Austin Seminary’s annual Midwinter Lectures, held Feb. 2-4, were both a marathon and a sprint. Midwinters take place within brief, sprint-like days with a marathon-like line up of back-to-back lectures, discussions and worship. Johnson C. Smith president, Paul Roberts, kicked off the gathering preaching on Hebrews 2:14-18, encouraging an overflow crowd to be “twice baked,” transformed to their core through their baptism. New Testament scholar Beverly Gaventa gave three lectures on Romans, challenging those gathered to recognize, as Paul did, the cosmic horizons of the good news. Former Outlook editor, Jack Haberer, explored the necessity of having an unashamedly biblical ethic that calls Christ’s followers to aspire to love God and neighbor in real life. Columbia Seminary professor, Kimberly Braken Long, delved into marriage and proposed an eschatological view of Christian marriage.
In his opening remarks, Austin Seminary president Ted Wardlaw noted that themes emerge at each Midwinters and such movement of the Spirit was evident this year. Gaventa’s exegesis of Romans, Roberts’ preaching, Haberer’s presentation on eros and thanatos, and Long’s lecture on living out baptismal vocation in marriage all shared a common view of divine and human agency. The story of the cosmos — and believers’ part in in it — is God’s story. Human beings do not make things happen, rather they put themselves in position to respond and act in accordance to what God is doing. Worshipping in eschatological hope empowers people through the Holy Spirit to live as the new creations they are even though not one is righteous. Therefore, participants were encouraged to joyfully run the race set before them, both the sprints and the marathons.