The word of God workshop
The periodical points the way, but every preacher has to find his own way into the listener’s heart. This was one of the topics discussed by the authors of the Divine Service Guide at their most recent annual meeting, which took place on two continents.
The Divine Service Guide is already half the battle for the officiant and the other ministers involved in New Apostolic divine services. The monthly periodicals or the Yearbook provide the Bible text, explain its interpretation, and show any correlations as well as the theological background. Then it is up to each minister to carry the key message—under the guidance of the Holy Spirit—into his own cultural sphere and into the linguistic and intellectual world of his congregation.
The periodical for the ministers of the New Apostolic Church has a circulation of just under 200,000 copies and is published in more than 70 languages. The articles are written by about two dozen Apostles from Europe, America, Asia, and Africa. Once a year they meet to discuss their work, and to train and optimise things. After two years of video conferences, the authors were finally able to meet in person again.
Already in 2024
The August meeting took place in the city of Buffalo, New York; the September meeting took place in Hamburg in Germany. The English-speaking authors met in the United States, the German-speaking authors in Europe. Both meetings dealt with the contributions for the Divine Service Guide 2023, with the March issue already in the works. Also on the agenda was the planning of topics for 2024.
The very topical issue of ordination for women was discussed in both workshops. The theological aspect of the discussion was about the equal value and dignity of women and men, who were both created in the image of God. And in terms of content, it was about the question of opening our eyes more to the role of women in the New Testament period.
Christian holy days, love, and the soul
One of the lectures dealt with the aspect of commemorating days over and above the major feasts such as Easter, Christmas, or Pentecost. The liturgical calendar of the Christian church acknowledges holy days such as Epiphany or Trinity Sunday. One commemorates the appearance (Epiphany) of Jesus Christ and highlights the salvific significance of the incarnation and birth of the Son of God. The other one, Trinity Sunday, reminds us that with Pentecost—which falls on the Sunday before—the self-revelation of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is completed.
Other lectures focused on theological fundamentals. There was a presentation on the different words for love in Greek used in the New Testament: agape, the selfless, cherishing, and benevolent love based on a voluntary decision; philia, the kind of love that is based on friendship and mutual interest, recognition, or affection; and eros, the desirous, possessive, and, ultimately, physical love.
Another term that was discussed was the concept and idea of “soul”, taking the participants from ancient Greek philosophy through the New Testament and up to the present day, and explaining our New Apostolic understanding of the concept. Finally, an overview of the different ideas of the nature of God in the Old and New Testaments was presented. All this knowledge is to help the authors interpret the Bible even better.