Two years ago today, I was sitting down to coffee and imagining what it would be like to start to trace out a couple of really really big ideas that had come to me through the pen of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. First, I wondered what it would look like to start pursuing the thought of a so-called religionless Christianity, a faith that boiled down to prayer and action. And second, I wanted to see what it would mean to live life convinced that God is never God in the abstract- he only shows himself as God for us.
As Thanksgiving approaches and corresponds with the marking of the passing of time, I want to first thank you, the reader, for making this time fruitful. It is an honor for me to have my writing read by those who are seeking to understand and experience the faith in everyday life. Today I feel the reality of your support, your refinement, and your friendship along the way.
I want to let you know about three aspects that this writing process has made me thankful for today.
1. I am thankful that I can be myself.
When I started two years ago, I took on a pseudonym, named after one of John Steinbeck’s characters, Reverend Jim Casy. I started as the Rev. Casey, because I felt a kinship with the burned-out, spiritually-exhausted, yet still believing preacher. I still find myself in that same place from time to time, and more often than I would care to admit, but I have learned through this process that my writing is more of a self-discovery and self-revelation as it is wowing you with my impressive thoughts. And that is what strikes me again and again about the love of God- he reveals himself. I have found the self-revealing aspect of love to carry with it a difficulty and a reward that is unmatched. And I thank you for giving me your ear as I step into that terrifying place.
2. I am thankful for those who have come before.
It has long been a tradition of the church that we stand on the shoulders of the fathers (and mothers!) of the faith that have come and gone. I have directly quoted Bonhoeffer, Luther, Calvin so many times that you may wonder if I have an original thought of my own. I am proud to say that I may not have an original thought of my own. But I have found life to be more of a discovery of things that are than a creation of things that were not. Maybe that precludes me from being creative, but in the arena of theology, the new thoughts are the ones that tend to spit in the face of those that have gone before. I am happy to learn, and grateful that you do not demand novelty out of my writing.
3. I am thankful that I get to do what I love.
Whether this whole writing thing ends up a hobby or it turns out to support my family, for right now, I am doing exactly what I love each time I sit down with a new thought and try my best to share it with you. Somebody asked me yesterday what my dream job looked like, and for a second, I realized that it is exactly what I am doing. I dream of sitting down in the morning with a cup (or pot) of coffee, and working to translate my thoughts into something meaningful, something useful in the kingdom, and something that can build up the body of Christ. Each day, I have an opportunity to do just that- to work at something meaningful.
So thank you for hearing me as I express myself, as I stand on the shoulders of giants, and as I do what I love. I am truly grateful and honored by your attention.
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving Eve?