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!