Thursday, July 30, 2009

"Reading" for Relationship, a Quotation from Sandra Schneiders

I'm reading a book by Sandra Schneiders called The Revelatory Text: Interpreting the New Testament as Sacred Scripture. Schneiders describes scripture as a "text of meeting" with God, rather than as a codification of propositions. Tellingly, I first came across the book in an essay on "Reading for Transformation." I'm sharing a quotation here from it contrasting two ways of understanding the purpose of scripture and the two ways of reading which follow. Of course, as Schneiders would point out, it is not just scripture but the whole world that we can "read" towards this end, that God would meet us in, that God would "self-disclose" through.
If scripture is understood as a repository of divinely revealed true propositions and moral absolutes, then [its use or its demands on us] will appear as an application of those propositions and absolutes, literally understood, to matters theological, missionary, and personal. If [on the other hand] scripture is understood as a sacrament of divine revelation, of God's historical self-disclosure, then [the way to use it or the way that it calls on us] will be understood as the ever-developing guiding influence on our thought and action of an ever-deepening familiarity with God in Jesus. For those seeking absolute norms for knowledge and behavior, the latter position will appear incoherent, unstable, and finally inadequate. For those who realize that the only God worth knowing is a personal God, and that all personal relationships are dialogical and relative, the "uncontrollability" of God's self-revelation is a source of joyful astonishment and an invitation to the unwavering confidence that only a endlessly original love can justify.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


"We spend a few years being kind to people, a few years without temptations of the flesh, and we think all our troubles are over. We have passed to angelic life and will never more experience movements of anger or sensuality. In other words, there is no original sin. But there is original sin, and it is so real that to ignore it, practically speaking, is not to be humble. Humility consists in accepting the whole of reality, and original sin is at least half of it."
-Thomas Keating Crisis of Faith, Crisis of Love

It has been my prayer recently that God would guide me into a wholeness in my understanding of myself and my understanding of Him. It has not been my temptation recently to fall into the trap of thinking to lowly of myself. I have not experienced a distance from God or any kind of aridity in our relationship. He has been close and active in my life. In reading Fr. Keating's account of the way Christ calls us into an ever deepening spirituality, I am invited to look at myself in the light of how I perceive Christ's call. I am overwhelmed at the quickness of my ability to rest in the comfort of consistency and the pride I feel at the levels I have already reached. My continual prayer is that I would not long rest in the comfortable, but as Keating writes, "accept the whole of reality," with the humilty that only Christ can bring.


Monday, July 20, 2009


It seems to me that for relationships to succeed long term—at least as the New Testament describes success—kindnesss is essential. It is a partner with humility. Kindness means to be tender, gentle, sensitive, loving, compassionate. I think we should view it as a skill that we practice in regard to others. It is not merely a nice feeling or sweet intention. A skill involves what we actually do and the manner with which we do it. Kindness is an antidote to self centeredness, projection, ambition, and aggressiveness. To be kind requires self-knowledge and self-restraint. We have to be able to “see,” be aware, in order to recognize both others and ourselves, to love both others and ourselves. It then requires skill to respond first to the other person and not first to ourselves. We are able to set aside ourselves in order to focus on others and respond to them where they are, where they are coming from. Our response is based fundamentally on compassion. Of course justice plays a role, but in the Christian life love is greater than justice. I Cor 13 says that love is the greatest. My prayer for myself and our community is that we become more and more kind, more and more able to love as God wants us to love.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sarah's wedding

Yesterday Sarah and Liam were married. The Anglican marriage service overflowed with joy and beauty. Many in our faith community joined with friends and family and offered their love, gifts, and talents to create a day unlike any other. They made it an intricate dance unfolding with unexpected steps fitting smoothly into the anticipated choreography. We celebrated this long-awaited day with enthusiasm, and vowed to support and encourage the newlyweds along the way.

These are just some initial thoughts I wanted to share. Perhaps Sarah will have some of her own to add later. It was a wonderful day.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Following Christ

"... though the soul is homeless and vulnerable, in deserts and clouds, it is most importantly 'at home' in so far as God has made himself a home in human life and death, and passed before us on the way we are called to go. Christ is the root of our security and our insecurity alike... present as a sign of hope at every stage of our painful journey out of bondage and across the wilderness."
-The Wound of Knowledge Rowan Williams

As I have been praying, studying, and reflecting this summer I have been consistently drawn in by the image of Christ as the divine Logos, Word of God. God's still small voice speaking this Word in my own life in very deep and meaningful ways has cultivated trust and hope. However, as I meditate on this and as I am in dialogue with others I am often overwhelmed with the journey towards/with this Word by a sense of being "homeless and vulnerable, in deserts and clouds." I have found that the times when I am most overcome with these feelings are also the times I gain the most insight about myself and God. I am reassured that God has not promised to whisk us out of the "deserts and clouds," but to be present with us in our vulnerability, both as a historical example and a present reality. Christ is "our sign of hope" on the spiritual journey as our end, and our constant companion, closer to us than our own heartbeat.

I believe Lord, help thou my unbelief.


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