Trust

Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 9.52.42 PM

What does it mean to trust in God?

Psalm 125:1-5         

1 The people who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion: never shaken, lasting forever. 2 Mountains surround Jerusalem. That’s how the Lord surrounds his people from now until forever from now! 3 The wicked rod won’t remain in the land given to the righteous so that they don’t use their hands to do anything wrong. 4 Lord, do good to people who are good, to people whose hearts are right. 5 But as for those people who turn to their own twisted ways—may the Lord march them off with other evildoers! Peace be on Israel! (CEB)
[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

[Image: “Creative Commons Trust” by Timothy Vogel is licensed under CC BY 2.0]

 

Psalm 125:1-5

What does it mean to trust in God? It means trusting in justice for all, rather than in systems or actions that marginalize and dehumanize others. It means returning good for good and over-coming evil with goodness. It even means diverting your own tendencies to put yourself ahead of others with special needs. This is trusting God and bringing peace to the world.

Look Inside!

Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 8.39.17 AM Looking for God? for the Kingdom of God? Hoping to find Dr. Who’s TARDIS so you can time-travelel to the future where the Kingdom is located? You are looking in the wrong place…  It is located within!

Luke 17:20-21        

** 20 Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.” (CEB)
** 20-21 Later, he was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he gave them this reply: “The kingdom of God never comes by watching for it. Men cannot say, ‘Look, here it is’, or ‘there it is’, for the kingdom of God is inside you.” (PHILLIPS)
** 20 One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God begin?” Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God isn’t ushered in with visible signs. 21 You won’t be able to say, ‘It has begun here in this place or there in that part of the country.’ For the Kingdom of God is within you.” (TLB)
** 20 Some Pharisees asked Jesus when God’s kingdom would come. He answered, “God’s kingdom isn’t something you can see. 21 There is no use saying, ‘Look! Here it is’ or ‘Look! There it is.’ God’s kingdom is here with you.” [or in your hearts] (CEV)

[Scriptures taken from:  the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide;  The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserve;  J. B. Phillips, “The New Testament in Modern English”, 1962 edition by HarperCollins;  Contemporary English Version, Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society.]
.
[Image: “ Commons The Escape to the Unknown” by Andre Bohrer, used under CC BY 2.0]
.
Luke 17:20-21  —  Considering the  Kingdom of God

Much confusion has been spread throughout the history of Christianity by the use of the term kingdom of God / heaven. This “kingdom” has been projected outward, intending an alternative to the kingdoms of the world, which do not measure up to the standards of the kingdom of God / heaven. I would argue that the kingdom is, for Yeshua*, a metonymy for the presence of God. A metonymy is the use of one thing to refer to that which is associated with it — for example, the White House to refer to the President or to the President’s staff. So, kingdom of God / heaven is simply a metonomy for God’s presence. But the simplicity ends there.

Yeshua locates the kingdom (that is, the very presence of the Divine, Spirit, Mystery, God) in the interior realms of the human spirit, rather than out there as an alternative political or administrative, or even religious institution. The kingdom of God / heaven is “among you,” inside you,” within you,” and/or “in your hearts.” That is a radical turning of theological reflection. If you want to find God’s presence in this world, don’t look ‘out there’ — “God’s kingdom isn’t something you can see.” It is not about history or geography. Instead, you must experience it in your inward being. Israel believed that God took up residence “among them” — the Holy of Holies in theTemple being YHWH’s footstool. The church believes that God took up residence in Yeshua — Immanuel, God incarnate. (It might be more accurate to say the Yeshua* took up residence in God.) Yeshua*, however, resisted all attempts by his disciples and opponents to make him God (or even God’s special one). Instead, Yeshua’s* experience at his baptism and his subsequent teaching clearly places the presence of God (and the experience of God) within — within him, of course; but also within everyone else. It is interesting to note that Yeshua* did not suggest that the kingdom could be experienced internally if only you thought right, believed right, lived right, belonged to the right religion, performed the right rituals, … No, Yeshua* taught that God is already here inside / within / among you.

The kingdom therefore has two sides:

  1. the inner dynamic which I have called the “God-process*,” a term I have borrowed from Elizabeth Boyden Howes. She identifies Yeshua* as the catalyst for the divine-human process. He is able to mobilize such activity in others because he ascended from the waters of baptism and emerged from his wilderness with a deep sense of call to relocate “the God-process* from Transcendence to Immanence in the Self, to incarnation, and it exacted everything.” He knew that his own vocation was to invite, call, and nurture others to “sell all” for the kingdom — that is, for the inner God-process*.
  2. the outer dynamic which I call the Commonwealth* of Peace and Justice. This outer dynamic is the projection of the results of “selling all” inwardly, writ large (that is, the projection of the collective possibilities which are actually open to all of us individually). Howes describes the inner God-process* as a movement “where love overcomes all the negatives of repression.” The Commonwealth* is that same movement where love overcomes our collective negativities of repression, where “steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; [and] righteousness and peace will kiss each other.” (Psalm 80:10)

The history of the Christian church has seen Yeshua* become the object of devotion and worship, hailed as God incarnate, the second person of the triune God. He has been made into the Savior, the Messiah, the Christ, the Redeemer, Emmanuel, the Word made flesh. Ironically, his own words seem to pale into insignificance. He did not say the kingdom of God is to be located only within him, but within “you.” He sorted through all the possibilities in an intense inner wilderness adventure and it became crystal clear to him that what he was experiencing (and what he was yet to experience) was open and accessible to everyone — namely a life of intimacy with God, a life described as abundant living, inner wholeness and outer integrity, a life of compassion, peace, and justice.

A Very Human Journey Toward Restoration

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 4.59.53 PMActs 3:19-21  19 Change your hearts and lives! Turn back to God so that your sins may be wiped away. 20 Then the Lord will provide a season of relief from the distress of this age and he will send Jesus, whom he handpicked to be your Christ. 21 Jesus must remain in heaven until the restoration of all things, about which God spoke long ago through his holy prophets. (CEB)

[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]

[Image: “Creative Commons ascent of man” by Leo Reynolds is licensed under CC BY 2.0]

Conversing with Acts 3:19-21

The messianic* dynamic that is appointed for each of us requires a change of heart and mind, an immersion into God. This messianic* dynamic, an inner dialogue between a human being and God’s insistent calling, is the prelude to that universal restoration of all people announced by the prophets.


 

The Human Being* (Son of Man), the title that Yeshua* used to describe his mission, is a precursor to humankind’s growth toward wholeness and maturity. It is a symbolic description of what Jung calls “the essential man.” Wink (The Human Being) suggests that in come circles the symbolism of the Human Being was also used to refer to God. Yeshua incarnated the Human Being* — that is, he was totally immersed into God (as he understood God) and totally committed to level the playing field between the Powers that Be (Domination System*, Empire*) and the poor and marginalized of society.

The universal “restoration of all things” is an ideal projected onto the future — a time when those who have had their human capacity taken away or discounted, by whatever means, will be restored to the fulness of their humanity. This universal restoration is a symbol, a metaphor, a poem, an abstract painting; it is not a prediction of a future historical event. And yet it touches something deep within us, calling us to be more human and humane, inviting us to resist all that Dominates and de-humanizes, nudging us to put to rights our society, our culture, our world.

The Human Being is the symbol of an emerging reality that will never be completed. We are on a journey into an open future. We are on an adventurous pilgrimage toward the Human Being* (our exploration which experiments with human wholeness) with the Human Being* (Yeshua*) as both catalyst and guide.

Tarry — Adventurously Expectant!

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 11.00.07 AMMatthew 26:40-41a          40 He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you stay alert one hour with me? 41  Stay alert and pray (CEB)

[Scripture quotation from Common English Bible Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible]

[Image: “Creative Commons shiny star leaf fringed weirdly in tarry moongate” by Karl-Ludwig Poggemann is licensed under CC BY 2.0]

Musings with Matthew 26:40-41a

Yeshua* found the disciples asleep. “Can’t you tarry with me for a brief time? Rest with anticipation and be in tune with God.”

Yeshua’s* disciples (then and now) have had two different reactions to Yeshua’s life experiences — build a shrine (Mount of Transfiguration) or fall asleep at the switch (Garden of Gethsemane). Numinous events (which we call “mountain-top” experiences) are scary, they take us to deep places within ourselves, bringing us to the threshold of transformation. Rather than be re-constructed, we tend either to construct external artifacts (churches, theologies, dogmas, boundaries) or to anesthetize ourselves (drugs, alcohol, consumerism, religion).

These two reactions prefigure a couple of metaphors for the process of faith formation — namely, journey and home. Journey spirituality recognizes that faith must constantly be on the move, engaging new experiences, reflecting in new ways, opening the imagination to new creation. Home-based spirituality is really about “coming home,” much as the prodigal son returns to his waiting father Luke 15:11-31). Home is about resting, abiding, living in familiar territory.

A friend and I just finished reading Walter Wink’s The Human Being*: Jesus and the Enigma of the Son of the Man. Our dialogue with the Human Being* (the book, the author, and the One behind the book) had been deeply rooted, touching our faithing, our thoughts, and our lives. Our question at the end of such reading is usually, “What’s next, Papa?” (Romans 8:15-16, the Message). This time, however, we decided it is time to tarry — to rest longingly with anticipation, “adventurously expectant.” A “tarrying” spirituality is prefigured in the Emma’s experience — journey with Yeshua* for a while; come to a resting spot; see deeply Yeshua’s* pilgrimage with us; Yeshua* disappears from our eyes; we are now left to debrief the experience and discern “What’s next?” Tarrying is mid-way between the journey and the return home. To tarry is to find a thin place and inhabit it for a brief moment before it fades away. Tarrying is the recognition that we do not own and therefore cannot possess the experience.

Wink suggests that tarrying with Yeshua* is not a uniquely Christian phenomenon. “That means that the transformation Jesus triggered is not exclusively Christian. Anyone can be drawn by the attractive power of Jesus. … If we claim that Jesus lived authentically, that he is exemplary, that he is the human face of God; if we see in him the son of the man, and that he is the firstborn of many sisters and brothers; if we assert that he was like us in every way, being an imperfect, wounded, sining human being… [then t]he Human Being* has the capacity to make humans humane, whatever their religion or lack thereof.” (p. 250ff)  And, in the twinkling of an eye, Yeshua* escapes from the grasping of the church and makes Wisdom’s Child (the son of man) available to the whole world — without dogma, without ritual. Dietrich Bonhoeffer called this religionless Christianity.