With

 

Musings /Part 4/ on the Practices of a Resurrection (Expansive) Spirituality

Camara
Antonisse, Marcel / Anefo – [1] Dutch National Archives, The Hague, Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau (ANEFO), 1945-1989, Nummer toegang 2.24.01.05 Bestanddeelnummer 931-7341   CC BY-SA 3.0 nl

Therefore Adonai himself
will give you people a sign:
the young woman* will become pregnant,
bear a son and name him ‘Immanu El [God is with us].
Isaiah 7:1 (CJB)

[Complete Jewish Bible, Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.]

Samuel Wells begins his engaging book (A Nazareth Manifesto) about Christian witness and mission with a remarkably astute observation:

“I maintain that the word with [emphasis mine]
is the most important word in theology.” (p.11)

God is experienced as a presence, a “with-ness.” The covenant with Israel is about God’s being with Israel and Israel’s hanging in there with God. Immanuel. Yeshua is God’s pre-emptive with-ness. The church is about the followers of Yeshua hanging in there with the ever-present with-ness of Yeshua, his continuing mission, and his teachings. It is about our being with one another and with the whole of the created order.

Wells describes the with-ness as over against for-ness. His discussion continues with the description of “four broad ways” that Christian witness and mission might respond to issues such as poverty:

working for
working with
being for
being with

I agree in general with Wells, but reverse the priority of being for and being with.

Working-For – This is the easiest form of Christian witness in mission. We donate our excess clothes and serve meals at the local s

Working-With – This requires a greater investment from us, an investment of some degree of relationship. Probably the best example is Habitat for Humanity when the recipient(s) of the house works (sweat equity) side-by-side with those who are donating their time and energy for this significant project.

These first two alternatives demonstrate the majority witness in mission for those engaged with a Crucifixion Spirituality. [See Two Types of Spirituality] http://wp.me/p6Keys-hS The next two are more oriented to a Resurrection (Expansive) Spirituality. This is not meant to denigrate working-for or working-with. Those forms of witness in mission, which have predominated throughout church history, have accomplished great things. But there is something more. (There always to be something more!)

Being-With – Yeshua was particularly adept at being with. He was fully present with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). He was at the dinner in the home of Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7) but fully with the woman of the streets who intruded upon that gathering to bathe his feet with her tears. While many had tried to be for the sick man at the Pool of Bethsaida (John 5), Yeshua was with him enough to be able to pose the question that led to his healing. This being-with “focuses much more on stillness, on disposition, on letting [the other person, who is living in poverty or facing discriminatory injustice] take the decisive steps and identify the significant issues…” This means the ability to sit with a person who is in grief, or anger, or pain, and keep your mouth shut.

While I agree with Wells that Christian witness in mission is best focused on being-with those with special needs – economically, socially, politically, religiously, environmentally – there may come a time when being-for is a genuine necessity.

Being-For – when it grows out of a deep being-with, is a confrontation of the system from within on behalf of those who are outside the power structures of the system. Bread for the World can be an example of a positive being-for. Perhaps an even better example is the mission work of base communities in Latin America. I had the privilege of attending one whose mission was to advocate for prisoners in the local jail, “some of whom are actually guilty.” Sometimes being-for is the only way to empower those we continue to be with. This combination of being-with and being-for is called solidarity. In one-on-one personal relationships it is called “I’ve got your back.”

When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.
When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.”
Dom Helder Camara

 

Paying Attention to the Insistence

Musings /Part 3/ on the Practices of a
Resurrection (Expansive) Spirituality

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“Creative Commons Jeremiah 33:3” by Tito & Eva Marie Balangue is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“He or she or it, I know not what, one or many, real or unreal, saving or dangerous, whoever or whatever this is will not leave me alone. … Everywhere I turn, high or low, north or south, desert or oasis, I am disquieted by these unsettling visitations, pursued, questioned, accused, exhilarated, caught up short, overcome by the coming over me of something, I know not what… a call calling in an uncertain voice, in and under the name (of) “God,” delivering an obscure message, leaving us restless for something, I know not what, eliciting a desire not just for this or that, but a desire beyond all desire, for a knowing without knowledge, reducing us to prayer, to praying like mad to an unknown God.” (John Caputo, It Spooks, 2015, pages 26 & 28)

I have a restlessness, an unsettledness, within. I take some solace from the understanding that this disquietude is not a solitary experience. It seems to be an impulse that has infiltrated human beings throughout history. This impulse has often been associated with our human fascination with God.

Throughout history we have built temples to house our acts of worship; altars, to provide a locus for sacrifices; rituals, to build regularized sacred practices; seminaries and monasteries, to train and support religious leaders; libraries of sacred writings, to explain the unexplainable and guide the faithful.

In spite of all that we human being have done throughout the ages, God continues to be a mystery. Scholars have devised fanciful “proofs” for the existence of God and multiple volumes of systematic theology trying to explain God. Mystics tell us in every way possible (and often at great length) that God is unknowable and can’t truly be written or spoken about.

Perhaps Caputo says it best – at least he is one of the few contemporaries that speaks to me – when he writes that “God doesn’t exist, God insists.” Too often we get hung up on God’s existence, God’s being. What may be far more important to us is how we respond to and with that restless, unsettled inner stirring. I can say without hesitation that when I am stirred into showing compassion, living peaceable, or extending justice to those who have been marginalized and/or disenfranchised by society that I am responding to God’s inner call. Regardless of how we understand or define God, if we respond to an inner disquietude by being more compassionate toward others, more of a peacemaker, more just, it would be appropriate to say that we are living into a call from God.

Attending to the insistence… responding to the inner call… spreading compassion, peace, and justice… 

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously — take God seriously. (Micah 6:8
[Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary LanguageColorado Springs: NavPress, 2002]

Deconstructing the Tradition

Musings /Part 2/ on the Practices of a
Resurrection (Expansive) Spirituality

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“You have heard that it was said… But I say…”
(Matthew 5:21f, 27f, 33f, 38f, 43f)

Yeshua had no hesitation in filling the inherited traditions of the Hebrews with new meaning. When the tradition constricted the possibilities and potentialities of the people, Yeshua challenged the tradition, offering an alternative option.

One could argue that Christianity itself is an expansive re-interpretation of (a reform movement within) Judaism. Paul, as Christianity’s first theologian, was no stranger to the need to re-interpret tradition: Never damp the fire of the Spirit… By all means use your judgement.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19, 21 J. B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English, 1962 edition by HarperCollins).

The church has always struggled with the intersection of sacred tradition with the growing knowledge base available to the human community. “The entire post-canonical tradition of the church has been marked, on its theological side, by a series of attempts to come to grips with secular knowledge.” (B.A. Gerrish, Christian Faith: Dogmatics in Outline, 2015, page 28) ) For Gerrish, the primary interpretive norm is “the authority of the Apostolic witness.” He suggests a secondary norm “to test the adequacy of Christian doctrines [namely, using] present day thought and experience,” but only for re-interpreting tradition. I disagree!

Too often the history of the church’s theological presentation of the Apostolic witness has relied on the tamed down Yeshua. For example, Yeshua’s self-designation as the Human Being (“Son of Man”) in Mark is transformed by other scriptures and the early church into a Christological title. [For more information, seeWalter Wink’s the Human Being: Jesus and the Enigma of the Son of Man and Herman Waetjen’s A Reordering of Power: A Socio-Political Reading of Mark’s Gospel.] Thus, instead of a radical Yeshua who relocated divine authority to an inner and relational dynamic, we get a domesticated heavenly figure who is outside the realm of real life, waiting to save souls who believe and practice the right things.

A Crucifixion (Narrowing) Spirituality is necessary for those early in their faith journeys when they are dependent on a close attention to tradition. The disciplines of a Crucifixion Spirituality are reinforcers of traditional theology, rituals, practices. Resurrection Spirituality is going to challenge the tradition – its theology, its Biblical authority, its practices – especially in the minds of the tradition bearers.

One of the practices of an expansive spirituality is deconstruction – that is, breaking open the traditional thoughts, beliefs, and practices associated with faithing. Opening these is not to destroy them, but to invigorate them with fresh meaning for a new day. Some will see this practice as an assault on the Faith. It truth it is only an assault on those constricting and stagnant approaches to faith. When deconstruction breaks open a theological idea, a belief, a practice, or even scripture itself it provides gracious space for us to sigh, to dream, to dance, to grow, to be our true selves.

I believe that the best way to honor scripture and tradition, is to see its effects in the lives of its followers. When believers exhibit hatred toward others or the world… when followers use scriptural authority to discriminate because of race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation… when Christians become violent in the defense of scriptural authority… then it is clear that massive deconstruction and reinterpretation must happen.

Deconstructing scripture (as well as other traditions, beliefs, and practices) means using Francis of Assisi’s norm – seek the “marrow of the Gospel” – then replant marrow into today’s setting.A tricky process fraught with traps? Of course! Not deconstructing, however, can potentially set the church up to be irrelevant to increasing numbers of people who find more wisdom in contemporary secular knowledge than in the church’s sacred traditions.

Actually deconstruction is not a negative process, unless you believe that all wisdom has already been distilled and beliefs beliefs are fixed, once and for all. Deconstruction is necessary in order to breathe life into tradition and to give traditional ideas and practices the opportunity to take flight in today’s world. Perhaps that is what is behind the mission statement of the monks of St. Benedict’s Monastery, Snowmass, CO: “Through daily life in our Cistercian community, we aspire to be transformed in mind and heart by embodying Christ Jesus in ways appropriate to our times [italics mine]..

Living In the Shadow of the Impossible Possibility

Musings /Part 1/ on the Practices of a Resurrection (Expansive) Spirituality

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Illustrations/graphics supplied by GospelGifs.com are copyrighted and used with permission.

The term “Jesus Christ” rolls off our tongues so glibly that Christ seems to be Jesus’ last name. Catherine Keller teaches her students to put a ru’ach pause between Jesus and Christ so as to distinguish between the proper name (Jesus) and the title (Christ) which the church attributes to him. Carl Jung would describe Christ (or Messiah) as an archetype – that is, a universally patterned image arising out of the “collective unconscious.”

Christ” is not a Proper Name. Christ is the descriptor which refers to the potentiality for inner wholeness and peace. In a very real sense, the Christ is an external catalyst which energizes the messianic impulse within. The messianic impulse within and the Christ catalyst without together describe the process of salvation – not an other-worldly reward, but a this-worldly process in the here and now. Paul described this process as “work[ing] out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12)

A Resurrection Spirituality engages this salvation process, not as a chore or obligation or discipline but as a celebration of the wholeness that I can become, that you can become, that the world can become. It is living into the impossible possibility. In the face of all the brokenness, fragmentation, and degradation that is experienced in daily life we choose to live in celebration, with a spirit of fulness and abundance. We choose to be fools for Christ (1 Corinthians 4:10), living as if the Commonwealth of God’s Peace and Justice is only around the next corner, already energizing the world in which we live. So we live openly expectant, gracefully engaged, “perpetually awaiting a re-birth of wonder” (from Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem “I am Waiting”).

This practice may be described as living in the shadow of the impossible possibility and is based on a fundamental trust in life itself. C. S. Lewis wrote, “This world is a great sculptor’s shop. We are the statues and there is a rumour going round the shop that some of us are some day going to come to life.” Mere Christianity (page 72)  To engage in a Resurrection (Expansive) Spirituality is to have already “come to life” – that is, you have incarnated the abundant life promised in John 10:10. You have drunk deeply from a spring of water that bubbles up into eternal life.” (John 4:14, CEB)

Whoever drinks from the water that I will give will never be thirsty again. The water that I give will become in those who drink it a spring of water that bubbles up into eternal life.” (CEB)  John 4:14

Defining An Expansive Spirituality

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Following are definitions of spirituality from a list compiled by the National Center for Cultural Competence (Georgetown University): 

1. “the experience or expression of the sacred” (Adapted from Random House Dictionary of the English Language, 1967).
2. “…the search for transcendent meaning” – can be expressed in religious practice or …expressed ”exclusively in their relationship to nature, music, the arts, a set of philosophical beliefs, or relationships with friends and family” (Astrow et al. 2001).
3. “individual search for meaning” Bown and Williams 1993).
4. “the search for meaning in life events and a yearning for connectedness to the universe” (Coles 1990).
5. “a person’s experience of, or a belief in, a power apart from his or her own existence” (Mohr 2006).
6. “a quality that goes beyond religious affiliation, that strives for inspiration, reverence, awe, meaning and purpose, even in those who do not believe in God. The spiritual dimension tries to be in harmony with the universe, strives for answers about the infinite, and comes essentially into focus in times of emotional stress, physical (and mental) illness, loss, bereavement and death” (Murray and Zentner 1989:259).
7. …refers to a broad set of principles that transcend all religions. Spirituality is about the relationship between ourselves and something larger. That something can be the good of the community or the people who are served by your agency or school or with energies greater than ourselves. Spirituality means being in the right relationship with all that is. It is a stance of harmlessness toward all living beings and an understanding of their mutual interdependence.” (Kaiser 2000)

Some common elements of the definitions:

  • experience takes precedence over belief…
  • connection/harmony with the sacred / transcendent / universe / God
  • connection/harmony with others and nature
  • search for meaning/purpose…
  • lived out in actions that benefit self, others, nature

My definition of an emergent, expansive spirituality:

Spirituality is the integration of an expansive experiential flow of meaning and purpose in life as the truly Human One connects with self, others, and nature in such a manner as to attend to and celebrate the Mystery (that is, all that happens in the name of God). Such a spirituality continues to blossom throughout life and is expressed as inner peace and contentment, as well as respect, compassion, and justice toward others and nature.

Implications:

  • spirituality is about personal integration / wholeness
  • spirituality is an open process that can be described, but not scripted
  • there is no final goal (destination) to be attained; just a wholesome life to be lived abundantly
  • the abundant life is relational, connected, responsive

[See previous post on An Emergent Spirituality: the Expansive Event. Subsequent posts will describe some practices (traditionally called “disciplines”) of an expansive spirituality.]

Two Types of Spirituality

Rollins QuoteYesterday’s post (An Emergent Spirituality: the Expansive Event) began an exploration into a new concept for me – an expansive spirituality. This morning I was sharing Peter Rollins’ book Insurrection with an adult class I teach. A comment from Rollins opened new doors for my exploration – namely, that there seem to be two kinds of spiritual formation for the Christian:

“In the sacrifice for religion, Christ loses everything for God, while in the sacrifice of religion Christ loses everything including God.” Peter Rollins, Insurrection (2011), page 27.

Crucifixion spirituality – thoughts, desires, and behaviors are progressively stripped away as the believer’s life and thoughts become more aligned with that of Yeshua, whom we call the Christ. We become crucified with Christ. Nouwen describes this as a “large cone that becomes narrower the deeper you go. … with Jesus … waiting for you at the end.” The Inner Voice of Love (1996), page 51. Being a follower of Yeshua is the goal. For this part of the journey, we sacrifice for religion, losing (almost) everything for God. Rollins reminds us that the church often “acts as a security blanket that enables us to speak of the Crucifixion without ever undergoing its true liberating horror” (page 48).

The crucifixion journey is mapped by disciplines – practices framed to keep the believer on the right track. These practices are designed with the understanding that there are times when we are weak and need external management of our spiritual lives – especially early on in our journey. Some people never progress beyond the crucifixion journey.

For many, crucifixion spirituality leads to a crisis. Go far enough, deep enough into the crucifixion journey and you my experience a genuine crisis (crucifixion) that exposes “its true liberating horror” and opens the possibility of resurrection.

Resurrection Spirituality – now the process reverses. Instead of a narrowing (constricting), life moves out from its center. If the crucifixion journey moves toward Yeshua, the resurrection journey moves out from Yeshua to others, the world around you. As our journeys take on this dimension we begin to experience the sacrifice of religion, losing everything including God. Yeshua is no longer someone to follow; now your journey with him, through him, out from him, and, perhaps, even beyond him. The external Christ is now the Christ within. You are no longer seeking salvation; now you are living a salvic life. You no longer seek Christ; now you are Christ for the world. Resurrection is no longer only the story of what happened to Yeshua; it is now your story, our story, as resurrection bubbles up all around.

Last week I had the opportunity to preach at the congregation I attend. At that time I introduced an addition to the Easter affirmation – “Christ is risen; He is risen indeed! We are risen; we are risen indeed!” I was pleased when our pastor ended this morning’s worship with the both the affirmation and the addition. The fulness of the Christian life is about moving beyond crucifixion into resurrection. Rollins puts it this way:

Resurrection life is not some turning away from the experience of death that we find in the event of Crucifixion but rather describes a way of living in its very midst and finding there a truly affirming life. … Eternal life is thus fundamentally a transformation in the very way we live in the present. … Resurrection is not something one argues for, but it is the name we give to a mode of living.” (pages 108, 111, 161)

After experiencing the true horror of death that we find in the Crucifixion, life begin to take on new meaning…  life expands (in John’s gospel Yeshua called it abundant life)…  the caterpillar is transformed into the butterfly and takes flight.

Tomorrow’s post will explore my definition of an expansive (Resurrection) spirituality.

An Emergent Spirituality: the Expansive Event

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1 John 4:18 Love contains no fear—indeed fully-developed love expels every particle of fear, for fear always contains some of the torture of feeling guilty. This means that the man who lives in fear has not yet had his love perfected. (PHILLIPS)

[J. B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English, 1962 edition by HarperCollins]

An Emergent Spirituality

Traditionally, theology has been the task of defining appropriate parameters for the beliefs, understandings, and practices of the Christian faith. Whatever falls outside those parameters is either bad theology or heresy. A radical theology, consonant with an emergent spirituality, is more the process of reflecting upon and describing “religious” experience in terms of its contribution to compassion, peace, and justice. Traditional theology is for caterpillars; radical theology, for butterflies.

In describing the process of on-going spiritual formation, Henri Nouwen writes:

You can look at your life as a large cone that become narrower the deeper you go. … You know that Jesus is waiting for you at the end, just as you know that he is guiding you as you move in that direction.” The Inner Voice of Love (1996), page 51.

But, is spiritual formation really a narrowing process? Walter Wink writes:

When we turn this image of Jesus, as the criterion of humanness, into the yardstick by which we are judged, we open the door to perfectionist attempts to emulate Jesus rather than efforts to become our true selves.” The Human Being: Jesus and the Enigma of the Son of Man (2002), page 167.

Going deep can become a narrowing and constricting process which is subject to distraction, diversion, and (as Wink suggests) perfectionism. Consider, as an alternative, a spirituality of expansiveness. The narrowing process may well be a pre-cursor to expansiveness. The caterpillar’s journey to chrysalis is the narrowing; the butterfly’s emergence and taking flight, the expansiveness.

The life of the spirit is ever expanding – testing new venues, experimenting with new practices, exploring new relationships, and connecting with that which we name as God. Like the universe of which we are a part, we are ever expanding toward compassion, peace, and justice.

An expansive spirituality is a gift that is visited upon us. The motto of such an emergent spirituality is “Fear not!” Don’t be afraid to loose your spirit; allow it to breathe and take flight. Perhaps Luther’s dictum, “Sin boldly,” is fitting here – although I prefer C. G. Berkouwer’s translation of the Latin (pecca fortiter), “Sin bravely, but be even braver in the faith…” (Faith and Sanctification,1952, page 34) This emergent spirituality must be brave because it is often moving outside (beyond) the parameters defined by traditional theological inquiry, beyond the expectations of much religious practice.

To emulate Yeshua truly is to grow beyond the narrowing and constricting dynamics of an ego that wants to be in control, to integrate an existential trust that moves us into compassion, peace, and justice. That existential trust infuses the marrow of our beings and draws us intimately toward that which bears the name of God.

John Caputo quotes from a poem by Angelus Silesius:

The rose is without why;
it blossoms because it blossoms
It cares not for itself,
asks not if it’s seen.

Then Caputo suggests, “We too should live “without why,” allowing life to blossom without weighing it down with our why’s and wherefore’s.” [Hoping Against Hope (2015), pages 27 & 28] An emergent spirituality, an expansive spirituality is “without why.”

[This understanding if spirituality as expansiveness is a new concept for me. It arose in conversations with a friend. We are attempting to think it through. Over the next couple of weeks, I hope to elaborate upon  my growing understanding, as well as attempting to describe some practices that would support an emergent, expansive spirituality.]

 

The Weakness of God

1 Cor 1-25
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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 event beckons us toward the promises, potentialities, and possibilities of the future, we likely experience something deep within which we often name God, Sacred, Mystery, the Other, Thou. In truth, we are attempting to name the “unknowing” that always intrudes upon us. Desiring to be strong, we give that beckoning a name, and thus an objective reality. It is as if by naming that we bring the event under our control. In my quest for control I attempt to locate the event outside of me. If, on the other hand, I simply stay present to the beckoning and abide in the unknowing I may hear, sense, and/or attend to the call that I insist upon myself as if it were insisted upon me, because I can do no other.

The 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.

John Caputo (The Weakness of God: a Theology of the Event, 2006, pages 7 & 11) writes:

“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.”

Is it possible to engage mystery (“this very undecidability”) without having to be in charge of the experience? The mystery creates a tension within us. On one hand it challenges our need to be in control. On the other, it energizes an adventurous part of us that is willing to embrace the emptiness where asking “Why?” seems out of place. We often name that tension which draws us, calls us, “God.” Even those who choose to deny God seem drawn into the conversation. I suspect that the experiencing of an event of insistence which draws us beyond ourselves is not dependent upon a belief in God. Non-believers are also drawn toward acts of compassion, peace, and justice. The difference is how we name the event, as well as whether or not we demand that our way is the only correct way to name the event.

Messiah as Archetype

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John 4:14 “The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.” (MSG) 
[Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary LanguageColorado Springs: NavPress, 2002]

Messiah is the archetype of a dynamic inner force that draws us toward wholeness, integrity, compassion, and justice. To name Yeshua as the Messiah is only to describe the one who points us toward and catalyzes the messiah within ourselves. 

The longing for a Messiah, for one who would save and redeem the people and act as an intermediary between God and human is a longing universally expressed. From where does this longing come? First, the human being is split from its potential wholeness through the struggle to exist, and is thus separated from its Source. This is the human wound, inevitable and unavoidable. … If the Source desires to be restored to its wholeness, such restoration can only come by way of human’s struggles to be whole. (This expression of God’s longing for human helpers is expressed time after time in the Hebrew Scripture.)  From: Elizabeth Boyden Howes, Jesus’ Answer to God (1984), page 8

Jesus could not tell others he was the Messiah. For if he told them, they would not have to discover the Messiah within themselves. And if they did not discover the Messiah within themselves, they would not learn that they had such powers of discovery within themselves. And if Jesus did not enable them to discover such powers within themselves, he was not the Messiah.     From: Walter Wink, The Human Being: Jesus and the Enigma of the Son of Man (2002), p. 127

 

An Insistence for Israel

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Ezekiel 36:22-36 22 Therefore, say to the house of Israel, The Lord God proclaims: House of Israel, I’m not acting for your sake but for the sake of my holy name, which you degraded among the nations where you have gone. (CEB)

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

Reflections on Ezekiel 36:22-36

A lesson on insistence for Israel. Don’t be surprised that an insistence in the name of God (perhaps) is not necessarily favorable to Israel. Such insistences don’t come to satisfy our cravings, but to raise us to a new plane of being, to call us to a deeper mode of living, to invite us into the mystery of divinity. Sometimes other peoples get it more than you, who claim to be God’s people. So, as a people, you are being called to be different from the other nations, called to be an island of justice and peace in the midst of the world’s injustice and violence. This means that you will have to be transformed down to the marrow of your bones, You will need a heart of compassion rather than animosity. All this you will have to bear in your body as a people, so others can see and experience it first-hand. You will demonstrate a different kind of inner spirit that restrains you from being little-minded, from acts of hatred and violence. You will demonstrate abundant living, rather than hoarding everything because you think you are afflicted with scarcity. And always remember, you are being called to this lifestyle, not for your own sake, but for the sake of the world.

When you build up towns and bring civilization to the desert, you will simply say “It is what we have been called to do.” You will be a ‘thin place’ where mystery touches and informs daily life. And when all the peoples of the world see what you have done, they will understand that there is a more dynamic way of life available to them, for they will have had first-hand experience with the messianic. This is your calling, an insistence in the name of God. Perhaps.