Theme: Anticipating the Reign of God
Faculty Speaker: Dr. J. Kameron Carter
Lectionary Texts: Ezekiel 47:6-12 and Proverbs 3:13-18; Psalm 147; Revelation 22:1 – 5, 20-21; Mark 13:32-37
Reflections on the Lecture
Dr. J. Kameron Carter was introduced as a Duke University professor with an “amazingly hungry intellect”. Dr. Carter’s instruction focused on reviewing the past nine plenary sessions with the Reign of God, also known as The Kingdom of God. He enthusiastically proclaimed that the Reign of God is at the core of our Christian identity and is about deliverance not power. The two fundamental aspects of Christian life that are significant to understanding the Reign of God are: 1 – Baptism and 2 – Prayer.
God reigns by choosing to be friend and partner to creation, not ruler. Furthermore, it is impossible for us to say “God is with us” if we refuse to be with each other. We must be mindful of the fact that our connection with God is always rooted in who is next to us and we must understand that the will to control/manage our associations is a result of “The Fall” not God’s will. Furthermore, the Kingdom of God is about the world we live in today not just the heaven that promises us eternal life, and anticipating heaven includes living in a world that can be very different today. Therefore, as God’s children, we must resist the world’s attempt to alienate us from God, each other and ourselves. God has provided a new reality for us through incarnation, and Baptism is our pledge to have complete allegiance to God. Our new allegiance to God transforms the way we think about the everyday activities of life. As we leave DYA, we must remember that “the Spirit blows where the Spirit wills”, and the transformations related to DYA participation, for youth and staff, will be unique for each of us. However, we can leave DYA knowing that, “The Reign of God is the love of God” and because He loves us we can love Him, ourselves, each other, the earth and ALL of His creation.
“Come hither children of God!”
Miles Barnhardt, DYA youth participant, leading the morning blessing
“I keep hoping that someone is going to surprise us by telling us we have another week.”
Jordan Holoman, DYA youth participant, expresses sadness about leaving DYA
“We can’t get the Reign of God twisted with our other ideas of reign.”
Dr. J. Kameron Carter
“Part of our problem today is that we have an atrophy of imagination.”
Dr. J. Kameron Carter
Our last meal in the Great Hall will fondly be remembered as youth and staff singing and dancing to music from the 1980s and 1990s. The Morning Prayer reminded us of how truly AMAZING God’s grace has been throughout our two weeks together at the Duke Youth Academy. Many of the outspoken prayers reflected heartfelt desires asking that our “bonds of fellowship never be broken” and our new spiritual insights never forgotten. It was an extremely hot and busy day with exit surveys and packing. Our evening worship service included a special time to recognize 10 years of faithful service for Katherine Owen, as DYA resident artist/Professional Potter. Reverend Dr. Jeff Conklin-Miller thanked the youth for disrupting their busy schedules to make time to participate in DYA. He explained that DYA provides a glimpse of what Christians “do” rather than just their beliefs. He defined the DYA experience as “a practice not just a set of values intended to change the way you live.” It is a practice meant to open our eyes to a new expectation and concern for those who are not at the table. The world is constantly telling you that, “You are your own person”, but DYA reminds you that you are part of a community. Holy Baptism is the mark that reminds us that we have died to self to become children of God. Listen to Jesus (Mark 13: 32 -37) – stay awake and be ever watchful expecting to see places where God’s reign has already begun, experiencing heaven on earth. Most importantly, he reminds us to always be mindful that God goes with us to begin our transformed journeys after DYA. The service ended with a joyful song and dance celebration of the Living God we serve. The long day concluded with “fun times” in the common area of the dorm, the youth shared hugs and tears with each other and staff as we thanked God for unforgettable DYA memories.
Submitted by Sheree Bryant, Mentor