Holy Spirit painting

Bishop John Shelby Spong, Episcopal Diocese of...

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Opened sharing a bit of my story, the PG or G version of some incidents in the struggle of being a Christian in Recovery for a lifetime (which long time readers will know)…then moved into the fact that as an institution the church is in Crisis.  Reg Bibby and other sociologists have pointed out that a church a week closes in Canada, 400 in the last few years have vanished. The crystal cathedral went bankrupt and was bought out, Rick Warren has bankrupted Saddleback church twice. Bill Hybels formerly apologized to his congregation of Willow Creek for not doing enough to make disciples.

Plug and play programming has failed us.

Diana Butler Bass speaks of a new awakening, one where the Holy Spirit is moving within believers to renew the church even as the institution is dying around us.

Matthew Fox, the renewer of true Christian Mysticism, speaks of prayer as life, LIFE with God not as some formula or set words.

John shelby Spong speaks of his love of scripture, but his inability to read it for the black and white on the page, but rather for the depth of beauty of the story of life with God while acknowledging the texts of horror that lie within.

All this comes together with my life experience of Christian Recovery to come to these two simple lines today:

God is Love, Love is God

Emerge 2012

March 3 @ 2 p.m.

2 simple lines of scripture in how many thousands, yet 2 simple lines that carry such a wealth and depth of what it means to trust and walk with God.  Where does the Shema come from? The obvious answer is the book of Deuteronomy written by Moses, and you would be partly right…You come to ABC you will get to explore who actually wrote the Torah and the single author versus multiple sources, that’s not the point today no matter how much my geek bone wants it to be.

A people who had walked with God in the wilderness, who legend tells us built an empire with God, moved from a theocracy to a monarchy, then division, crumble, conquering, led into exile by the super power of the day. Some say 10 of the tribes would never return. Walking under a persecution that makes the Rwandan Genocide or modern day Afghanistan under the Taliban if you’re  a woman like the safest place on earth to be. These are a people that new what it meant to turn away from God or to walk deeply in God’s heart. They felt the dryness of the desert and the ecstaticness of joy.

It was during the return, Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall…yet his teammate, compadre, Ezra was with a group of priests reclaiming holy ground…the temple…and in this reclamation they “discover” a lost scroll. A regiving of “The Law” and in the midst of this retelling is this summation:

Deuteronomy 10:12-13

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

What God Requires

12 “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you except to fear the LORD your God by walking in all His ways, to love Him, and to worship the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul? 13 Keep the LORD’s commands and statutes I am giving you today, for your own good.

 

For legalism had led to exile, so let’s get to the literal heart of the matter…then there is 400 years of silence from God supposedly, or simply God working in more covert ways than before. And BAM! We got a revolution.

A simple revolution, I’m not a fancy theologian, I have studied most of my life the sacred scriptures of many, but what I honestly believe is theology is where the living word meets you. Your life experience + learnings +the Holy Spirit while reading the word= Theology. We just need to be open to the Holy Spirit and where she is going to lead us.

I was a child of 11 when I was told there was no place for me in church, at 19 I was struggling once more to find my place in this world when I stumbled across these words in the Gospel of Matthew, red letters in a Gideon’s new testament while cleaning my room, and I was this close to throwing the testament out as the spine was snapped and pages falling out:

Matthew 22:35-40

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

35 And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Him: 36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”[a]

37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.[b] 38 This is the greatest and most important[c] command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend[e] on these two commands.”

The Shema came to us between 6-4000 years ago. Almost 2,000 years ago when challenged to rank the legal system Jesus reminds us of it, and then builds on it. For a teen who was searching for God in spite of systems these words hit hard.

For you see love is a reciprocal ideal. If I give this unconditional love to God, it is because God has given it to me. If I love my neighbour then I must love myself. It is a 3 part love, a Trinitarian ideal…L-O-V-E.

A revolution to a people oppressed by rules. Those in the synagogue and marketplaces of Jesus’ time were more used to hearing what shall thee not do rather than, what shall we do…

What are you told what is the big “don’t” on the sin list?

(Audience feed in)

No to Sex. No to drugs. No to alcohol. No to this music, that dress, No to dancing, no to make up, no to this type of show or movie. No to this…

And you know what Jesus’ response was? It wasn’t picking out of the 617 laws, or the sayings of the prophets or the commentaries, or what the religious leaders said, or even what the Roman Empire dictated…Jesus simply laid it out for you: Love God, neighbour and Self with your all. Why?

Genesis Day 6. God made us in Her image. He called us very good. She blessed us and He called us Her beloved.

That’s why. Simple. Lovingly crafted to live out of and into a love that transcends all. A revolution that started at creation—the big bang theory kicked it off, 6,000ish years ago the Great Commandment was laid down, almost 2,000 years ago Jesus hits the religious authorities between the eyes with it in a ministry devoted to living life with God’s children.

A ministry where out of living this 3 part love, hope was renewed in the world. Institutions were shook to their core, and those who gave more credence to prominence, to wealth, and to tracking of attendance numbers.  What was Jesus message in all of this? It was simply what I have learned in my 25+ years of working to make my corner of the world a better place, the only number that matters is 1.

The one person before you now and yes, that one person before us we most forget about in our acts of love, ourselves, matters as well.

So I am asked to speak about what it means to serve and walk with God, it means humbling ourselves in confidence. It means walking with those who we like hanging out with, but taking steps out in faith to those we don’t like or get jittery around. It is about ensuring those with no voice, reclaim their voice, those who are hungry get fed, those without shelter or clothes get those, it is realizing that God’s family is a beautifully diverse collection of colours, genders, abilities, orientations…it is realizing that God is not one of exclusion…this love, this grace love gift that we reciprocate doesn’t come with strings, its not God’s put this out there so I need the magic spell, or the right amount of check marks in the did it, didn’t do it columns that was the system Jesus entered into to shatter and revolutionize. No this love gift is two ways, but we already have been given it by God, God’s just waiting for us to open our hearts fully.

So let the revolution continues. Look around this city, this world, we are all God’s children, and we are all given the same love and the same challenge to use this love to transform this planet for Kingdom is not a future promise, it is a command to build here.

I know these are the important words of God, because when I was preparing for ministry and in discernment for a pulpit call, one of those walking with me came with a prophetic word that summed up how he felt the Spirit guiding my life ministry, it is in the Gospel of Mark:

Mark 12:28-34

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

The Primary Commands

28 One of the scribes approached. When he heard them debating and saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked Him, “Which command is the most important of all?”[a]

29 “This is the most important,”[b] Jesus answered:

Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is One.[c] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.[d][e]

31 “The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself.[f] There is no other command greater than these.”

32 Then the scribe said to Him, “You are right, Teacher! You have correctly said that He is One, and there is no one else except Him. 33 And to love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding,[g] and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is far more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 When Jesus saw that he answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to question Him any longer.

How are you going to love God, neighbour and self today?

 

 

Comments
  1. Emerge Closing « A Robin Hood's Musing says:

    […] Emerge Notes… […]

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