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Theology Thursday – Lenten Reflections, Part II

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This month, I had the opportunity to attend two back-to-back conferences in good ‘ol US of A. First, I presented a paper at the Eleventh Annual Archbishop Iakovos Graduate Students Conference in Patristic Studies hosted by the Pappas Patristic Institute in Brookline, MA. I also got a chance to be a respondent and a moderator for a session. It was a great experience and I enjoyed getting to know so many awesome people. Perhaps, it is a sign of the times that before going, I was wondering if the presenters were Christians too. In today’s academic climate, you just never know. Just because it’s a conference on a biblical topic, doesn’t necessarily mean that those who go will necessarily be Christians. So it came as a surprising shock (albeit the good kind) when I found out that the presenters were Christians too! There is a certain bond, a sense of camaraderie and fellowship, that Christians share. It is this sense of belonging to something… or should I say, Someone… who is greater than me, than us, than my culture, than my nationality, than my gender, than my socio-economic status. Through Christ, we are all brothers and sisters. There is something inherently powerful about that.

I also got the chance to go to the SPS (Society for Pentecostal Studies) conference in Florida. There is something weird about not wearing winter jackets in March. I enjoyed meeting my new roommates and making new friends. There was something so beautiful about seeing so many like-minded and like-hearted people in one place. I think that’s why I loved these two conferences that I attended. In some mysterious way, I felt like I belonged. As an academic, I think it’s really important to make sure that you join a society that gives you that feeling of belongingness. Everyone was incredibly gracious and extraordinarily nice. SPS felt like home, a place where there are people of differing personalities and temperaments, but are still united in love for God and for one another. Yet, their love for God doesn’t mean shoddy scholarship. In fact, I think that their scholarship is great because of their love for God and their love for the church.

I have been blessed to attend these two conferences. If anything, it was a lesson on humility. I was surrounded by people who were so smart, it’s hard not to feel dumb. However, they were not arrogant or prideful at all. They were so humble and gracious. These are the people who, in my mind, have arrived. But, there is a danger for anyone who ever thinks they have arrived. There is always something more to be discovered. No single person has the ability to know everything about anything. It was great to see these men and women of God exhibit that type of humility and grace within an academic system that is often bereft of such qualities. It is a reminder that I need to guard against arrogance and pride as an academic scholar. The call for humility becomes even harder when you feel like you have something to boast about. If I were to boast in anything, may I only boast in Christ, and Christ crucified. As this Lenten season is nearing its end, may it also signal the end of my own pride and hubris, and the beginning of humility and grace.

Day 5 – The Lenten Journey of Sid

Today, I got to hang out with a friend I haven’t seen in awhile. He now lives in Sudbury so we don’t really get to see each other very often. However, since he was visiting Ottawa for the weekend, we had the opportunity to hang out. He told me that he was going to take me out for a belated birthday lunch so I looked at a few nice places. About 10 minutes before he was picking me up, I decided that maybe I should make a reservation. When I called, my heart sank as I found out that it was closed. I also noticed how many of the other nice places that I wanted to go to were closed. So disappointing. But, the place where I went for my birthday lunch with another friend was open so I decided that we would go there instead. Spiga had one of the best breads I have ever had. The bread was so soft that the butter knife just cut through it like butter. Unfortunately, it was closed. So we went to another resto, Cafe Mangia, and it was beautiful. There were also no other customers while we were there so it was like we owned the place. Had another dish with salmon in it and it was great.

One of the things that I’m super thankful for are friendships based on the gospel. The gospel relationship that Christ calls all of us to have is defined by love, grace, forgiveness, compassion and mercy. This is exactly the type of relationship that we, as Christian brothers and sisters, are called to exhibit and display to one another. I’m thankful to have friends that I can practice what that gospel relationship looks like. It’s messy. Sometimes, it can get ugly. But at the end, it will end up making us brand, spanking new. It’s supposed to make us better. It’s supposed to make us more Christ-like. So thankful to have that type of relationship with my friends.

Join me on this journey.

Encouragement of the Day

“For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God.” – Thomas à Kempis