Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday 29 January 2010

We end the week with a quote from Bishop Tutu on Jesus' Ubuntu.

Jesus' ministry was one of identification with the victims of oppression, thus exposing the reality of sin. Liberating them from the power of sin and reconciling them with God and with one another, he restored them to the fullness of their humanity. Therefore the Church's mission is the realization of the wholeness of the human person...Our conviction is that the theologians should have a fuller understanding of living in the streets, for this also means being committed to a lifestyle of solidarity with the poor and the oppressed and involvement in action with them.

I want to comment briefly on the phrase "liberating them from the power of sin." When this is used by many folks, it is used to mean that we religious folk will help deliver people from their "sinful ways." We forget that what is really taking place is that our witness to the Lord, Jesus, is one that liberates people from the power of sin that rules and oppresses and treats people as less than the beloved people they are. The power of sin is part of the everyday reality that does not allow for all people to be free to embrace one another. So when someone is liberated from the power of sin, they are released into a new domain in which they are now called beloved before any other word has the opportunity to shape them and break them. Unfortunately, many who are trying to "liberate people from the power of sin" are, in part, a part of that power of brokenness that attempt to "break" people so that they will give their lives away to a religious organization or movement that is all about counting people like notches on a gun - got one!

Connection: The Church is a living body that embraces without exception. Therefore, the world in which we live today is one that will not step away from anyone. The leading thinkers of the church must be those who think while they are actually embracing the world about which they write and talk.

When you move us, O God, your Spirit patiently pulls us and bids us to come and see your glory as it is present in the least among us. For when they are among us, the opportunities to be come more truly human in your name increases and surprises. Amen.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thursday 28 January 2010

More on Jesus' Ubuntu.

In his ministry Jesus aroused the wrath of the religious establishment by "hobnobbing" with those who were called sinners: the prostitutes and the tax collectors, who collaborated with the hated Roman overlord and were despised for so doing (Mark 2:15-17). In such relation with the despised of society, Jesus declared, "He who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:7-10). He was revealing the self-same God who was biased in favor of the poor, the oppressed, and the outcast, and Jesus ultimately died for being on that side.

That notion about anyone "who has seen me has seen the Father" really has an element of shock to it when we attempt to see ourselves as better than others because we are religious people. When we follow Jesus, we are not better than others - we enter into the lives of others so that no one is outside the circle of God's amazing grace. When we cannot see God in, with, and under everyone we would rather not know or be with - then how can we say we can see God at all? God in Christ, Jesus, is hobnobbing with all of "them" because all of them are beloved and the only way to make sure people hear that word is to be with them as closely as one is with those who are the most beloved to us. In the circle of the loving embrace, people are caught up in a reality that the rest of the world does no call its own. And how far will this love take us? Jesus tells us that - all the way to the cross. He has been there before us and it was not the end as some had hoped.

Connection: Can we learn to love with such deliberate commitment to those for whom we may have a pocket full of prejudices and biases and hatred? We are assured that we can.

When you call us, O God, you call us to follow the way of your Beloved. We most often would go another way. Guide us, O God. Guide us by your Spirit and surprise us again with your loving power. Amen.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wednesday 27 January 2010

A similar line of thought as that which we heard yesterday - Michael Battle on Jesus' Ubuntu.

Through the particularity of a Jewish Jesus, God takes away the sins of the world, and through this priestly act every culture is affirmed as God's proper creation. Consequently, Christ commands his disciples to go into all the ethnoi in the priestly role of baptizing new identities. This was also the promise to Abraham, to make him a blessing to all the nations. Such discipleship need not be oppressive but can provide both affirmation and critique of cultural understandings. For example, Philip affirms the Ethiopian and yet baptizes a new destiny for him (Acts 8:38); and Peter translates a new identity for Cornelius as Peter is in turn converted to see, "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit any one of the other nation; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone common or unclean" (Acts 10:28). The Priestly nature of being a Christian is bound to an understanding of Christ's discipleship in that no one escapes God's judgment of Christ's obedience and all are called to acknowledge that we are made aware of the sinful propensity of all cultures through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Through Christ interdependence is made most intelligible.

I hold onto this "all" that is so much a part of the story of the life, death, resurrection of Jesus. Without it...without its "all" what do we have? I would say nothing at all. I would also say we merely have the world as it is. We have groups of people who claim to "have it" or "have been given it" or "have been given dominion over others." No. This is an eternal "all" that is the power of reconciliation that is the power of the Reign of God - a Reign that no one person or side controls. It is God who opens the door and invites us home to that which is the fullness of our humanity as intended for "all" humanity. Rather than being set on being enemies with one another...we have the potential to be gift to one another and thereby being a part of a whole new world. But those dividing lines...can be demonically powerful.

Connection: Holding onto our own stories, how do we let ourselves be open to the the stories of others so that we can see the amazing gift our God hands us in the shape of the other?!?

Lord of All Creation, we are a stumbling people who too often long to be at war with one another. Guide us into your shalom that brings an end to war and division and makes of it all something quite out of our control. Amen.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday 26 January 2010

This reading about Jesus' Ubuntu takes me in many directions - again Michael Battle.

Then tendency to strip Jesus of his Jewish identity found in Enlightenment-era theologians and biblical scholars prevents understanding the particular as access to the universal by denying that Gentiles were saved through God's election of Israel. Holding to Enlightenment sensibilities, salvation in Christ no longer challenges corrupted forms of identity. In this light, Tutu's Christology becomes an apologetic against theological accounts which seek to justify one racial identity over another.

More and more I find myself moving in the direction of sharing the importance of the sociological and cultural situation of the life of Jesus. Understanding the bits and pieces of the context that help us to see what simple words or actions meant carry us into a widened understanding of what might have been the context of the day. Battles comment about the sticking with the Jewish identity of Jesus as being vital to hearing the the wonderful universal story that claims the world is a part of this study and reflection. We never are to deny the place of the 'chosen' within the story of our Scriptures. Jesus was one of them. And the storytelling that continues, the world is let in and there no longer is a need to keep up ethnic and racial barriers. No longer are some to be insiders and others outsiders. Rather, the doors have been opened and saving God of one particular people is revealed to be the saving God of All. I cannot even imagine what it was for Jesus the Jewish man to step into the life path that he did with intention and a strong sense of calling. Every step would have been out of step. And yet, he walked as though what he was doing was supported by everything he had been taught in his ethnic faith.

Connection: So too is it important to see Jesus in this light as we attempt to step out and be a part of a faithful community that will not abide by the cultural and social guidelines of the day.

Come, O Spirit of the Living God. Come and wrap us all up within the power of your love that will not cease to call us together as one people. Come and bring us all home to you. Amen.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday 25 January 2010

Today we begin Battle's look at Jesus' Ubuntu.

Tutu's Christology is central to his appeal to move beyond racial identity as primary identity as primary identity. Black and white Christians can look to Jesus and see a different reality than that defined by apartheid anthropology. For Tutu, Jesus moves human attention away from finite conceptions of human identity. This movement is like a person's attention to beauty, which is said to be in the eye of the beholder. In other words, who one come to understand Christ to be is determined by who the beholder is. This means that the training of true worship of God (habitual recollection) and discipleship are required for persons to see Christ. As Tutu believes, a correct understanding of Christ "depends on who and where you are and what is going to be pertinent to you." Tutu's Christology depicts both the particularity of Jesus as the Jewish Messiah of Israel and the universality of Jesus as the Messiah of the Gentiles. Both views of a savior joined in Jesus to for a new humanity (Ephesians 2).

In Jesus we see what I have quoted many times before, "the truly human one." In that one who brings us a living vision of the reality of God's Reign that is now among us, we find that the dividing lines that have caused division between people is now gone - forever gone. It is because of this Jesus that we can stand up against such systems as apartheid and simply say No! The way that we learn to say 'no' is through our regular participation in worship - our gathering around the central story that shapes us and the gathering alongside others who have an interest in this story. Worship and the opportunity re-view the story becomes our base line that will bring us into a new possibility to be shaped and guided and confronted. I am always being caught by the voices of our faithful storytelling that pushes me beyond the place in which I usually feel so comfortable. I would submit that it is this "truly human one" who reminds me of where my own humanity can go. That is the start of an amazing journey.

Connection: Let yourself see the expansiveness of God's Reign as it is made known in Jesus. It is quite a practical journey.

Lord of All, when we are pulled into your living Reign, we begin to see beyond ourselves and experience the fullness of your Reign by coming into contact with those we do not know and those with home we will find a path to new life. Guide us, O God. Amen.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday 22 January 2010

I will be using a piece of Battle's comment following from yesterday's devotional piece and try to tie it into the latest actions of division in our country.

...any artificial barriers to separate human beings on the basis of race, status, wealth, gender or age are contrary to God's will and Christians should oppose any enforced separation or discrimination.

To greet me at breakfast this morning was news of the decision by the US Supreme Court to allow for no restrictions on the amount of money corporations may offer to candidates running for election in the US. In other words, a barrier has been set up between average citizens and the "interests" who are now able to direct and lead and bring about a government shaped by the "interests" of corporations. Now, we cannot point fingers unless those fingers also point back at each of us. To be quite honest, we are all a part the corporations that will no have the authority of the law behind their actions to turn the tide of elections in their way. After reading in Luke's gospel and this Sunday's text of Jesus commenting on words from Isaiah, it appears to me that all that Jesus entered into that day is a movement that is contrary to the action of the US Supreme court. Therefore, if we are followers of this Jesus, then we are put in a position to be people who will "opposes any enforced separation or discrimination." It appears that the Supreme Court has ruled against the ordinary, the common, in favor of the "lords" who long to take and keep and maintain power over others. We are in quite a predicament as followers of Jesus who are inspired to follow where we are and in the way of Jesus.

Connection: I'm baffled at this moment. I am profoundly saddened. What would Jesus do in the face of such an action that once again will lead to the captivity of most of God's children by the "power and principalities" whose interest will become even more self-centered?

Lord of Life, again let your Spirit raise us to life that is boldly inspired by your peaceable Reign that brings release to the captives and new life to all who find themselves under the control of the powers that be. Amen.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thursday 21 January 2010

I must admit I did not expect Battle to make this turn but as I hear Tutu's words, a turn to the "green" makes sense.

The Bible sees us living harmoniously with God, with our fellow human beings, and with the rest of God's creation - and so, we must all be "green." We must be concerned about the environment, about pollution, about finding alternative sources of energy, about depleting irreplaceable resources, about the so-called hothouse effect, about damage to the ozone layer, about deforestation, about soil erosion, and the encroachment of the desert - for God has sent us in His world to be stewards of his bounty. We are meant to rule over God's world as God would rule - gently, compassionately, graciously, caringly. We are meant to leave the world a safer and better place than we found it.

I suppose if we are to take seriously this notion of community between me and you and every other part of the community, we must see ourselves within the blessed role of being caretakers of the whole creation - of which we are called to be a blessed gift. As we are reconciling ourselves to one another, it makes sense that we would be a reconciling power within creation - a people who see the necessity to dismantle lines and actions that can become abusive to any and all of creation. God's saving people are to have no limits to what it is that they seek to embrace so as to make all things well and good.

Connection: Did you ever think that simple acts of kindness toward the creation is a part of what it is to follow Jesus? Maybe we need to do more such thinking.

Creating God, as you pull us into the vast domain of your gracious Reign, expand our eyes and our minds so that we may continually catch a glimpse of the expansiveness of your creation and our place within all of it. Amen.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wednesday 20 January 2010

More of the "theological impetus for Ubuntu" - Michael Battle quoting Bishop Tutu.

The only way we can be people is together, black and white and so you say, hey, how can you say people are utterly, ultimately irreconcilable as apartheid says when it separates people. We say, you know the central teaching of our faith is that God in Christ effected reconciliation. God in Christ broke down the middle wall of partition. God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself and our Lord says, "If I be lifted up, I will draw all unto me."...Ephesians says, "Since it was God's intention to bring all things to a unity in Christ, for he our peace, and we are given the glorious ministry of reconciliation."

The lifting up of the Christ is so that we would have a vision of the way of this life that is called reconciliation. We will see a life that is not one in which separation is expected and accepted as the norm for the life we share with one another. Lifted up before all of us who listen to this story of God in Christ is the pathway we are invited to follow. It is not something out of the ordinary. Instead it is quite deeply rooted in the ordinary. It is there, the ordinary of life, that reconciliation really is of utmost importance because it concretely can be applied and applied now. When that takes place, vision becomes something a real as the day unfolding around us.

Connection: We are given "the glorious ministry of reconciliation" - powerful stuff.

O God, who bring the world into avenues of reconciliation, we again ask that you teach us your ways and empower us to embody this grand ministry that comes packaged as each of us who, even now, come before you in prayer. Amen.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tuesday 19 January 2010

Following the MLK holiday, Tutu's Christian theology of Ubuntu fits right into the flow of the character of we honor.

The only way persons and communities can be free is together, despite racial classifications. Human categories and effort will not ultimately achieve the goal of a flourishing community; therefore, an appeal to participate in that which is greater, God, provides the theological impetus for Ubuntu.

Tutu will go on to say that at the center of our teaching is reconciliation. It is there that all people are set free. We are free from all that we think is right and we are free from that which has been shown to be utterly wrong. We are free to welcome the other - no matter what is "other" about them. It is as we stretch across the barriers that we find ourselves. It is as the first followers of Jesus stretched themselves (or maybe we must say were stretched) beyond their world of view and their teaching about the way thing must be that the body of Christ really started taking shape. The walls started to fall and the Church became a community that knew no bounds - unless we say that in Christ all are rescued for new life - forever and ever.

Connection: Again and again, the Spirit of God draws us into opportunities for reconciliation. It is not an easy way to go - but it is so necessary for life within God's Reign.

Wind of Life, you continually present us with a new face on the day. It is often surprising and it can frighten us. And yet, in time...real time, our lives expand and we begin to see the beauty of your Reign. Amen.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thursday 14 January 2010

The need to remind ourselves of the necessity to live together is an ongoing journey - again from Michael Battle.

In his critique of apartheid, Tutu contended that blacks and whites were caught up in false survival schemes which did not recognize that survival, to say nothing of flourishing, requires an understanding that black and white freedoms and identities are inextricably linked.

It is not easy to understand that being linked to those from whom we would rather be separated can be a good thing. And yet, that is our life as followers of Jesus. We are meant to bridge the step over the line of ignore the walls of bitterness and hatred. We are given the life of forgiveness in a world that cannot and will not give this life the time of day. This is our radical journey - always has been. It is out of forgiveness that we are able to really start the day in a new way. This is not the easy way. If it was, Jesus would have listened to Peter and went down another road - one that didn't go to Jerusalem. The story would then be a different story and we would not be remembering it or calling it the Way.

Connection: Yes, as hard as it impossible as it sounds and feels - forgiveness takes us through the divisions and into a new land of hopefulness and joy.

Creating God, we work so hard to create divisions and make sure they are maintained from generation to generation and yet you continue to invited us to go another way. In the power of you Spirit, encourage us to be a part of the healing of your creation and our home. Amen.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wednesday 13 January 2010

Today Ubuntu comes into the realm of everyday politics - again Michael Battle.

Governments around the world spend obscene amounts of money on the arms race when a tine fraction of that same amount would ensure that God's children had clean water and adequate housing. A theological understanding of Ubuntu would not allow government justifications to uproot black people from their ancestral homes and then dump them in the least desirable pieces of property. Tutu explains, "You don't dump people, you dump rubbish. You dump things."

Maybe we don't - for the most part - want to have anything to do with providing what is needed to those who are in need. That's a sad thought. And yet, we are more concerned with securing things than we are of securing people who help us become more of ourselves. This is one of those places when I laugh out loud when people call the U.S or any other nation Christian. If we were followers of Jesus, we would turn our backs to the race for arms and turn our faces toward those who are in need because we would know, like Jesus, the value of even the least among us. It is within that crossing over into the domain of the other that we enter the domain of the Reign of God. As nice as that sounds, it is a radical notion and one that is not greatly appreciated. The land of forgiveness and mercy and kindness and justice is not a place to be involved in nation or empire building. It is a land in which we are able to experience the blowing wind of the Spirit turning things over and presenting life in new and dynamic ways. That can frighten us - but it is also the saving life of all of us.

Connection: Do not be dismayed at small steps that are headed toward God's peaceable Reign. Just the glimpse of that Reign is enough to encourage more movement and more life.

You who call us all beloved and precious, O God, create for us life that is to be abundant and full. Though we may be called many names, inspire us to hear your call everyday so the day will be shaped again by your Word. Amen.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tuesday 12 January 2010

Tutu continues:

It is religion that enables us in a day-to-day living experience of learning, sharing, and caring. Together we come to an understanding of our dependence upon God, and of our interdependence on each other as God's children. It is the recognition of the God in each of us that gives us the key to our future happiness. For if we are interdependent as the whole network of nature declares us to be, we destroy ourselves when we destroy each other.

Communities of faith press us to be shaped within the grand bounds of the expansive Reign of God. It may not always work well, but it is how we move into the promises of God's Reign. It is always a move that is done in the fellowship of others. For when we come to see ourselves as part of more than we are and that "more" is the character of God's loving Reign, our arms are likely to remain open to receive the stranger and the other - so that the community never stops being created anew. The last piece of this quote will stay with me: "we destroy ourselves when we destroy each other." This calls for a love that is able to face differences and face them in all truthfulness. In that way, we may discover that we do not need to destroy each other...rather we can grow in the presence of our differences - differences that are too often allowed to fester until there is dis-ease in the community...and then warfare and destruction.

Connection: What will become of us if we resist destroying the other? We don't have very many historical models to give us a real solid view of such life. So it can begin among us.

God of All Peace, you call us together within a community of new life that always attempts to introduce us to what is not us. It is there that your Spirit pulls us into the gift of your Reign. Amen.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday 11 January 2010

We will continue with "Tutu's Christian Ubuntu."

A human being is a "glorious original" created for existing in a delicate network of relationships. the fundamental law of our being is interdependence, and if this network is interrupted then the whole network breaks. Instead of this rupture Tutu surmises that we are made for "relationships not alienation: for laughter not anger, for love not fear, for peace not war."

There is the need for a "glorious original" - the need for you and me and every other that is a part of our humanity. If we were all of one cloned person, there is a good chance that we would lose a whole part of our identity as humankind. We need what is "glorious" in each individual. We may even gather in groups that are quite homogeneous but...there still must be the "glorious original" that is brought into the mix of things. This is how we develop the character of the community and begin to see the wideness that make us more and more human. As communion exists among us, the community begins to shine with the wondrous glory of God's Reign that is able to shine because each person shines with the love of God and how it can and does become manifest in each person - in a very original manner.

Connection: How will you be a "glorious original" within this day? In fact, don't let it stay a question.
Be a "glorious original" and help build a new day.

How glorious is your creative power, O God. It is a power that never stops building new life - even when we think there can be nothing new. Continue to bless us with gifts that can be shared with others so that your Reign shines brightly - forevermore. Amen.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday 8 January 2010

Here is another way to describe Ubuntu.

In Tutu's address to the Morehouse Medical School, he described Ubuntu as hospitality, as an open and welcoming attitude that is willing to share, to be generous and caring. Ubuntu is the development of the kind of character in a person who proves a neighbor to a stranger and welcomes them as friends. Ubuntu forms knowledge that human existence is caught up and inextricably bound up with God's creation and that a solitary human being is a contradiction in terms. "I need other persons," Tutu concludes, "to become a person myself."

Sometimes, congregations use the word hospitality to describe a portion of the ministry within a congregation. It can be something as basic as providing a way for people to 'stick around' and talk with others. That is a wonderful first step. When a cup of coffee or some snack causes a person to stop and spend a few more minutes within a gathering of other Christians, it can become a time when people are drawn into a caring and sharing circle that has the ability to pull us out of ourselves and enter into the lives of others. There are so many ways to help each of us expand our circle of friends. Beyond a cup of coffee in the gathering space, we are a people whose lives are to be filled with opportunities to let others know who we are and have us discover who the other is. Within that simple moment of hospitality both parties are introduced to a new world - we see beyond ourselves and may even be surprised at how important it is to have these moments.

Connection: I know we are often on the run to "other things" in our lives. But then, we are also running past something that may be a real gift to us.

Lord of the Beloved Community, your Spirit whips around us so that we will continue to have the opportunity to see how you create new life in the midst of all the ordinary relations of the day. We give you thanks for the these gifts within your Reign. Amen.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thursday 7 January 2010

I like this extension of yesterday's piece.

...Tutu's epistemology claims that a person knows other deeper realities such as God and community only by acknowledging and participating in these realities through prayer, meditation, and worship. Tutu's appeal to the mystery of the divine life is not an appeal to ignorance but more specifically to the mystery of persons in God and creation.

We are invited to be engaged with the world around us. We do that as Tutu notes "through prayer, meditation and worship." I immediately thought of some of the hymns we sing in worship. Good hymn writers take on the day and use the images of the world - the whole world - and tie them into the mystery of God with us. Some of the lines of the poetry in hymns move us beyond any fixed conclusions. In many ways, science is one way that we begin to play and pray within the mystery of God's creation. We do it in hymns and that seems alright. We do it in poetic biblical imagery and that is alright. Odd that many say no when science plays with the grand and wonder-filled mystery. No matter what science uncovers...mystery is always present. That is in itself a witness to the wideness and depth of God's creativity.

Connection: I find this to be a very important aspect of all the discussions we are having in the church about GLBT saints. My God continues to gift us with the ability to uncover more and more of the truthfulness of God's creation. We are not assigned the job of limiting that truthfulness.

Be our Light, O God. There are too many days when darkness attempts to rule over the bright light that you have sent into the world. Continue to shine on us and be our path. Amen.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wednesday 6 January 2010

Please excuse the late send. Today we move into some of Tutu's thoughts on God and science.

in the presence of the God of creation, erroneous scientific discourse is seen to leave no room for mystery. Tutu reminds his congregation during the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels that life has a depth that is beyond two dimensions. Tutu resolves that "Jesus leads us into all truth through his Spirit and therefore as a Christian I glory in the tremendous discoveries of science. I do not see science as a rival or enemy of religion. All truth is of God and can never be self-contradicting. We don't have a God who rules only over the areas of human ignorance and as the frontiers of knowledge extend his domain keeps diminishing.

There are many people who turn away from science or are afraid of its work because they think that God's "domain keeps diminishing" as science presses onward. Tutu has a beautiful way of seeing this. All our knowledge...all the things that keep being discovered and opened up to God's people help us to see all things with new eyes - still blessed and sacred eyes and faithful eyes. Science is a part of the whole Word made flesh that is humanity. Our Lord came into the whole scene as it was back in his day. This same Lord comes into world as it is now - with new insights and new ways to look at the common and experience the fullness of life. We need never fear what science uncovers - as though we will lose our God. Rather, our God is actively blessing us with new insights and ways to open up our lives to the ways of God's love that are needed no matter what shapes the world view of the day.

Connection: God's domain never diminishes. I find that powerful and assuring.

Come, Lord of All Time. Come and open up our minds and our lives to the way you bless humanity with abilities to press on to the truth in all ages as that truthfulness unfolds in every day. Amen.l

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tuesday 5 January 2009

Michael Battle continues to engage the Christian theology of Ubuntu with Desmond Tutu as his primary teacher.

A person's identity manifests more clearly in encounter with both the deeper mystery of the unknowable God and the God known in Christ. If only one truly participates in the claim of being made known in the image of God, then a transformation occurs in which an individual becomes a person of personality. Such a transformation results in a more profound understanding of self and community than racial classification. Personhood is now understood in the context of both the unknowable mystery of God and what is known in Christ. This is the terrifying process of losing one's identity in order to emerge in redeemed, interdependent patterns of self-understanding with regard to God, each other, and other selves. Tutu concludes, "What extraordinary creatures we are. Almost the ultimate paradox, but not quite. Here we are utterly finite and limited but made for the infinite. St. Augustine put it well when he said, "Thou (God) has made us for thyself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee."

Again, it is our participation that is beyond ourselves that makes us the person who is in the image of God. For once we move out from our own world and encounter others and the vision of our God, we receive the gift of life that comes through our encounters with others. It really does mean that we lose our identity - as separate and individual - and gain a whole new perspective on life. I suppose, in some ways, the journey we take out into the life of a community with the understanding that God's image is among us, does expand our vision and how we will go about our lives. This may well be what it means to be redeemed or liberated for life abundant within God's Reign. The doors are thrown wide open and we begin to experience the unknown as a place of profound rest that allows us to play with what it means to be children of God.

Connection: Losing oneself is always an odd expression. It is also the source of some anxiety. Then again, when we are drawn into the image of God, we find life can be new and full of comfort and rest.

Lord of the Day, lead us out again into all that is your Reign. Even as we face the existing powers of the day that like to play with us, keep us open to the life that is just beyond what already is. Amen.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Monday 4 January 2010

Blessed New Year. Today we will start a section that is labeled "Tutu's Christian Ubuntu" from Michael Battle.

Ubuntu is a way of knowing in which one's intellectual growth, concerning the manner of God, moves synchronically with whom one becomes in God. Essentially, Tutu solves the problem of Western dualism by embracing the Eastern church's concept of deification or theosis, in which human salvation is understood as participation in the life of God. Concomitantly, this means that sin is not so much a punctiliar occurrence which results in the fall of human begins, but that sin is more akin to an Irenaean account of how human beings mature as they participate more deeply in the divine life.

Some time ago, I ran a series of devotions that were centered around the writing of a couple of Finnish Luther scholars. They too wrote about this notion of theosis which they claim is a part of what they hear in some of Luther's writings. Our life is a "participation in the the life of God." We do not become God. Rather, as we continue in the Word and press on in the richness of such a community that also is in the Word, we begin to reflect the God that creates the community and all who are a part of it. Therefore, when we turn to the 'other,' we do not merely see an 'other' - we see a glimpse of our God. So along the way, we each are walking through a transformation of sorts. It always reminds me of the verse so often put into the form of hymns and songs: "God is love, and all who abide in love, abide in God, and God in them." Wouldn't you think that this idea of theosis is a reminder of the position we are place when we say we are children of God?!

Connection: So...we are an ever-expanding community within God's Reign. It is ever-expanding because as God embraces more people, there are more ways to see who God is among us. We are never left with our own images that often limit our vision and thus our hope.

Shaping God, when you form us into the saints that stand before you and wander through the days of our lives, we know that you give us direction and comfort and encouragement to walk in the ways of your Reign. Inspire us again and again so that your face will be seen among ours. Amen.