John 15 — When Insistence Insists!

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How do you listen for God’s call. Do you hear when God calls? And, when you hear, what do you do?

John 15:1-11      “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. 9  As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. (NRSV)

[Scripture quotation from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

[Image: “Creative Commons Climbing Vines Wallpapers in Lime Green by BackgroundsEtc by webtreats is licensed under CC BY 2.0]

John 15:1-11 Insists

On behalf of the name of God (perhaps) I am an insistence. Every word the does not insist has been pruned away. All that is left is an insistence that insists, a beckoning that beckons, an invitation that invites, a nudging that nudges, a calling  that calls.  You have already come under the haunting specter of that insistence. Let it resonate within every fiber of your being until it nudges you into a radically new response that transforms who you are and the world in which you live. If you are not nudged by that nudging, insisted upon by that insistence, called by that calling, then we have nothing in common. I invite you; you take up my invitation and, bearing much fruit, become an invitation yourself. When insistence spooks you, you spook your home and your neighborhood, as if every day were Halloween. In so doing you honor the haunting specter that spooks us all — that specter which is as important to us as the blood flowing in our veins and the life-sustaining oxygen that fills our lungs. I hear God’s insistence and invite you into that insistence; you respond to the invitation and nudge your world with that beckoning. Therein is my joy; therein is your joy. May your joy beckon a wholeness within you.

How easy it has been

to attend to God’s insistence

to those persistent nudgesto the callings

how easy it has been

to write papers

to teach classes

to preach sermons

… without being spooked.
“I hear God’s insistence and

invite you into that insistence”

Oops!

That means following

closely

in the Way of Yeshua*!
No longer just me

and God’s insistence

trying to figure out a response

trying to live into that call

trying to be faithful
Now it is Yeshua*

mentoring me

forming me

leading me

Now there is

a shape

a pattern

a specific Way*

to be followed

I am no longer in control

I am insisted upon

I am no longer looking for options

I am called

I am no longer ‘in my right mind’

I am spooked

infused

infested

beset

besieged

assailed

encompassed by…

the Way lived and taught by Yeshua*

the Way of peace and justice

the Way of care and compassion

the Way of facing up to and resisting

the principalities and powers

empire and top-down rule

prestige and status

the Way of encountering and finding solidarity with

the poor and marginalized

the least, lost, last, and left out

the unloved and the unloveable…

the way of living in the meantime, the in-between times

the waiting of Holy Saturday

instead of the certainty of Easter

radical insurrection

instead of tamed resurrection

hoping for a better future

instead of planning for more of what is no longer working.

Does God exist?

Who knows?
What does exist, however,

heard through Yeshua’s*

life and teachings

now waiting

to be embodied

embraced

actualized

mirrored

expressed

completed

made manifest

and whole

in my life and teachings.

Psalm 47 — God Insists… Shout for Joy!

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God’s insistence is awesome…
It spooks all people, everywhere,
Cutting out from under us
Our legs of rationality and certainty.

 

Psalm 47:1-9         1 Applause, everyone. Bravo, bravissimo! Shout God–songs at the top of your lungs!2 God Most High is stunning,astride land and ocean. 3 He crushes hostile people,puts nations at our feet. 4 He set us at the head of the line,prize–winning Jacob, his favorite. 5 Loud cheers as God climbs the mountain,a ram’s horn blast at the summit.6 Sing songs to God, sing out!Sing to our King, sing praise!7 He’s Lord over earth,so sing your best songs to God. 8 God is Lord of godless nations—sovereign, he’s King of the mountain.9 Princes from all over are gathered,people of Abraham’s God. The powers of earth are God’s—he soars over all. (MSG)

[Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2002]

[Image:  “Creative Commons Applause – 84/365 by Barney Moss is licensed under CC BY 2.0”]

Musings on Psalm 47:1-9

Joyful singing and applause…  Shout so the whole world can hear…

God’s insistence is awesome…

It spooks all people, everywhere,

Cutting out from under us

Our legs of rationality and certainty.

Yet, when I listen closely…

attending with the inner ear of my heart

it feels as if I go to the head of the class…  as if I have been chosen…

as if God is speaking to me and only me.

Ironically, as personal as that insistence is…

as insistent as that insistence is…

as beckoning as that insistence beckons…

It is as if God were shouting from the mountain top!

Why O nations do you not hear?

Why O politicians do you only listen to your own voice?

Why O churches do you turn a deaf ear?

Why O Bart do you find it so easy to tune out..

to sing off key…

to not listen?

When Insistence insists…

when God is that “still small voice” that spooks…

When power is revealed as weakness,

and wholeness grounds the commonwealth…

Then know that the memories of the past no longer restrain us

and the promises of the future have already infected the Present Moment.

Know that all which has been spooked in the present…

all who have listened first (and listened again and again and again)

all those sing God’s praises as they are offering themselves…

they will be living memorials, caught up in the fulness, wholesomeness, and abundance

of Life,

of the Present Moment,

of the name of God. Perhaps*.

Thirsting for God – Psalm 63

Thirsty - Dry Land

When you are spiritually dry, where do you turn? When you turn to God, what do you expect?

Psalm 63   My soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you,as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,beholding your power and glory. 3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,my lips will praise you. 4 So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name.  5 My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,and my mouth praises you with joyful lips 6 when I think of you on my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 7 for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy. 8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.  9 But those who seek to destroy my life shall go down into the depths of the earth; 10 they shall be given over to the power of the sword,they shall be prey for jackals. 11 But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by him shall exult,for the mouths of liars will be stopped. (NRSV)

[Scripture quotation from Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

[Image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license. Text added.]

Thirsting for God

At the depths of my being I thirst for a word from you, O  God…

for an insistence, a nudge, an invitation, a call.

Without that Word, I dry up and blow away.

At times I have wanted  to find you

in the miraculous and the spectacular.

I wanted you to compete with all the other gods

who are sought

in the marketplace of mastery,

in the laboratory of luciousness,

at the table of transcendent power.

Because of your audacity,

never choosing existence over insistence,

when your word comes,

when your insistence insists,

when your call calls…

it is more likely to be heard

in a still, small voice that inspires love and peace and concern

for those who have no power,

no mastery,

no luciousness,

save the embrace of a tender heart.

Those who play the power card

and frolic in the delusion of superiority

will continue to abide in the snares

they have set for themselves.

Praise be for those who have

attended to the insistence and followed the path of invitation.

As they live in response to that unheard call

may they be filled with joy —

as if lifted into a new plane of living

a plane that might be called heaven on earth,

the Commonwealth* that bears the name of God. Perhaps*.

The Weakness of God – 1 Corinthians 1:23

1 Cor 1_25 (MSG)

When ‘God’ ceases to be a super-powered being ‘out there,’ God becomes an internal event that disrupts and disturbs us, inviting us to be more than we currently are. John Caputo says “God doesn’t exist; God insists.”

“Human strength can’t begin to compete with the weakness of God.” (1 Cor. 1:25, NRSV)

“God does not exist; God insists.” That is the offering of hybrid philosopher/theologian John Caputo. He writes: “The name of God is the name of an event transpiring in being’s restless heart, creating confusion in the house of being, forcing being into motion, mutation, transformation, reversal. … The name of God is being’s aspiration, it’s inspiration, it’s aeration, for God is not being or a being, but a ghostly quasi-being, a very holy spirit.” (The Weakness of God, p. 9)

When “God” ceases to be an objective, super-powered being out there, “God” becomes a name that we attach to an event which disrupts us / disturbs us / calls us to think and act beyond ourselves. When, in our awareness, an insistence beckons us toward the promises / potentialities / possibilities of the future, we likely experience something deep within which we often name “God” / “Sacred” / “Mystery.” In truth, we are attempting to name the “unknowing” that always intrudes upon us.  Desiring to be strong, we give that insistent beckoning a name, and thus an objective reality. It is as if by naming that we bring the event under our control. This quest for control attempts to locate the event outside us / me. If, on the other hand, I simply stay present to the beckoning and abide in the unknowing I may hear / sense / attend to the call that I insist upon myself as if it were insisted upon me, because I can do no other.

The insistent beckoning is a force-field that radiates through my being and draws me beyond myself, while keeping me rooted in my self and my context. It is always more than I can name. In truth, it is the more-than that elicits a response from me. These insistent beckonings (calls) tend to shock me out of my complacency and certitude. When I can’t recover from the shock, I name the beckonings “evil;” when I am transformed, I call them “God.” These inner callings can only be attended to in a kairos moment (not clock time), because they are not what is present but what is to come. John Caputo again:

“The name of God… is a word forged in the fires of life… signaling something familiar… yet bottomless… incomprehensible. That is because it shelters an event… [The name of God is] an odd sort of Magnificat… whose passion and existential intensity are correspondingly magnified by this very undecidability.” (The Weakness of God, pp. 7 & 11)

[Scripture quotations from: New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved   and   Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2002]