The young women will dance for joy, and the men—old and young—will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing. (Jeremiah 31:13 – New Living Translation)
Starting in 2017, I participated in a 9-month (12 if you include the pre-class summer reading) journey in theology made possible by the Brooklyn Fellows, a class offered by a church network called Resurrection Brooklyn in Brooklyn, NY. The course was designed to provide, through group discussions, readings and practicing the spiritual disciplines, an “understanding of the scope of the Good News of Jesus Christ: By his death and resurrection, his renewing his people and the world. We want participants to see how their individual faith stories are part of the larger story of God’s redemption so that they find new freedom and boldness to serve the Church and to engage every aspect of culture.”
As intensive as the course was, it left me restless. I needed to fill in some gaps. Of course, there were some gaps because the breadth of the material left no time to dive in deeper, it was just an introductory course. What I am trying to do in this book is fill in some of the gaps by investigating the journey of how we got here. I wanted to look at how the background of our current practices relate to our beliefs, and how the biblical basis of what we are doing now compares to earlier practices of the church.
There was another issue as well. Most people do not have the time to do the kind of extensive reading required for this course – our reading assignments amounted to more than 4000 pages – but I thought it would be useful to make the basic content of this course available to more people. The intent of this book is to provide a manageable way for the average person to explore breadth and continuity of not just the biblical story but church history as well, how our story fits into that and how we can look forward to participating with God in bringing His kingdom into the world.
Special thanks to Marc Choi who led the class and my fellow students who gave their time and attention to all the necessary reading and gave their input and questions. The church network that gave rise to Brooklyn Fellows has come to a close with the particularization of the individual congregations, but God continues his work through those people.