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In the first chapter of the gospel of John the writer tells us that Jesus came to us as the Word – the Logos of God and that this Word became flesh and dwelt among us. In the Cotton Patch Gospels translation, Clarence Jordon translated that phrase as the “Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us.” It goes on to say in this gospel that this Word Who became flesh – Jesus – was “full of grace and truth.” What a lovely and mythic combination. The very embodiment of grace and truth came as flesh, as one of us, to show us exactly who God is and how God lives: full of Grace & Truth.
Beyond the definitions of the words, I know very little about grace and truth, aside from the fact that I am desperate for the former and usually run from the later. But when I look at how Jesus lived and acted and treated people as we have on record in the four gospels, I begin to see just what God’s grace and truth look like: love towards enemies; speaking truth to corrupt power and religiosity; mercy for the poor and the sick and broken – the perfect embodiment of compassion and mercy in flesh and action.
I have been told by Jesus that the Truth will set me free; and I have been told by others much wiser than me that the truth will indeed set me free but not until it is finished with me first. The truth will not only set me free but it will also crush me as well. In my reading, in my life, in being with others on their spiritual journeys, it has also been my experience that the truth is always about death and resurrection simultaneously. I am set free by it, but ego and flesh are sometimes crushed by it as well.
Grace. Well, grace is that disquieting and uncomfortable reality that God loves and accepts us as we are where we are. And there is nothing (not one single thing) I can do that can ever add to or take away from God’s grace and love. God’s grace is now as it was in the beginning – eternal and free flowing.
I have also learned that it is in that space, that creative tension between where I am (wounded) and where God’s grace is (healing) that the amazing gift and work of transformations begins.
So, today we have a guest blog writer whom we shall call Elpis. He is by far one of the most interesting and intelligent friends I have in my ever widening circle of sentient co-conspirators. Enjoy this Guest Blog in all it’s gentile beauty and rawness.
A Nudge from the Moon
So this monk first tells me that I’m long-winded. Then later, that I need an editor. Breathes at me every time I send him an email. And then he asks me to write for his blog on a subject I could talk about endlessly.
My relationship with God.
In the darkness of the summer solstice under the light of the strawberry moon, at 3:04 AM I avowed I had proven the existence of God’s intentionality. It was a lie.
A useful lie, however. One that may tell me the truth about my relationship with God. Because I don’t yet know what that relationship is. Is it one of mutual reciprocity, or is it an alliance? That’s the question I’ve been desperately trying to answer.
What I do know is that God is what is more. I refuse to reduce God to a more explicit definition. The word “more” quantifies God without qualifying God. But the word also necessitates there being something less. God can be many things, but for God to be more, God cannot then be all things. There are obviously arguments against what I’m saying, but this is the one that ended my internal war of questioning God’s existence. “Less” is all that which I think I know. God is what I do not.
I prefer it this way. It is the question that keeps me in the arena. It is the question that inspires beauty. It is the question that frees the soul to dive into the sea and breathe in starlight.
It is amusing to think in images like this, but breathing starlight doesn’t work when you are drowning. In times like this, it sure would be useful to know what my relationship with God actually is. Does God have the power to intervene intentionally? The moon last week gave me my first nudge towards an answer.
As to what that answer may be, I too must only nudge. And like my monk friend, I will do so with a quote.
If, in fact, the moral construct was as simple and as cogent as “unto the seventh
generation,” as conveyed in Native American traditions, then we would have a
liberating directive to end the injunction to make myopic choices based on the need
for immediate profit. I contend that we live in a moral universe and that moral
principles are axial templates within consciousness itself: they are the master
templates of wisdom; they are the codes for Nature’s abundance; they are the
latent possibilities for endless ingenuity and creativity; and they are design fractals
which guide the evolution of higher consciousness in human beings.
James O’Dea, in a blog entry about human wastefulness entitled “Entropy, Negentropy and Our Moral Imagination.”
P.S. Happy Birthday to 2 of the greatest females God has blessed my life with: My Mom, Sandy, would have been 78 years old today; and my divine grace-filled fur-ball Juno turned 12 today
Frederick Buechner is one of my favorite spiritual/religious writers in the world. He is a pastor, an artist, a poet and to top it all off he spent many years in my favorite place in all the world – Vermont. His words on the Incarnation are rich and challenging. EnJoy!
“The word became flesh,” wrote John, “and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). That is what incarnation means. It is untheological. It is unsophisticated. It is undignified. But according to Christianity, it is the way things are.
All religions and philosophies that deny the reality or the significance of the material, the fleshly, the earthbound, are themselves denied. Moses at the burning bush was told to take off his shoes because the ground on which he stood was holy ground (Exodus 3:5), and incarnation means that all ground is holy ground because God not only made it but walked on it, ate and slept and worked and died on it. If we are saved anywhere, we are saved here. And what is saved is not some diaphanous distillation of our bodies and our earth, but our bodies and our earth themselves. Jerusalem becomes the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven like a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:2). Our bodies are sown perishable and raised imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:42).
One of the blunders religious people are particularly fond of making is the attempt to be more spiritual than God.
~ Written by Frederick Buechner and originally published in Wishful Thinking and later in Beyond Words.