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Weekend Thoughts

May 21, 2012

It has been a weekend of reading, reflection, worship, building new relationships, maintaining existing ones.  Time for sharing a good meal and pleasant conversation with friends.  And time for “mindless” relaxation.

A time to reflect on my process of journeying and becoming….embracing that journey as a type of destination.

A time to review and integrate my reading of the last few weeks, to bring it all together, to marvel that no matter how much I read, how much I learn, God is bigger, better and different than any of my ill-expressed theological thoughts.  He is, and will always remain, a holy mystery that I cannot, and should not attempt to, unravel.  I can never know God, only participate in Him through love, love that is not of myself, but a gift from Him.

From Peter Rollins, How (Not) to Speak of God

To love is to know God precisely because God is love….love must be the first word on our lips, and also the last….we must seek to incarnate that word in the world.  I recently heard a well-known speaker say that if faith does not cost us something, then it is nothing.  Only much later could I respond:  if faith does not cost us everything it is nothing.  Orthodoxy as right belief will cost us little; indeed, it will allow us to sit back on our Pharisaic doctrines, guarding the truth with the purity of our interpretations.  But Orthodoxy, as believing in the right way, as bringing love to the world around us and within us….that will cost us everything.  For to live by that sword, as we all know, is to die by it.

Jesus Christ as He has been witnessed by the Holy Scriptures is the only word of God that we have to hear, to trust in life and death, and to obey.

—the opening statement of the Barmen Confession

I find in the writings of Bonhoeffer an interpretation of the gospel that truly makes sense to me.  His thinking has a clarity that is in my experience unparalleled.  He writes that as we fix our eyes upon Jesus we are not to blind ourselves to the world, for in the divine miracle of Jesus Christ they become one, for Jesus is the reconciler of the world; in Him all creation is redeemed.  To live as a follower of Christ is not to escape life but to live life more fully.

When circumstances made it possible for me to attend university, the very first course I enrolled in was on Myers-Briggs Personality Theory.  It wasn’t that I was terribly interested; in fact I knew nothing about it.  But the course was available almost immediately, and I was anxious to learn; the subject matter was of secondary importance.  But I became interested, indeed very interested.  I was amazed at the results of my personal testing, that a test could describe who I was with such great accuracy and in such detail.  There were reasons I thought the way I did, related to others the way I did.  It was who I was.

Recognizing my interest in spirituality, my professor lent me a copy of Charles J. Keating’s Who We Are Is How We Pray:  Matching Personality and Spirituality.  It remains one of the most personally affirming books I have ever read.  I have long believed that each person’s relationship with God is personal and unique.  I believe that each of us must relate to our Father in our own way.  We must be who we are, otherwise the relationship is not genuine.  To try to relate to God (or anyone else for that matter) in ways that do not fit us will inevitably end in frustration, disappointment and guilt.

Likewise we must read the Bible listening not only for what God has to say to us all, but also for what He has to say for us as individuals.  Our Father does not only speak to His children collectively. He created us as individuals and He loves every one of us as individuals.  He speaks to us very personally, from His heart to ours.

Again from Rollins:

The ways of prayer, fasting, study, meditation, silence and so on have been discovered to aid a relationship with God; however, one person’s method of employing these will not be the same as another’s.  We must not despise another because their use of these is different to our own, and neither should we feel condemned if our use of them is different from those whom we respect and admire.



O God

Early in the morning do I cry unto thee.

Help me to pray,

And to think only of thee.

I cannot pray alone.

In me there is darkness,

But with thee there is light.

I am lonely, but thou leavest me not.

I am feeble in heart, but thou leavest me not.

I am restless, but with thee there is peace.

In me there is bitterness, but with thee there is patience;

Thy ways are past understanding, but

Thou knowest the way for me.

—Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Christmas 1943

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