The Christian Association’s theme for the year is “Fill in the Blank.” Over the coming year, there are a lot of different ways we are going to explore this concept. In worship we will be working through an overview of the Bible. On Monday nights, we’ll have a small group series where we can explore specific topics and “blanks” in greater depth and with more conversation. As we join with Penn’s Year of Discovery, exploring how we fill in the blank will allow us to go on our own journeys of discovery, discovering new things about God and the Bible, about our faith, about each other, and about ourselves. We’ll look at some of the blanks that are blanks because they are things we don’t often talk about. Some of these will be Bible passages that we don’t often look at, while others may be topics that we seem to avoid talking about in church. Some will be blanks that we don’t talk about in society in general, or maybe things that are taboo to talk about here at Penn. We will also look at the blanks that the Bible leaves for us to fill in, and how we can go about the process of filling those spaces.
We’ll look at the blanks in our own lives, and what some of those blanks might be. Most people are probably able to fill out forms with their basic info relatively quickly, name, age, address, etc. - they’ve got those blanks down. But what about when the blanks follow questions that probe a little deeper. How do we open ourselves up to examining those lines, and figuring out what we would write on them? How do you decide which voices in your life will be the ones that help you to define yourself and how you not only want the world to see you, but who you believe you truly are. How do we get to know other people in a way we get beyond the surface level identities?
And how do we know when a blank line really isn’t that important? Or is important, but is not as life defining as we think it might be. There are places in Scripture where Biblical scholars and theologians have spent tons of time and effort trying to figure out how best to translate something to be most accurate compared to the best of the oldest manuscripts we have to compare them with. I remember learning in Hebrew about a place where some manuscripts have a vav, the Hebrew character used for “the” or “and,” and some don’t, and we don’t know whether or not it was added in or left out by accident. Will the answer actually have a huge impact on our faith – highly unlikely. But how often do we obsess like that over the wrong blanks, the ones that we want to get filled in even though we may not be able to, and that won’t have all that big of impact even if we were able to. We do this both with our faith and with our lives.
So we’ll look at blanks that are very important, blanks that define our faith and our own identities. We’ll look at what might be some of the blanks that we need to not hold as tightly too, that we need to let fall into their proper place. We may even explore some blanks that are not meant to be filled in. Filling in the blanks of our lives is part of the exciting work we get to do, and we need community in which to do so. Whether you are a Penn student who can come by the CA, or an alum or friend of the CA who will be connected to us via our blog and listserv, I hope you’ll join us on this adventure!