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Worship without but within words…

earth beautifulFrom some years ago…

Sleeping… waken… open eyes… beautiful… lights dancing, but small lights. Seemingly in random motion, yet not… as I rest, relax, cease striving, I see pattern, beauty, praise. This is life itself… rather, Life Himself. Truth, beauty, goodness, love, peace, joy, music, praise, thanks… worship. Somehow, I have wakened inside worship.  How amazing.

“Lord?” I whisper, reverently, sacredly… awed.

And there is caress, a tender hug and enfolding… no words… direct impression of idea… He unspeaks… “Hush… be… I AM… you… be.” Can’t really translate the impression into words. That is as close as I can come. I was simply to exist in Him, and hush. So I did.

And then… I was inside of Someone with no boundaries or limits. Strange, to be inside One Who has no “outside”. But then He spoke, He uttered, and I flowed with that tide, that current from within Him to “other”, to “beyond” Him… He had spoken The Word.

And now, with infinite others, I was inside that Other… Holy Other… spoken forth from the First, from the Prime Mover… still dancing lights, all the same, identical pattern, Life Himself. Truth, beauty, goodness, love, peace, joy, music, praise, thanks… worship. No different, yet different, for now all this worship and praise had an Object, a Focus, the Other, the Prime Mover.

And This One, This Holy One, spoken forth from the Object of His Love, now spoke forth His Own First Word… it was, “Father”, as He wholly and entirely adored the Prime Mover. And again there was movement, the lights, we, flowed from Him, outwards, back to the Father. Amazing.

And then, between them, forevermore, remained that “word” that “bridge” the relationship between Them. And it grew, expanded, encompassing all and everything, in its own light, as This Too became Alive and Whole in and of Himself… the Relationship Between Them, as the Prime Mover spoke again… the word “Son.”

There was nothing to say, nothing to do, nothing to think, but to flow with this Life, this Love, these Words… There was no awareness of anything beyond the moment… the “I”… the “Now”… the “Here”… and Here, was, distinctly, worship.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Oh, sweet irony. I do not wish to speak. I am yet There… and when I “hush”, when I now “relax” and allow Him to draw me into Him with “no distance”, “no apartness”, then my mind stops thinking, there is no more I/Thou, and I am there! Such… no, no words. The sweetness, the joy and light of that, is so immediate, so poignant, that it pierces the heart and soul. Seems strange to say… joy so great it is nearly painful in its intensity. A moment more… then work… then obedience…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

There are some who pray, who have discovered God in Silence. I never understood before. Trappists, Carthusians… My Jesuit father frequently said, if God did not command his obedience and service as a Jesuit, or if the Order ever chose to release him (as he had a request before them to do for years)… he sought to join a Carthusian monastery he knew. I asked why, and he said, “They are forever silent. They live ever in His immediate presence, and hear only Him. God grants me that only when I contemplate… but then commands me to teach. So I obey. But someday, if He grants my wish and reward, I shall be a Carthusian.”

I did not understand. I do now.

The Music! The Harmonies of the Silence! Would that I never again spoke or uttered a sound. The irony. It seems I very much am “my father’s child”. Now, that finally I desire no speech… now I am properly prepared to craft words. Now, it is time… to teach. Though all I would seek is solitude and silence.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2015 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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Continuity and Conservation

earth beautiful 2In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. ..Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good. [Genesis 1:1, 6, 9-10]


God woke me at 4:00 a.m.

Nothing wrong, just a moment suspended in time.

Want to try an experiment? Go get a rock, a little rock, a small stone or large pebble and hold it gently in the palm of your hand. Let it just rest there, calmly and comfortably.

Have you ever wished that you lived in the Gospels? That you lived when Jesus walked the dusty roads of Israel, that you shared His space, breathed His air, heard His voice? Ever wished you were there then? To be one with Him that way would be quite something, no? That oneness, that sense of sharing… how close would you have needed to be to feel it?

Well, this stone in your hand… IT existed then.

I held a roundish, grayish, river stone. This stone witnessed the change of the universe, the rebirth, as Jesus laid down His life on the Cross. The stone didn’t have to “be” there, it simply had to “be”, and it was. God seemed to “replay” this little stone before me… it came from a stream, a river… it was shaped by water… ever… so… slowly. Water rubbed on it, molecule by molecule. Water tumbled it against other rocks and wore it away, molecule by molecule.

But from this, from this stone, God showed me the water… from sky, to drop, to ground, to underground, to stream, to river, to sea, to sky. Side trips through living things… plants… animals… back to earth, to underground, to streams. Over and over, molecules of water… supporting life… insulating the earth in a blanket of warmth… sanding down rocks… tumbling them… Always… always… over and over.

Everything… always… rearranging themselves over and over… but ever present, never destroyed, just rearranged. New relationships of the ever present. The water was here, too… at the Crucifixion, at the Incarnation, at the Exodus, at the Covenant of Abraham, at the Flood, at the Murder of Abel… at the Garden. (Man Science calls this “Principle of Conservation of Matter and Energy”. God just seems to call it “I AM”.)

This stone, this water drop, witnessed all of that… were ever present, in some way or another, through all of that.

Then, God showed me… “Me”. Rearranged matter, rearranged molecules, carbon, water, minerals, lipids… protons, neutrons, electrons, bits bombarded by alpha rays, beta rays, gamma rays, cosmic rays… banged into by neutrinos… yet, yet. I have been always “here”, always “present”, always in “relationship with everything else”.

Why? Because, we were all “born” at the same moment, and we all “came” from the same place. Conscious as myself yet or not? Irrelevant. I was “born”… my protons, neutrons, electrons, energy… I was “born” when God spoke forth Creation and Matter. My “body” came into being, as its substance, in the moment of Creation… with that water drop, with this pebble. With you… with you other… and with you other. With Shakespeare, with Poe, with Abraham, with Cain, with… Adam.

We all… Christian, Moslem, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Obeah… All… are born of the same Divine Womb… born of the Word of God… uttered into Creation in the moment of His utterance.

Our “self-ness”? Our identity? Our “life as we know it”? Our consciousness is born of His consciousness. Our thoughts, our self, by and through the creative force, the praxis, the genesis, innate and inherent in HIS being, HIS assertive love pushing forth “life” and “personhood” from His Person into the Creation as our own.

We are… ALL… FROM Him as source, and “upheld by the power of His word”.

I just had the most amazing awareness of the “irrelevance of time” itself.

That you, I, everyone, rocks, trees, water, all the stars of the heavens, all the microbes of the streams… ALL are one, born of the same womb, brought into physical existence at the Utterance of His Word “in the Beginning”.

And that our AWARENESS of our being… our beingS… is equally in and from Him… source and destination… Him.

We are One. We have ever been One. We will ultimately again be One.

One tradition of worship includes the words…

“Through Him, with Him, in Him… in the unity of the Holy Spirit… One God, Forever and ever. Amen”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This morning, a bit after 4 a.m…. I saw this to be true. I’ve always “believed” by faith, that it is true. Thus, I’ve always “known” it to be true. But, this morning… looking at a small gray stone… I SAW it to be true.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Look at your pebble…

What do YOU see?

 
 

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Before the Beginning — Pt 4 — “First Sleep”

First Sleep

He/She/They bid me come apart for a bit, had me lie down, and, for the first time ever, I knew “sleep”.

It was quite different from sleeps since then. Things changed radically shortly after this first sleep. This was not the healing sleep of recovery from illness or injury. None of that was yet possible. This was not even the sleep of the mind and heart recovery from fears or worries or hurts from others. None of that was yet possible, either.

This was an amazing sleep of oblivious trust. He/She/They took me, I lay down, and there was simply this new word… “sleep”… and I was.

And then, I awoke. Truly awoke, this time, and there before me… right in front of me… there “she” was.

She awoke, I awoke, at precisely the same moment. What a wondrous moment! No words. There are, and were, no words for such a moment. He/She/They just seemed to “glow” in the moment with an indescribable joy. I… I did not know what to say or what to think. I looked into her eyes, as I had learned to do when presented with all new living beings, and I saw her fashioning out of my very own body in His/Her/Their hands.

She was,,, like ME. She was of me, from me. She was, in a sense, me. There was nothing of her that was NOT me, but for her own life as a life opposite me. She reflected me. In our first moments, we moved, and it was synchronous. I raised my hand in the very same moment she raised hers. I looked at her hand as she looked at mine. She stared into my eyes as I stared into hers. In tandem, we looked towards Him/Her/Them with the same expressions of wonder and awe.

I felt the word coming within myself, and I spoke the word aloud… “Woman”, I said. She is/was from me, “Man”. He/She/They responded, “Good”.

I was no longer “alone”, or “sad”. I had my “other”, my own “beloved”.

I heard a truth reverberate from deep within Him/Her/Them/It. I cannot say I understood it completely yet, but I could hear it. I/We, man/woman, were made in the image of Him/Her/Them. We could create through the words birthed in the consciousness we all shared. Our words could “create”, as He/She/They affirmed each word.

I sensed, thus far, only one “mystery”. One thing I felt “should be”, that as yet “was not”, and I asked Him/Her/Them of this.

I had named the animals. I had even named woman. But I had not yet been named myself, and that did not seem right. I could not name myself. No more could the animals name themselves, nor the woman herself. I yet needed to be named. I yet lacked my own name, my own full name. I “knew” somehow, that I was “Adam”… I was the first of men, yes. But there was something more than this, something beyond all this that I lacked.
I could not look into my own eyes. I could not see my own beginnings and destiny. Only He/She/They could do this. I needed yet to be named… but not by myself… by Him/Her/Them! I lacked my own name, as yet.

Feeling my heart on this, hearing my thoughts on this, He/She/They responded. “No fear. Name comes. You will have simple names. You are discovering. Go on. No fear,” and with all that, the simple conclusion, “Good”.
I knew I was not wrong to wonder. I had discovered more new words. “Yearn”, “wait”, “patient”, and the beginnings of “Trust”.

Eve the Woman, and I, Adam the Man, dwelt together. We spoke. We explored. We discovered and created words. All was open, all was light of day or twilight of night, all was new and clean and perfect.

When our awareness extended to Him/Her/Them, the response was always, “Good”.

[To be continued…]

 

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Hearing the Stones!

triumphalentry As they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord has need of it.” They brought it to Jesus, and they threw their coats on the colt and put Jesus on it. As He was going, they were spreading their coats on the road. As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting:

Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord;
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”

When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.” [Luke 19:33-42]

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I have wakened this day, and felt each moment filled since, to the echoes of a single phrase…

“I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”

“I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”

“I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
  “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”

We are surrounded this day, yesterday, every day… by this world, this life, this creation that we — as humans, rational beings, scientists — marvel at and usually readily admit that we do not understand. This creation supports us, sustains us, permits us life, love, relationship, growth, breath, heartbeats.

Isn’t that amazing? We live in a “cocoon”, an incredible supporting matrix that allows life as we know it to go on through time! Does that ever make us stop? Think? Thank? We did not design this. We do not know what makes it run. We could not repair this universe, if somehow it broke down. We are utterly dependent.

And why? Why does this all “work”? That is the even more amazing part. God created… God loved… God quickened, enlivened… God spoke! Yes, all of that. But look! Behold! God not only did all of that… He not only “creat-ed”… but always, at all times, every second, moment, nanosecond… He does… He “creat-es”… He utterly revealed Himself, but IS utterly REVEALING Himself through all that is, that everyone have opportunity to know Him.

I… I almost feel like apologizing here… because in this moment I am experiencing “worship” on a personal level, and normally… those are not moments I share with others. Those are “prayer closet” moments… just me and Him. If they are shared with others, that’s one-on-one, or perhaps a small group prayer or worship. I’ve never been called, or given permission, to sit here typing to blog, in this state.

But perhaps it is this content… this Triumphal Entry thing… that is creating this moment. The people, witnessing the King Himself enter into Jerusalem, are overwhelmed with their amazement and adoration. Regardless of politics, of public reputation and possible problems with the Temple and pharisees, they cry out from their hearts their praises. Their passion overcomes their prudence, and they praise without candor!

A pressure wells up inside, a pressure of Truth itself, of Truth Himself… and they cannot contain it or constrain it. They praise, they adore, they worship, they cry out.

And, they are rebuked. They are criticized, having been threatened and bribed to betray this Truth. The Churchmen, the Church Leaders, the Religious… knowing the threat to their power base that the actual Truth Himself posed… they beseech the Lord to “shush” those proclaiming His glory and His Truth.

And… He… can… not… He says, outright, were He to do so, things would go even MORE badly for the Churchmen. It would not be merely PEOPLE shouting His praise and glory… but Creation Itself… the very stones! O my! *Psst! Pharisees! Be thankful it’s only people, that you can bully and bribe! What would you do if the very environment began to sing for Him?!*

[In seeking a graphic for this post, I came across a blog post from a couple years ago by another minister I had never seen before. The post just wrapped itself into my worship, and pulled me along into the train of Jesus’ following disciples that day. Please have a look at this, and see if it blesses you as strongly as it did me. It just enriched this experience, this moment of worship so much. It made my heart just “amen” with a consistent “Yes!” “Triumphal Entry — Story Behind the Story”. ]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

But here is where this morning leaves me.

This Triumphal Entry… this parade of the victory of Jesus the Christ… came in its precisely correct moment in an incredibly dense weave of moments leading up to the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Pentecost. All these “Lenten Events”… the miracles, the marches, the anointings, the anguished discussions or arguments with Companion Disciples, the raising of Lazarus… all these events heralded what Jesus called His “baptism” as He drank from the cup the Father had prepared for Him from the beginnings of the world.

And we, both as His children, His disciples, His friends… and as part of Creation itself… have our own role to play in this dense weave.

The King has come. He has done all that He was sent to do. Now there is only the finish, the closure, yet to endure. And we can SEE that, ENGAGE that, or not. That is OUR choice.

But whether we do, or whether we don’t… still, it is going on. Still He is revealing Himself.

Where is the chorus? Where are the voices? Where is the wonder? The joy? The Love? The passion?

I am blessed. Many days, there are those around me who “hear the music, and sing along”. Yes. But also, many days I am surrounded by only pharisees… only those trying to “shush the children”. You know them! You hear them! They can be intimidating, can’t they? Some days, they even quench MY spirit.

But then there’s THESE days. There’s these incredible… “‘Hey, Ya’ll! I”m right HERE!’ — Signed, Jesus” Days. There are these days where the very Tide of Worship draws us forth so strongly that it can scarcely be resisted.

So, let us all let go! Let us all yield to that tide. Let us be drawn to Him as He begins to be lifted above the earth in this time.

Let us listen. Let us hear. Let us hum along… Do you hear it? Do you hear the rocks beginning to hum, the trees clearing their throats, the stars tuning their instruments?

No? Well, sometime this week, make some time to get apart with Creation… stars on a clear night away from city lights, back yard garden in early morning, sunrise or sunset, quiet lake or chuckling river, seaside, mountain, or moor… whatever it takes, whatever you have. Just get apart… and LISTEN! Listen to a tree, or the grass, or the stars, or the stones.

Hear them sing, hear them praise Him. Hear them, ever so quietly, call out…

“Hosanna to the King who comes! Hosanna to the Prince of Peace! Hosanna to Our Lord, Our Creator, Our Sustainer, Our Redeemer!”

You may not be able to defeat the Pharisees in your life, but you can get apart from them from time to time… to worship, and acknowledge the wonder who is the Ever Revealing Lover God…

Just a little while more… the Cosmos trembles on the brink of rebirth!

Joy and grace to you in these moments of worship! — The Little Monk

 

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Learning Curve… “I think, therefore…”

Awakening Greetings, Gentle Reader!

I am utterly delighted to announce that the Challenge, the Puzzle I posed yesterday… was solved by none other than Paulfg of Just me being curious.

I had given the hint that it seemed that Adam would have immediately “known” only two things upon opening his eyes… regardless of whether he yet had any “language” with which to characterize or articulate such knowledge. But Paul, in his solution, shows us that there is a third as well… Here is the question, and Paul’s response…

Question: Before anything else happens in the Garden, before there is even speech, just consider this question, “What did Adam… what COULD Adam… know in those first moments when he opened his eyes?”

Paul’s Response:

Thought it might have to have some boring “criteria” 🙂

I sit here imagining. And imagining. Stripping back as much of the “stuff” we all accumulate as I can. And repeat. And repeat. And keep repeating. Until all I ma left with is this:

I am.
We are.

Wow… takes my breath away, Gentle Reader. Never seen anyone do this “on demand” this way… And in recognizing the truth of Paul’s response I added that he has shown me that my hint of “two” truths is inadequate… clearly, there are “three”.

The Truths I had in mind, when Adam opened his eyes and beheld the Face of God in the First Instant of Human Time, were the realizations:

“I am.” and “You are.”

But Paul is absolutely right… there is also… “WE are.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So what, eh? Why is any of this important? Is this just a little game of silly buggers, the sort of thing the Apostle Paul in Corinth called “futile speculations” trying to show off our own wisdom and sophistication? Just so much (blech!) “philosophical stuff”?

Erm, no. No, it’s not.

In fact, just as I’ve been typing this I was struck with an intriguing thought.

What can we KNOW, ASSUREDLY about Adam? Well, simply that… he “wasn’t”, then God fashioned him, then Adam “was”. As God breathed life into/onto him, he became “man”.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. [Genesis 1:26-31]

Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. [Genesis 2:7-9]

What has just struck me in all this was that God “created” through “Word(s)” Some imagery portrays creation through God “speaking”. Some others have posed a creation scenario wherein God “sings”. I love all of that. All things were created through Jesus, the Word of God… and He upholds all things by the word of His power. This is, indeed, a great “mystery”. I have no idea HOW any of this happens, I simply believe THAT it happens (present, as well as past tense), because Scripture says so.

But the thought that struck me was that, as Paulfg so rightly points out, Adam may not have had any command of language at birth. The first “voice” he could have heard was that of God. Now, I fully realize that we cannot say that God did not infuse tremendous knowledge, including language, into Adam upon his awakening… but simply we cannot declare this to be so, as Scripture never addresses this.

(We seldom consider the question… we simply assume all kinds of knowledge for Adam, based on our own human experience. But unlike us, Adam was a bit “feral”. Nature only, no nurture at all but for God Himself. No family, no culture, no language, no “accent”, no “school” or “peer groups”. None of those wondrous background elements that so go without saying in our own lives, who provide information, knowledge, and personality development. We can’t assume any of that.)

Was everything Silent, as he opened his eyes? It may be that birds were singing, frogs croaking, crickets chirping and such… but Adam’s creation was in the “Uttermost West” (as one author puts it), and all the Garden stuff was “east” of this birth site. Or… was there perhaps music? Did the very universe “hum” in this time, as the Music of the Celestial Spheres played out? Did God hum an incredible melody, as His penultimate creation drew his first breaths? Who can say? But wondrous to consider, is it not?

Nonetheless, the point here is that… language and descriptors or not… Adam’s very first realization has to have been simply that he, Adam, WAS… he existed… he was aware and a person. And, looking upon God, comes the immediate recognition that “God is”… that… “You Are”. And with that, as Paul points out, a “new” concept, a “new word” comes into being…. “WE”… that WE ARE. “Relationship” is now a reality in human existence and experience.

Here is the critical truth, the point of this entire exercise.

Even before man is completely formed into the Image of God… before the creation of Eve… (“Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”)… even before God completes the creation of Man/Woman fully in His/Their Image, Adam’s consciousness recognizes Self, Other, and Relationship.

He may not have known anything else yet… Clearly he didn’t realize much ABOUT God yet… he was simple, naked, unaffected by subtleties. He knew nothing of needs, yet. Did he know fear? Unlikely… we learn fear from negative experiences in our history, and Adam has had none yet.

So… there’s the foundation course of stones in the human experience. The ultimate “knowledge” of solo man… “I am”, “God is (You are)”, and “We are”.

So… here’s the next question, the next layer, the next challenge.

“What does Adam then FEEL?” What does he need?

We have to infer this from God’s actions that follow the birth.

Again, Gentle Reader, trust me… this truly has a point. We’re not just batting philosophical baseballs into the firmament. See what you think.

More to come… Grace to thee — The Little Monk

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2015 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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Learning Curve… Beginnings…

Awakening Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven.

Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.

Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. [Genesis 2:1-7]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

There’s this question that keeps coming to me…

“What did Adam know?”

I mean, think about it for a moment. All our preaching/teaching/debate regarding “culture”, “worldview”, the “fallen world”… all that…

A friend spoke to me the other evening about a sermon they heard about Adam at the Creation. He spoke of Adam’s great intellectual endowments and prowess. How magnificent must God’s First Perfect Created Man have been! True… all true…

But I had to respond with a question the Lord has buzzed in me for a long time… “What did he know, in that first instant?”

This all truly has a point which will develop over the next few days, but before that I’d ask that you spend a few moments building the foundation of this discussion and

Imagine… God fashions Adam from the dust of this (new) material universe… God “breathes spirit” into him… Eyes open and here, for the very first time… very first moment in all of history there is…

Human… consciousness…

But… there is nothing else! Adam opens his eyes and sees… the Face of God.

Adam knows nothing about God. No memory. No “intrauterine” memories or sensory stimuli. No parents, no culture, no nursing and nurturing… not even language.

Adam… is the ultimate tabula rasa, the blank slate. God now must grave onto and into Adam all the knowledge, the learning, Adam needs to live fully as a human…

Before anything else happens in the Garden, before there is even speech, just consider this question, “What did Adam… what COULD Adam… know in those first moments when he opened his eyes?”

Until tomorrow…. Grace to thee… The Little Monk

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2015 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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Language of God

spiral-galaxy-ngc1300-nasa-1600This post poses a thought. It’s one of those things that just goes,  “Click!” one day, as you’re praying/studying… something falls into place… with sort of an, “Of course!” feel to it… But, it’s really hard to put into words that would make sense to describe.

I offer this thought here for your perusal, your consideration, your comment. I do NOT present it as being “True to the exclusion of all other understandings or perspectives,” so if you don’t agree, think nothing of it. Feel free to cast it aside.

But…

This thought follows from “Christmas Trees and Solar Flares“, from the indivisible, unparsable nature of God as “I AM”. That “I AM”, is not only God’s Name, but also His Nature… “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is One.” [Deuteronomy 6:4].

I was reading through John 10, as Don Merritt was teaching on the Gospel of John. I was arrested by the following verses, in Jesus’ teaching about His being the Good Shepherd.

“For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.  No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it downI on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father. [John 10:17-18]

I was arrested here. Alarm bells seemed to go off at the word “commandment”. Why? I wasn’t sure. But we see the Lord speak very carefully and clearly, repeating His key concepts, not to be misunderstood, that He will lay down His life by His own choice and His own authority. He speaks of sovereignty, of power, of His right to do this. But THEN, in the very next verse, His concluding verse of this thought, He says, “This COMMANDMENT I received from My Father.”

WHAT?

Now, I realize the obvious implication that in verse 17, He is making clear that no PERSON on earth… not the Sanhedrin, not Caiaphas, not Pilate, has the authority to take His life unless He Himself lays it down. But even so… this juxtaposition of “the authority and autonomy of Jesus”, laid alongside the “trump”, the “overarching authority of the Father”, exerted as a “commandment” to JESUS… jarred me somehow.

It wasn’t a sense that this was WRONG, exactly. No, the truth was there… it fit. But It was the “flavor” of the word “commandment” that just didn’t seem consistent with the heart of the Father in and around His relationship with Jesus, His Son. It was the “hard edges” of the word. The “starkness” of the imperative case. It just… well…. sort of went “clang” in my spiritual ear.

So, (as described in A Really Nifty Tool) I ran the word “ἐντολή (entolē)” to explore this “command” of the Father. As described in the earlier post there, the word is used in some form in the New Testament 67 times. Prayerfully exploring all the “flavors and nuances” of use, it seemed this word is used primarily to reflect the phrase, “utterance of God”… (or someone, “said”). Some of the referents are to what we would consider “Ten Commandments” and “the Law”, and the Spirit seemed to lead to consider these last. “Set them aside for the moment…” seemed the instruction.

Now, again, bear in mind there’s no irreverence here at all… but it’s almost as if God “calmly speaks Truth”, not in a monotone… but in a steady tone of grace, of love, of instruction… and we… man… “interpret” that tone according to whatever posture we hold at the time. Certainly we see this phenomenon among interpreters, translators, of the Bible. Moods and the emotional connotation of one version or another can differ widely according to era, culture, and denomination.

I’m thinking that, just as congregants so often “hear a sermon” according to their need, and what the Holy Spirit writes upon their heart… regardless of what the Holy Spirit had in our own  hearts when we crafted or delivered the message… Just as Scripture continues, time after time, to reveal new truths and insights to the mind and heart of God each and every time we read it, depending on where we find ourselves emotionally and spiritually in those moments… We are subjective creatures, creatures of consciousness. We interpret input according to our own perspective.

Jesus knows that and knew that, and we see Him speak accordingly many times in the Gospels. His discourses carry layers of meaning, according to the attitude and posture of the hearer.

So… what if God the Father… speaks/sings/loves/thinks/creates as the Constant I Am… and His language is simply… “Is-Ness”? For Him to “declare” anything at all… is for that simply “to be”. We may perceive that utterance, that declaration, as whatever we, in our own spirit, need it to be for His purposes of grace?

I started to wonder if when God speaks… He is simply revealing Himself? Always. If, when He speaks, He is opening Himself, teaching, communing with man?

Now… with this new “softened” perspective, Jesus suggested I look again at all those “commandment” verses, including those with reference to “the Law”.

And it was amazing. Suddenly, it seemed as if I could hear God just “teaching”, “instructing” on “how life works”! It was astonishing, amazing!

It’s hard to put this feeling into words. But for many MANY years, I saw “commandments” (whether “Do this!”, or “Don’t do that!”) as being “lines in the sand” drawn by God. He would “command” unpleasant stuff, or “forbid” attractive stuff… just as a “loyalty litmus test” of some sort. As if He commanded Adam and Eve not to eat fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil… simply to “test” them, because He knew that fruit was attractive, appealing, and tasty, and He wanted to see how strong the resolve of our ArchParents!

I remember an incredible day, many years ago, when (having always held this “loyalty check” view), God asked me what difference it would make if He WEREN’T this “model of a mean parent”? What if… His words to Adam and Eve were a well-intentioned WARNING. He said all that could be said at the time… Don’t eat the fruit there, death will result. A simple message. He cares for their needs after that.

It was astonishing to me, turned everything upside down. So… then… what about His “curses” to Adam and Eve when He expels them? What about the expulsion itself?

Again, what if we ascribe only love and benevolence to God? Not pique, temper, or retribution? Well, then we’d have to reinterpret His words, with a different, a loving, heart. Is there any problem with that? No, not really… the words change TONE, and therefore meaning, but they don’t change His words at all. Bearing in mind that particularly now, at the very beginning of the world, Adam and Eve know very little about “how everything is wired”, or “how things will work”. What if God is not being vindictive and petty, but simply explaining that because of what they had set in motion, and the nature of Creation as fashioned by God’s word and power, certain results had been set into motion?

What if all that utterance, in Genesis 3 from 16 through 19, is “statement of the case”? What if, rather  than a vindictive and arbitrary expression of temper  and pique, God’s words are statement (a grieving statement at that), pronouncing the simple Truth of what Adam and Eve had now set into motion? All authority and power, all the dynamic of this situation, are indeed vested in God. He alone, motivates all that is. But the “trajectory” of this arrow of time, has now been deflected from God’s original blessed will, into zones of shadow and “less than the blessed” of its original design.

What if… far from “cursing” them, He was “warning” them, “preparing” them, “blessing” them, for the tribulations to come?

The possibility totally blew my mind. Suddenly, I started looking at the WHOLE Bible, as though it represented the God revealed by Jesus. I could readily see everything God ever did and ever said, once MY heart was changed from “mistrusting His agenda” as petty or vindictive… and realized it is ALL Jesus’ heart. Rejoicing in compassion, grace, forgiveness… grieving with the unavoidable playing out of the Laws of Creation when man stacks the dominoes against ourselves.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Anyway, there’s the thought…

It began as the discomfort of realizing that the word “command” implies both a threat (of punishment if a command is disobeyed), and the attachment of authority and force to one of two or more alternative choices. I could not imagine ANY circumstance wherein, after clearly defining and insisting upon His own authority and autonomy on the disposition of His own life, Jesus would then immediately follow that declaration with its utter negation in the next verse, by the word “command”. Since clearly Jesus isn’t wrong, and cannot be so… then the flaw in the understanding has to come from my interpretation of the Scriptural word used… the Greek word “ἐντολή (entolē)”. Once the homework was done, an entirely new layer of God’s heart seemed to open.

God… as I AM… speaks “Is-Ness” into Creation always. This is an ongoing, wondrous, revelation of Himself, Creation, and our relationships with Him, Creation, and one another. God’s utterances are not arbitrary or spontaneous. He speaks the IS, speaks Existence, only and always. And all of it… ALL… is redemptive, good, loving towards humanity. This, is as HE speaks.

However, how we HEAR… what we perceive as and when we sense Him speaking, will depend on our own subjective posture in that moment and circumstance. We may hear Him as “commanding”, or “threatening”, or “punishing”, or “warning”, or “comforting”, or “illuminating”, or “rejoicing”. He is always Revealing… but what we perceive will vary by our own attitude, need, and focus in those circumstances.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This thought makes many things go, “Click! Aha!” for me…

But I am not so arrogant as to think that it must necessarily do so for you, or that if you utterly reject this as inconsistent with Scripture and your convictions, that you are wrong.  Not at all. And it’s my desire to be very gentle in presenting this thought, along with my interest in any comment or thoughts you may have.

What do you think?

More to come. This all has interesting prayer implications we will look at

Grace to thee — The Little Monk

 

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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