Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Second Lockdown

 Well, here we are again! After a summer in Austria that felt almost like normal, with businesses open, vacations happening and social gathering taking place with only mild restrictions, the fall hit us and Coronavirus cases were on the rise. By the time early November rolled around, the rate of spread in Austria was one of the highest in the world and the government put us on a modified lockdown. We had an 8pm curfew every night and were only allowed to meet with one other household at a time. Kids age 14 & above were doing school online, but all other schools were open as normal. Unfortunately, these moderate restrictions didn't have the needed effect and things needed to get strict. Last Tuesday, the government put us into a strict lockdown for the second time in 2020. The girls are now doing school at home and we are not allowed to meet or socialize with anyone outside our household. Only essential businesses are open and offices are encouraged to let their employees work from home when possible.

This lockdown has felt different for us. First of all, Ellie is in school this time around, so we have been spending every morning doing her daily school work. To keep Maya busy, she's been doing "home pre-schooling", which is basically just coloring and fun worksheets. School work takes up at least half the day, so the challenge I faced in the spring of "filling up the day" and keep the girls busy is partially taken care of. We have also jumped back into the routines we had during the lockdown and the girls have quickly adjusting, since this isn't new to them. We often go outside once a day, the girls do a quiet time, and we often work in a kids yoga video. 

Overall, we miss social interaction, but the days have been slow-paced and peaceful. The forced slowdown has been a welcome change for me, and I'm thankful for clear decisions from the government and a peaceful home. I know many are struggling with home-schooling and working full-time jobs simultaneously, so I am not taking for granted the flexibility I have to focus on the girls during these few weeks. 

Here are a few photos from our lockdown so far:

After finishing our first Lockdown #2 puzzle

Kids Yoga (Cosmic Kids for the win!)

Learning time! It doesn't always look this calm...

Sushi making night for dinner

A scene from the vineyards, where we went for a hike

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

1 Peter 2 Ruminations

cornerstone, stone fence, wall,

Some of you know, that I (Nate) started a degree program this year. It has been challenging to do what has turned into all online classes. Even classes that would have been in person for a week long module were all online. The reading has been wonderful as have the chances to deeply study ideas that are also practical to ministry. My last class had the somewhat bland title of "Research Methods." As a lot of the classes taught by the school  are biblical studies classes(there are a few different degree options and this class is required for all of them), this class also had a strong focus on biblical interpretation. The major paper for the class was an exegetical paper. Because we did the paper in stages, I was able to spend a lot of time in the book of 1 Peter, and in my specific text, 1 Peter 2:4-10. There is a great deal in those few verses, but one of the main themes is one of hope.

We have hope in Christ. He is the living stone, rejected by the builder but chosen and precious to God. We are being built up like living stones into a holy temple, a place for God to dwell and be worshiped. Christ was dishonored in his death and burial, but his resurrection brought him great honor. We too experience dishonor, but we are a royal priesthood, a new people for his possession.

This connection to and drawing on Christ is not new in the New Testament, but Peter succinctly pulls together this new reality. He answers the main question, what does it mean to follow Christ? It means a brand new identity, given to you by God and brought together with all of those who believe. It is a sweet and pure expression of unity, at a time when mud and insults fly across the interwebs without much thought. Peter is unapologetically centered on Christ as the answer to the shame and alienation that his readers felt.

The two main purpose statements in the text also give us a picture of what our role in this whole thing is. The first is in verse 5, where we are told that we are built up "like living stones into a spiritual house...to offer spiritual sacrifices." Later on in verse 9 we are said to be "a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him, who called you out of darkness." The sacrifices seem to be closely linked to the theme of suffering before others in the letter itself. We display God's faithfulness in the way we suffer, and we also proclaim what God has done, bringing us out of darkness and into light.

These two purposes give me a great deal of hope. We want to be people that proclaim who God is in word and deed. These are not easy times to live, whether in the US or else where. So much is uncertain and there is a lot of fear, but we know the living stone. We are built on the cornerstone, a firm foundation. We can rely on the foundation, the one who keeps his promises. On Christ the solid rock I stand.