Monday, October 1, 2007

One More Post About Scott

I was asked to speak at Scott's Seattle memorial service on Saturday. I'd like to post what I said here so that those of you far away who weren't able to come, but knew Scott, can read it.

It's funny how important that ceremony was, and just how appropriate. I was at the library book sale yesterday and I picked up a copy of "The Gospel According to the Simpsons" because it reminded me of him!

Here's the text of my speech:

I’d like to talk about Scott’s gift for equipping. Teaching is not a sufficient word: what Scott did was “equipping.” Our fellowship group, Poiema, would meet at a house shared by four women that Dwayne called the “she-Castle.” Scott offered to lead us in once-a-week Bible study in about 1997. The topic was Romans. I inwardly groaned because I thought of Romans as a dense book that I’d already been exposed to 15 times over. But Scott brought out the book as I had never known it before. Each week I left with a head swimming from new ideas that tied familiar phrases into a coherent story. I also finally understood that chapters 9-11 is not an aside, but a climax.

Some time later, Scott approached me and asked me to teach a Sunday morning Bible study on the Psalms. I told him a.) I didn’t know what I was doing and b.) I’m a chemist, not a theologian. I ended up teaching that class anyway. Scott took care of my objections (a and b) by just making me do it, persuasion so effective that to this day I don’t remember exactly how he did it. After that, he made sure neither objections a nor b could be raised again. Scott started a short “equipping class” where our group would get together for dinner and drinks, discussing theology from Stanley Hauerwas through Karl Barth (although I still don’t understand him). This wasn’t class, it was dinner. Although the reading was the most difficult I had ever encountered (and this includes the Journal of Biological Chemistry), the learning was effortless.

I spent 5 years in graduate school, 2 years as a post-doc, and 4 years ongoing as a biochemistry professor. Funny, that teaching thing Scott threw me into without my precise consent happens to be what I do for a living now. He equipped me for Sunday morning teaching that ultimately taught me more about being a professor than my academic study. Even the Journal of Biological Chemistry comes more easily now, because anything’s easy after Karl Barth.

Scott eventually continued his education and could have become a professor (I was already trying to recruit him for SPU). But he was already successfully “professing” here at Bethany. He equipped me to read history as a story, and there’s one such story I’d like to close with. Appropriately enough, it’s about the letter to the Romans. Romans was written when Paul was laying the groundwork for a mission to Spain. The letter to the Romans is such an amazing and complete capsule of Paul’s theology precisely because he was trying to prepare them to be a new “Antioch” for him, a home base for missions further west.

Paul dreamt of preaching in Spain. But as far as we can tell, he never got there. Imperial Rome, on the other hand, became Christian Rome. God thwarted Paul’s travel plans, but he used Paul’s letter to give new life to Rome in 60 A.D., new life to Wittenburg in 1517, and new life to the “She-Castle” in 1997. Likewise, Scott didn’t reach all his goals before the cancer came, but God used him for greater ends. The people Scott met along the way give testament to his faithfulness, and God will use Scott’s unfinished work to accomplish more than we can imagine.

Paul wrote these words to the Romans, and Scott echoed them: chapter 8 verses 18-23 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.”

So Scott continues to teach, equip, and profess, a very hard lesson. We now have another reason to wait for restoration. We are equipped with the hope that someday Scott’s body and ours will be redeemed. Today he is free from the tumors that invaded his body; he rests from his labors; and he is with Jesus.


Unknown said...

Dear Ben,
Thank you for sharing your thoughts...he will be missed here... love, Mom and Dad

Juliet said...


Thanks for posting this. I would have liked to have been at the memorial service, but couldn't for several obvious reasons. I didn't know Scott that well, but he was the sort of person who didn't need to be known well to leave his mark.

(And...happy birthday!)