vicarbrench: (Default)
Just came across this nifty Seminary Scholarship website. They've got a $1,000.00 scholarship and a digital theological library available, with a pretty simple application. I dunno how likely it is that I'll actually receive it, but it'd sure come in handy for paying for this last year at GCTS...

My classes start on Monday, and I haven't finished my online class. It's got until mid-November, but finishing it during the fall semester will amount to doing six grad-level classes, an internship of sorts at church, and a part-time job at the same time. I think Becky would be proud of me. :-P Or maybe throw small rocks at me for trying to be a stupid overachiever.

One of the cool new things I'll be doing this semester is helping out at my new church's youth group as they go through the Alpha course - a roughly ten-week program which introduces people to the basics of Christianity, helpful for people who don't believe and want to understand what we believe, and for people who kind of believe but don't really know why. And even for solid believers, I'm told, it can be a powerful refresher, possibly bringing the faith into a new light. It was developed over in the Church of England, and has caught on among several denominations over here ever since, including even the Roman Catholic church. And it's always a fun thing to see stuff that protestants, Roman Catholics, and folks in between can all appreciate and use. At least it makes my heart all fuzzy and warm and stuff.

Normally, this transition time from summer to school gets me into spells of loneliness where I feel like I'm facing another year to tackle by myself. But it's not the same anymore; I'm married. Not that Becca is attending GCTS with me, but she lives with me now, and we're married. We share each other's burdens and joys. Well, that's what we're supposed to do. It's still kind of easy to maintain that level of openness and communication because we haven't gotten insanely busy with different things yet, nor have we had time to get sick of each other either. I'm thankful for God's provision for our marriage, but your prayers are surely appreciated as enter into the academic year and start becoming busy with work & school again. And a couple of my classes this semester sound kind of scary.

Well, gotta move on from LJ and get some other stuff done now. Catch all o' y'all later.
vicarbrench: (Default)
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I'm not sure Becca has the travel bug as badly as I do when I think about this sort of question, but I know I've got a long list of places to go and see:
* the South Dakotah badlands - homage at the site where the Sioux tribe was defeated
* Northwest or Yukon Territories, Canada - some excellent camping and hiking
* Southwestern USA - Grand Canyon, crazy landscapes, lonely but gorgeous Spanish missions
* Newfoundland/Greenland/Iceland - ancient Viking settlements, inspiring landscapes, the stuff of ancient sagas and epics
* Scotland - beautiful country, meaningful history, some family ancestry
* England - thousands of years of history to explore, cute country villages to stay in, rolling hills to walk over, plenty of historical-cultural sites to visit
* Europe - Vienna (home of several composers), Basel (home of Swiss fife & drum music), Rome & the Vatican (several important religious-historical sites to visit), Istanbul (the Hagia Sofia), perhaps Moscow, Santiago de Compostela, and probably a bunch of other places
* Israel & the Holy Land - home of the historic faith
* China - the Great Wall and the crazy landscape out west there, the historical districts of Shanghai, the crazy old ancient sites in various places
* Malaysia - just to see what a heavily Muslim country with a so-called secular government actually looks like in real life

But the most realistic travel-like deal I bet I could hope for is being a minister at an Anglican Church up in northern New Hampshire in a tiny rural town like Whitefield NH. It's close to the mountains, so that'd be like a constant vacation in a way :)
vicarbrench: (Prayer)
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Tough question. The main problem is that if I pick someone from too ancient a time, then he or she would not be able to talk to anyone except for maybe the most obsessive/knowledgable ancient language scholars.

Aelfric would be super-awesome to bring back, if I could learn conversational Anglo-Saxon, or teach him modern English. He was a prolific writer of spiritual writings, Bible translations, and other such cool things in a time when we typically don't imagine the Bible being available in the vernacular (900's or 1000's AD) or much literature being well-known in early England.

But if I had to consider practicalities for resurrecting someone, then I'd probably pick my grandfather on my dad's side. I've never met him - he died when my dad was about 22 or so. Perhaps he could teach me a few things about our family's heritage and history, and I could teach him a few things about Jesus. I think we could have gotten along famously.
vicarbrench: (Cheers)
So apparently I've got my very own Mrs. Brench now, which is fantastic. I am not a loner, by any stretch of the imagination. I used to think so, in college, but that turned out only to be due to the fact that friends were *always* around whenever I sought them out, and often when I didn't. Coming home from work at the Helpdesk to see Becca here is a great feeling. And she's a great cook, which is quite the blessing. Not that I'm a bad cook myself, but she enjoys doing it a lot more than I, so it works out well. I just have to pick up a little more slack in getting things cleaned up 'round here. We don't have enough tables to "neatly" pile things up over time.

The apartment is quite nice and spacious for us; we've got some pictures on my camera which I have yet to put up onto facebook. Before, during, and maybe some after photos as well. Becca has been making friends 'round here already, including someone from our new church who has not been part of my circle of friends, so that's pretty awesome.

There are a lot of things going on this summer, we're being kept pretty busy. Her first colonial encampment was a week and a half ago, and this coming weekend is a wedding of a couple peeps I knew at Newman Center at Umass. Two other weddings (one of a classmate here and one of Becca's older sister) also adorn the next couple months, as well as another colonial reenactment at Old Sturbridge Village, which is an awesome event on August 6-8. We'll also help out at VBS back at Trinity Church for a week, which'll mean living in Stow for several days.

I've been taking an online class, listening to lectures on a DVD and reading books... the class is Christian Ethics, and it's way more interesting than I expected. It's been quite a lot of fun, and one of the books in particular has gotten me thinking about the grounds of Christian moral living in different ways, namely in terms of a "Covenant of Hospitality" as being the grounds for fulfilling the commandment to love one's neighbor. A lot more interesting than classic Evangelical Ethics, though I shouldn't make too many comparisons until I've actually read more.

I don't really know what to write about, but I wanted to affirm my existence, and the fact that life is good.

I suppose if I feel busy now in the summertime, that should be a good enough hint that I will need to cut down on what I'm doing once the academic year recommences.
vicarbrench: (Prayer)
I've accepted the decision to switch out of my home church where I grew up and have served the past year and a half and move into a much more nearby church by the seminary here. It's a pretty serious shift in tradition, and a noticeable shift in theology, though a little less drastic than some might think.

I'm going from a conservative nondenominational church, congregationalist in polity, which straddles between Baptist and Reformed theological viewpoints. Very typical New England style church, in the post-Puritan Christian heritage.

I'll be entering an Anglican church, which is episcopal in polity, also upholding a variety of Protestant theological viewpoints, although with a more Catholic sacramentology and ecclesiology, which I'm totally excited about. Very few Protestants these days believe there's anything to Communion beyond mere remembrance, which has been a thorn in my flesh for the past few years since I came to realize that God promised His own presence in some way, somehow. I'm sure I'll spend the rest of my earthly life pondering that mystery, but I need to be in a church where the people will also meditate upon the presence of the risen Lord. I won't accuse people of not being a Christian if they don't believe this theological point, but I do believe they're missing something huge. Without the Apostolic authority and the rightly-celebrated Sacraments, the church continues to fracture and split - that's the inescapable story of Protestantism, and it breaks my heart.

Even though the Roman Catholics and the East Orthodox try not to admit it, the Anglican Communion is legitimately part of the Church catholic, complete even with the apostolic heritage of the bishopric. In the name of Church unity, as well as in thanks for the freedom of theological minutia available, I find that Anglicanism is the only place I can call home in good conscience. Any Protestant denomination I choose will be an act of "taking sides" on some debate or other, and that's just abhorrent. Truth is important, and indeed critical, but unity cannot be sacrificed. Anglicans know that they're but a piece of the Church catholic, and actively seek to heal the wounds. Sometimes that draws criticism of being too liberal or wishy-washy in teaching. But it provides a home for much healthier spirituality and more effective evangelism and discipling than most other Protestants have managed to conjure up in their constant reinventions of Christian religion.

Apologies to those who read this entry... I didn't censor myself for seminary language and heavy theological terminology. But I just had to get some of my thoughts down in front of me, to try to express how I'm emotionally reacting to to this impending change. I'm happy to discuss this if you're curious, but I'd like to keep this on the down-low for a little while, as I don't want the people at Trinity Church all to know that I've leaving just yet. I want to finish this season without this hanging over my head for too long. When people know you're leaving, they treat you differently, and I don't wanna put anyone in an awkward position. There's absolutely no bad blood between me and anyone there (that I know of), so I'd like to keep it that way and end on a positive note!
vicarbrench: (Militia)
A prayer when the authorities seem unjust (be it bad legislation, accusations of immorality, unjust decisions, or whatever):

Who rises up for me against the wicked?
Who stands up for me against evildoers?
If the Lord had not been my help,
my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
When I thought, "My foot slips,"
your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.
Can wicked rulers be allied with you,
those who frame injustice by statute?
They band together against the life of the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.
But the Lord has become my stronghold,
and my God the rock of my refuge.
He will bring back on them their iniquity
and wipe them out for their wickedness;
the Lord our God will wipe them out.
vicarbrench: (Default)
Dang, I opened this LJ account six years ago as of a couple weeks ago. I just re-read my original entry:

Some of it is really quite cold. The first part is pretty insightful though, about how the beginning of something is something one gets stuck with, for good or for ill. I wonder if this blog has been a source of good or not. Clearly I've changed a lot since 2004, though I hope people who knew me back then didn't think I was as cold as that initial entry sounded.

A lot has changed - my degree program, graduation, spiritual growth, relationships, career goals, even my circle of friends. Met new people like my soon-to-be-wife, and known some who've died since, like Matt Brown last week. 2004 feels like it was such a long time ago, when historically I recognize it wasn't that long ago at all. But in the course of an individual life, six years can mean a lot.

No April Fools jokes planned to throw at people this year; Holy Week is ramping up, so there's little time for me to think of other things. I've got church stuff tonight and tomorrow at noon, Becca's brother's wedding tomorrow afternoon, Becca's family's Eastertide gathering tomorrow evening, visiting a local Anglican church's Vigil service on Saturday night, and of course Easter Sunday will have a good collection of things going on. And through all that, Becca's home, so I get to see her around too. It'll be really very fun, even though it's simultaneously very difficult for me to give adequate attention to seminary work at the same time.

I'm too cut off from the world out here, so in a sense I'm really looking forward to graduating.
vicarbrench: (Default)
For my Pastoral Ministry class, I have to memorize 20 verses of scripture that relate to some function of a pastor. We're to be quizzed on it twice: once today and once at the end of the semester. So here they are, partly to practice, and partly to share with y'all some of my favorite verses about spiritual leadership.

1 Corinthians 11

For I received from the Lord Jesus what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it, saying, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also, after supper, he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

Acts 20:28

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the Church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

John 21
"Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were young you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted. But when you are old you will stretch out your hands and another will dress you, and carry you where you do not want to go." ... "But if it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me."

Hebrews 13
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. ... Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are watching out for your souls as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

1 Peter 5:1-4
I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow-elder and a witness in the partaker of the glory that is going to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight; not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Galatians 6:6
One who is taught the Word must share all good things with the one who teaches.

Matthew 16

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Titus 1:5-9
This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you - if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge or debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant, or quick-tempered, or violent, or a drunkard, or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine, and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
vicarbrench: (Default)
due Monday the 14th - a curriculum design for Educational Ministry

due Tuesday the 15th - my Mentored Ministry progress report

on Wednesday the 16th - the Hebrew final exam

on Thursday the 17th - the Theology final exam

due Friday the 18th - my research paper for Medieval Spirituality

due Tuesday the 22nd - my application project for Medieval Spirituality, and Statement of Faith for Theology.

curriculum design = will require some thinking, but not terribly difficult to put together, and probably not overly time-consuming.

progress report = mere paperwork

Hebrew exam = biggest challenge of my life

Theology exam = should study for it after Hebrew's out of the way; not too difficult but still requires some detail

research paper = needs a lot of hours put in to be finished

application project & statement of faith = both fairly straightforward and easy to put together over next weekend.

Summary: Take it a day at a time, but work on Hebrew and the history paper every day. Then I'll be over half-finished with my M.Div, and ready for nearly a month of break. :-)
vicarbrench: (Default)
Kids these days and their weird music:

vicarbrench: (Default)
I came across one of the best summaries of Christian faith recently:

Christ has appeared
- once,
- for all,
- at the end of the ages
- to put away sin
- - by the sacrifice of himself.
Christ will appear
- a second time
- not to deal with sin
- but to save
- - those who are eagerly waiting for him
- just as it is appointed for man to die once
- - and after that comes judgment.

(paraphrase from Hebrews 9:26b-28)

Just thought it was a neat way of summing things up without getting too bogged down in the sorts of details that people like to fight over :)
vicarbrench: (Default)

Interracial adoption is a bigger thing than we thought!
vicarbrench: (Default)

I wonder if this could become a practical power source?
vicarbrench: (Default)
Being a good friend is like being a comfy cushion:

You wanna be soft so they've got a nice place to rest,
but if you don't give them any support then you can end up hurting them over time.

Perhaps one of the least innuendo-laden ways of saying "one must be soft, but firm."
vicarbrench: (Prayer)
It's been quite the long and busy summer, taking three classes pretty much back to back from mid-May through early August. But I expanded and concluded the Greek language & translation/exegesis curriculum, so now I can focus on Hebrew this year without having to do both simultaneously. It was a difficult road, but with an A in my first exegesis class, and more confident memories of the second (and therefore, probably got the same grade), it was totally worthwhile. Getting ahead in the program also allows me to sneak in another elective here and there. Medieval Spirituality will be my elective this Fall, and I've got maybe three ideas lined up for the Spring, which is certainly overkill.

Definitely had a good time with Becca this summer; I think we hung out more than the previous. Or at least it seemed like it, because she had a regular work schedule with only minor fluctuations throughout, so we could plan ahead when to hang out. And we grew closer together too, I daresay. We didn't do everything we planned and hope to do together such as hiking in NH, but got some time well spent. June 2010 is too far away, I've been getting condolences from a number of guys here at the Seminary I've met recently.

Moving in was quick and easy, Jeff (my roommate) has been around, it's been cool. I started Hebrew class today and we went through the alphabet from right to left, and our homework is, predictably, to memorize it for Wednesday. Wednesday/Friday 10:45am class FTW! So I've got four classes lined up: Hebrew 1, Medieval Spirituality, Educational Ministry, and Systematic Theology 3. That last class will be awesome, though probably hard. The professor is awesome; he's really big on the Church identity as the worshiping community, therefore emphasizing that good worship leads to good theology (and vice versa). Certainly a unique way of looking at things compared to what I usually hear among us protestants, where we try to use theology and biblical studies to 'produce better worship.' I can still hear Fr. Doug from Newman Center explaining the follies of artificial liturgy, and how worship ought to be naturally and organically grown through Biblical tradition :-)

Should be a good year ahead. I'm teaching a sunday school class back at Trinity Church in Bolton, learning a bunch o' stuff here at Gordon-Conwell, and keeping in touch with my beautiful bride-to-be. Gotta learn to be content with what I have - then I'll appreciate getting married and starting a career all the more when those finally happen.

I should post in this more often, since I enjoy keeping up with Becky & Erin & Katie & Mr. Mike & a few other folks' LJs. Seems a little rude to be a total lurker. And hey, I should be seeing some of you folks soon!
vicarbrench: (Default)

"On July 5, riots broke out between China's minority Muslim Uighur population and the majority Han Chinese in the far western Xinjiang province. The government responded with a violent police crackdown, and in the end, at least 192 people were left dead. But, says Diaa Rashwan, a political analyst at the government-backed Ahram Center for Strategic Studies in Cairo, "there is not a lot of interest or attention paid to these events in the Arab and Muslim world.""

So they just want to complain about us? Or do they somehow not hear about the stuff that goes on in China? Sure, China doesn't exactly publicize their 'violent police action' but we were still able to write about that incident...
vicarbrench: (Default)
Is this a taste of late 1960's sex-ed?:

Good news:
Becca and I set a wedding date & location, etc. a while back. It'll be 5 June 2010 at Trinity Church in Bolton. 2:00pm, reception (desserts, snacks, tea) to follow in the hall upstairs. More simple, more cost-effective, more fun!

Also, she's home for her school's spring break this week, so we get to spend some time together on my times at home. Fortunately we get Good Friday off in Seminary (duh) so that opens up a long weekend. So we're enjoying that.

Music Ministry )

I'm excited for Easter, though, because I arranged a piece of music for several extra instrumentalists to join us and it could sound really great! :D

Bad news:
However, the music was not given to the players until very recently, so there is minimal rehearsal time. So this causes me some stress and anxiety, even though I'm certain that the instrumentalists are all well talented enough to get it really quickly when we rehearse it together tomorrow evening. The main question now is how well down the singers will get it. But based on past experience (already), I believe they can learn songs a fair bit quicker than the previous leader sometimes thought. So I should not worry too much.

I'm still slow with the whole friends-making scene here at seminary. The crowd I started with last semester seems to be dissipating, so my social efforts have begun to redirect towards my roommate Jeff, and whomever I may be around through him. We'll see where that goes in the Summer though, as I'll become a commuter student until the Fall.

I still don't feel like I belong in the job I have at the IT helpdesk here. But they like me, and pay me well, and give me good hours, so I'll stick to it.

Theological questions come up all the time here, naturally. Communion )
Baptism )
Salvation )

In other news, I practically have my schedule worked out until my wedding day. I'm signed up for summer courses this year, and my Fall semester courses are also set. I expect to work at Applefield Farm in May between the Spring & Summer sessions to help out before their college workers get out of school and earn myself some extra cash while staying at home and not having to commute really. Then in January I'm not expecting to take any class because the tentative listing of offerings does not have anything on it that I'll be required to get done, so I may do a semlink (take-home online) course. There's also a tentative Spring Semester course list up, and I've glanced at it, but I haven't picked out what classes I'll take yet. Hebrew II and Mentored Ministry are givens, and the rest will be just a matter of what other required courses are available. Probably my second Educational Ministry course, and maybe a Counseling course as well. Preaching is gonna wait until my third year. Next summer I won't take any classes because I'll be busy with other things. <3

Maybe I should update more often; this was long.
vicarbrench: (Angst)
I just discovered my greatest grammatical offense these days. I have been known to often split infinitives! :-P

No, seriously, it's true. I do it a lot. Well, so does everyone else. But thanks to bits of other languages, especially Latin & Old English and to a lesser extent Koine Greek, my grammar in speech and writing has really shaped up. Awareness of sentence structure and noun cases and verbal objects and various dependent clauses really helped enhance the quality and form of my verbal communication.

Except those bloody infinitives. Why? Because modern English is the only language I've ever known which has its infinitive forms as two words. I guess technically it's one word, since the "to" must always be next to the verb word itself, and nothing is allowed to split them apart. But still, I've had no foreign language to beat that rule into shape with me. It's kind of embarrassing.
vicarbrench: (Cheers)
I just saw this in the Old English LJ community and thought it was precious:

vicarbrench: (Prayer)

in general:

So many fun things there!
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