From the Dean

Eight secret acts of kindness that anyone can do

Published on January 18, 2018  

We all know the commandment “Love thy neighbor.” It’s one that almost everyone learns in grade school. And it’s easy enough to understand as a general concept, of course, in the sense that we should be good to one another and treat non-family members with love and care. But what does the commandment really mean on an everyday, local scale? Should I offer a hug to my neighbor every morning the same way I do for my kids before they head off to school? I don’t think so. But there are practical, subtle ways to be kind. We just have to look for the right opportunities.

Luckily, there are people in the world already leading by example. Sure, you’ve read the local news stories about people who pay for the coffee order of another customer, but that’s just one glimpse of the many anonymous tales of kindness that unfold each day that should be celebrated. So here are a few more inspiring stories, all with humble acts of love and kindness, that you haven’t heard …

The reverse birthday gift

“I was going to be alone on my birthday, so I gathered some $10 bills, headed downtown with intentions of spreading cash to homeless folks. It was rainy so I didn’t have much luck. Disappointed, I started back toward my car, and a young woman was at the bus stop, crying. She was on the phone with someone telling them she didn’t know how she was going to get groceries for her family. I reached in my pocket and handed her the whole wad of cash. My blessing was seeing her face light up with relief and joy. I walked away knowing that I helped someone at the right time, and the right place, just like I had been helped in similar fashion many years ago.” – Angie Nuttle

 Read the rest by Caryn Rivadeneira at Aleteia.

Internationally-known Ethicist Robert Benne to Speak at Beeson Divinity School

Published on January 5, 2018  
benne robert

Internationally-known Lutheran ethicist Robert Benne will speak at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School Feb. 1, on “Bad and Good Ways to Think About Religion and Politics.” 

Author of Good and Bad Ways to Think About Religion and Politics, Benne will give his first talk, “Bad Ways—Separation and Fusion,” at 11 a.m. and his second talk, “Good Ways—Hot and Cool Connections,” at 6 p.m., both in Andrew Gerow Hodges Chapel.  

Benne is the Jordan-Trexler Professor of Religion Emeritus and founding director of the Robert D. Benne Center for Religion and Society at Roanoke College in Salem Virginia. He is the author of 12 books. 

“Benne is known for his lucidity and accessibility,” said Gerald R. McDermott, Anglican Chair of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School. “In a time of political and religious confusion, he provides the Church with theological sanity and balance.” 

The lectures are free and open to the public. Visit our special lectures page for more information. 

The Dean Recommends: Teflon Idols

Published on December 15, 2017  

I have prayed for strength many, many times in my life. Before difficult conversations. In the midst of painful decisions. Every morning as I contemplate the insurmountable three steps between my bed and my beeping alarm. The one thing I have never asked God for—the one thing I have never heard anyone ask for? Weakness.

So imagine my surprise when, early one morning, as I was starting my usual daily entreaty, I felt the Spirit press a hand over my mouth and whisper, “No, pray instead to receive the gifts of weakness.”

Gifts of weakness?! What on earth are those? I take a bit of Ezekiel-inspired pride in functioning like spiritual Teflon in my service to the Lord (see Ez. 3:8-9).  I wasn’t sure what the Spirit meant. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know.

But as I’ve meditated on it lately, I have begun to glimpse the graces, the treasures in the trash I would once have tossed away. Read the rest at Mud Pie God.

The Dean Recommends: The God Who Is For Us - Mary's Song

Published on December 7, 2017  
the god who is

In October 2016, I gave the following exposition on Luke 1:46-55, known as Mary’s Song or the Magnificat, at my church for a women’s event. In this season of Advent, I’d like to share it with you. It’s interesting that Luke includes in his Gospel Mary’s Song, which is an interpretation of the preceeding events (the annunciation and the incarnation). What do we learn about the nature of God (who he is) through Mary’s Song? That’s the question I try to answer. You can read my manuscript below or listen to the audio of it here. May this Advent season ever remind you of the nearness of God in Jesus Christ and his unfathomable love for you.

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I don’t know about you but even though I’ve been a Christian for a long time, I still battle in my mind with different, opposing views of God. Every day is a struggle with belief in some way: a belief in a God who still loves me, a belief in a God who forgives me, a belief in a God whose mercy does not run dry, a belief in a God who is near me not far from me. Perhaps you find yourself asking yourself, Is God going to run out on me like that parent or spouse? Is God not going to forgive me like that friend who refused to forgive? Who is God and what do we believe about him in those darkest moments when we have nothing left to give?

Our God is not the god of Julie Gold’s song, “From a Distance,” who is or perhaps should be at a distance.

Who is God is the singular, most important question for us believers and in fact for all of humanity. Everything else stems from how we answer that question. Read the rest by Kristen Padilla at kristenrpadilla.com.