Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Earthly Good Living

  • Christ has died;
  • Christ is risen;
  • Christ will come again.
  • Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!
About this world, this bountiful creation, this oftentimes haven of joy, I'm with Edna St. Vincent Millay as she says in her poem, Conscientious Objector, "I shall die, but that is all I shall do for death." A while ago a friend was laying some truly extravagant compliments on me while I kept thinking, "Wow! Really?! Thank you!" Then he added, "Your earthbound theology," and to myself I said, "That one I knew!" :) With Rich Mullins I know the Lord is in his Temple and I hear the prairies calling out His name!

So sadly, too many folks consider Christianity one of the multitude of options on the current *spirituality* smorgasbord. Since these Sundays of Easter we've been hearing the lections from Revelation, once again I'm wondering at, dreaming about and even sometimes daring to rejoice over the vision of the redeemed and restored City of God, the New Jerusalem with the river of the water of life and the tree of life with its leaves for the healing of the nations, the healing of the peoples! From Carly Simon's "Let the River Run:"
Trembling, shaking.
Oh, my heart is aching.
We're coming to the edge,
running on the water,
coming through the fog,
your sons and daughters.

Let the river run,
let all the dreamers
wake the nation.
Come, the New Jerusalem.
Great tribulation, rapture? No, not: because that's completely inconsistent with the biblical witness as a whole, which calls us to life and service (=ministry) in the world, calls us to live out our lives alongside the marginalized and the just plain hurting as a crucified people and as persons of the empty tomb. Both the world and the church have read every age as an end of the ages, every age as a "great tribulation," and whenever societies, nations or persons are suffering and in distress the very last thing we as Christians and as a Church can do is renounce our baptism and allow anyone or anything to ease us up, up and away from the disarray and turmoil.

But rather than remotely talking about any kind of affection whatsoever to anything material, or even created or even fabricated, materialized creation, I'm *simply* trying to describe how we live out our baptism in this world, right now and right here, as in "where we are planted." :)

...and to the completion and the fullness of redemption, or salvation, or whatever expression you prefer, right here in this physical, created world. One needs to be very careful not to over-spiritualize and other-worldly-ize Jesus' life and Jesus' call to us, which is a call to ministries of justice and compassion in the right here and right now. Sometimes all that super-spiritualizing reminds me of the text expositions in the old Interpreters Bible! I remember mentioning in a group that the Bible's "not a metaphysical witness" and getting some very surprised looks in response!

...I'm constantly trying to steer people away from over-spiritualizing Jesus' life and ministry and even from over-spiritualizing our lives in the Spirit, but God does call us to be "stewards of the mysteries of God," not so much as futilely attempting any explanation but in obedience living out our baptism in service to others because we believe [trust] the outrage of Christ crucified and the *mystery* of the Sovereign God who would dare to live - and die - as one of us, becoming one of the least of these.

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