God as mystical is just out of reach and yet very much right in our faces. Are we the ones who place God 'out there'? And if we do that, what makes us do that? Are we afraid of how God is really a transformative power that will shake our foundations and rattle our cages? Could it be that the day at hand might take on new meaning and that which is often abstract becomes quite concrete? God as mystical teaches us to look again - experience again - trust again - grab hold of life again. This makes me think of only getting the chance to see the backside of God or to see the bush burning or to engage in that wrestling match at the river Jabbok. From those encounters comes life that is able to be nurtured by God present as we had not expected. God as mystical is shaping who we become right in the flow of the days of our lives.
O God of love and new life, wrestle with us - walk with us - burn within our hearts - give us a glimpse of your holiness and then move us again into that new life you have ready for us. Amen.
God as mystical is often the way we push God 'out there' as though we must find someway to enter into God's presence. That way can be a journey into silence that we think will allow us to experience God's hiddenness. That way can also be the routines and orders of the day that we plan to make our connecting point with this God who is of another place and time. I wonder if we may have this backwards - just wondering. God as mystical is God claiming us and joining us and entering into our time. God as mystical is the removal of all the exercises and disciplines that we have claimed are the ways to experience God. God as mystical may be hanging around us - all the time - in every place - ready to open up our hearts and lives to the fullness of God's Reign that is already raining down upon us before we plan for any meditation or well-developed discipline. God as mystical still is present in those routines we set up for ourselves because God is available and present - always. So there is no need to think that you are not a part of the magical, mystery tour of our God who is awakening all of us to life we think must not be for us.
O God of love and new life, we are ready for the bus of your Reign to take us for a tour of our lives and into the vision of life in your presence. Amen.
God as mystical is that awareness that comes when we are pulled into the stuff around us that we usually do not consider worth our time. It may be the simple act of looking a bit longer at the child who is near us - or the older couple that is sitting just across from us. God as mystical opens up the space of the room so that the whole cosmos - all that is and all that will be and all that has ever been - can be revealed here and now. God as mystical becomes God as incarnate and God with us each day - in every place - available for life.
O God of love and new life, open our eyes and our hearts to your presence. Amen.
God as mystical introduces us to the wider story of the fullness of life. It is not special knowledge as much as it is the widening of our perception of what is. God as mystical is the presentation of life among us that is not the world as it is. God as mystical unveils the powers of the world and reveals the power of life that is available within that which appears to hold no power at all. At that point, those powers are seen within a new light. Those viewed as powerless may exhibit less power than those who are able to show the character traits of the powerful in the world - but even their 'powerlessness' can become the shape of the power of God's Reign. God as mystical is that revelation that takes place when we become aware of the worth of that power. Jesus on his peaceable journey to Jerusalem will overwhelm all the powers who seemed to own the day. I think there had to be a way to let the disciples and all of us in on that peaceable power. Sometimes the vehicle of that revelation is the simplicity of the ordinary power within each of our lives.
O God of love and new life, we long to walk within the glory of your Reign. It is along such a walk that we have our eyes opened to how our lives are supported by the real presence of your Reign - no longer hidden or far off. Thanks be to you, O God of all hopefulness. Amen.
God as mystical is one who makes the ordinary come alive in a way we have yet to see it or experience it. Too often folks see mystical as something stranger than that which is right in front of us. I would like us to think of the mount of the Transfiguration. Up there we hear about the vision of Jesus and Moses and Elijah carrying on in the middle of a cloud or a bright light or simply in front of those three disciples. God as mystical is the reality of Jesus as God in the flesh but we don't really know how to say or see that. So in the story we are handed more than that which we can understand and yet that which is quite available - God with us - Jesus - one that is truly human. Ah, mystical.
O God of love and new life, open our eyes to your life. Amen.
God as 'in Christ' has room for the whole world. This is not a God for one group of people. This is the God who is available for all people. God as 'in Christ' is an invitation to live within the realm of grace that becomes a witness to that grace in real life terms. I do not see our task to be one in which we worry about pulling people into our 'camp'. God as 'in Christ' will do that pulling - that Holy Spirit pulling reveals the life of the Christ among those who are 'in Christ' and all others will see the character of God's Reign. To be 'in Christ' is to have a life among us that may repulse some people and it may be for others a hopefulness that is able to create new life. God as 'in Christ' gives people something to see - to consider - to touch. It is the real presence that we say is a part of the meal of all hopefulness in the Eucharist.
O God of love and new life, feed us and send us. Amen.
God as 'in Christ' is the shape and character of a whole community of people. We - the baptized in Christ, Jesus - are called 'in Christ'. Therefore, our God is present in the life of the whole body. God as 'in Christ' is a statement about who the church is and who the church is to become. Among us the Christ comes alive again and again. Among us, each of us is a part of the unfolding revelation of the Christ and by that, the unfolding presence of our God. I am 'in Christ' but that is not a solo statement. It is always communal. It is always an identity that includes others so that the Reign of God in all of its glory is not my possession - it is a movement of many bodies and people who together give witness to the God's Reign. If you want to see the whole picture - do not look at me. Rather, look at all of us in constant dialogue and full of questions and full of dreams and visions of our God. God as 'in Christ' is a piece of performance art that cannot be captured and owned. It will be what it must be in the time at hand.
O God of love and new life, gather us around the vision of your Reign and lead us into the life that it creates. Amen.
God as 'in Christ' takes the vision of God's Reign and makes the vision come to life in the person we call Jesus. Now others may say that Christ is more than Jesus. I agree. Christ is the title given to Jesus. In his life people saw the unfolding of a promise - a vision - a reality that exposes the very heart of the one we call god. That is why some refer to Jesus as 'God with us' - in the flesh - no longer distant. God as 'in Christ' is imagination meeting reality. Just think of all the images of God's Reign that are scattered throughout Scripture like pieces of bread feeding our hopes and dreams of God's loving presence - they are legion. For different people there are words of encouragement and inspiration and hope that we hear and take to heart. God as 'in Christ' makes something of those words. So for a leper -rejected and thrown away and dehumanized - Jesus (as the Christ) steps forward to touch and include and to dismantle the fears and prejudices God's Reign overcomes. God as 'in Christ' shows up and lives with us and for us.
O God of love and new life, guide us into the way of the Christ. Amen.
God as 'in Christ' is a living reality. That is why I placed 'in Christ' in quotations. It is a way of living. It is seeing the essence of God out and about in the flesh within a specific character that will reveal God and therefore be seen as quite contrary to the character of the world. God as 'in Christ' is not a safe place to be in our world. Often, when people talk about being 'in Christ' it is meant to be a safe place - a protected place - almost a privileged place. But it is not. God as 'in Christ' becomes the fullness of humanity coming to life day-in and day-out in a way that calls into question the way humanity so often runs its course, that is, for one's self - against others - guarded - protected - blaming - violent. God as 'in Christ' brings to life the openness to give one's life away for another. To be involved in such an adventure places us at a point of risk. I may have to risk my place in the world - risk my place in the minds of others - risk my place in my own plans to succeed. God as 'in Christ' is the creative acting out of God's Reign within the ordinary course of a day. That kind of creativity - that sets captives free - that comforts the abused and forgotten - that stands alongside another no matter what might be the consequences, is life call 'in Christ'. We know its texture and flavor when we see it and hear it - so do others. Now, others may not call it 'in Christ' unless, of course, they already know what is to be 'in Christ' - they have been touched by the Good News of God's Reign - they know its everyday smell and feel. Others may never have heard such a life named in such a way.
O God of love and new life, keep us within the embrace of your Reign that we will find our way within the endless bounds of the life of the Christ. Amen.
God as powerfully able to lose may not fill the bill for some folks - maybe most folks. If we have spent much time in church we sing about the immortal, invisible God - the omnipotent God - the eternal God. And yet, how is it that these words cannot be used to tell the story of God as powerfully able to lose. Our God loses! Our God, in the flesh, loses in the realm of the real world. Our God is rejected for being God with us. Our God does not fit into the games of empire or nations or any system of rating that is considered right and good and able to become a winner as the world likes winners. That - is our God. God as powerfully able to lose creates a shaking - a systemic shaking - a cosmic shaking - that disturbs us and disrupts us and angers us. When we are trying to make the world into the world of power and might and right, this God as powerfully able to lose will be an eternal reminder of how we have lost our way. This comes at me personally when I wonder about forgiveness. I wonder about forgiveness because I simply find it beyond what I am able to take on. Holding a grudge - hanging on to fears - denying the worth of the other - maintaining the upper hand, are all more acceptable ways to live. But to forgive - to really let go - to be able to start from zero and begin again (be resurrected) is frightening. God as powerfully able to lose promises to be with us as we take that step into God's holy Reign. Wow - for a coward, that is good to hear.
O God of love and new life, continue to walk with us as we walk within a world in need of the wonder of your love and your character. Amen.
God as powerfully able to lose is how this God wins the day. The world defines the loser as one who is less and one who cannot be on top and rule others. And yet, God as powerfully able to lose is simply living within the boldness of the Reign of God. This can and is seen as losing - losing as in hanging on a cross - losing as in forgiving rather than fighting back - losing as in siding with those who are always being called the losers. Within the last few days I have been thinking of the Missouri football player who let it be known to the public that he was gay and was intending to enter the NFL. He may end up being a loser for this action. Already there have been comments from some General Managers about his numbers dropping off the draft lists for teams. His Missouri teammates knew he was gay and they supported him - but it was a secret. A gay man in a 'macho' sport - a gay man who could probably bring down any of the 'macho' men around him - but rather than be a tough guy, he enters into the realm of loser. He does so not just for himself, but for all the so called 'losers' with whom he now stands. God as powerfully able to lose knows that humanity hates those who lose and those who do not carry themselves as winners or act like winners (winners being the 'norm'). So, God as powerfully able to lose becomes a loser. Yes, even as Jesus - the one who did not fit the bill of a Messiah. God as powerfully able to lose inspires and encourages ordinary people to become characters who are not defined by the world around us - but by the God who endlessly loves and endlessly sides with all.
O God of love and new life, grant us courage to be boldly alive in the face of all things. Amen.
God as powerfully able to lose brings a new light into the thought of losing. This is not losing as in 'throwing the game.' Powerful people throw the game and yet it is most often for their own gain. God as powerfully able to lose is God going along with those who the world has called losers and those made into losers according to the rules of the world. Jesus goes to and through the cross and into the realm of resurrection as one so aligned with all who are rejected that the powers of the world that claim to control the day are left - power-less. Rejection and oppression and blaming others and taking the life of those without power in the world must face the power of a love that let's no one go - under any condition. God as powerfully able to lose brings the light of a new day into play. This is the God who will endlessly bring to life a solidarity with those who are put down - pushed over - dismissed. That takes a power that is quite unknown in the world around us. And yet, God is powerfully able to lose because the powers of death really do not rule - even when all evidence in the world says they do. God as powerfully able to lose teaches us how to laugh when other powers try to run our lives. I like to called that laughing - life in the garden of the Resurrection
O God of love and new life, in the face of what is all around us, remind us to see your power and learn to laugh at all things that break and oppress your beloved people. Amen.
God as powerfully able to lose is wrapped up in the image of Jesus' dead body being taken from the cross and being put into the tomb - dead and gone. Dead and gone - sounds like a loser. From the depths of what appears to be a losing battle, we will witness the resurrection - we will witness the last word being one of forgiveness while Jesus hangs on for the last moments of his life as a loser on another one of the imperial crosses that dispose of people. Go as powerfully able to lose follows through with the way of God's Reign - without compromise - loving and forgiving to what appears to be the end. And yes, it does look like the end. It does look like Jesus loses and the disciples now must go on their way wondering what will come next. And then, God as powerfully able to lose raises up a life that will always be a witness to the powers of the world that are willing to destroy life as they live within the illusion that they are making new lives for themselves. The only new life within a blame-filled, 'us verses them' world is life that steps out and ceaselessly takes hold of the kinds of qualities of life that are so often associated with the weak and outcast and losers - love, forgiveness, self-sacrifice, solidarity with those left out. God as powerfully able to lose keeps giving us options for life even when we are being told there are only certain ways to live.
O God of love and new life, help us step out of the games and into the ever-present life of your Reign that becomes new each day. Amen.