The Year of Discipleship is part of the Uniting Church in Queensland's Vision 2020, focusing on the call to form active and accountable disciples of all ages. Mel Perkins reminds us that we are all 'works in progress' on the discipleship journey.
Life throws up many challenges that get us thinking about faith, and sometimes being a disciple is hard. How are we to tell of the Good News of Christ amongst a world so full of pain and suffering?
I remember having conversations with folk (in Brisbane) after the attacks on the World Trade Centre in America in 2001 — many spoke of how their whole world view had shifted; they no longer felt safe and they wondered how God fitted into it all.
In pastoral ministry I have come across many people expressing the same questions after the loss of a loved one, particularly if the person was young or the loss was unexpected, or during natural disasters.
Where is God in all of this? Did God cause/send the illness/accident?
How could God allow this to happen? Does God even care that they are suffering?
When my husband died at age 40 from cancer, I found myself asking much the same questions.
Under a great burden of grief and pain, my faith in God suffered a major blow.
Thankfully for me I was surrounded by a community of believers, a number of whom had engaged in theological study.
Their questioning and informed faith helped me to begin to build a new framework in which to understand God, which was strengthened further by my own theological study (which began a few years later).
I found great relief in knowing that others had questioned and grappled before me — for over 2000 years!
I was reassured to find that revelation from God could come through Scripture, tradition, experience and reason (from John Wesley's writings).
At Pilgrim Learning Community, we believe that we are all "works in progress" on a journey; staff, lecturers and students.
As lecturers we aim to encourage students to love God with all their heart, soul, strength and mind (Mark 12:30) as we teach from Scripture and 2000 years of Christian scholarship.
We seek to give students opportunities to understand how church scholars have grappled with the biblical text and matters of doctrine and theology in various ways since the time of Jesus and back into the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament).
Some find themselves excited by what they learn and others fi nd their faith in God deeply challenged.
Part of our role as lecturers is to walk alongside our students as they engage and grapple with what they are learning — to encourage them to allow conversation between their studies, their lives and God.
We pray that the learning opportunities we offer will inform and deepen their faith and their love for this amazing Triune God — the One who invites us into God's own life, to be fashioned as disciples for a hurting world.
Rev Mel Perkins Christian Education Lecturer for Pilgrim Learning Community.
Photo : Mel Perkins. Photo: Holly Jewell