It's been nearly 3 months since I last updated this blog. A lot has happened in the meantime. Some dear friends and family from the States have been over to see us. My cousin Brent popped over in September, Juli's mom, Donna, was over in early October, and just last weekend, our friends Steve and Margie McVey and Scott and Renae Click came over for a visit. I've always been amazed that having our friends and family with us in Ireland has felt so natural. I guess it means that this place really feels like home. Still, I'm aware that I'm a stranger and alien here, but I can't think of a better place to be strange or alien!
A group of 7 or 8 of us are consistently meeting on Thursday evenings to read and discuss John's apocalypse (Revelation). With all of the craziness that's happening in the Near East, this is a timely book to be studying. Thankfully, we're all coming to the conclusion that far from being a road map to the end of the world, Revelation is actually a powerful exhortation to Christians living in the eastern part of the Roman Empire in the late 1st century. As they struggled with living out their faith in a society that was increasingly putting pressure on them to compromise their beliefs, they had to decide who was the Lord of the world - Caesar or Christ. Although our immediate circumstances are very different, there are a lot of points of intersection in our lives of faith. In any and every generation, as the world around us puts pressure on us to compromise, we must live out the reality of Jesus' reign and rule.
I also continue to meet with some other good friends on Monday afternoons and evenings to study scripture, pray, reflect, and discuss the big issues in life. We may not have the academic pedigrees of the Inklings (CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, & other big figures of yesteryear), but I believe our discussions must be as relevant and engaging. Speaking of engaging, a few of us are joining a friend of mine for a course titled "Engaging Islam" this evening after our Bible study. This friend was forced to leave his Islamic country after he converted to Christianity and began to share the message of Jesus with others. As our world is becoming increasingly pluralized, it's important that we not only be aware of our own religious beliefs and convictions, but that we also learn to listen to others, see their perspective, and engage with them in genuine dialogue. Because I believe that Jesus is Lord and because I believe that ultimately God desires everyone to come to a knowledge of this truth, I hope to learn how to better love and understand my Muslim neighbors so that if invited, I might be able to share the saving message of Jesus with them.
Here in a few moments I'll be off to teach a conversational English class. I loved discussing literature in school, but I hated grammar. It's ironic that now I get to teach a little grammar, as well as basic conversational skills. Sometimes my students correct me! We're never to old to learn...- Shay