Friday, April 23, 2004

Gospel and Redemption

Here's a tinge of eschatology...in anticipation of celebrating Reign of Christ, the updated replacement to Totensonntag, the Day of the Dead!

Concerning "redeem the time," it's striking that time is a gift of God's condescension to our human need, yet we cannot replace lost time. And in the context of time's not being replaceable, the idea of "redeeming" time is a challenge! The economic connotation of redemption (to buy back a person's freedom, liberate a slave, unbind the captive, forgive the sinner, get that 50¢ off the item we're buying with the coupon from the Sunday paper) fits well with the common notion insisting "time is money," and by "money" we typically don't mean just a handful of cents-off coupons, either!

In our various mainline traditions we think little, teach and preach even less about those 2 Thessalonians-like "end times," yet we know in biblical terms every moment is an eschatological one, every moment is a kairos time of God's encounter with the people of God and of our response and decision. Each moment is about our call to claim and assume preaching, teaching and living (walking that talk) the gospel.

By "economic" I mean any kind of quid pro quo: it doesn't need to involve legal tender.

Since the physical evidence or the "incarnate enfleshment" of who we are (the goods, since most people don't call them "bads"), often are the people's gods, we want to be able to control them so we purchase them to have them nearby, controllable and accountable to us..."domesticated gods!"

Regarding "The church as storefront [to the consumer culture]," there's double meaning there, as well...church members as consumers of religious offerings, pastors and church staff as 'providers' of consumables. "Storefront" is an interesting image, especially when we consider the phenomenon of the inner-city storefront church, which frequently is an immigrant church or at the very least the gathering-place for folks who haven't assimilated into the dominant culture; it's a meeting place for people who haven't yet acquired or even learned what it "means" to be a real American.

Here are some insights I found on pianist Lorin Hollander's website:
We are never taught that we are born with a "primal wound," an experience of emptiness which we crave to fill in any way we can, an undifferentiated yearning or "thirst for wholeness" (C.G. Jung) which cannot be filled or satisfied in the ways we try. We are never led to discover that the only way this yawning void can be filled or satisfied, ultimately, is through a creative search that reaches for the Divine, creative work, often in the arts, which ongoingly surrenders our cravings and attachments, through self knowledge and spiritual discipline.
"And what does our Good News have to offer them in place of...?" The Gospel freely offers its own offense, the offense and outrage of a Holy Other Who lived and died as one of us, sharing "our common lot," and the Good News offers baptism into Jesus' crucifixion and also his resurrection: actually united with him in essential death and in new life like his! Beyond that, the Gospel offers not another disposable commodity but the demands and freedom of covenanted community; it offers something most people couldn't ever even imagine they need, the way all that spam thinks the general public imagines and even believes will fulfill it and =cause= happiness. We've been talking about abundant life, and abundant life is a large part of what the Gospel offers and gives.

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