Being the Temple for the World, #5

 

Here is the complete series: 1, 2, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6.

dore-garden-expulsionAs we saw in the last post, humanity was created in God’s image and likeness to be God’s representative in the world (royal-image), and to be God’s very representation in the world (cultic-image).

God’s presence had been given to humanity (indeed, to the entire cosmos since creation is God’s temple-dwelling place), and God’s presence was supposed to spread and fill the earth through the faithful agency of humanity (Gen. 1:28). But all this was lost in the Fall, which is the topic for todays this post.

Failure to Keep God’s Presence: Genesis 3

I’m going to skip the details of what theologians call the Fall, when Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, of why they did it and what it did to them. I’m skipping it not because it isn’t important, but because it is so familiar that we forget that in a sense all of Genesis 3-11 is the record of the Fall, recording the effects sin and death on individuals (Gen. 3) to institutions (Gen. 11).

The most important detail about Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden is not the fact that they are being kept from the Tree of Life. Rather it is the fact that the way back into the Garden is guarded by Cherubim (Gen. 3:24).

Let’s think about this. If I said two security guards are in front of a door you would think something valuable was behind it. If I said two of Secret Service were in front of a door you would think the President was there. If I said two dragons were guarding a door you would think something magical was there. The kind of guards posted tells us about what is there.

So, if who is guarding the door tells us something about what is being guarded, then perhaps the fact that Cherubim guard the Garden tells us something more than merely that humanity was not supposed to eat of the Tree of Life.

Cherubim are almost exclusive found in the very presence of God (around the Ark of God’s presence in Ex. 25: 18-22, and in heavenly visions like Ezekiel in Ez. 10:1-20). We need to understand, then, as every ancient reader would have, that the Cherubim are guarding the presence of God from those who have lost the ability to bear the presence of God. In the Fall, not only do we lose the Garden-Temple and our Image-Bearing mission, but we lose the very presence of God.

In a very real sense, Heaven and Earth are now separated, with humanity being bound to the Earth, and Heaven becoming the primary place of God’s presence.

Failure to Gain God’s Presence: Genesis 11tower-of-babel

But this arrangement is not to the liking of those tower builders of Babel. That God is in Heaven and they on Earth is not tolerated. So they decide to build a tower that “will reach up into Heaven” so that they could “make a name” for themselves.

No longer does humanity want to be God’s representatives nor be God’s very representation on earth, but rather they wanted to make a name for themselves (presumably by overthrowing God from Heaven and installing themselves).

Naturally God does not think this is a great idea, not because God is threatened by such schemes, but because this tactic is the most destructive of humanity and human flourishing.

So humanity fails to regain God’s presence by storming Heaven, reinforcing the very real sense that now humanity (on Earth) is separated from God (in Heaven).

All is Lost! Or is it?

As the Lord’s Prayer teaches us to prayer that the things of Heaven will be on Earth (God’s Kingdom and Will), we have been wondering how it is that Heaven and Earth come together and what does the entire story of Scripture tell us about coming together of Heaven and Earth.

So, the question we should be asking ourselves at the end of reading Genesis 3-11 is “How will the presence of God come to humanity?” because it is impossible for humanity to bring itself into God’s presence (barred from the Garden and thwarted at the Tower).

Well, as we turn to Israel’s Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) we find that although humanity has fallen from Heaven God is going to appear and make a way for humanity to be “with God” and to again bear the image of God in the world.

To this we will turn in the next post.

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Here is the complete series: 1, 2, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6.

Being the Temple for the World, #4

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Here is the complete series: 1, 2, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6.

So we have talked about how Heaven and Earth are best thought as God’s Temple, and that God rests in his temple residence as the ruler of the cosmos.

This naturally leads us to ask, “Ok, so what does humanity have to do with all this?”

Good question. Glad you asked.  Answering this questions leads to an understanding of the nature/purpose of humanity, and then how this was lost and what salvation means (hint: salvation is re-gaining the presence of God).

Image and Likeness of God?

Theologians have debated forever what the image and likeness of God means: what makes us in the image/likeness of God? Is it our spirituality, our immortal soul, our rationality, our creativity? Well yes, but no.  Well, yes and no.

Yes, I believe all of these things are part of humanity in some sense and they inform what being in the image/likeness of God is.  But, as with our understanding of “creation” as focusing more on the function than the material, so too must we consider the function of humanity rather than its material (spirit, soul, body, mind).

Royal Image:

Our first understanding of “image” comes from the practices of rulers to place statues of themselves around their land to remind the inhabitants who is in charge.  The “image” of the ruler is an extension of his rule, marking out the boundaries of his kingdom.  In a sense, humanity serves as representatives of God.  And as God’s representatives God blesses humanity to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28).  As we will see, this “blessing” to be “fruitful” and “multiply” is key in understanding God’s call to Abraham and then Israel.

Cultic Image:

But in addition to this “royal image” we also need to think of the temple context of creation and the garden (something we have been arguing for throughout).

When people build temples for their gods they usually included an “idol” of the god, an “image” that was a representation of the god.  These would be placed in the holy places of the temple.  Of course people understood that they were not the gods themselves, but was a representation of the god.

So, if we are to think of Eden (and the cosmos as a whole) as a temple of God, made by God, then it is reasonable to think that God placed his own “image” in this temple.  Indeed, this is exactly what he has done in humanity, the original “image” or “idol” of God, serving in the temple of God.

Our Function?

Ok, so these are two essential aspects of what it means for humanity to be in the “image and likeness of God”, but still, what does that tell about our function.

In this sense, that humanity is made in the image of God means humanity is to express and extend God’s rule and reign as God’s representatives (royal image), and more intimately, humans are to be representations (cultic image) of God in the world.  Wherever we go God is meant to be seen and known.  This is why God blesses humanity and tells us to be fruitful and multiply.  In a sense, as humanity spreads out and cultivates the earth the living and walking image of God will expand and fill the earth so that God’s presence will likewise fill the earth.

The function of humanity means we are to be representative of God’s kingdom in the world, and more than that, we are actually representation of God

This sets the bar pretty high for what we were created to do.

Unfortunately Adam and Eve almost immediately fell from being a representative and representation of God in the world, and instead wanted to set up their own rule and kingdom (one separated from the word and work of God) (this is what Romans 5:17 tells us, that in Adam sin and death gained a kingdom).

But that is for the next post.

God’s Presence

To sum up, creation is best thought as a place for God’s presence in that it is structured like a cosmic temple, a place for God to rest and rule as his residence.  And humanity was meant to represent this presence of God in the world.

But all is broken now, with God’s presence known as partial and fleeting.  What is God going to do about it?  First he begins to creates a small scale place for his presence, which then turns into a person of his presence, and finally a people of his presence (overview is here).


Here is the complete series: 1, 2, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6.

Being the Temple for the World #3b

god-resting-on-7th-day-granger

Here is the complete series: 1, 2, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6.

(SNARK: I’m hoping to answer, “Everything you didn’t know you didn’t know about it about God resting.”)

Yesterday the post was getting long so I cut it off and will pick it up now (see this for the beginning of the series).

Yesterday we talked about “The Cosmic Temple of Creation: A Dwelling…”, in that heaven and earth were made to be a dwelling place for God to rest.  But what exactly does this means.

The Cosmic Temple of Creation: …For Resting (which is Productive)

If a temple is a place for a god’s dwelling and ruling, then this is what we need to understand by a god resting in a temple.  “Rest” is not a cessation of work, but a sitting down from all the preparatory work to engage in the real work of ruling.  Let me explain.

Rest from enemies

“Rest” in many texts indicate God giving Israel deliverance from their enemies.  When they come into the land they will have “rest” when their enemies have been defeated, and they no long have to worry about them. The “enemies” were making the kingdom disorder and unproductive

Joshua 21:44 (also Josh. 23:1)

And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their ancestors; not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands.

Deut. 12:10-11:  

When you cross over the Jordan and live in the land that the Lord your God is allotting to you, and when he gives you rest from your enemies all around so that you live in safety, then you shall bring everything that I command you to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and your donations, and all your choice votive gifts that you vow to the Lord.

This second one is notable because after “rest” is achieved then they are to go to the place “God will choose as a dwelling” and worship there.  So we have “rest from enemies” linked with God’s “dwelling” in the land. Interesting.

Also, let us turn to a key passage in 2 Samuel 7:1-17.  There we hear that after God had given David “rest” from all his enemies, and David was settles in his house (a palace), David thought about building God a house (a temple).    This is important because it shows us what “rest” from enemies means.  In David’s “rest” (in his house) he didn’t do NOTHING. Rather he was active in the “rest” of his kingdom in a productive manner (desiring to build God a house).  Now that David’s kingdom was secure from external threats he was able to move toward more productive activities.  In a sense, David was now ruling his kingdom rather than just securing it.

God’s Resting Place

What does this mean, then, for Genesis 2:1-2 where it talks about God resting? We usually think this means God finished his work.  But is this the case?  Could it be that God was not read to start his work, the work of ruling the cosmos?

Before we get to this let’s look at Psalm 132: 7-8, 13-14.

7 “Let us go to his dwelling place,
let us worship at his footstool, saying,
8 ‘Arise, Lord, and come to your resting place,
you and the ark of your might.

13 For the Lord has chosen Zion,
he has desired it for his dwelling, saying,
14 “This is my resting place for ever and ever;
here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it.

John Walton (The Lost World of Genesis One, 73) breaks it down this way:

“Here the ‘dwelling place’ of God translates a term that describes the tabernacle and temple, and this is where his footstool (the ark) is located.  This also shows that the text is referring to his dwelling place as this throne roon and the place of his rule (because of the footstool).  I verse 8 the “footstool” is paralleled by the ark, and the temple (“dwelling place”) is paralleled with “resting place” (menuha). This demonstrates that the tmple is the place where he rests.  In verse 13 the text again refers to his dwelling in Zion, thus referring to the temple.  Then verse 14 uses “resting place” (menuha) again identifying it as the place where he is enthroned.  Thus, this Psalm pulls together the ideas of diving rest, temple and enthronement.  God’s “ceasing” (sabat) on the seventh day in Genesis 2:2 leads to his “rest” (nuha), associated with the seventh day in Exodus 20:11.  His “rest” is located in his “resting place” (menuha) in Psalm 132, which also identifies it as the temple from which he rules.  After creation, God takes up his rest and rules from his residence.”

There you have it.  God takes up his rest (the rest from a disorganized and unproductive state of the world in Gen. 1:2) inside the cosmic temple of creation so that God can now rule in his residence (which, again, is the temple—cosmos).

As Walton notes, “This is not new theology for the ancient world—this is what all peoples understood about their gods and their temples.”

Results

So, to sum up.

1) Creation in Genesis 1 and 2 is best thought of as God’s cosmic-temple in which God dwells and rules. In this temple heaven and earth are united because God’s presence is there.

2) “Resting” on the seventh day is not so much the ceasing of work but rather the ability to productively rule and reign.

So, God rested on the seventh day of creation not because he was tired, or ran out of things to do, nor as an example for us overworked people, but because he had finished organizing and giving purpose to a disorganized and unproductive world (in a sense he defeated the enemy).  And when God rested from this work it was so that God would enter into the productive work of ruling (enjoying) his creation. 

Our Rest?

So, to close this off, what does this mean for our own understanding of Sabbath Rest?  How does this change your ideas of what “rest” is?  How can your life be ordered for “rest” and what enemies to you need defeated so you can enter your “rest”?

Add your thoughts in the comments.


Here is the complete series: 1, 2, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6.

BEING THE TEMPLE FOR THE WORLD #3a

 

Here is the complete series: 1, 2, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6.

So I’m getting a little behind on writing up my class notes for “God With Us: Being the Temple for the World” at Life on the Vine.  Today I’ll be summarizing what we talked about two weeks ago.  Hopefully on Friday I’ll post what we did this week.

The overall goal of our class on Sundays (and these posts) asks, “If Jesus told us to pray ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,’ are there other examples of heaven coming to earth? The answers will be definitely, YES.

Last time we talked about a different way to think about God creating in Genesis One by looking at the functions of created things rather than their materials.  We ended with the questions, “If creation has a function, then what is its overall purpose?”  I hinted that “Day Seven” held the key to this in regard to Divine Rest.

The Cosmic Temple of Creation: A Dwelling…

But before we come to God resting on the Seventh Day we have to ask about where God dwells, where God lives.

In the ancient Near East if you asked, “Where is your god?” they would point to a temple.  In one sense everyone knew the god does not actually lives in the temple like a material being, but in another sense, the god was especially available in the temple.  And not just this, but the god ruled its kingdom from the temple.  So the temple is a place of dwelling and ruling.

The question for us is this: Is creation itself thought of as God’s temple?

Creation: God’s Temple

Well before we turn to Genesis we hear God saying in Isaiah 66:1-2: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?  2 Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” Heaven being a throne and earth being a footstool indicate the royal aspect of God’s dwelling place.  The allusion to a “house” always refers to a temple when in connection with God (we aren’t talking about a vacation home or anything).

And in Is. 6:3 we hear that the whole earth is full of God’s glory (the same glory that filled the tabernacle [Ex. 40:34] and temple [1 Kg 8:11]).  Given these and other passages it seems clear that heaven and earth, and therefore all of creation, is in some sense God’s temple where he dwells.

In the Garden of Eden we also see indications and allusions that God has created a temple.  Gregory Beale has summarized the material of his massive The Temple and the Church’s Mission in an article called “Eden, the Temple, and the Church’s Mission in the New Creation” (Download).  There Beale outlines how God walking in the Garden, the lights of the heavens, the flowing rivers, the vegetation, the eastward facing entrance, and many other examples are all aspects mirrored linguistically and structurally in the Jerusalem Temple and other temple visions.  This indicates that readers of Genesis 1 and 2 would have thought of creation/Eden as a temple-like place, full of God’s presence.

Creation: God’s Rest?

Lastly, when ancient readers see that God rested on the seventh day they would have immediately thought that everything preceding was a description of a temple-like structure because gods always rest in a temple.

That gods always rested in a temple is not something we would normally think of because in our post-industrial world we are so busy that when we think of rest we just thing of the ceasing of activity, so we can recharge and get ready for another burst of work.

But ancient readers would have known immediately that for God to rest means that he had taken up resident in his temple, and therefore the preceding 6 days refer to the creation, or more likely, the inauguration of his temple.  The number seven is especially associated with temple construction: Solomon took seven years to build it. Gathered the people on the seventh month to inaugurate it.  The celebrated it for seven days, and then seven more.

But to say that creation is temple-like still doesn’t exactly answer what this temple if for, and what the resting of God has to do with us.
That will be for the next post tomorrow.


Here is the complete series: 1, 2, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6.

BEING THE TEMPLE FOR THE WORLD #2

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here is the complete series: 1, 2, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6.

 

Last Sunday was our second class on “God with Us: Being the Temple for the World.”

(Because not everyone at Life on the Vine is able to made the class, and perhaps others on the inter-webs might be interested, so I’m trying to write up quick summaries of each class.)

After reviewing what we are doing in the class we jumped into a discussion of Genesis One.

Material or Functional Beginnings?

At the beginning of The Little Mermaid, Ariel comes to the Scuttle the seagull asking about certain human artifacts that she has collected.  She pulls out a fork and asks what it is?

What kind of answer does Scuttle give her?  Does he give her a material answer? Does he say, “This is a silver-copper alloy, weighing about 17 ounces and a length of 4 inches and consisting of 3 tines (the pointy parts”?  No, that is not what he says.  And not what we would expect him to say.

Rather, he calls it a “Dinglehopper” and claims that you use it to comb your hair.

Scuttle gives a functional answer, not a material one.

Old Testament scholar, John Walton, in The Lost World of Genesis One, discusses how the ancient world always thought in terms of functional origins (what is something’s purpose) rather than the modern understanding of material origins (what is something’s properties).

When we focus on material origins in scientific worldview we often lose the purpose (or telos) of a thing. And when it comes to the cosmos this leads to a deistic view of God (that God distant and merely fashioned everything and then let it be).

But when we think of functional origin then we can wonder about the purpose of it all (but this is getting ahead of ourselves).

Functions and Functionaries

Turning to Genesis 1:2 we read that the world was “was formless and empty.”  Walton says that this is not primarily a material formlessness, but a functional purposelessness. The world was unproductive and lacking structure.

Turning to the rest of Genesis 1 (the six days), we see God creating Functions and Functionaries (or God is Forming and Filling).

Days 1-3: Functions/Forming

Day 1 = Time (light and dark)
Day 2 = Weather (separation of waters)
Day 3 = Food (vegetation) 

Days 4-6: Functionaries/Filling

Day 4 =  Sun/Moon/Stars
Day 5 = Creatures of the sea/air
Day 6 = Creature of the land/human

After this we talked for a bit about how all this changes the different emphases that we often gravitate toward when reading Genesis one (but I don’t have space to add all of that here).

But, for what purpose?

God, then, was forming and filling the cosmos so as to bring function to the everything.  But what exactly is this purpose?

We find it on the seventh day, the day of rest, but not in the way we usually think.  But that is for next week (HINT: It has to do with “temple” and God’s “presence”).


Here is the complete series: 1, 2, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6.

Not only to Believe, but also to Suffer (Phil. 1 and Prayer)

This morning I read this after hearing of the horrible deaths of 21 Egyptian Christians. “Lord have mercy.”

Phil. 1:27-30:
27 
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. … 
28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

 

 

Invitation to Confession

The saints were faithful unto death
and now dwell in the heavenly kingdom for ever.
As we celebrate their joy,
let us bring to the Lord our sins and weaknesses,
and ask for his mercy.

Kyrie Confession

We are often slow to follow the example of Christ.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

We often fail to be known as Christ’s disciples.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

We often fail to walk the way of the cross.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Collect

Almighty God,
by whose grace and power your holy martyrs in Lybia
triumphed over suffering and was faithful unto death:
strengthen us with your grace,
that we may endure reproach and persecution
and faithfully bear witness to the name
of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Being the Temple for the World #1

Here is the complete series: 1, 2, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6.

 

newjer_02_0On Sunday we started new class on “God with Us: Being the Temple for the World”

I know that not everyone at Life on the Vine could make it, and perhaps others on the inter-webs might be interested, so I’m going to try and write up quick summaries of each class.

We started with the question of “What does the phrase ‘God with us’ make us think about it”?  Answers ranged from this being a comforting promise to it being a truth that can seriously let us down.  Is God ‘with us’ in our ideas, opinions, our community, the world?  And really, how, when, and where is God ‘with us’?  Is “GOD with us” or “God with US”?  And what does this have to do with “salvation”, and “eschatology”, and all those other theological words?

God With Us

After this discussion I began to set the terms and outline for the class.  The first is “God with us.”

When we look at Matthew’s Gospel we see an angel of the Lord come to Joseph and tell him not to put away Mary for the child was from God.  Matthew then tells us that All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,’ which means, ‘God is with us’” (Matt. 1:23).

This statement, Emmanuel, God with us, sets the tone for God’s work in Jesus, that now in a new way God is going to be with humanity.

And we see this confirmed at the end of Matthews Gospel:

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matt. 28: 16-20)

In a sense, Matthew is telling us that God’s work of salvation is not so we can be with God “up” in heaven some day, but that God desires to be with us on earth everyday.

At the end of Revelation we hear of the New Heavens and the New Earth (as one).  A voice declares: “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev. 21: 3).

Heaven and Earth

This allusion to Revelation leads us to our second guiding term, or terms: Heaven and Earth.

Just think of the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father, who are in heaven, hallowed by your name. Your kingdom come; your will be done; on earth as it is in heaven.”

Jesus understands the work of prayer, indeed, the work of God, to be that of bring God’s kingdom rule and kingdom will from heaven down to earth.  These are not mutually exclusive terms, but rather ones that are separated for a time but being slowly brought back together.

The question for this class is “Are there other places, other ways of heaven coming to earth?” beyond just Jesus in the incarnation and the final end, or the finalé, of all creation?

Place, Person, People

The answer is emphatically yes, that God has been and will be “with us” in different ways.  In the following classes we will broadly look at three ways that God has been with us.

First, God’s presence was principally located in a Place, the Temple of Israel.

Second, God’s presence was principally located in a Person, Jesus the Son of God.

Third, God’s presence was principally located in a People, the Church,  new Temple.

But before we get to all this, we are going to start with Genesis 1 and 2 and ask if we can see God’s presence dwelling with humanity at the very beginning and what this might mean for the rest of the story.

So this Sunday we’ll be talking about Genesis One.


Here is the complete series: 1, 2, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6.

Showing up for Advent?

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In this headlong tumble into Christmas it is easy to just show up for Advent. 

Starbucks served “Thanksgiving” blend on the day of Thanksgiving, but then it was right back to “Christmas” blend, an inevitable march from mid-November to December 25th.

We can’t seem to get to Christmas soon enough, with its gifts and vacations, and stresses and families.

But in our rush, do we just show up for Advent, or do we actually expect God to show up in Advent?

DO WE JUST SHOW UP FOR ADVENT?

It is easy to do in our culture, where we running around trying to finish off the year strong, get our friends and family just the things (or just shooting out gift cards because we have no idea what the right thing is).  We have parties, celebrations, and vacations to catch.

Or we are just getting by and can barely hope for something more.

In all of this, are we just showing up for Advent, offering the bare minimum of our selves to God because we have given everything else away.

DO WE HOPE GOD WILL SHOW UP IN ADVENT?

What we really need to do is turn Advent around and think more about what God is doing and wants to do in your life.

Do we have a hope and expectation that God is still at work? Or have we resigned ourselves to the life we now lead, mostly devoid of God’s vibrant presence?

When we look at the stories of Jesus’ birth we find people who were eagerly hoping and expecting God to do something.  Is it any surprise that God arrived in and around those who were hoping he would?

THREE THINGS TO MORE THAN JUST SHOW UP FOR ADVENT

1) Make Room: We need to make room in our lives, in our schedules, in our hearts and our minds for God to arrive.

Maybe this means watching less TV in the evening, or creating a time after dinner with your families, or praying in the morning.  Maybe this means finding regular time for fellowship with others, getting out of the house (or getting people into your house).  Maybe you need to go on a spiritual retreat or go serve the homeless.  It could mean many different things to make room for God to arrive.

2) Watch and Expect: After you have made room, then begin to watch for God, expecting that God will show up.

Maybe God will speak to you in your times of prayer. Maybe God will speak through you in times of fellowship.  Maybe God will come to you in a friend or stranger. And maybe God will come to others in your service.  It is hard to know, and you won’t see it if you don’t expect it and watch for it.

by Henry Ossawa Tanner 1896
Annunciation ~Henry Ossawa Tanner 1896

3) Respond: Lastly, we have to respond.  We have to follow. We have to obey.  While making room and watching might be hard in our busy and distracted lives, we must remember that the response is the whole point.

Mary didn’t come the mother of God because we was devout in prayer (though she was). Nor was it because she had a conversation with an angel (which she did).  Rather, she gave birth to God in the world because she said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

Let us respond similarly.

 

So, how are you making yourselve (your communities) ready for God to show up this Advent?

Please stay connected by subscribing to “Into the Far Country” at the top of the righhand column.  Then you’ll never miss a post.

 

Don’t Look Away; Look Deeper: #Ferguson

imageIt has only been a week since the grand jury in Ferguson returned the decision not to indict Darren Wilson, but it has felt much longer than that.

I’ve been shooting these articles and posts out on Twitter and Facebook over the last couple of days, but for my own sake of remembering and in case you all missed some of them, I’ve gathered what I have thought to be particularly important and informing.


Not just about Ferguson:

First off, this is not only about Ferguson, about what Darren Wilson could or should have done (not done), or what Mike Brown was doing or had done.  It is not that these are irrelevant, but to focus only on these is to miss the forest for the trees.

For a terrible example of this forest from Nov. 22nd (two days before the grand jury decision): Cleveland Police Shoot 12-Year-Old Tamir Rice Within Seconds of Arriving on Scene  (For more, see this editorial)

And more generally, 3 High-Profile Cases of Black Men Killed by Police, Still No Arrests—Why?


The Only Thing to Ponder:

If you don’t read anything else (which you should), please this about “racial bias” and how we need to stop feeling guilty and defensive, even while understanding the responsibility: The new threat: ‘Racism without racists’


As a Follower of Christ:

Advent/Darkness (by Christena Cleveland)

Let #Ferguson Prepare Us For This Season Of Advent (by David Bailey)

Also, An excellent biblical reflection for those who call Christians to just trust the system and respect the judgment: Honor the Outrage: A Reflection on 1 Corinthians 6 and the Ferguson Grand Jury Decision

I Don’t Know Nothin – A post #Ferguson post. (by David Fitch)


About the grand jury:

Justice Scalia Explains What Was Wrong With The Ferguson Grand Jury

If you want to really look into the Grand Jury then see: Ferguson Documents: How The Grand Jury Reached A Decision


Also,

#Ferguson in Pictures
Lastly, my previous posts related to Ferguson:

GRIEVING FOR FERGUSON AND BEYOND

DEEPER THAN WE THOUGHT (1): OUR SOCIETY’S SIN

DEEPER THAN WE THOUGHT (2): THE COLORBLIND RACISM

DEEPER THAN WE THOUGHT (3): DRUG WAR MYTHS

Grieving For Ferguson and Beyond

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(I’m in information overload about Ferguson right now. I can’t sort out my thoughts, which is rare, but I have an overriding feeling: GRIEF)

I grieve for those who think justice was served.
I grieve for those who think justice was ignored.
I grieve for those who lost property.
I grieve for those who destroyed property.
I grieve over death (every death).
I grieve for Ferguson.

I grieve for those confirmed in their opinion about black people.
I grieve for those confirmed in their opinion about white people.
I grieve for those who don’t feel they can trust our justice system.
I grieve for those who are in our justice system.

I grieve for those who do not want to understand the need to grieve these things.
I grieve for those who understand the reasons all too well.
I grieve for those who think they understand.
I grieve for those who know they don’t. 

I grieve that often it seems Black lives don’t matter.
I grieve that often the police see Black Men as enemies rather than citizens.
I grieve that often Black Communities see the police more as occupiers than servants.
I grieve because it is often thought that just because a police force is integrated this will make it trusted and trustworthy for a Black Community. 

I grieve that White people often only SEE the anger
but don’t seek to UNDERSTAND the anger of the Black Community.

I grieve for Mike Brown and his family.
I grieve for Darren Wilson. 

I grieve that I am not sure if I am even grieving the right things.
I grieve that I can’t trust my grief and I dare not to. 

I want to grieve as Christ grieved in the Garden of Gethsemane, over Jerusalem, how he still grieves for the whole world.Gethsemane