gift We serve Christ by thankfully receiving our life as a gift from his hand (CT, par. 46).

9 Posture of gratitude We are dependent children of a gracious Father, and as children we receive all of the goodness of the creation as a gift from his hand. Our dependence upon him places us in a posture of humility, receptiveness, and gratitude; and that posture shapes how we approach his creation as well. The blessings of creation are not things that we own to do with as we please; they are gifts of grace that we receive with thanksgiving and use in ways that honor the Father’s rule over his entire creation (Hielema, 151).

10 Which story are you living in? At home, settled in Biblical story: At home, settled in Biblical story: –God’s world –Present –All of life is a gift –Lives characterized by thankfulness, love, stewardship

11 Which story are you living in? Another story—our cultural story: Another story—our cultural story: –The Way of the (modern) world: Or, Why It’s Tempting to Live As If God Doesn’t Exist (Craig Gay) –Non-human creation just natural processes to be exploited –Human life product of our resourceful achievements –Squelches gratitude

12 Educating for thanksgiving... Delight and joy in goodness of God’s creation Delight and joy in goodness of God’s creation Thankfulness and gratitude as proper response Thankfulness and gratitude as proper response

13 Struggle for shalom For Wolterstorff, the goal of Christian higher education is to energize students for a certain way of being in the world here and now—to encourage them to struggle for shalom....

14 Delight and Gratitude The goal is to prepare students for life and work of the Kingdom for struggling for human flourishing... where delight and joy are intrinsic features of right human relationships with God, the natural world, the self, and others. Shalom involves recognizing in ourselves that place where God’s goodness finds its answer in our gratitude. - Joldersma, on Wolterstorff

15 Two examples Arts Arts 'To become an artist means that you become a professional imaginator in order to help your handicapped, unimaginative neighbour. Our artistic profession is meant to give voice, eyes, ears and tactile sense to those who are underdeveloped toward such rich nuances of meaning in God's creation‘ (Cal Seerveld).

16 Two examples HPER (Health, Physical Education, and Recreation) HPER (Health, Physical Education, and Recreation) Phys. Ed. teacher’s question Phys. Ed. teacher’s question ‘What is it about sports and competition that delights you?’ ‘What is it about sports and competition that delights you?’ Delight ‘turned upward’ into thanks Delight ‘turned upward’ into thanks

17 Gratitude gives way to groaning We live in a strange world, a world which presents us with tremendous contrasts. The high and the low, the great and the small, the sublime and the ridiculous, the beautiful and the ugly, the tragic and the comic, the good and the evil, the truth and the lie, these all are heaped up in unfathomable interrelationship. The gravity and the vanity of life seize us in turn. Now we are prompted to optimism, then to pessimism. Man weeping is constantly giving way to man laughing. The whole world stands in the sign of humour, which has been well described as a laugh in a tear (Bavinck).

18 A suffering and wounded world ‘Shalom... is a command to humans living here and now, in a fallen world, in a society that is filled with pain, suffering, and woundedness.’ ‘Shalom as a command is a call for us to struggle to bring about human flourishing in our community, our society, our world, precisely because so much of humanity cries out, suffers, is wounded.’

19 Gratitude and Groaning Gratitude: Delight in good gifts God has richly provided Gratitude: Delight in good gifts God has richly provided Groaning: Many are shut out from enjoyment of those gifts Groaning: Many are shut out from enjoyment of those gifts

20 Poverty It is generally accepted that up to two billion people... are now poor. The World Bank describes the one billion of these people as “individuals who subsist on incomes of less than $75 a year in an environment of squalor, hunger and hopelessness. They are the absolute poor, living in situations so deprived as to be below any rational definition of human decency...It is a life at the margin of existence.” For the other billion who are living slightly above this absolute poverty level, life is nearly as joyless and has improved little, it at all, through decades of “development” efforts. -Harvie Conn -Harvie Conn

21 Factors exacerbating poverty Growing population Growing population Ecological issues Ecological issues Unjust structures Unjust structures Massive militarization Massive militarization

22 Not just poverty... Not just the third world... Social problems Social problems Psychological disorders Psychological disorders Technological impoverishment Technological impoverishment War War Grip of idols Grip of idols Etc. etc. etc. Etc. etc. etc.

23 The non-human creation also groans We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption, the redemption of our bodies (Rom ).

24 Orientation leads to action Gratitude Gratitude Groaning Groaning Leads to stewardship Leads to stewardship Leads to action for justice Leads to action for justice

25 Victory of the gospel! Joy, not overcome by pain Joy, not overcome by pain Hope, not despair Hope, not despair Action, not paralysis Action, not paralysis

26 Calling of student Take responsibility! Take responsibility! Cultivate thankfulness Cultivate thankfulness Cultivate sympathy for groaning world Cultivate sympathy for groaning world


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