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
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Walking as Living Spectres and Ghosts in the Graveyards of Life

Earlier this morning I put up several collections of Halloween poems on my poetry site and as I did I could hear the many Christian responses of, "Oh! You can't do that! It's not Christian! You're worshipping the devil! It's the devil's holiday!"

But when you come right down to it, these collections of poems were about the hopes and fears, the superstitions, and churchly beliefs, of men, women, and children, in their day and age - if not the very poet himself, or herself, as they attempted to circumscribe the universe by pen and by will.

And given a thorough reading of poems of this nature one can learn a lot about what people think about life and death, God and man, devil and spirit, when stirred in a cast-iron vat of rhyme and poetic passage. Adding ingredients of heartache, dread, and crushing aloneness, to be ladled out in personal litanies of echoing despair, deep anger, boiling resentment, and hot unfairness.

For the astute observer, its important to pay attention to the raw emotions of people who have spoken, filmed, or sung about their inner demons. Of an uncaring, withdrawn society filled with evil witches and warlocks. To research and meditate upon a culture's perennial observations of life and death so that at some later time we might be better able to speak to the various subjects and themes that come from our worst fears and wandering beliefs.

Beliefs about what we expect of one another or God or, perhaps, don't expect of either. Or, fear to ask. Or, if asked, fear receiving the very response we knew would someday come for voicing our personal complaints and deep displeasures. Or, perhaps saying nothing at all to experiences of injustice, sharp unloving tongues, selfish attitudes, actions, and behavior. Becoming both victim and victimizer.

To pay attention to people's basic fears in the middle of the night as they lay awake in a cold sweat on a disheveled bed tossing and turning unable to sleep. And when slumbering dreaming those dark, ugly nightmares from deep within a pained subconscious. Otherwise, how can we expect to minister to people in the middle of the day when fear has been washed away by the common daylight of human companionship and goodwill?

So, in a sense, Halloween can be an everyday event of the year within our lives. It doesn't simply come-and-go on a dark hollow's eve between the hours of 5:00 to 8:00 pm as impish trick-n-treaters squeal, squawk, and dash about in dizzying delight from one house to the next. Or flee for their lives before fun-luvin' pranksters rising from carefully placed frontyard coffins that creak and groan. Or from scary ghoulish spectres greeting children in darkened doorways boding tasty treats and delights. Or from creepy hanging things dangling unseen off dark trees and wires by thread and bobbin.

No, in another sense (h)alloween is with us every day of the year. It is carried within our hearts overburdened by what we have said or haven't said. Did, or didn't do. Saw, but didn't respond to. Felt, but never voicing the hurts and pains carried deep within us locked up like the crypt of the undead.

Or, if we did, we didn't know how to express ourselves as recovering addicts to life's carousels of whimsical delights and never-ending mendacity's. Looking for the next rush that might invigorate a dulled life too dreary to contemplate its endless days and nights. Leading us further and further away from those deep-seated hurts from a dad, a mom, sibling, or friend, who deeply failed us when we needed them most.

Or, harmed us so that now we walk as the living dead. Zombies to life's beauty unseen, untouched, unfelt, and unheard. Wishing to feast on any so unwise or so foolish to come too close to us. Living with those buried hurts and bitter hatreds of the wrongs we suffered so meaninglessly, cruelly, or meanly at the hands of the very devil himself. Cruel hands pinched in our blood, sweat, and tears.

Nay, this is not a day that is so easily made fun of and then forgotten by some of us still living in ghostly shells knit of vaporous skin and hollow filaments. For some of us the night of the living dead lives each day of our nightmarish lives with no end in sight except more pain and lostness.

For those souls hell is already here with no angel or God in sight. Just the Devil and his cruel brigands of death. And yet, isn't this what the Psalmist felt when abandoned by God and by very mankind itself? Or the prophets who wandered alone prophesying doom and judgment upon a careless people gripped by pride and greed? Or even Jesus Himself bowed of hoary head and weary heart in the Garden of Gethsemane praying alone when He most needed another prayer partner by His side?

Yes, it would be naive to think that God's people have not gone through the deep pains of life. But for those who have, you'll find them on the street with an understanding smile, a helping hand, a serving heart. Behind the cash register, at the waitressing table, in the school room, or on the field coaching kids and adults.

You'll find some amongst those special pastors who fill a pulpit with warmth and wisdom while staying true to their humanity when knowing how deeply inhumane life once was for their own hard pasts. Or that kid's counselor at the youth center willing to help if they are allowed. Or the boss who'll make sure you succeed against every particle of your body that wishes to fail. Or that aunt or uncle who was there all the time but you saw them not.

Yes, looked at again, God and His angels are everywhere about us. But we've gotten so use to fleeing from the crypts and coffins of our lives that we've run right by them with sightless eyes filled with self-loathing and hatred.

Forgetting that the crosses of Easter are just as meaningful this time of the year as the ragged crosses staked into the ground on a Hallow Eve's black night. You just have to pull those raggedy stakes out-of-the-ground-of-your-life and turn them the-other-way-around, away from your heart and soul. And when doing so seeing the one Cross of this world that was placed for all the world to see on a hill named Golgotha. A Cross of freedom, healing, and empowerment.

To be drawn to another graveyard on Calvary's hill knowing that there is a Redeemer-God who received death's hells upon His very self so as to provide a resurrection through His Son Jesus to this life's sins and woes. That in the darkened graveyards of our existence can be raised not ghostly spectres, but what we might become in the power of the living Holy Spirit. And that the candies of this world are no longer the food and meat of a Spirit-filled warrior-believer seeking to live life as it was meant to be lived as a crucified, penitent, servant of the Holy God raised beyond the grave of death's hopelessness.

Nay, if one is going to feast at the table of slaughter-and-ruin let it be on the draculas and demons of our sinful heart slain before the Sonlight of this wicked world before the living God of all. It is He who rules the day and night and none other. Be they demon or ghost in this life it is yet our life to valiantly claim and not so easily lay down before the hellish feasts of another. To place a crucified stake in the ground of belief and say with all authority, "Here I stand with my God and my Savior. Though heaven and earth be moved this day I shall stand in the power of the Holy Spirit and be all that I can be till life expires." Amen

R.E. Slater
October 30, 2014


If God Be For Us Who Can Be Against Us

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[i] against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j]35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Parable of the Grain of Wheat

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

The Son of Man Must Be Lifted Up

27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? Butfor this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

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