Thomas McKenzie
by grace alone
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First Meeting of the "Chess Club"


I woke up this morning with a tinge of excitement. I was going to host the first meeting of a new group. I do that a lot--host groups. But this one had the potential to be something especially cool.

Let me tell you a bit about what this group is about. In my congregation, I have two guys who are actively pursuing ordination. I also have two other people (one from each gender) who I would like to see pursue ordination. I decided to invite these four folks to get together and start a small community for study, relationship, and mutual discernment/support.

Along the way, I came across some other folks in my church. All of them are younger (than I am). While they are not necessarily interested in ordination, they felt that they could benefit from a committed theological study.

So, I e-mailed them all and asked them to give me a full morning, once a month or so. I told them they would have to read a book, and come prepared to discuss it. Almost all of them agreed.

This morning we met in my office. I gave each of them a Fuji apple (the greatest apple ever!) and we got to know each other. After a round of "who are you?", we turned to our book. I had them read "A Short Systematic Theology" by Paul Zahl.

One of the folks asked why I had chosen that book. I said that:

  1. I wanted a short book, something they could read quickly (its only 90 pages)
  2. I wanted a book none of them had read (that was a good guess).
  3. I wanted a book that dealt with foundational issues of theology.
  4. I wanted a book that would illicit some good conversation.

Well, it did. This is a book that is both illuminating and irritating. Besides Paul (the writer) himself, I can't imagine meeting someone who agrees with all of it.

We had a lively discussion, and we got to know each other. I hope everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did. For next time, I'm having them read "The Meaning of Jesus," which is a discussion between Marcus Borg and N.T. Wright. That should be entertaining.

Oh, why did I mention the "chess club" in the post heading? Because on the way back from break, one of the people in the group said "I told --- that this was going to be like the 'chess club,' the geekiest kids in the church. I was right." At that point, I pulled out my set of correctly sized "Lewis Chessmen." So, I guess we are the Chess Club.