I am on my second day here at the Duke Summer Institute hosted by the Divinity School’s Center for Reconciliation. It has been an amazing time of new connections – meeting so many people who are faithfully laboring within the many different streams that make up the Body of Christ. I can honestly say it is one of the most diverse gatherings of Christians that I have ever been in. Chris Rice, the director of the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School, welcomed everyone last night to the Summer Institute by suggesting how our time together is very much like Pentecost. We who are so different have been brought together by the life and presence of Jesus.
Despite this, I honestly feel somewhat out of place. I am not from the academic world. I am not in vocational Christian ministry. I do not work for any non-profit organization. I am not officially in any leadership role like so many here. Still, I sense a deep kindred spirit to everyone I talk to – even though their contexts are so foreign from mine. It’s even more than a ‘kindred spirit’ though- it is the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of GOD who has brought us to this common ground. And on this common ground – in this common time – we wait. We wait to be renewed in our call as those who embody GOD’s ministry of reconciliation. We wait to go out from Durham to the uttermost parts of the world – freshly washed in GOD’s presence and endowed with His supernatural power like the early followers of Jesus in Jerusalem.
There have been so many highlights to my day today – including a brilliant reflection from Jonathan Wilson-Hartrove on Jacob and Esau coming together again in peace yet not truly being reconciled; a talk on reconciliation and moving towards GOD’s New Creation by Richard Hays; a passionate plea from Dr. John Perkins to return to the centrality of the Gospel and for us to go beyond programs and the demonic pursuit of personal prosperity; lively conversation with Norman Wirzba and Fred Bahnson on the hole in our theological imaginations when it clearly states in Scripture that GOD’s plan is to restore the entire created order. So many treasures in conversations throughout the day and at meals.
Yet in all this – I find something else happening. I sense GOD is doing an unexpected work in enlarging my heart. Especially during our worship times together- praying and singing in other languages- shoulder to shoulder with my room-mate from Burundi, Africa and others from all over the world- it’s like I hear echoes of that first Pentecost. I find myself being filled and stirred up – disturbed – shaken by the strong wind of GOD’s Spirit. And this wind I suspect is not merely a refreshing breeze – but one that will leave us permanently and gloriously wrecked for life. May it be so.