Week Christmas: Silence, Simplicity, Sabbath


“What are you [not] doing for Christmas?” my church bulletin cleverly asked. For me, not silence. Not secrecy or simplicity. And certainly, not sabbath. It’s been about one week and the gas tank in my hybrid car has gone from full to 1/8 full. I’ve been everywhere except alone before the Lord, and He continues to prompt me with how hazardous (and unnecessary) this busy-ness really is. Now that the gifts are wrapped, friends visited, and errands run, I wonder if I’ll ever do Christmas differently. I certainly hope I will.

Whether you find yourself stressed at Christmas dinner, glazing over during “What Child Is This?”, or perhaps happily relaxing with a warm holiday drink, shiny new toys, and satiated family members, enjoy a moment (or better, much more time) in awe of Him. He entered our world to take on our brokenness, so that we would one day take on His perfection. Have a blessed Christmas and New Year!

1. If you did not get to hear N.T. Wright debate Sean Kelly at Harvard’s Veritas Forum, it’s worth the watch!

2. Finding the commercial holiday culture a challenge, to say the least? The little drummer was a poor boy too.

3. A call for peace (among Christians) for Christmas– and every day after.

4. Spoiled children for the holidays? Hope you made your rules to Santa clear.

5. No matter what your specific holiday or end-of-year blues might be, Calvin & Hobbes says it best.

On Our Minds: Week 5 (6?)


What week is it–? It’s midterm month, actually. And as for those in the science and math departments, midterm season ends when final exam season begins. (As for me, it’s just read, write, repeat.)

Everyone is hard at work now and it can be a challenge to connect with each other during the week, hit the gym, do laundry, or even stroll through this gorgeous early-autumn warmth. Job recruitment is the talk of the town, as are theses (for seniors at least); freshmen are producing their very first college papers and learning what it means to scribble frantically in blue books; and sophomores and juniors are hopefully doing better than those above and below them.

But this is also the point in the semester when we grow quick to open our mouths in complaint, or wish we hadn’t committed to so much, or forget to put others before ourselves. Working hard and stressing out are no substitute for righteousness, and yet it seems to be the best excuse we can conjure up. I’m challenged to be grateful; and I don’t want to be sitting in front of the turkey, mashed potatoes and apple pie before I remember to say “Thank you God.” (And by the way, Thanksgiving is something in itself to look forward to.)

Here are some links that have made us think, laugh, and maybe even pray; I encourage you to look through some of them– or perhaps just out the window.

1. Excited for fall yet?? These dogs are.

2. Mike Johnston, senator from Colorado, visited a class at the Harvard Ed School today. His speech from 2012 might just inspire you.

3. Speaking of gratitude, let us not forget the persecuted church around the world.

4. The American prison system carries out justice, right? (Wrong.) Here’s just one reason why.

5. Issues in Cambodian governance through the lens of their sugar industry.

6. A solid reminder to fall out of love with weddings, and back in love with the journey ahead.

7. Tough day? (Week? Month? Year?) These 4 phrases might make it more bearable.

8. We often associate flowers with spring. But these work wonderfully for fall. Wish our campus farmer’s market sold them!

9. Never too early to start planning our Thanksgiving feasts. Would you throw in these sweet potato pastries?

Gender, Women, and Ministry

This is Part 6 in a six-part series on [cf]’s emphases and distinctives. See Part 1Part 2Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

We recognize that historically, Christian ministries have debated the issue of women in Christian leadership, and that this is an issue important to both men and women. We therefore wanted to present our case in brief below, so that people know what we believe and what questions to ask us.

Theology: We support women and men in ministry and leadership at all levels, as do InterVarsity and the InterVarsity Chaplains. We believe that women and men differ, but that the Bible does not supply gender roles.

Biblical basis: From creation, the God who speaks invested women with His image and called them to bear it (Gen.1:26 – 28). Israel recognized God’s call on women to be formal leaders in the community, notably to speak and proclaim His word (Ex.15:20; Judg.4:4; 2 Ki.24:14; Isa.8:3; Pr.1:8). Israel looked ahead to the messianic day when God would invest women with the Spirit of God as much as men to speak forth the word of God as God intended from creation (Joel 2:28 – 29). Jesus inaugurated that new creation, honoring women as witnesses of his incarnation, life, death, and resurrection, even at times commissioning the women to bear a word of life to the male disciples (Luke 24:1 – 12, John 20:11 – 18), with women as his very first witnesses to his incarnation and resurrection, even when the legal testimony of women was not considered independently valid in courts. True to Israel’s prophetic hope, he poured out his Spirit on women (thus, Simon Peter quoted Joel 2:28 – 29 in Acts 2:17 – 18), making them apostles (Rom.16:7), deacons (Rom.16:1 – 2), and leaders in the church; and the early church carried on this tradition.

The name Jesus gave us for the Triune God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Mt.28:19)–and we know that Jesus perfectly reveals God to us, so we do not change or avoid using these terms. We also recognize that God is not gendered in the same way that humans are gendered: He is neither exclusively male nor exclusively female. Consistent with investing women with His image, God employs feminine imagery to describe Himself. God’s wisdom is spoken of as a desirable woman (Pr.8), and is manifested as an actual, godly wife (Pr.31), thus demonstrating that God is happy to portray himself as female in relation to us (he is the desirable wife, we the amorous husband, through the wisdom motif), even though the opposite literary imagery occurs more frequently (he is the husband, we the wife; he is the father, we the children). God is spoken of as having pains in childbirth (Isa.42:14), having a womb (Job 38:29), being a nursing mother (Isa.49:15), and serving as a midwife (Ps.22:9 – 10, Ps.71:6, Isa.66:9). Jesus spoke of his own ministry with the parable of a woman seeking her lost coin (Lk.15:8 – 10). God also used for himself imagery of female animals nurturing their young: a mother eagle (Dt.32:11), bear (Hos.13:8), and hen (Lk.13:34).

Men’s roles and masculine characteristics of God can and should be addressed in this way, but we do not think that this is one of our distinctives at this time.

Practice: Women and men have much to teach each other, on topics related to gender and beyond. Though most of HRCF ministries are co-ed, we engage in and affirm places for gender-specific ministry – with equal opportunities and support for men and for women, as we are able. We affirm women in all levels of leadership in HRCF.

Women's ministry logo parody from InterVarsity's 2100 productions

Women’s ministry logo parody from InterVarsity’s 2100 productions

Men's ministry logo parody from InterVarsity's 2100 productions

Men’s ministry logo parody from InterVarsity’s 2100 productions

Sometimes we Christians are a bit funny about gender and ministry. So laugh with us and these parodies of women’s and men’s ministry logos. If you like the graphics, check out 2100 Productions or their Facebook page.  


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On Our Minds: Week 4

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai, Fearless Women’s Education Activist in the Middle East

The year is certainly in full swing. I see fewer people lounging in the Yard, lower temperatures in the mornings, and Lamont Library filling up with laptops, people, and coffee cups. Fall has officially arrived– and I know that because of the zealous (non-Harvard) individuals who celebrate it with lighting up the banks of the Charles for 3 hours on the first day of the season, singing what seems to be an odd medley of “Down By the Riverside” and bad opera. As far as I know, they also dance around a maypole in the spring.

This week has also been eventful around the world, which can sometimes leave our spirits downtrodden. As the globe spins and we go about our business, we remind ourselves of the God who is redeeming us, that we might partner with Him in redeeming the world.

Some of the links this week concern people who are changing the world. How do you plan on changing the world?

1. On Friday, Harvard will be honoring Malala Yousafzai with the annual Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award. Malala began blogging for girls’ education in the Middle East as a teenager, and did not stop even after taking a bullet from the Taliban.

2. Rick Warren’s racially offensive (ignorant) post receives a gracious and compelling response from a Chinese-American immigrant pastor.

3. An interview with 2  women of God who have followed Jesus in International Justice Mission and InterVarsity multiethnic ministry.

4. Is the new Pope changing the face of Popedom?

5. The Dead Sea Scrolls are on exhibit in the Museum of Science! Check it out if you’re in town before October 20th.

6. Wondering if a hug you gave someone was awkward? This buzzfeed manual might help.

7. I tried these sugar plum and cinnamon pancakes this week. They’re amazing.

Student Leadership

Jacob’s probably leading a game of mafia in this picture…but it sure looks important.

This is Part 5 in a six-part series on [cf]’s emphases and distinctives. See Part 1Part 2Part 3, and Part 4.

Theology: We believe that student leadership on campus is important because Jesus develops people by giving them actual responsibilities to serve, lead, and teach others. The student years are an excellent time to participate in advancing God’s kingdom now and develop those leadership skills for the future. Leadership provides students with the much-needed training to continue in Jesus’ mission to the world long after graduation. Many HRCF alumni (and more broadly, alumni of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship) have already publicly expressed gratitude for the experiences and training they received while students.

Biblical basis: Jesus said, ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…’ (Mt.28:19 – 20) When Jesus said this, he was telling his disciples to teach others what he taught them, as they called others to also become disciples of Jesus. We believe that this responsibility falls not simply on pastors or professional campus ministers, but on all Jesus’ disciples, including students (cf. 2 Cor.3:1 – 3; 1 Th.1:6 – 8; 1 Tim.4:12).

Practice: Learning to shepherd others is a great journey. We train student leaders to lead in all aspects of the life of the fellowship.

Student leaders, especially bible study leaders, are trained to appreciate the cultural, historical, literary, and theological background to the passages we cover and the principles we follow. In a small group Bible study, student leaders come prepared to guide other students if they get stuck in the passage.  The focus is on accurately grasping the biblical text and the overall biblical story, and then responding with actions appropriate to the passage.

We also train students to be evangelists: to know and to articulate the reasons for their belief, tell the story of their faith journey, and witness relationally and intellectually. We train students to acknowledge and articulate how faith informs their lives.

Students lead worship, and we work to train student worship team leaders who will remind others of the spiritual importance of worship, the cultural aspects of music and the attentiveness necessary to work with a variety of song and worship-leading styles.

We train exec team members to care for the whole fellowship and to develop student leaders within the fellowship. Exec members also are trained to develop and articulate the vision of CF, to be strategic, choose content, and develop relationships within and outside of the fellowship. Student leaders grow in skills and character qualities. They work to understand and articulate their faith. They become better listeners than they were before. They grow in empathy, compassion, and patience. In short, they become better leaders, thinkers, speakers, friends, and better disciples of Jesus. Just as when the twelve disciples helped Jesus feed the five thousand (Mt.14:17 – 21), their baskets are fuller than when they started.


Two approaches to multiethnic ministry

In recent years, the need for the planting and development of multiethnic churches has been recognized among many evangelicals. Among those who are pursuing multiethnic churches, two streams have emerged: the colorblind approach and the racial reconciliation approach. The colorblind approach assumes that all believers have their primary identities as Christians; therefore, no concession needs to be made for cultural differences. Since we all are believers, our cultural differences should not matter. In other words, the most effective approach to multiethnicity is to cover everyone in the church with the same flavor of dressing. Usually, the use of Western, white forms of worship, teaching, and community are assumed in these types of settings. After all, the “norms” of American church life are assumed; therefore, the common denominator of Western, white forms of ecclesiology becomes the key expression of church life in a colorblind approach.

The racial reconciliation approach asserts that significant sins have been committed related to the issue of race. These sins cannot be avoided or swept under the rug. These historical and social sins need to be dealt with when bringing the range of different races and ethnicities together as a worshiping community. The presence of the social-historical corporate sin of racism cannot e ignored. Between these two expressions of multiethnicity, the colorblind approach fails to acknowledge human fallenness. While the colorblind approach may be efficient and easier, it fails to acknowledge sin and can become a human rather than a divine effort. The racial reconciliation and justice approach moves mutliethnicity out of the realm of church growth fad to a level of addressing injustice and sin….

If the American church is able to look toward the future with a hope and a promise, then the sin of racism must be confessed and racial justice and racial reconciliation become a theological priority over and above the priority of producing a pragmatic paradigm of church growth.”

Soong Chan Rah

There are two types of multiethnic ministries according to Soong Chan Rah, founder of the Cambridge Community Fellowship Church (CCFC) and author of The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity.

Recipe: Haitian Chicken


This is the recipe for the Haitian Chicken we made for the second Saturday dinner we hosted last week. Let us know how it turns out if you try it!


2 lbs chicken


1/4 cup lime juice

2.5 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon dry mustard powder

0.5 teaspoon black pepper

0.25 teaspoon paprika

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 pinch red pepper

1 large clove garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons basil

Combine all ingredients except for chicken in a medium sized bowl. Pour over chicken. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes uncovered. Enjoy!

Multiethnic Ministry

This is Part 4 in a six-part series on [cf]’s emphases and distinctives. See Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Worship team @ winter retreat 2011

Worship team @ winter retreat 2011

We are concerned that students sometimes experience ministry in which they learn nothing about ethnic-specific churches and their role in sustaining ethnic minority communities, or how to relate to them once they graduate, even when these church traditions are their own. We are also concerned when Christian students subconsciously believe that there is only one ‘Christian culture’—their own, mainly—and that Christians of other ethnicities, cultures, and generations should conform to it. We are concerned that some ministries help people adapt to the culture of the ministry, rather than train people to be influential Christian leaders in their own communities. And we are concerned about Christian graduates who believe that the main way to influence culture is to attain positions of power. In combination with our teaching on Christian restorative justice, our view of culture leads us to be culture makers and not culture warriors.

Theology: ethnicity (Greek ethnos) is a biblical category, part of each person’s particularity, and is unequivocally affirmed by God as part of creation. In this, we differ from academic sociologists, who tend to say that both ethnicity and race are social constructs. We recognize that, sometimes, defining ethnicity might feel like defining the Pacific Ocean—we know where it is, even though its boundaries are difficult to pin down. Hence, ethnicity is a centered set concept rather than a bounded set concept.

However, race is a socio-political construct that attempts to group people based on physical appearances; it is not a biblical category and must be dismantled.

Culture is a mixed product of both creation and fall; hence, God is redeeming human cultures, not just individuals, and we expect to see God create a variety of Christian cultures. Some aspects of culture that we have found to be significant are the history of ethnic interaction with Christian faith and church; which religions and worldviews students deal with at home; experience of injustice or privilege; experience of immigration/displacement or not; perceptions of power, leadership, and responsibility; individualism vs. familial culture; the role of parents, family, gender, and age; views on dating and marriage; protocols of speech (quick or slow, loud or soft, direct or indirect, interrupt or not, how to have conflict); what is humorous and fun; perceptions of time and lateness.

Biblical basis: We believe that God wants each person to hear about Jesus in their heart language (Acts 2), and that he honors human language and aspects of culture (Rev.5:9) as he transforms and redeems human beings. Jewish and Gentile Christians maintained cultural distinctives as a part of their witness to the unity Jesus brought about and as a part of their outreach to other Jews and Gentiles (Rom.14 – 15; 1 Cor.8 – 10; Gal.2; Col.2 – 3). Jesus ministered to and taught his disciples to do ministry both to Jews and Gentiles (Mt.8:28 – 34; 14:13 – 18:35; 28:16 – 20). God’s command to spread out over the whole earth (Gen.1) suggests that he wanted and intended human diversity of ethnicity, culture, and language from the beginning. In this light, God’s intervention at Babel (Gen.11:1 – 9) is not a merely curse, but instead is God’s intervention in order to carry out his intentions despite human disobedience.

Practice: Just as each individual has a limited cultural range, each fellowship has a limited cultural range. Because of our understanding of God’s heart, because of our mission to reach the whole campus, and because of our awareness that someone in any given group will always feel more culturally marginalized than others, we have adopted a multiple fellowship strategy. HRCF planted AACF in 1994 not only for the theological reasons above, but because practically, we were predominantly Asian and were becoming less effective at reaching non-Asian American students. HRCF also planted BCF in 2008 to better reach the Black student community.

We feel that a multiple-fellowship strategy best engages people from diverse cultural backgrounds and best allows for Christ’s redeeming action in our cultures to be made known. Thus, AACF and BCF dedicate their time to exploring more deeply the issues that arise within the pan-Asian and pan-African communities, to displaying qualities of leadership from within those cultures, and to helping non-Asian and non-Black students become better able to engage with Asian and Black cultures, respectively.

The fellowship names—Harvard-Radcliffe Christian Fellowship, Asian American Christian Fellowship and Black Christian Fellowship—indicate the mission, not the constituency of the fellowships: anyone is welcome in every fellowship. Students have been in more than one fellowship or switched fellowships because of friendships or a changing sense of mission, and we encourage these ways of engaging with our sister fellowships. And HRCF draws on what we learn from AACF and BCF to extend our reach.

We see that the campus in some sense wants a Pentecost of inter-ethnic understanding and reconciliation without the Spirit of Jesus, but instead struggles to understand why tensions still exist. We believe that our multi-fellowship strategy is a better witness to the campus than a single-fellowship strategy. In fact, we believe that our cultural-organizational diversity is better witness to the world than the western university’s enthusiastic embrace of the ideal of diversity.

HRCF is a multiethnic fellowship—and this is not a politically correct term for the leftovers and the White Americans. Our ethnic composition fluctuates every year, so we cannot generalize about who we are in this regard; however, regardless of our current ethnic composition, ethnicity and culture is just as important to us as it is to AACF and BCF. By calling ourselves multiethnic we indicate that we talk about what Jesus has to say about culture and ethnicity, and we each seek to understand and appreciate our own and others’ heritages as a part of our mission.

According to our resources and abilities, we participate in a wide variety of worship styles, and we worship in different languages. We seek to appropriately address different needs and opportunities as they arise in different groups and to honor and develop different types of leadership. We also seek to articulate our own cultural backgrounds in order to help people understand more about us and about God’s heart.

At HRCF, AACF, and BCF, we envision Christian students eager to humbly learn more about how the gospel heals each cultural group. We envision Christians participating in both multi-cultural and culturally-specific forms of ministry, and learning to bridge them. We envision Christians who seek to transform culture wherever they are, whether on their kids’ playgrounds or in the boardroom. We envision churches that produce Christians of integrity who impact at least their own communities of origin. We envision Christians who want God’s glory to be manifested, not merely within the limits of modern politics in a nation-state, but in many languages and many cultures.

On Our Minds: Week 3

Temperatures fluctuated like mad this week. We were in the 90s, and then in the 50s. Color has rushed into the trees, only to be met by end-of-summer humidity. My face is sticky and then really dry. This fluctuation doesn’t seem to bode well for the annually anticipated New England autumn, but we have faith. When the Yard turns golden and pea coats and scarves appear, we’ll have all sorts of food and festivities to look forward to.

The agony of course lotteries was upon us briefly before Study Card Day on Tuesday– when we physically handed in our course selections for the semester, complete with faculty signatures required. This is the first step towards routine, and eventually the dust will settle.

But in the meantime, a few things are on our minds:

1. Vogue condones birks??

2. The situation in Syria (and the question of global involvement) continues.

3. The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) trend is rapidly picking up. But are people already cheating?

4. We love songs that capture our moments better than we can, like this one by Tenth Avenue North.

5. Need help getting in the mood for fall? Don’t forget about hot apple cider.

6. Fascinating and frivolous– nothing else could describe New York Fashion Week (other than this New Yorker piece).

fashion week

New York Fashion Week (New Yorker Mag)


On Our Minds: Week 2

Pie is on our minds. Not HUDS pie, real, homemade, peach pie.

Shopping week began on Tuesday, September 3rd this year. What is shopping? All the courses that are offered are open to any enrolled student who wants to check them out– doors open and close throughout lectures and seminars, we apply to courses and hope for the best, and we agonize over questions of workload, TFs and classmates. After a week, we decide on our 4 courses (for normal people; 5 for the over-ambitious; 6 for the insane*) after having tested out as many or as few classes as we’d like.

Beyond shopping, this has been a heavy week for extracurriculars. Every organization wants to jump in on the fresh meat on campus, some out of zeal, others out of competition, yet others out of conviction. Activities Fair is an exciting, chaotic, and fabulously frenzied yelling fest where you feel (perhaps for the only time in your life) like a celebrity. Everyone wants to talk to you and get you to come to their party/meeting/orientation. This was my 4th and final Activities Fair, and I might be okay with that!

*No offense to those of you who might be taking 6… I just hope I see you this year.

Anyway, there’s plenty of other things going on this week, and here are a few that have captured our minds:

  1. International relations and the role of the US in Syria
  2. The right to learn to cook in the 1970s?
  3. When we’re trying to reach out to freshmen (or friends at Harvard in general), sometimes this happens.
  4. Moments when we wish we had all the tools and time it took to make summer fruit pie.
  5. When Christ Came to New York?
  6. An HRCF alum working with hearing-impaired youth.
  7. Tonight the IV fellowships are sharing a delicious Korean dinner with freshmen and friends. Can’t wait to try Mako’s galbi!