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Sunday, August 14, 2005

sunday afternoon blog

This morning we heard a guest preacher, Pastor Danilo Morales; this morning I heard and need to believe some much-needed theology of glory, too! Here are portions of the texts (NIV):

Jeremiah 32:6-15; 24-27

8 "Then, just as the LORD had said, my cousin Hanamel came to me in the courtyard of the guard and said, 'Buy my field at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin. Since it is your right to redeem it and possess it, buy it for yourself.'

"I knew that this was the word of the LORD; 9 so I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel and weighed out for him seventeen shekels of silver...

15 For this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: 'Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.'

...26 Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: 27 "I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?

Matthew 20:1-16

1 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

13 "But he answered one of them ...14 I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?' 16 "So the last will be first, and the first will be last."

Isaiah 42:1-4

1 "Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.
2 He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.
3 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;

A few quotes from Pastor Danilo and some comments from me:

As the preacher said near the start, "against all human logic!" Look at that l-word, logic - same linguistic and conceptual root as the L-word, Logos! Is anything impossible for God? Then he mentioned an "entire life demolished..." and I thought, yes, I know! That's what has happened to me! For me it's embarrassing, because it's not as if doing radical social and political activism had cost me—I simply had been trying to more than survive my own demons I'd actually lived with and thrived in spite of for a long, long time! Pastor Danilo said grace is "not a deserved gift," "beyond our own logic and understanding"; it does seem as if having a little too much control over outcomes is one our many too-human desires?! A while ago I read that being irresponsible is character disorder, while being over-responsible is neurosis, and I'll admit I tend toward over-responsibility (though neurosis and neurotic have no real currency these days). Although I am reasonably bright, often I'm not very intelligent, but I do know my control side is something God needs to work hard to break.

A little more from this morning: God's responds with mysterious grace—once again, beyond our logic, beyond our tameness and timidity. But when we live in Christ, God's logic/Logos/word/Word becomes ours, as our way of thinking and speaking turns reasonable human expectation inside out and upside down as we plan for and wait for the logically improbable and even impossible! The Word of Liberation seems impossible for me today, as does the Word of restoration and the Word of renewal. Pastor Morales' phrase: to redeem all that seems unrecoverable. To buy back—in another economic reality from the Bible. You know about the kinsperson-redeemer? Jeremiah's right to redeem it and possess it...like taking a cents-off or dollars-off coupon down to the store (though these days unless a coupon's worth at least $5.00 it does not seem at all worth my while to redeem it); like the right God assumes for each of us and for all creation in the Redeeming and Reconciling Christ Event.
  • Right/Righteous
  • Justice/The Just - Zeddakim (not sure the transliteration works, but there it is)
There's a story about theologian Joseph Sittler having his vehicle fixed in Israel: when he got his car back (hmmmm...another incident of redemption) with its engine perfectly tuned, he declared it zedaka—justified!

Isaiah 42 and bring forth justice—no self-restoration; no self-generation or self-regeneration and I'll add (please forget John Smith's theologically regrettable history) no self-baptism!

I feel totally stripped of my identity, but not in the good way God peals off unneeded (try adiaphoric) layers. In one of the Narnia books there's a wonderful account of the tightly paired pain and delight in Aslan's de-draggoning; since I don't have it right in my mind (no double meaning intended there) maybe I'll find and reference it later. Those non-essential layers of remembered experience and assumed self are not necessarily immoral or bad in any way, just interfering with the diaphoric essentials—sounds like a hint of the San Diego Presbytery's Essential Tenets, or as we always refer to them, Essential Tenants, as in those necessary lodgers who regularly get their rent in by due date.

I was a Daughter of the Church, daughter of the churches. Drowned, then raised to new life in the waters of baptism, sustained by the Word of Life and the Bread of Life. Here's a passage from one of my July blogs on Desert Spirit's Fire (and here's the entire post):
However, Israel became Israel, receiving the identifying name, not in the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey but in the desert of the trek toward that promised-landed freedom. In the desert's sparse economy, with surprising gifts like water from the rock and manna from the sky, Israel and Yahweh encountered each other into the kind of relationship that later would enable God's people to recognize God's paradoxical self-revelation in the preached Word and proffered sacraments...

Now and here, like Christ Jesus, face-to-face with the world, the church is the incarnation of the fullness of the time of salvation, the era of the Reign of Life; as persons of the ekklesia, of the church, our sacramental liturgies and lifestyles replay God's paradoxical self-revelation in the exodus desert, recognizing and celebrating God's sustaining presence in, with and under creation's commonest stuff, the utmost essentials for life produced from the heart of the earth.
The theological truth remains we are baptized into the vertical and horizontal life of the Church at the same time we are baptized into Jesus Christ's birth, life, death and resurrection. Part of my own truth remains I have no regrets whatsoever about not finishing seminary, despite frequent "what ifs" coupled with that occasional "if only" about not doing an academic theology degree. Literally no one who knew me more than slightly disagreed with me (yep, I do like having the final word but more than that I want to be right) that God had not called me to become a generic pastor. My call to serve in the inner city was so strong and so overwhelming...what now? Talking about truth?! I remain forever both God's daughter and still the Church's Daughter.

This morning I heard and need to believe some much-needed theology of glory: God's Logos-Word, Jesus Christ, is not always logical and rational like the human logos-word—but then again, sometimes it is! Above all God's Word is a faithful Word, as it graciously encompasses and redeems – as it buys back – our brokenness and unfaithfulness, not with pennies-off coupons but with more-than tokens, with realities of infinite value.

1 comment:

cygnus/f3 said...

+Leah, I dropped out of grad school after 3 semesters because I realized that I wasn't a theoretician. There were times when I regretted that decision, but not anymore. In retrospect, that decision was liberation!

Your call to serve an inner-city mission doesn't require an M.Div. Perhaps it would be more of a hindrance than a help?

In short, you're on track!

Peace,
+f