This morning I got up fairly early and took a peek at the "Discussion Board" on the web-site where I'm teaching my on-line class. There were over 100 "posts" to process in response to the "Icebreaker" questions I'd assigned for DAY-ONE
That's a lot of stuff to read. Granted, many were one or two line comments, related to more substantial posts. But 15 of 20 people (the class is capped at 20) have already jumped right in- as of 9:00 AM EST - and have made some significant contributions to what looks to be an illuminating ongoing conversation.
Immediately, the atmosphere of the workshop has shifted from "academic" to "transformational". Now I'm not saying that academic classes can't be transformational - or that connecting with one-another on a personal level in any way undermines the academic (the fact that I wrote the class text is enough to undermine the academic!). But something very powerful is always set in motion when people begin to share some of their own story - and that's what I'm excited about.
So far, the folk who have checked in are "remote-learners" from Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, California, Illinois, Mississippi, New York and Pennsylvania. They are Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Church of God and Mennonite.
Each one of my new friends have made a commitment to engage a meaningful Christmas as authentic followers of Jesus. They want to negotiate December without being bulldozed by the cultural juggernaut of rampant consumption that has little room for the message of a Savior whose values counter so much of what drives this culture.
Here's the big question we're addressing this week: "Is it possible to participate in all the fun and the parties and the gifting and the glitz... and... honor Christ at the same time?"
I'm already sensing an ample well of deep wisdom and radical personal stories from my new friends. I'll try to clue the rest of you in on some of the insight when it comes my way.
Grace and Peace - DEREK