Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Redeemer Devotions - 29 June, 2010

Adventures... in Hope - Redeemer Devotions 

   Today we jump to a new section of "The Source of Life" by Jurgen Moltmann called "New spirituality: life against death.
 Who is God's image?    
 God is known in the whole and entire, mutually related, and hence also bodily and sensory community of men and women, parents and children, and in other social relationships.  It is not just the individual who is to correspond to god and reflects his vitality and beauty, it is the whole human community.  It is not only the direct experience of the self (if there is such a thing) which is the place where we encounter the living God; it is rather the social experience of the 'Thou' and the responding 'I'.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Redeemer Devotions - 28 June, 2010

Adventures... in Hope - Redeemer Devotions 

 I'm including Friday's piece with what immediately follows those words - again from Jurgen Moltmann in "The Source of Life.
 Human beings are erotic beings through and through, but their eros can never fulfill its desires in this world because it is animated and attracted by the infinite beauty of God, the highest good, and it is only in God that it can find happiness.  If the soul's hunger loses sight of God, it turns to things which are not God, and is disappointed. Nothing is more dangerous in this world than disappointed love and love that has miscarried.  Disappointed love for God which has missed its mark is the power that destroys, the fury of annihilation.  Ever since Augustine, theology has called this 'original sin'.  The soul that is in search of God divinizes things or powers which are not God, expects too much happiness and security of them, and by doing so destroys them.  Fear awakens in the soul, the fear that things and other people will fail to live up to what we expect of them, and this fear evokes hate of things and hate of the self; and this hate generates aggression and acts of violence
   Is our hunger for God sometimes a hunger for more of what we all ready know and what we already have?  Is that why we are so willing to place a claim on something less than the God who comes and takes us up into God's loving embrace - just because that is what God does?  As Moltmann uses these images he does so in the sense that we often are able to see these limited gods who cannot stand up to time.  Therefore, many often consider everything that is a part of the world something that will disappoint.  We forget that the things of this world disappoint only when we put more power and value in them - value they do not deserve.  I find that it is more of our task to find all things as being a gift that is to be valued for what it is.  My relationships are valued as relationship - they do not rule.  My wealth is a gift that is to be give me the ability to serve others - therefore no matter how much or how little, I can serve.  It is here that we find our place and our power within a world that is blessed with so many possibilities to become the beloved creatures of our God.  We are able to embrace all thing and demonize nothing at all - for we have nothing to fear.
Connection: Don't fear what we may lose - live fully alongside that which is available and present with us as we take on the journey of this day.
 O God of All Creation, you bless us with an abundant life in the midst of all your creation.  Inspire us to see the fullness of its beauty and way it comes together so that all things may thrive and become vitally alive.  Amen.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Redeemer Devotions - 24 June, 2010

Adventures... in Hope - Redeemer Devotions 

  As  Moltmann will point out, our "yearning for the next world" and the way we ignore the messianic hope will direct the way we look at our participation within this new life we are told we have been given.
The consequence was that a mild, non-sensuous spirituality, hostile towards the body, remote from the world, and completely unpolitical, replaced the original Jewish and Christian vitality which lives from God's creative Spirit.  Sins are still equated even today with 'the lusts of the flesh', which are identified with licentiousness, although it is patently obvious that the death-drivers of this world are to be found in the covetousness and greed for power of the God-forsaken, self-deifying souls of modern men and women.
 Could this be why we blow off wall street cheats and war mongers and racists and corporate powers - they do not deal with 'the lust of the flesh"?  How is it that we only label things as indecent if they deal with the body - as in sexuality?  TV and movies are even rated in such a way.  We (people of faith) do not say it is indecent the way we ran into war in Iraq and stay in Afghanistan.  We do not call business indecent unless they deal in porn - therefore, McDonalds is marketed to our children even though it is going to be the death of them.  Odd.  Quite odd.  When we are willing to split up our lives so that spirituality concerns something other, we are less likely to see how corrupt life can be and how it is so often run by powers that really are quite at odd with the vision of God's Reign.
 Connection: Today I just heard an NPR piece that was really quite critical of McDonalds giving away their 'toys' just to make a sale of their food.  Some people are taking action to stop it because of the way children are being used in an unhealthy way by marketing people.  No one has said it is indecent but the piece sure came close to saying that. 
Lord of the New Day, take us up into your Reign that comes to life in the midst of us and makes our lives into a part of your eternal rule.  Amen.

Redeemer Devotions - 25 June, 2010

Adventures... in Hope - Redeemer Devotions 

Today will be part one of Moltmann's comments about humanity desires.
 Human beings are erotic beings through and through, but their eros can never fulfil its desires in this world because it is animated and attracted by the infinite beauty of God, the highest good, and it is only in God that it can find happiness.  If the soul's hunger loses sight of God, it turns to things which are not God, and is disappointed. Nothing is more dangerous in this world than disappointed love and love that has miscarried.  Disappointed love for God which has missed its mark is the power that destroys, the fury of annihilation. 
 Another word for that which is not God and that which we pursue is the path of idolatry - or a false god.  It can be quite anything.  And yet, these things that are not God never are complete and whole and fully satisfying.  They fall short - miss the mark - disappoint.  I was caught up in the last sentence when he writes of disappointed love for God which missed its mark as being "the power that destroys, the fury of annihilation."  Wow, strong images. I know that we will give our lives in order to protect and strengthen and support those things to which we have given over our lives. That can be country - wealth - family - intellectual pursuits - health - status - etc.  Get in the way of someone who has given him/herself over to a love of something less than God and watch out.  This is the stuff that brings about warfare and division and strife - no matter what it will cost.  I wondered again about the simple fact that we do not have to pursue the love of God.  It is an eternal reality that embraces us even as we fly away to other things.  All the more important to remember to "rest in God alone." 
 Connection: God stirs up our hearts to new life and hopefulness.  Other things usually trouble our hearts and launch us into despair - and yet we continue to go after them.
 Loving Lord we long for you alone even when we are drawn to other things we let rule us.  By the power of you Spirit, guide us as we walk through this day.  Amen.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Redeemer Devotions - 23 June, 2010

Adventures... in Hope - Redeemer Devotions 

Today will be a pick up from yesterday and then the material Brueggemann uses next.
 To the extent to which Christianity cut itself off from its Jewish roots and adapted itself to the ancient world, it became a religion of redemption.  
 It gave up eschatological hope and its apocalyptic alternative to 'this world' of violence  and death, and merged into the Gnostic religion of redemption.  Beginning with the church father Justin, the Greek philosopher Plato came to be revered as 'a Christian before Christ' - he had allegedly 'stolen' his good idea from Moses - and was extolled because of his sense of the divine transcendence and his feeling for the values of the ideal, spiritual world
 This yearning for the next world now took the place of the messianic hope. God's Spirit was no longer viewed as 'the source of life'; it was now the Spirit who redeems the soul from the prison of the mortal body.  In the same measure as redemption was spiritualized, the realm of 'the flesh' was reduced to the body and its earthly drives and baser needs.  The Platonic dualism of body and soul and the Gnostic contempt for the body forced Christianity into the mould of a corresponding religion of redemption.  It is true that the theologians of the patristic church fought against this tendency.  They inserted the phrase 'the resurrection of the body' or 'the flesh' into the Apostles Creed, and called 'the flesh' 'the key to salvation' (Tertullian's phrase was caro cardo salutis).  But in popular piety right down to the present day, the conflict between soul and body pushes out the conflict between this transitory world of death and the coming world of eternal life.  Christian obituary notices also show that the Christian hope for the future of the coming God is continually supplanted by an eternity mysticism centered on a God in the world beyond.  The redemption of the soul is conceived of in images of the butterfly that emerges from its chrysalis, or the angel that returns to its home in heaven....
I will only say a few words here.  This is a good, brief historical overview.  Plus, I wrote a whole bunch of stuff and it did not get saved!!!  Enjoy.  When we know a bit about the history of the church and the actions of responsible leaders in days of old, we can learn to make sure the way of Jesus is never allowed to be a journey out of this life - but rather a journey right within the ways and days at hand.
Holy God of all of Time, you awaken us to the way of your glorious Reign that is alive now waiting for us to enter and live fully within your embrace.  We give you thanks. Amen.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Redeemer Devotions - 22 June, 2010

Adventures... in Hope - Redeemer Devotions 

  Today we will hear a little about how we started dividing our lives and making the physical world something negative.
 To the extent to which Christianity cut itself off from its Jewish roots and adapted itself to the ancient world, it became a religion of redemption.  
 It gave up eschatological hope and its apocalyptic alternative to 'this world' of violence  and death, and merged into the Gnostic religion of redemption.  Beginning with the church father Justin, the Greek philosopher Plato came to be revered as 'a Christian before Christ' - he had allegedly 'stolen' his good idea from Moses - and was extolled because of his sense of the divine transcendence and his feeling for the values of the ideal, spiritual world.
 I will include the above stuff again with tomorrow's piece from Brueggemann.  This is a good place to stop for now.  In many ways, this is why some people talk about being a Greek thinker verses holding onto the world view of our Jewish roots.  We took on the division of self and left the shalom or wholeness of our being out in the dark.  Our focus then became something other - another life somewhere else - another life after this one - another thing we can think about and attempt to focus our substance and worth out into some other time and other place.  I cannot be completely critical here.  When life is hard and there appears to be no way things are getting better and it even appears that those who follow in the way of Jesus are being shut down and shut out, the thoughts of another life or another state of being can become attractive.  The result is wonderful devotion and even a strong piety.  The result is also a turning inward and a retreat from the everyday world - the world of Jesus.  Instead, we are left with a cosmic, other-worldly notion of Christianity.  When we talk about being rooted in our Jewish past, we are not talking about an ethnic faith that must be preserved. Rather we are talking about a grounded reality that was and is meant to bring us to life now and make that life vitally important for the welfare of creation.
Connection:  Are you able to live within a faith expression that is willing to let go of the primacy of an after life that is the "goal" of our life here and now?  If so, what does that mean for you?
Lord of Creation, keep us present within the grasp of your living Reign that is at hand holding out to us all the glory of new life that comes in the midst of the next moments of our lives.  Amen.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Redeemer Devotions - 21 June, 2010

Adventures... in Hope - Redeemer Devotions 

  Again, I simply enjoy reading someone who is a theologian of the way of Jesus.  Moltmann is - in someways - a spiritual director who tickles me with new ways of seeing all things in the light of the Christ of God.
 We shall not be redeemer from this earth, so that we could give it up.  We shall be redeemed with it. We shall not be redeemed from the body.  We shall be made eternally alive with the body.  That is why the original  hope of Christians was not turned towards another world in heaven, but looked for the coming of God and his kingdom on this earth.  We human beings are earthly creatures, not candidates for angelic status.  Nor are we here on a visit to be a beautiful star, so as to make our home somewehre else after we die.  We remain true to the earth, for on this earth stood Christ's cross.  His resurrection from the dead is also a resurrection with the dead, and with this blood-soaked earth.  In the light of Christ's resurrection we can already trace the contours of the 'new earth' (Rev. 21:1), where 'death will be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more. (Rev. 21:4).
 We are not moving away.  We are staying put.  The Reign of God that is defined by the life of resurrection is at hand and we are no longer in need of another place to which we will go.  Now is the time and this is the place.  In the Cross of Jesus we see the way to be alive - eternally.  That is, now and forever.  We live within the eternal now that is full of all of God's presence.  God with us - is life - real life - my life and your life.  The mission of the church was the unveiling of the Reign of God as brought to life in Jesus.  It was not merely a story about a good guy - or even a sacrificial lamb.  It was and is about a life that becomes us.  In so many ways, the life of Jesus - that life that goes right on through the cross - is a demonstration of the manner in which all humanity is to be a wonderful unveiling of the stewardship of God's Reign.  It is here and now that we care and share and make sure that as we go along the way - people will see the glory of the Lord, God, among us.  This is a life that is truly "with" all life and not one that attempts to get away "from"all life.
Connection: There is so much here within the limited time we live and the limited spaces through which we move.  And yet, it is here and now that we are given life eternally in the image of God. Go for it.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Redeemer Devotions - 18 June, 2010

Adventures... in Hope - Redeemer Devotions 

I am so sorry about the last two days.  Though the text for yesterday was printed, nothing else made it onto this blog.  I will go ahead and continue with the next portion of Moltmann's work on the spirit and the flesh.
 Where the rebirth of the whole of life is as Advently near as Jesus proclaimed it to be, then the chains begin to hurt.  We can no longer come to terms with them.  We begin to rub ourselves raw on them until they break.  'The crime on the streets is not the worst of it,' said a friend in New York, 'What is far worse is that one gradually gets used to it.' If redemption is close at hand, we stop being accustomed to evil; the habit of mind that accepts it is broken.  then we get up out of our apathy and change things.  I have always thought that the worst sins of all are to get accustomed to injustice and misery, to make oneself small so as not to be noticed, and no longer to feel the humiliations.  'Bend down so low till down don't bother you no more,' said the black slaves in the southern states of America.  But they didn't follow that advice.  They fought for their liberty, even though they were forced to suffer in the struggle, and many of them lost their lives.
 As followers of Jesus, we cannot sit back and look on at what is happening around us as though we have a better place to go - in a better time than now.  God is breaking into this time and this place - that is Advent.  It is at hand.  I would submit that we can be so used to what is evil that it is what is considered ordinary and normal.  That is a disease among us - that is sin in full infection mode.  I won't even point at the sin of corporations and governments as that can all be quite obvious (even though we do nothing about it). Instead, how is it that we learn to live with who we are and how we like the world to run?  How is it that we settle for our own perceptions of the world and how we want it?  How is it that we will give up connections with others because we are convinced that our way of seeing and living is the way everyone else would work if they all got it right?!  The example of the slave bending down until down "don't bother you no more," reminds me of that Quaker hymn I quote to myself and other quite a bit:  "When true simplicity is found - to bow and to bend you shall not be afraid - to turn, turn will be our delight - till turning, turning you come down right."
Connection: We begin now to be within the Advent of our God that faces the day with the vision of the real, down-to-earth life that comes within the Reign of God.
Stir up our hearts, O God, and in your coming among us move us to live in your ways. Amen.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Redeemer Devotions - 17 June, 2010

Adventures... in Hope - Redeemer Devotions 

 It appears as though this devotion did not make it out yesterday as was written so - Today Moltmann takes a look at where it is that we get this notion of the body being negative.
To the degree to which we sense the first stirrings of true life, we also become aware of the degree to which life has miscarried.  In the dayspring colours of their new creation, the things of the world become manifest in their unredeemedness.  what we had thought was 'quite natural', because we saw no alternative, becomes evident as profoundly unnatural in the light of redemption.  With the first experience of the life-giving Spirit of God we simultaneously hear the deep 'sighing' of unredeemed creation round about us, and we ourselves begin to long for the redemption of the body from the destiny of death (Romans 8:22f).  We do not yearn at all for the soul to be redeemed from  its fragile body.  What we long for is the eternal coming-alive of the body (Rom. 8:11).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Redeemer Devotions - 16 June, 2010

Adventures... in Hope - Redeemer Devotions 

 Today Moltmann takes a look at where it is that we get this notion of the body being negative.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Redeemer Devotions - 15 June, 2010

Adventures... in Hope - Redeemer Devotions 

More insights about the spirit and the flesh - from "The Source of Life" by Jurgen Moltmann.

 The origin of the life that has missed the mark and miscarried - that which is traditionally called 'sin' - is not located in the sensuality of the body at all, with its allegedly lower drives and needs.  It is to be found in the disorientation of people as a whole, and therefore pre-eminently in their souls and wills, if these have surrendered to the death-drive of evil.  We all probably find ourselves again and again in such situations, in which we have to live but actually cannot live, so that we surrender to our misery.  The origin of true life, on the other hand, is not the soul with its feelings, nor the mind with its reasoning power, nor the will with its determination.  It is a person's life as a whole, which comes to its flowering in the nearness of God which that person experiences, and in the warmth of God's love.  This touches the body with its senses as well as the soul with its feelings and understanding and will.  We could talk about a rebirth to true life out of the life-drive of the Holy Spirit. 
 Once again, the way to explain ourselves is not to side with one aspect of our reality or another.  We are to look at all of life.  In many ways, it really makes it hard to point at folks and make judgments about where they stand in regard to the Reign of God.  It is not very easy to know the depths of another.  In fact, it is not easy to be in touch with our own depths so that we can take account of the healing and brokenness within all that is us.  Moltmann has not yet talked about community.  I would suggest that it is the faithful community that enables the individual to take a look at the condition of our whole life.  The community will pull us beyond our ways of controlling and our ways of attempting to win the day.  Rather, we are pulled into relationships.  In relationships, we are presented with a mirror so that we will see what we do not want to see and even that which we cannot see.  In such an atmosphere as this, we have the opportunity to blossom as others feed us with the vision of God's Reign all around us. 
Connection: So, that warmth of God's love is near and at hand - not far off or hidden.
 Lord of the Day help us to see the fullness of life that is draped around us in and through this day as you are present with us.  Amen

Monday, June 14, 2010

Redeemer Devotions - 14 June, 2010

Adventures... in Hope - Redeemer Devotions 

Today's piece shows how Moltmann can offer poetic imagery while offering up good theological insights - more on the spirit and the flesh.

 The ancient and modern, religious and philosophical apocalyptists say, with T.W. Adorno: 'There is no true life in a life that is false.'  But those who believer that in Christ the redeemer is already present, and those who sense in themselves the first signs of the life of God's Spirit, know that in fact true life does already exist in the midst of the life that is false.  The future has already begun.  The conflict between the rising sun and the departing shadows of the night is already being fought out.  There is already a struggle for justice against injustice, and a protest of life against the forces of death.  This conflict is experienced in every Christian existence as a conflict between a life ensouled by God's Spirit of life and a life which, faint-hearted and apathetic, bears the marks of the sickness unto death.  Paul calls the first life 'spirit', and the second 'flesh'.  In each case he means life as a whole, body, soul and spirit.  Life 'according to the flesh' is a life that has miscarried, life that has strayed into contradiction with itself, life which suffers from the bacilli of death.  Life 'in the Spirit', on the other hand, is true life, which is completely the wholly living, life in the divine power of the life, life which has found the broad space in the marvellous nearness of God.
"The broad space in the marvelous nearness of God" - that is the everyday life of all who are within the realm of God's beloved grasp and embrace.  It does not get any better than that.  Today - this moment - the next look up from this computer and the next word typed - is that marvelous nearness of God.  Oh we may not see like that most of the time.  We may even want to be the ones to define what that will mean.  And yet, that nearness is already in place.  It is the gift that is able to sustain us even as we gripe and throw fits and want the world to revolve around us.  This is not meant to be a rosy picture.  It is more vital than that - it is a realistic picture - it is truth at hand.  I don't like to paint things rosy because the paint peels off and the cracks reappear.  Therefore, in the midst of a cracking and peeling world there is a promise to bring life into this wholly holy moment that is our lives - now.  When we are open to seeing such a reality - in spite of the conditions abound us - we then have the opportunity to become a part of that holy life that not only become us - it become the building blocks of a new people, a new community, a new vision that opens up those times in our lives that appear to be leading to a dead end.
Connection: We are being invited into hopefulness.  Even when we are made sick by that which we see and hear within this day, we are invited into a new life - a promise - a beginning of joy.
Come, Holy Spirit.  Come and take us again into the broad space in the marvelous nearness of God.  We are already there, but you O Spirit of Life, teach us to walk within its power and abiding presence. Amen.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Redeemer Devotions - 11 June, 2010

Adventures... in Hope - Redeemer Devotions 

 Today I will be using some of Moltmann's writing on "the spirit" and "the flesh."
 Paul uses these two terms, spirit and flesh, to describe the conflicts which are evoked through Christian experience in this world; but he means something quite different by them from what spontaneously occurs to us when we use the words.  'Spirit' has nothing to do with the brain, and 'flesh' has nothing to do with the muscles of our body.  Essentially the apostle was an apocalyptist, and he thinks about world history in terms of two great world aeons.  Here we have the transitory world-time of sin and death; there we shall see the new world-time of righteousness, justice and eternal life.  When God sent the Messiah Jesus into this world, and raised him 'from the dead', the time of the new world already dawned in the midst of the time of this old one. 'The night is far gone, the day is at hand' (Romans 13:12): that describes the Christian sense of time.
 'The time of the new world already dawned.'  This is not talk about a physical world verses one that is not physical.  Here and now we walk in the midst of all of it - the brokenness and the corruption - the creative wind of life and resurrection.  What have with Jesus is the way of being resurrection power in the midst of all the same-old, same-old stuff of our everyday life.  That - will mean a transformation of life even as life does not want to be transformed.  So, I suppose, our days are filled with wrestling with all that life brings our way.  Wrestling with God as we wrestle with the experiences that make up the day.  Wrestling with the life of resurrection and trying to get a handle on what is means for how all things are seen and all things are experienced.  Wrestling with vision and hope in times that seems blind and hopeless. 
Connection: Don't run to easy answers when we are meant to be wrestlers whose whole lives are thrown into a day that is mixed up and full of adventure.
Lord of Life, shake us up and open our eyes.  Guide us so that we are not only able to see what is in front of us.  Keep us open to the life of promise that is also very at hand and real.  Amen.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Redeemer Devotions - 10 June, 2010

Adventures... in Hope - Redeemer Devotions 

  We continue on with Moltmann on spirituality.
 'The body belongs to the Lord', declares Paul, and who would contradict him?  But he goes on: 'and the Lord belongs to the body', so 'glorify God in your body' (1 Corinthians 6:13).  That is unheard of, and has hardly been understood right down to the present day.  It wasn't Paul who talked about 'God and the soul'; it was Augustine.  and he did so in order to leave the body, nature and 'this world' behind.  How did we come to move away from the vitality of a life lived wholly and entirely out of God to the spirituality of a disembodied inwardness, a not-of-this-world life in God?  Can we turn back again and rediscover the origin of the divine Spirit which makes us free to live?
 Nothing is left behind.  This is it.  This is the fullness of God's creation and we live in the midst of it all as God's beloved - whole beings.  We do not and cannot separate out the parts of us.  We be one whole being!  With that as our guiding vision, nothing is left out or left behind.  In fact, all things are empowered to be a part of the whole of creation  and we leave out nothing.  We encourage life to be upheld and expanded.  No longer can we separate lives into spiritual kinds of things and fleshy kinds of things.  There is no separation.  Because of that, all of life is vitally important.  We don't just pray - we act.  We don't just act - we pray.  The two actions are to be as though they are one -  a life full of Spirit and direction and intention.
Connection:  So how is your life today. How is the whole thing and can you fell whether or not your are wholly present?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Redeemer Devotions - 9 June, 2010

Adventures... in Hope - Redeemer Devotions 

 Today is a direct follow-up to the train of thought from yesterday where there was no divide between spirit and body.  Again from "The Source of Life" by Jurgen Moltmann in the chapter 'Life's New Spirituality."
 In the tempest of the divine Spirit of life, the final springtime of the whole creation begins, according to the Christian hope, and the people who already experience the Spirit's power here and now sense how vital and how worth loving their life again becomes.  When this Spirit is 'poured out upon all flesh', the sick, the frail and mortal body becomes 'the temple of the Holy Spirit'.
 And this Spirit is being pour out.  That is part of our foundational storytelling.  The church becomes the church as the Spirit spill out upon all flesh and we are able to see life that was previously not a part of the picture we were allowed to see. With this Spirit being poured out like that - on all flesh - what flesh could possibly be left out - what flesh could possibly left out of the creative movement of the Holy Spirit from generation to generation?  Today, we have too many folks who cannot envision the Spirit still making a mess of things.  That is, being poured out anew and moving life into new directions within life that some think must be "just so" and not "just like THAT."  It cannot be said enough that this does not mean that anything goes. Rather, I would suggest that we no longer have control or think we can have control.  Within the vision of the Reign of God, the Spirit has quite a bit of room to pull and push and tip us over to make us ready to step into what is not yet - even as we are anxious about every single step.  All along the way the Spirit lead us - all of us ordinary folk - we are being transformed into that temple of the Holy Spirit that is filled with all truth and grace and mercy.
Connection: So how is it that we let fear and anxiety rule us when something that is not yet is proposed among us?  This is for all of us to remember - not just "those" folks.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Redeemer Devotions - 8 June, 2010

Adventures... in Hope - Redeemer Devotions 

Yesterday Moltmann commented on the split in life that is often considered when we are talking about spirituality.  He continues:
But is this interpretation of spirituality biblical?  We find nothing of this in the Hebrew Bible or Judaism.  There God's Spirit, Yahweh's ruach, is the life-force of created beings and the living space in which they can grow and develop.  god's blessing enhances vitality and does not quench the joy of living.  The nearness of God makes this mortal life worth living, not something to be despised.  We do not find anything comparable in the New Testament or in Christianity's original messianic traditions either.  There God's Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, and the life-force of the resurrection of the death which, starting from Easter, is 'poured out on all flesh' so that it may live eternally.  this doesn't just mean people's souls.   It means their bodies too. It doesn't mean just the 'flesh' of human beings: it means the "flesh" of everything living. 
 We underestimate the notion of Spirit and therefore lock it away with certain kinds of experiences.  I enjoy hearing about this spirit as vitality.  It is as though it is really all about all of life and the fullness of life therein.  If that is the case, this "spirit" engages us in and through all things.  It is what brings all things to life - life in the fullest.  It also seems as though we are not simply talking about an individual spirituality.  We are talking about the vitality of all of creation.  What a wonder-filled expression!  In that sense, I guess, we are wandering in and through a spiritual realm that is as real as the people around us - the smells in the air - the interaction between humans and our relationship with the animals and plants that make up all of creation.  So...I suppose, our spirituality is that which connects us to the reality that is all around us.  No need to go off and retreat (although retreating can be good) because we are in the midst of the vitality of God's creative Spirit even - now.
 Connection: Ordinary spirituality is simply that ordinary - but an ordinary that is viewed with a new lens.
 Come, O Spirit of Life.  Come and open our eyes and open our lives that we will not simply walk by all that is blossoming forth within the domain of your creative Spirit.  Amen.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Redeemer Devotions - 7 June, 2010

Adventures... in Hope - Redeemer Devotions 

This week we switch over to another resource for these weekday devotions.  You might notice that the themes will be similar - not so much sabbath as breath of life.  We begin from Jurgen Moltmann's short book "The Source of Life" in a chapter called "life's new spirituality."
....people often set spiritual experiences over against lower, sensory ones.  Whatever is 'spiritual' and 'not of the flesh' is higher than the fleshly pleasures of the senses.  The one is inward, the other external; the one profound, the other superficial; the one reflective, the other thoughtless.  But the result is that 'spirituality' sets up an antithesis that splits life into two and quenches its vitality.  In novels and films, priests and pastors are generally depicted as somewhat unworldly and cut off from ordinary life, even though through the hearing of confessions and pastoral care they know more about the shadows and torments of normal life than do the writers and film-makers.
 This hits on a theme that I sing quite a bit.  We are two eager to set up a "now and then" or a "this world and the next" or a "spiritual life and an everyday life."  I don't think that is necessary - nor is it healthy.  In fact, I do not think it is biblical.  The Reign of God come among us - you know, the old: in, with, and under.  We are not called to be a people who can turn 'spiritual' switches on and off.  We are a part of an integrated whole that is all of creation.  Our reflection is tied to our action.  Our action is that upon which we reflect and emerges from our reflections.  Our moments of the day that befuddle us and trouble us and offer us moments of utter joy are all a part of an eternity of promise that is too often associated with another dimension of life.  I admire people who are able to be so aware of the moments at hand that their reflections are both quite simple and amazingly profound.  Nothing needs to escape us because it is simply labeled ordinary.   Instead the ordinary - the common - the familiar - the routine - is a part of the eternal we long to see and experience.  And yet, we too quickly push it off as not worthy of the name "spiritual" or "spirituality."  Could it be that we make spirituality something about that which is beyond us because we are afraid that what is so much a part of us is not under the care and devotion and love of God?  I think differently than that.  God is with us.  That is an image full of vitality and spirit and life.
Connection: What is the ordinary around you telling you about you and "them" and the whole story of God's eternal love for all?  Just look around - NOW - don't wait.
Lord of Eternity, we reside in this moment and it passes before we know we are in the midst of it.  And yet, in this moment - moment after moment - you arrive to be with us and pull us into your unfolding Reign.  Inspire us to entertain the fullness of your eternity even now.  Amen.