Posts Tagged ‘Image of God’


Missio Dei should be our response to Imageo Dei. Dei being Latin for God, with Imageo being Image (hence, what we are created in) and Missio being mission, that is what we are to do as God-bearers. Lately one would assume the mission is to be an asshat. Sadly, when one’s core values/beliefs are judged by actions in the media, in regards to the Religious Right, the apologetics (another Christian term, for defense of the faith) around USA President Donald Trump, and some of the actions of the recently elected UCP government in the province of Alberta, that description may be apt. Another could be pedophile or rapist or genocider with the stories out of the Residential Schools, Roman Catholicism, Southern Baptists, Bill Hybels’ Willow Creek mega-Church, Jehovah Witness’, Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints, truly one can insert any denomination or Christian movement and scratch the surface to find atrocities. Such actors need to be exposed, ex-communicated and turned over to the authorities.

But that is not the Missio Dei, see that is what the political power we have been handed, financial power, and power over others has corrupted in us. Paul of Tarsus (St. Paul to many) warned of the love of money being the root of evil, Shakespeare in Hamlet I believe, stated that power corrupts, and Green Arrow in Zero Hour stated of his friend Hal Jordan who had become the evil Parallax, absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is time to regain our soul.

To that the church, and each who professes the faith needs to actually ensure is that we are listening to the mightily still quiet voice of the Holy Spirit. For, as we were chasing plug and play programs, looking to corporate North America for strategic ways to do church, planning our next stewardship or giving financial campaign…well…the Missio came to our doorsteps.

In the positive within Canada, we have the opportunity to sponsor refugee families and aid them in coming to our country, supporting them to grow new homes. Not only from Syria, but there is the Annuyak tribe from Ethiopia that has been displaced into camps in Kenya (and I am sure in our mutli-cultural churches many family stories of those we can help). Our leaders can aid in support of immigration efforts for family members, and of securing permanent residence and/or citizenship as well.

Locally, sadly, due to economics and over reliance on one stream of financial income for our province, we have many families and neighbours in need. Whether it is aid with the still unknown school and busing fees, school supplies, aid in paying rent/mortgage, utilities, finding securing work, getting to and from appointments or food banks… Know where this is going? A familiar passage I have shared in my speaking, writing and teaching, the Great Commandments:

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

-Matthew 22:36-40 (New International Version)

It may be big things as listed above, or simply being with a person and listening over a cuppa. Yet as we look further into the political in our lives, we are also needing to look at local action.

It is churches having youth programs, not just for church members but open to youth of the community. Creating a safe space for kids to be, especially as many cities think short term to save money and cut the things that are free for kids. The ripple effect is that then the more nefarious places of belonging find recruiting grounds. It can simply be stopped, I have been a part of many amazing things like this in the past. If only the old guard in church concerned with monies, could get out of their own way and allow love and hope to grow in the blessed buildings they are so concerned about preserving. Amazing how investment within others, and showing they matter, helping them become who they are created to be, makes our communities better, or as Jesus stated:

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

-Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV)

Nope, this isn’t about sinner prayers or conversion. This is about aiding someone as noted above, investing in them, so they can become who they are meant to be. Being with them in the ups and the downs, the celebrations and the mourning. Walking with them in love, and helping them find the hope. For some youth, it was the early morning traditional old English service at a church, not because they could give a flip about the old school Liturgy, or the home made biscuits or tea at the end… it was the seniors (elders) they finally had grandparents that spent time with them, listening to them about their week, their dreams.

Imagine… actual care… and time to simply be, not overly programmed.

What about hungry kids?

School nutrition programs-breakfast, snacks and lunch. Some are privately sponsored, some are government sponsored. The official Opposition says these are on the chopping block with the UCP driven “austerity”, the UCP Government states they will be funded from 2019-2020, yet there is no budget yet to prove this to be a fact. The floated balloon showed the ignorance of many around this program in that they blamed parents for having kids.

Yet, there is something more needed than simply the food. I would say it is not meant to just single out the students in need, rather it should be these three meals provided at each school across the province. Why? Simple, let our kids all eat together, the older serving the younger, discovering care for one another, equality, and that it is important to care for neighbour.
The unknown becomes an opportunity for the church. Whether individual congregations or working together. Figure out how to financially sponsor a meal program for a local school for the school year, in fact, remove the burden of lunch room fees from the parents and provide the volunteers to provide the meals. See it is about investing in our kids, not just with the food, but with those who can give the time to be present in the children’s lives in positive ways. That invested time goes a long way.

I would take the challenge a step further, and then have a network of churches in a community work to provide rotating nightly community meals- work with the community association if needed, so that there is always a social place to go and break bread. For those who celebrate Communion (Eucharist) we speak of the mysticism within the elements, yet it is the gathering and seeking to understand and care for one another.

Generations being together.

Nations being together.

Simply starting as neighbours, then becoming friends, and possibly, over time, the family we choose.

As you discuss where God is calling, simply look to your neighbourhood, and ask, why here and now God?

Quite a few times, it is already on our door step and we are simply blinded by ourselves to see it.


When Phil Jackson coached the LA Lakers he would say if there was a negative player they would be housed on away games in another hotel from the team altogether. Why? That negativity would be infested. It was a corrective action, much like in our own bodies if we break a limb and it is casted, or get a cut and use a band aid (or depending on the severity stitches).

This analogy of body healing came to me as I contemplated these words of St. Paul today and the state of churches in pain:

12 There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. 13 We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. 14 So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts.

15 Suppose the foot says, “I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 16 And suppose the ear says, “I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? 18 God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. 19 If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? 20 As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body.

21 The eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 In fact, it is just the opposite. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are the ones we can’t do without. 23 The parts that we think are less important we treat with special honor. The private parts aren’t shown. But they are treated with special care. 24 The parts that can be shown don’t need special care. But God has put together all the parts of the body. And he has given more honor to the parts that didn’t have any. 25 In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of one another. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy.

27 You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.

-1 Corinthians 12: 12-27 (New International Readers Version)

The analogy that Paul uses to explain a church is of a body. In more modern times we use the idea of corporation or family. But let’s reflect on these words in times of conflict. In times when deep holy conversations need to happen. There are points when healing needs to happen– ala truth and reconciliation. Think of this as stitches or a caste.  The scarring of the wound is still there, but we have healed and moved forward as one body.

But then there is deeper pains, these are the hates, the prejudices, the bigotries that emerge as a result of fear of change, formation, or simply, deeply held beliefs. The Anglican Church of Canada bishops recently showed these signs with their vote against belonging for the LGBTTQ2+ community within their own church. On a smaller scale, faith healing congregations show this towards persons with disabilities tying their different Image of God to a lack of faith on the part of the person or their family. It can also be an unwelcome, acting passively aggressively or overtly bullying of a person within pews during worship so your lips say welcome, but your actions clearly say you do not belong here and we will remove the safety of the sanctuary until you get the message.

It is a chronic disease. Most notably a fast acting cancer, like negativity on a basketball team (I mean, Phil Jackson should know what he speaks of he did manage to get Shaq better at free throws).

The response in churches I am most used to, is it is ignored, and the leadership refocuses on what is going well for the damage is only beholden to one small segment, usually those that do not give huge amounts of money or is new, so that loss does not matter.

YET, here are the words’ of Paul speaking of the need for every part of the body, and what role they play. What if this person that creates discomfort for better belonging is the agent breaking the artery clog to stave off a stroke or a heart attack? Is the EMDR-ART to heal the PTSD? The CBT that corrects disassociation?

The radiation or chemotherapy or operation that removes the cancer for longer life.

See the toxicity is usually pacified, because good people are also a small portion of the congregation that do a lot of work and are tired. They are also fearful of conflict in this time of shrinking attendance, and fear the time the congregation’s life cycle is at an end. Though by ignoring the cancer, it goes from something small and quickly treatable to, well, cancer left unchecked becomes terminal.

The question for a church, that is a Body of Christ, are what choice are you making when confronted with what could be a terminal illness? Ignore and let it consume you? Take your own life? OR Treatment and healing.

The question is as personal for each Body of Christ, as it is for each patient.


Genesis 1:26-31 (NKJV)

 

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all[b] the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. 31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

 

Interesting how we view the creation myths. Some will read this as a literal 24 hour sixth day, but then when looking at the sexes, leans more on the Genesis 2 account where woman was created from man. Yet here we have the whole story of humanity, our time of gestation, birth, growth and going out…see it is not the text that is in error, it is our understanding of it.

Verses 28 to 30 tell the story of the growing into adolescences, and young adulthood. What is traditionally called “The Fall” under original sin, but really is the reflection of the human life span and what happens as we grown and challenge our surroundings, yet the blessing when we reach a certain age is that we are blessed with the world outside the walls of our parent’s house (or buying our parent’s house like this writer). That stepping out with an understanding of the world’s condition, but also a need to further discover what it means to live fruitfully, to make our way in this world and answer our calling from the Holy Mystery.

Yet in this and every instance in life, from being Spirit breathed at the point of energy creation, being conceived, being birthed, the first breath within creation to the last breath.  The whole time, God (existing in us, and us in God) states simply, “You are my child, you are blessed, you are very good, you are my beloved.” The entire essence of loving God with our everything, our neighbours as ourselves boils down to these simple poetic statements found within Day 6.

Now… Can we love?