According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Certainty of Completion Against Despair

Certainty Against Despair

In life there is death;
and in death there is life;
It is here in this wilderness
where both life and death find,
Completeness from the other
despite the jagged shards within.

In our agony lies a greater finality,
a greater promise bound in the
Time worn promises of a
healing yet to occur,
Bound in the promise of God
Beyond death's reach.

Even as sorrow and tragedy
unbind wounded hearts,
So forgiveness in grief's silence
rebind broken souls waiting,
Eternally waiting for completeness
a'washed tears of grief.

Silence is the wisdom 
which comes from living,
Hope is the deep balm
which comes from knowing,
These, the severe gifts of the mortal
allowed the human breast.

And yet, there is another gift,
the promise of God to all who wait,
A promise that life and death
find meaning in His fellowship,
'Til the world ends and He comes
in the silences of grief's mortality.

- R. E. Slater

We all bear a past even as we envision a future. One pointing forward to the present present while the other points backwards to the same. Each present present is made from all past presents even as each present present forms the basis for a future made from all past presents. For some, our pasts remain with us for a lifetime. For others the present doesn't stay with us long enough. Even as for others the future doesn't come soon enough, and when it does, doesn't last long enough, or satisfy fully enough. Mostly, we feel abandoned... of ourselves that disappear too quickly into the fogs of what once was, and could have been, to then as quickly slip clear of its own present time. A time we would but wish to hold onto a bit longer leaving a feeling of brokenness lingering in our bones. A brokenness that isn't quite complete, quite healed, quite ended. A brokenness needing more time to savor, to sit within quietly, beholding its sublimity. A sublimity requiring an ending, requiring a healing, or a fullness, and most always requiring melodic notes of completion in soothing choruses of comfort and embrace.

And it is in this sense that death doesn't come just once, but repeatedly through our present presents. Ending things before they are ended. Removing things that were wonderful to know and experience. Feel, and touch. Turning us forwards away from our steady backwards stare. Pushing us away from loved ones, glad times, and things we might hold onto for too long for their dearness of life to us. But in another sense, death holds the keys of life within its grasp. For wherever death is - so is life. Each defining the other with purpose and meaning. Otherwise there would be no present to move into. Nor a future to think about. There could be no other orientation than that of a black blackness, or nothingness, or lifeless silence. In each, both in death and in life, can be found the habitation of the other. Each defining the other with meaning and prose like two halves of the same coin without which there could be no coin:

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
     Where, O death, is your sting?”[i]
56 The sting of death is sin,
    and the power of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God! He gives to us
   the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
50[For] I declare to you, brothers and sisters,
that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,
nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep,
but we will all be changed -
52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye,
at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound,
the dead will be raised imperishable,
and we will be changed.
53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable,
and the mortal with immortality.
54 When the perishable has been clothed
with the imperishable,
and the mortal with immortality,
then the saying that is written will come true:
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
- 1 Cor 15.50-57

In but a few short sentences and observations the Apostle Paul sums up the Christian hope. That life's completion and fullness is forever fulfilled in the Christ of the Cross where mortality is clothed with immortality, and the perishable with imperishability. It is Christianity's bold proclaim that God's divine presence will forever inhabit creation's seeming voids of presence with purposeful meaning. Its horridness and evil. Threading each broken life into the holy garments of re-creation where each suffering life may find its final completion and rest. Allowing no earthly work to be forgotten. No tearful prayer unheard. No rent passion unfulfilled. No relationship a final finality. Knowing that all who are broken may come through Jesus for immortal healing and life everlasting. And not simply in the next life but, if possible, to begin even now in this very life of our present present in which we live. Possessing lives filled with death with lives filled with eternal hope, love, mercy, forgiveness, kindness, and compassion. Bourne by the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of Christ, whose Spirit pervades and overcomes life's many deaths with life's intended sense of meaning and divine purpose.

This is the Christian hope. A hope that is present in our present present filling us with the knowledge that our pasts our neither meaningless, nor forgotten, but bound up in the presence of the God of life and breath. The God of immortality and purpose. Who holds each life dear though we may hold it too cheaply, and thereby abandon ourselves to despair, to hatred or jealousy, to unforgotten pains, thus allowing death to live within lives (made up of present moments) meant for life. It is this Jesus who brings life to those who are dead. Who wish to live lives filled with fullness and meaning. Bravely facing all future deaths with the promise of ever-present life overcoming each and every death and pain, sorrow and woe, separation, harm, and hurt. Nay, we are not abandoned. We cannot be. Not by a God of life who would overcome all evils with His love and wisdom. It is such a one to whom we would look to, to find life's meaning, and death's demise: "O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? But thanks be to God who has given to us the victory through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

R.E. Slater
October 10, 2013

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