Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Faith carries us into the uncharted territories into which we know we need to venture. Faith is not about practicalities and common sense, rather it lies in the courage to see and think something new and different. Watching Jesus rise up before them, like a slow moving rocket; going out into the streets of a city where they were fearful for their lives and speaking languages they never knew before: these are a few acts of faith in which the apostles took part. Faith is the journey led by Jesus into the fears of rejection and death in order to find and discover new life. Faith is the vehicle which carries us beyond time itself. In all the movies, and in an age of technology, we see and read of the exotic opportunities of time travel through the powers of a unique ma-chine. Yet it is not technology that transforms, and crosses such boundaries, but the experience of faith. Every time we share communion, we are sharing a meal with those who have gone before us and those who are yet to be born. The time travel of faith is not about reliving history as we know it in the present, but joining in relationship with life on a larger plane. Sometimes it feels like everything is changing, being challenged or upended. The annual journey of faith with Christ Jesus brings us again to the season of Pentecost. It is in this season, that has been traveled for thousands of times by millions of people, that we weave our lives, our hearts, minds and souls, with the power and presence of God known in the Holy Spirit. With the grounding of such a union we can find deep peace and stillness in the storms of overwhelming change. And in the stillness we can hear the voice of our longing and the longing of a, more powerful than the storm, love of God for us. Faith is also what moves our prayers from being a spoken or thought hope or desire to the under-standing of a living with God in every breath and every beating of our heart. It is the moving of our minds out of their framework of understandings and into a field of mystery and possibility, even in the stress, confusion and deep anxiety we might find otherwise overwhelming. In faith everything becomes valuable, even the blades of grass we walk upon.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Why Jesus and Christianity are vital to good science and better technology; or why we need strong faith, not stubborn belief.
Faith isn’t wishing something to happen, it is diving fully into what is happening. While out at a local restaurant, I was startled to see the waitress take my order on a cell phone. Likewise, when my wife is able to take a payment from the parents of one of her students with a credit card swipe on her phone, I realize that my world has changed – profoundly. Is my religion only a remnant of past eras, causing me to sigh with a desire to escape or go back to an imagined time; or is it the vital core and open door of my present world to see and love more deeply now. Christianity is a religion that is based and understood only in the experience of our humanity. It is the story of God joining us, with love, to be incarnate – part of our very flesh and blood. It was in the recurring events of the resurrection, when Jesus came back from the dead and his followers were able to see, touch and eat with Him that the faith was born. Christianity is not about believing things because they were told to us, but because we have come to see, touch and know the love of God in the world in which actually live. The life of Christian faith is one that cannot be understood or lived by ideas of love or forgiveness; but, by the actual experience of being in love, loving, forgiving and being forgiven. Christianity should be the source of the strength which elevates us beyond our preconceived notions, our biased thoughts, and our cultural understandings; and be open to new possibilities of grace and truth. The journey of Jesus Christ began with the herald of John the Baptist, crying out for all to repent, to return to a God who is active now. Repentance is the act of turning, the possibility of thinking differently, the experience of change in our life. For the new technology, for science and advancements in communica-tions to proceed we cannot rely solely upon new gadgets, restless frustration, isolation, and simply a desire to make more money, if we are to truly progress. Like any good journey, we need both our right and left feet to keep us walking great distances. So, too, we not only need new things but also a capacity for growth, in love and a deeper and more engaged presence – with people who are physically present. We need to have more actual engagement with people beside ourself, where we forgive, learn and listen in ways that can change us. We need to eat together, make music, love, walk and look into each other’s eyes. And with such experiences of intimacy we can find the grounding, the footing that makes other innovation possible. And I can share with joy the moment with a waitress who is excited to show me how her phone takes my order, and with such build a stronger community.
It was in the 1800’s that the great waves of feeling that Jesus was coming back became a major movement in our religious history. And when it appeared that he wasn’t or hadn’t come back there was the “great disappointment”. From this emerged the Adventist Church and others. Later the Scottish theologian Darby wrote an understanding of this disappointment into a way of viewing the faith with terminology that brought into our language, “the rapture”. And now this way of thinking is a major understanding in the American Church. I have read and understood our religious history, but never tied it in very closely with other ways of reading history. And when I began doing such it was startling. How much of this way of thinking of the return of Christ was ignited by the change in our thinking that came about because of the Industrial Revolution, the emergence of Darwinian thought, and the pre-eminence of science and technology as the governing or driving force of society.
It is my experience that in order to hear God, I need to be especially observant; with a unbiased eye that will not just see what I want to see, but what is there before me. I need to let go of my desire to be heard in order to hear, and to be still long enough to actually observe, feel, sense and understand what is being said. Hearing God is not a passive experience, nor is it a simple process: though when God speaks, it is clear enough for any one of any ability to hear, if we so choose.