The conference itself was Monday through Wednesday. I really appreciate what the JEI does, because they truly desire to encourage Christians in loving the LORD with all the heart, soul, mind and strength. This means intense intellectual grappling with the Scriptures is never divorced from deep-seated passion for knowing and serving God. And the end goal is never a mere academic exercise, but rather the true engagement of every sphere of life with the light of the Gospel. The theme of this year's conference was "Citizens of Heaven, Sojourners on Earth: Civic Life in Gospel Perspective," and the speakers addressed a broad range of topics related to how Christians interact with the surrounding world:
As the conference worship leader quipped, there really aren't many hymn selections that directly address the topics of public policy and worldview discussions. But I definitely appreciated the approach he took in structuring the times of worship during the sessions, as we progressed thematically from Creation to Incarnation to Christ's Death and Resurrection to Pentecost. "The whole church year in just three days!" The song selections and readings were great, and the musical arrangements were well-done yet simple, with just a guitarist, pianist and a guy who alternated between mandolin, bouzouki and dobro.
Allison already mentioned the conference bookstore, who are quite a class-act and danger to bank accounts everywhere.
Our homeward journey on Thursday was fairly uneventful. We spent Friday and Saturday running errands and organizing at home.
Friday night, we went to see the Indelible Grace touring band perform in nearby Conyers, GA. Matthew Smith led the band, accompanied by Cason Cooley and a couple of other talented guys. (We missed the first couple of songs -- cursed ATL traffic! -- and, presumably, any bandmember introductions.) It was a great evening of music, with selections pulled from the four IG albums and Matthew's solo release. The band sounded great, but I especially enjoyed the fact that they projected all the lyrics onto the wall. For me, the re-worked hymn texts carry even more weight when you can read them while listening. Plus, having the words encouraged more of the 100+ folks to sing along, which was very cool. And to top it off, the same church will be bringing Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken in concert next week!
But alas, Monday signaled an end to vacation and back to work for me. Appropriately enough, the sermon this Sunday was on the value and sanctity of work. Apt words, indeed.