It’s not my Dad’s Youth Ministry…

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This is my second paper for Communication Theory class…

 Critical vs. Rhetorical

Jason M. Roebuck

Northwest Christian University

05/25/2015

Abstract

    In this paper, I will look at how I believe the Holy Spirit is leading me to focus more on the Rhetorical Tradition over the Critical Tradition. It is my flesh and the way I was raised that is putting pressure on me to see the benefits of communication from a critical tradition, rather than the one I believe God is calling me to pursue. I will explain the reasons why I believe this rhetorical tradition works best for me, and why the critical tradition is counter-productive when it comes to my work in ministry, even though it is the one that I have been taught most of my life.

    It was about six and a half years ago that I started working for the church as a youth minister and the director of religious education. When I first took the job, I did not know anything about being a youth minister or director of religious education. I read a lot of articles from magazines and textbooks about how to be a good youth minister and I relied on the way things were in the past to lead my decisions of how and what to do in the future. I think the method that I was employing here was critical, because I was trying to identify all of the things that were not working first and then work on not repeating them. I remember identifying some methods that would be effective from day one, but deciding to wait to see what I could glean from just being a part of ministry.

    After about 6 months of treading water to keep my head up, I decided to try to apply some things that God was teaching me through my journaling project to the work that I was doing in ministry. In my opinion, this was when I realized that the rhetorical tradition was more suited for effective communication in ministry, than the critical tradition that I was raised with. I began to organize meetings and group discussion around a specific topic and designed the communication to be used that would best speak to the kids. For the past couple of years, I have tried to pass along this method of application of the rhetorical tradition on to the other teachers at my parish, but it is difficult to get them to commit to the struggle to make it happen effectively.

    The Critical Tradition is what I am comfortable with, because my father raised me with the idea that there was no objective truth, and without questioning everything and not accepting anything as universally true for everyone, you could not be free to live. In the beginning of my ministry experience, I was more willing to accept this idea because it seemed that everyone was comfortable with my speaking this way. I would choose not to be confrontation in most subjects, because it was easier. Too often, I believe children involved in our youth programs were being led to abandon their faith, by being open to all truth, without being given any opinion about the objective truth that is given to the church by God.

    Finally, the Rhetorical Tradition sets me up for ridicule, when I talk about issues that are “not popular”. By the way, it would be awesome if I was just talking about the kids here, but the truth is that most parents have been raised in the church a lot like I was raised outside of the church. This means, that when it comes to a decision that needs to be made about a moral issue, it is easier for them, and most of adult society, to just rely on what the popular culture tells us is ok. As I grow in my faith, I hope that I can continue on the path of developing the rhetorical tradition to use in my work, and use less of the critical tradition. I know that I can be more effective in delivering the message of the gospel, which even Jesus said would make people uncomfortable. “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” (Luke 12:51 NABRE)

What’s eating you?

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Gift: Piety (Reverence) – With the gift of reverence, sometimes called piety, we have a deep sense of respect for God and the Church. A person with reverence recognizes our total reliance on God and comes before God with humility, trust, and love. Piety is the gift whereby, at the Holy Spirit’s instigation, we pay worship and duty to God as our Father, Aquinas writes.

Reading: Brothers and sisters:
No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit. (1 Cor 12:3b-7)

Observation: As I prayed after receiving Holy Communion, I heard the words in my heart that said he is not being eaten at this Mass, but he is consuming all of his people that just received him in the form of bread in the Eucharist. So, the title says, “What’s eating you?” says that if you are struggling with something that you can’t shake…Come to the table of Christ and he will consume it when you eat his body and drink his blood in the Eucharist.

Personification: Patience. It is my hope that I can display the fruit of patience with everyone that comes into my life today, especially my family. As God is patient with me through my struggles, I need to be patient with others, and I need to be patient with myself.

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit and lead my life and all of my actions today…Amen!

Your church is on fire…

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Your job today is to attend your church services and fan the flames…http://bible.us/luk12.49.nabre “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! If your church were on fire physically, your job to help in the effort to extinguish the flames before it devastated your church building. If your church is on fire spiritually, your job is to get some fire and set the world on fire with the flame of the Holy Spirit…Just do it!

http://m.godtube.com/watch/?v=7GLGPWNX

Ascension to Pentecost…

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7_-_fra_angelico_-_triptique_du_jugement_dernierAs I read the end of the gospel reading this morning for the second time this morning, I realized that what Chris Stefanik had tweeted earlier was not right.  He had tweeted the last verse of the gospel as if Jesus was saying it now.

“In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” – Jesus

— Chris Stefanick (@ChrisStefanick) May 18, 2015

I thought if Jesus was saying it now, it would sound like this:

“In the world you will still be persecuted and ridiculed for being a Christian, but be courageous because I have already made the world new with my Ascension.”  – Jesus

Am I living in the new world or do I let others drag me down into the pit of the old world with them?  I will choose to live in the new world that is being created through the power of the Holy Spirit that we will remember at Mass this Sunday was given to us on Pentecost Sunday, almost 2000 years ago.

The Great High Priest…

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Great High PriestThe Great High Priest – Hebrews 4:14

Jason Roebuck

Northwest Christian University

May 8, 2015

Abstract

My objective of this essay is to explain that God would have made arrangements for us to continue to receive his grace after his Ascension into Heaven.  Also, the fact that Jesus was offered as a reparation for our sins once for all, does not mean that we would not choose to be disobedient on occasion, even after our conversion.  This is my attempt at explaining the systems that God has given us through his church to continue his mission of forgiving us for our sins, as well as our need to hear the words of forgiveness.

(This essay was an assignment for a Biblical Themes of the New Testament class, but it was also a response to a video that I will show at the end of the post.  My hope is that this is the start of a conversation, rather than this be the last word on the subject.)

In my understanding of Jesus, the compassionate high priest, we see the author of Hebrews explaining that Jesus is the leader of new breed of priest that no longer exists only in a designated place that only a few people are chosen to be able to visit.  “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.”  (Hebrews 4:14  NABRE)  We need only hold fast to our confession, or remember to focus on him rather than our own selfishness, and we can have access to God through the intercession of his Son in our lives.

Earlier in the same chapter, we see the author of Hebrews saying that even though Jewish people had access to God through the person of the high priest in the Old Testament, they would not receive the good news because of their disobedience.  Jesus Christ died to make reparation for our sins, so he has given us access to his grace through his suffering and death on the cross.  I submit that sometimes, through our disobedience it is difficult to see clearly a path to reconciliation, so the church has given us an opportunity to go to a priest to hear words of reconciliation.  For those times that we have not been so disobedient that we are not separated from God, we are given the gift of grace through the communion that Jesus offered to us before his death.

James says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.”  (James 4:15  NABRE)  He not only knows our weaknesses through what he experienced, but also through his hand in creation, he knows our ability to be forgiven and act accordingly.  He has given us a vehicle to hear the words that bring about this forgiveness through the experience of the Eucharistic liturgy at Mass, as well as the words of absolution that we hear in the confessional.  The prayer that we say at the end of confession is a great prayer to sow the seeds of repentance in my life.  Here are the words that we say:  O my God I am heartily sorry for having offended you and I detest all of my sins, because of your just punishments but most of all because you, my God, are all good and deserving of all my love.  I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to sin no more and avoid the near occasion of sin.  Amen

Since I am a convert, I was not raised with an understanding of what a relationship with God is supposed to look like.  It is a great help to me to know that when I make a mistake and decide to follow my will instead of God’s will in my life, I can hear the words of the priest telling me that he wants my whole life.  Since the priest is a sinner, like me, I can believe that he is giving me what I need to grow in my faith life, and not just hear his words and go back to my sin.  There are many other parts of the confessional that help me spiritually, but I feel like this is enough for now.

(By the way, this was one of my first two classes in my degree completion program at NWCU, and I loved it…Thanks be to God for giving me a great professor that challenged me to think more critically about what I believe and why I believe it!)

References

The New American Bible, Revised Edition (March 9th, 2011)

Sacrifice: A Response to Violence

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Sacrifice: A Response to Violence

Jason Roebuck

Northwest Christian University

May 7, 2015

Abstract

In this journal, I will attempt to show that in Paul’s letter to the Romans, he starts off the 12th chapter with two verses that have the synopsis of the message of the New Testament to people who are coming to the church today.  I will show that it is our job, or the mission of the faithful to be examples of this living sacrifice.

Paul had witnessed the stoning of Stephen in the beginning of his persecution of the new movement, and this was a signal of the role that Paul would play up to and including his own martyrdom.  I read in article that I googled on the question of why the witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of Paul, and the author gave a few different possible reasons, leading up to the fact that in the Old Testament during a ritual sacrifice, the presiding priest would take off his cloak before killing the animal to be sacrificed. (http://www.academia.edu/1089412/The_Meaning_of_the_Phrase_And_the_Witnesses_Laid_Down_Their_Cloaks_in_Acts_7_58_ExpTim_) This may be a stretch, but as I was reading this article online, I got the impression that Luke was trying to draw a comparison to the ritual sacrifice of the Old Testament and the stoning of Stephen.  Even though, the presider, Saul or Paul, would not have been the one to kill the sacrifice, he was the one that was the recognized authority.  Paul admits that later when he retells the story of the stoning of Stephen to Jesus, who had appeared to him in a trance.  “And when the blood of your witness Stephen was being shed, I myself stood by giving my approval and keeping guard over the cloaks of his murderers.”  (Acts 22:20  NABRE)

I hopefully have laid the groundwork for my interpretation of the two verses that begin the 12th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans.  In it he says that we are to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, and I believe that he is telling the Romans that no matter what happens, they must be willing to submit to the will of God.  The second verse says, “Do not be conformed to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”  (Romans 12:2  NABRE)  I think if Stephen was given a choice of whether he was the first martyr, after the Resurrection, or live to an old age like John the Apostle, he would have chosen to live to an old age.  “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  (John 15:13  NABRE)  He chose to give up his life and it was God’s will that Paul was there to be a witness to the first ritual sacrifice of many sacrifices to come, including Paul himself.  Stephen’s death would signal the beginning of the demonstration of his disciples willingness to give up their life in this world, because of the promise of the life to come, and the perfect example of Christ’s own sacrifice.

As we witness the murder of Christians today on live video feed from countries that have been friendly to his disciples for generations, I think we can draw strength from their courage in the face of martyrdom.  It is unlike the courage of Stephen, who most likely met Jesus and saw his resurrected body, they have a hope that is based on a living witness of a body of Christ that stands with them ready to die with them.  We are hopefully displaying courage by showing compassion to the perpetrators of these heinous acts.  It is my hope and prayer that the people who commit these acts will receive his mercy and forgiveness and come to the realization that we have this promise from Paul’s second letter to Timothy. “For God did not give us the spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.  So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.”  (2 Timothy 1:7-8  NABRE)

A Different Way of Looking at People…

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When I read Paul’s words about the way the body of Christ is supposed to look, I don’t believe he is saying that we need to spend a bunch of time finding out who has what talent and how the church can use these talents to share the gospel with the world.  I see Paul saying to the church in Ephesus and to the church in Corinth that they should see everyone in terms of the value that God has given to their lives and not what their eyes have given them by observation.  I see the symbolism that Paul uses of the different parts of the body to help us understand something very profound.  It is through the parts of our body that seem to be insignificant during certain jobs, and can actually be really significant if we tried to do those jobs without them.  In the same way, all people are of value to the body of Christ, even though we may not see the value they have at the time that they come into our view.  We may see an addict, or a divorced mom of three children, or a single man who has lived in his car for the past 20 years, but God sees a beloved sons or daughters that have eternal value that may or may not ever be visible to us.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he says “If a foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,’ it does not for this reason belong to the body.”  (1 Corinthians 12:15  NABRE)  He is reminding us that people who find themselves outside of the body of Christ cannot be justified when they say they don’t belong, because they have yet to find their value inside the body.  For this reason, the church should see every person with the value that they have as a child of God and not with the value that they have been given by the world that we live in.  As we know, it is very difficult to discern your value as a child of God while acting outside of the body of Christ.  Paul says that should honor the parts that have not been shown honor, so there is no division in the body.  At least that is way that I read the second part of the 24th verse of the 12th chapter of his letter to the Corinthians, and I think when we are doing church correctly, that you see the people who the world would consider weak, being honored.

At the end of the 12th chapter of Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians, he says that he will show them a still more excellent way.  This still more excellent way, is the Crux that our professor talked about in his first video, and it is about loving others in the way that the Father loves us.  I heard it said once that the way that we should read the explanation of God’s love in the 13th chapter of the first letter to the Corinthians is by inserting our name every time he says, “Love”.  It is a challenge, but it is a challenge that is worth taking to see the world and everyone in it through the loving eyes of the Father, instead of our judgmental human eyes.