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Christmas Trees and Solar Flares

sunNow Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God…

Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.” [Exodus 3:1-6, 13-15]

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“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. [John 17:3-12]

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What if… one day you awoke, got your coffee, sat down to share it in company with God, and He were to ask you…

“What is My Name?”

(Now, granted, that hardly seems a fair question when you’re still working on your first coffee… but nonetheless….)

So… here you have His question, and imagine that you haven’t just been prompted by the scripture passages that open this post. Your mind may go to the Isaiah texts… Mighty Counselor, Prince of Peace, Wonderful, Marvelous, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father… or you may think of Jesus’ words and names for the Holy Spirit… Teacher, Comforter, Paraclete… and so on.

For myself, that’s where my mind/spirit went… all these NameS for God. Coffee or no, it seemed as if all of them flew through me in the same moments. Along with all these descriptions of Him… love, truth, goodness, beauty, life, light, righteousness, justice, peace… all that… along with the simpler way Jesus commanded us to address God in prayer… simply “Our Father”, or, more accurately “Daddy”, “Papi”, “Papa”, or “Da”  (some affectionate diminutive paternal form).

Over the next few minutes, as Jesus unfolded some petals of the Rose He had for me that day, along with lingering echoes and after effect ripples for several days after… I came to look upon this question and these answers in a new way, and I thought I’d share them here, and see what you all think, and what your hearts may respond…

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All those “Names” (plural) for God, as noted in scripture are indeed true, good, and right. Yes.

However, when Moses asked the point blank question, God answered with a response of ultimate simplicity and unity.

“I AM who (I) AM.”

Now, that’s just a simple answer. Isn’t it?

But, wait a moment. It is SUCH a simple answer that we sometimes fail to give it much consideration. What does that really say? That’s what the Lord challenged me with, along this ponder. Just to stop a moment and consider what this really means, as I understand the English language.

“I… AM.”

What can be said about these two words? Well, they are the first expression of a “conjugation” of the verb “to be”. Remember? “I am”, “you are”, “he/she/it is”, “we are”, “you (ya’ll) are”, “they are”?  (I know, sorry about that, I don’t mean to trigger any unpleasant 8th grade flashbacks, but this will be meaningful in a moment…) And if you hold a moment, hovering over the concept of “to be” as an Infinitive… it really gets rather impressive. To be, to exist, in any time, in any manner, for any duration, in any form… EVER. Whether physical or not, spiritual, conceptual, potential or actual… ALL that covered by the infinitive “to be”. What’s more, GOD is the “I” form… the First Person Singular.

That was rather where this whole ponder led at its apex… “God is the Ultimate First Person Singular, who gives meaning to the verb “to Be”.

That is God is One, Whole, Undifferentiated, Indivisible, condition of possibility for Existence as a Whole.

We humanly tend to image the Father as a central Power Figure (“God”) like a wondrous Christmas Tree, and then hang all these Names on Him as characteristics…. reminds me of the ornaments hung all around the trunk.

This alternative is more like the Sun, center of our solar system. Composed of hydrogen, helium, oxygen, heavy metals, all sorts of stuff… burning in constant fusion and fission emitting light, heat, gamma radiation, alpha and beta as well… all those characteristics… but from the perspective of the Sun itself… it simply IS. It’s the Sun. It does what the Sun does, all at once, by its very nature. You can’t “parse it” and make any sense of it.

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That… is a tough thought to ponder. But the Lord brought me to realize that there is a huge and fundamental difference between the true statements that “God is Good”, “God is Counselor”, “God is Righteous”, “God is Loving”, “God is Merciful”… ALL these totally TRUE statements… but all of them “incomplete”. As soon as you specify a quality that God has, in a sentence, you grammatically exclude many other equally true statements. As human beings, we tend to bridge this gap with the words “if” or “but”. “God is Love”..BUT “God is Righteous”. or “God is Merciful” BUT “God is Just”. And so on.

The Lord preferred that I not “add to scripture” in this way. Let these true scriptural insights on the nature of God just stand on their own, and absorb the paradox without trying to reconcile it. And second, that I try to step back and embrace God’s actual SELF Definition… the “I AM”.

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Now, to draw this rather suddenly to a close… spend a bit of time just letting the universe and the word “God” expand to the very limits of the infinitive “to be”… and then let that set of petals lead to the second passage… that the Father gives this very name both to Jesus…

And…

According to John 17…

to us.

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More on this later… grace to thee! — The Little Monk

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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“Our Father”… How Beautiful the Feet…

DisciplesWe are making a short journey into the past. We have two destinations. One, a hillside where a new, but highly noted miraculous itinerant Preacher, Jesus of Nazareth, has attracted multitudes of people to hear what He has to teach. Two, another hillside in a quiet moment, where a small band of disciples, learners, have asked this amazing Man to do something He seems extraordinarily qualified to accomplish. They ask Him a question. In both places, in both times, this Teacher gives short simple instructions, on what is a huge cosmic task.

The question Jesus answers, volunteering the information to the Multitudes, and in specific answer to His disciples, the Cosmic Question, is…

“How do we, mere humans, ‘pray’ to Almighty God?”

Jesus, this Man of God, going everywhere healing the sick, cleansing lepers, casting out demons, amazing both crowds and scholars with His understanding of the scriptures, opens His instructions with words that astonish more than anything else they could imagine…

The Tetragrammaton… the word “Yahweh”… that this keyboard cannot type, the Four Letters of “I AM WHO AM”… SO Holy… SO Sacred… the phrase is never written or spoken, merely written as an acronym, and spoken as “The Lord”… THAT GOD… THAT NAME…

Jesus instructs the Multitudes to address THAT God as,

“Our… Father…”

“Our”… yours, mine, his, hers, theirs, them, us, all… “Our”…

“Father”… source, ancestor, progenitor, creator, provider, lover, protector…

Consistent with this whole exercise, I am not going to expand on those words here. I am not going to try to wrap words around the echoes, the song, the harmonies, the height, breadth, depth, of those words in my own garden, my own soul. But I invite you to do so. Hold your Rose in your own hands for a bit of time, gaze on its beauty, savor its fragrance, and let it sing into your own heart. Just, at first, these two words… “Our”… “FATHER!” And imagine how astonishing, how amazing, such words would sound in the ears of those hearers on that Sermon Mount… and, frankly… how astonishing such words are at all!

The only note I would add, once you have savored your Rose for a little space, is to see that when the Disciples asked Jesus to teach THEM to pray, He just taught them to address God as “Father”, and He did not have to instruct them as to the “Our” (the relationships surrounding the Father), or “who is in heaven” to clarify that He spoke indeed of Almighty God, Yahweh (as He chose to unmistakeably define Him for the Multitudes, lest there be any misunderstanding).

To the crowds? “Address God, the Almighty, as ‘Our Father'”

To the Disciples? “Address God as ‘Father'”

In fact, the form of address Jesus chose there was a ‘familiar’ form, the kind used inside the home, in and of family. More akin to “Daddy” in colloquial English, than the much more formal “Father”, in our current typical usage.

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What would it be like to go home, as a spiritual child, a Child of God, see the Father sitting in His favorite chair, and start to speak with Him, simply saying… “Dad?” or “Daddy?” or “Papa?” or whatever familiar, yet respectful, form of address was in use in your family?

Enjoy your Rose, Gentle Reader.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 20, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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