Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Thinking About The Spirit

Few Christians I know spend much time thinking about the Trinity.  They don’t deny or disdain it, they just find teachings about it to be of little help to their lives and aren’t concerned with it.  So what can we make of Jesus’ promise to ask the Father to send the Spirit of Truth to his disciples?  Jesus’ word advocate, a supporter or backer, explains a lot.

John’s gospel portrays Jesus’ last supper as a summary of his message to the disciples and a final encouragement of their faith.  As his execution loomed and the passage to his Father neared, he promised that the God he represented to them would never abandon them.

Making God’s love present to the world was an immense task for the disciples but God’s Spirit of Truth would forever inhabit their efforts.

The Spirit of Truth is the source of hope for the ultimate triumph of love and justice when we find no proof or even obvious chance for such a future.

The Spirit of Truth is the source of our deep desire to do the just and loving thing for all. 

The Spirit of Truth moves us to see the good in those those who oppose values that we hold.

The Spirit of Truth urges us to love and pursue justice beyond the limits of safety and self-preservation.

The Spirit of Truth gives us the courage to question our assumptions and be open to change.

The urgings of the Spirit of Truth were the hallmarks of Jesus’ life and unite the Christian community as it strives to be Christ’s presence in the world.

Ignoring the attitudes and behaviors that the Spirit of Truth urges betrays not only our Creator but our very selves.

While we may or may not find the concept of a Trinity useful in speaking of God, these deep urges which have long characterized discussions of the Spirit are central to what human beings and, in particular, what Christians are and long to be.  We pray for the the faith to follow them.

Friday, February 5, 2016

God's Unquestioning Love

“God saw that it was good.”  The first chapter of the Jewish and Christian scriptures repeat this divine judgment of creation several times.   We are so accustomed to attestations of life’s value that we assume everyone agrees.   Usually they do - at least in the abstract.

Looking deeper, the issue gets murkier.  It is not uncommon to hear people voice enjoyment of living while doubting that their lives make a lasting difference.  Setting aside for the moment avowed atheists and those who explicitly deny any continuing human existence after death, many otherwise convinced Christians wonder how we who seem so insignificant in the immense universe can claim the Creator’s attention for more than our few moments.

We might think this hesitant faith is only an individual concern but it’s more.  Decades ago Schlitz beer had an advertising tag line that went, “You only go around once in life so grab all the gusto.”  It sold a lot of beer; it also captured a nagging sense of angst before a universe beyond our imagination let along our control.   Live in the moment can be a focusing and freeing motto.  It can also lead us to protect me and mine at all costs because it’s all we have. 

“In my Father’s house there are many mansions,” Jesus said.  He also said, “Don’t you know that you are worth many sparrows.” [Matt 10:31]  We can take take these words simply as reassurance that God cares for us through thick and thin - and of course it is.  But it’s looking towards something much larger than our individual welfare whether temporal or eternal. 

Jesus revealed God’s reliable care so that we would dare to give the same care to others.  How far will God go to love us?  If it’s the cost of loving, he’ll accept rather than run from a cross. 

Look, there’s a room waiting for you.  God cares for tiny birds; he won’t overlook you.  Don’t be afraid.  If you have infinite meaning to your Creator, you have infinite meaning, period.   Give yourself to life.  Give yourself to others. Love all the way.  Together, you, in the Spirit, with The Father and with me are creating a New Future.  Take the leap with Us.