There is so much packed into an Adventist Forum weekend that it is impossible to relate all that happens in a few short blog posts. That is especially true because some of the most significant conversations happen in between presentations, in the hallways, and over shared meals. Saturday evening Chris Blake focused on the ‘beyond’ in the conference title. He suggested that for a community of faith with an eschatological focus (not scatological as one of his students suggested; although, he did note they both deal with the end) we place an overemphasis on the beginning and all but neglect our ending. Instead of the 99:1 ratio of beginning/ending conversations we should at least be able to even it out a bit to a ratio of 5:1. Indeed, if we start with the end in mind, caring for the environment, prioritizing relationships, and yes even keeping the law all take on a deeper spiritual significance in light of God’s expressed intent to create all things new. In order to bring some balance to our focus on beginnings and help us move beyond discussions of Genesis, Chris had us in small groups imagine together different aspects of the new earth. We then briefly shared our insights, dreams, and speculations with the whole group. Interspersed between laughter and reflection were moments of collectively expressed appreciation for sentiments which connected with our deep longing for an experience of the present though not yet to fully realized Kingdom of God. The exercise helped me see that imagining the unimaginable fullness of the Kingdom of God is similar to describing the indescribable God of creation: that of which we cannot speak is that of which we must not stop speaking. Following vespers and a delicious fruit and desert bar (a little slice of heaven…I mean new earth), we enjoyed a musical program begun by a piano duet performed by my 7 and 4 year old sons who were graciously given one of the most rousing rounds of applause of the evening. A variety of musical professionals then took over presenting songs ranging from contemporary choral music to gospel and praise and worship music. It was well after sundown when a few of the multi-talented Adventist Forum board members highlighted the late evening with some humorous, touching, and even re-touched renditions of opera/show tunes.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/3381