The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: July 18, 2020
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Rest in peace, J.I. Packer
From Regent College…
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Psalm 116:15 ESV
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Dr. J.I. Packer, a treasured faculty member, author, churchman, and friend.
James Innell Packer died July 17th in Vancouver, British Columbia. He was ninety-three, and humorous, gracious, and prayerful even in his final days.
One of the most widely-respected systematic theologians of the twentieth century, Jim drew his inspiration primarily from Scripture, but was deeply influenced by the works of John Calvin and the English Puritans. Jim brought seventeenth-century Puritan devotion to life for his twentieth- and twenty-first-century students. While named as one of the 25 Most Influential Evangelicals by Time Magazine in 2005 and author of one of the best-selling Christian books of all time, Knowing God, Jim Packer’s description of himself was as an “adult catechist.” “Theology, friends, is doxology” is a phrase students recall, and in many respects, the adage that shaped his lengthy career.
…As an author, Jim wrote forty-seven books, including Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (1961), Knowing God (1973), Keep in Step with the Spirit (1984), A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (1994), and Weakness Is the Way (2013). His final work, The Heritage of Anglican Theology, will appear in 2021. He co-authored nineteen others. Editors repeatedly observed that Jim was clear, factual, and humble—meticulous in proofreading his own work. He was an editor at Christianity Today for more than thirty years, and General Editor of The English Standard Version of the Bible, a role he considered one of his greatest contributions to the global church.
…Jim loved jazz, trains, and mystery novels. Locomotives were a lifelong fascination; he said trains (along with trees and waterfalls) evoked “his longing for the transcendent.” He could quote verbatim as easily from Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov as Charles Williams’s The Place of the Lion. He was witty and quick to see humour; he made fun of himself but never others. He cautioned his students to expect rigour in his classes, quipping “Packer by name, packer by nature.”
When he was writing daily, Jim wrote 2000 words (on his treasured manual typewriter) before breakfast. When asked if he wanted a dictionary loaded onto his iPad (a device he used as his eyesight deteriorated), he smiled sheepishly and admitted, “Well, I haven’t needed one so far.”
For all his accolades and accomplishments, Jim’s focus was always, always, on Christ. He said the Book of Common Prayer‘s Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer services at the beginning and end of each day, often arising at 4 am to do so. Even recovering from a broken pelvis in his last year, he would sink to his knees to pray preceding the Eucharist.
Matthew Paul Turner’s big (and difficult) news…
Dear friends, I have difficult news to share. After much thought, prayer, and counseling, Jessica and I have made the decision to end our marriage. While we’re best friends and thoroughly love doing life, parenting, and pursuing our dreams together, ending our marriage is necessary because I am gay.
Being gay isn’t a new discovery for me. However, as someone who spent 30+ years in fundamentalist/evangelical churches, exploring God through conservative theologies, I’ve lived many days overwhelmed by fear, shame, and self-hatred. Though my own faith evolved long ago to become LGBTQ+ affirming, my journey toward recognizing, accepting and embracing myself took much longer. But for the first time in my life, despite the sadness and grief I’m feeling right now, I can say with confidence that I’m ready to embrace freedom, hope, and God as a gay man.
I would not be able to say that without Jessica’s undying grace and support. I fell in love with her 17 years ago and still love her deeply. Despite her own grief and pain, she has loved and encouraged me to be fully me. Many of the steps I’ve taken recently wouldn’t have happened without Jessica walking beside me, helping me through every fear. Jessica is and will always be my hero. She’s brave, strong and showcases love like nobody I know.
Our utmost desire is to move forward in love and compassion for each other and put the well-being of our kids first. Coming out to my kids was one of the hardest, most beautiful things I’ve ever done. Loving and protecting their stories will always be our first priority.
I will continue to write children’s books and am grateful for the support of my publisher Convergent Books. Writing books about wholeness, hope, and God’s love for children is an honor and privilege I do not take for granted.
That said, we ask that you be kind and respectful toward us.
Throughout these hard months, Jessica and I have looked at each other many times and said, “we’re going to be okay.” And on most days, we fully believe that. Please keep us in your thoughts, prayers as we engage this new path.
Hidden Blessings of the Pandemic
From the Babylon Bee…
U.S.—Regular VBS volunteers across the country are enjoying their most peaceful summer in years, sources confirmed Friday.
The people who usually volunteer at their church’s VBS for some reason thanked the Lord for even a single year of respite. Not having to make fifty gallons of punch a day, prepare hundreds of little cups of Goldfish crackers, and make their fingers bleed by helping kids glue together macaroni Jesuses for a week, they instead are spending their time resting, relaxing, and thanking God for His grace.
“While the pandemic is definitely bad, the silver lining is we don’t have to endure a week of mind-searing insanity,” said Sarah Pateo of Albuquerque. “I am well-rested. I haven’t had a mental breakdown while trying to create a pipe-cleaner Jonah. And I don’t have those infernal songs stuck inside my head.”
“So I’m NOT saying that the pandemic is good — but I am saying God works in mysterious ways,” she concluded as she relaxed with a book and an ice-cold lemonade that may or may not have had vodka in it.
At publishing time, the nation’s regular VBS volunteers had admitted that “it’s kinda crazy, but I actually do miss it a little bit.”
Church social distancing, with good humor…
Pandemic as Sabbath?
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love—
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
• Lynn Ungar
One thing is clear: “E Pluribus Unum” we ain’t…
Here is what I’ve been thinking lately — “I live in the wrong country for this kind of problem.” The United States is just too big, too complex, too decentralized, and too marked by zealous forms of individualism, libertarianism, and a partisan political spirit to deal adequately with a pandemic like the one we’re facing now.
In my opinion, the STUPIDEST conflict we are reading about and dealing with is the fight that is going on with regard to wearing masks.
People, it’s as much of a no-brainer as I can think of. And please don’t try to convince me otherwise. It’s the most commonsense, simple and helpful protection we can all do to help ourselves and others stay safe from the droplets we expel from our mouths and noses when we exhale, talk, and otherwise move air from our lungs. It’s not about your personal freedoms being abridged any more than “No shirt, no shoes, no service” is. It’s simple courtesy, respect for others, and a good sensible and healthy practice.
“We can only beat this virus if we are united as one, not divided by ideology or politics. I wear a mask to protect you and you wear a mask to protect me. It is simple as that.” (Gov. Cuomo, New York)
Of course, if you must wear a mask, but really, really don’t like it, you can always get one of these —
And then, of course, there is THIS to consider…
More Church Social Distancing…
Finally, a little lift for all those feeling burdened today…