Saturday, September 03, 2005

Boundless Community... Katrina

Hurricane Katrina, Slidell, LA

Boundless Community intertwined with some thoughts on Katrina


A few weeks ago I reposted my old blogs with titles so the recent posts code I added to the template actually would work throughout the blog, and in the process of doing so I came across one of many of my felicitous phrases: boundless community! As I do so often, I was writing about baptism when I wrote boundless community. As I do so routinely, I grabbed onto some words and began writing about them.

One of my excuses to myself for not finishing this earlier was the unusually hot and sultry weather here in paradise San Diego, and again we're having a lot of humidity, making the weather feel like Summers in the City I experienced living in Boston... in the course of not developing "Boundless Community" into publishable form I wrote some others for this far by faith, my testimony blog and I've left a couple things here on Desert Spirit's Fire, but since today is Saturday, September 3, it's more than high time I finished what I began on Sunday evening, July 24.

But first, I want to mention that this weblog, Desert Spirit's Fire, is aging! Here's my kick-off, Welcome from way back three summers and more than three dozen moons ago, July 16, 2002. Since then I've done close to a ton of customizing to the template (it fits the content well, so I probably won't switch to another one any time soon) in order to align it with most of the niceties most present-day blog templates come with by default.

Paradoxical Presence: Sacraments and Church

As closely as it relates to this blog I won't repost it here, but for more of what I've written about the Boundless baptismal/eucharistic Community, check this out from April 7, 2004: Sovereignty, Eucharist and Ascendancy. Okay, I will cite a bit of what I wrote, though it's extreme theological shorthand (almost to the point of crudeness!) with a hint of Luther and a scrap of Zwingli:
...the person presiding at eucharist holds the totality, entirety and completeness of the redeemed and restored cosmos in her or his hands in the person of the risen, ascended One Who also is now descended, once again "incarnate," among and within the gathered and transformed Eucharistic community...
However, it seems well-nigh providential that I returned to this blog for maybe the dozenth time since beginning it, because when today I consider Boundless Community, I cannot help but agonize over the devastating toll hurricane Katrina has been taking in the excruciating suffering of all God's sentient beings - 2-legged, 4-legged and multi-legged - as well as the cost to the terrain and the waterways (far beyond the technical confines of Lake Pontchartrain and the Mighty Mississipp) and to the total infrastructure. Katrina has been a substantial jolt out of the surreality in which we amble and drift far too much of the time, and if repair, rebuilding, revitalization and the life-giving essential of the renewal of hope gets left to merely human devices and human power, possibly the damage and destruction will be beyond repair?

This past Wednesday evening I posted some Katrina-related scripture: "Who is this? Even the winds and the sea obey him!" from Mark 4, followed by the Pantocratur ascription from Revelation 11:17, and concluding with Revelation 21's New Heaven, New Earth, New Jerusalem-City of God, proclaiming to all:
"Now God pitches his tent and lives among all humanity, and God will travel alongside all the people wherever they may go. They will be God's people, and God himself will dwell with them and be their God. And God will wipe their tears from their eyes. No more will they know death or grief or sorrow or pain, because the old order of things has gone away."
I pulled the passages out of my head (well, out of my experiences and theology) and left them without even minimal commentary or exegesis, because when I ponder the responsibility God gives us, the Church and the churches--the responsibility of being his presence, specifically the Presence of the crucified and risen Christ in the world, the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world, it is scary awe-full and also reassuring, because God believes in us that much, God trusts that in the power of the Holy Spirit we can be his ambassadors and envoys, his healing, hope-restoring, life-renewing, transforming, mysterious, humanly illogical Eastered power!

Recognizing the Risen One

Boundless Community: didn't Paul insist we discern the body, recognizing and acknowledging the Risen Christ's hidden presence in the church and in the world—discerning the body particularly as we prepare to partake of the eschatological feast of the eucharist? ...although we need that admonition absolutely everywhere, all the time. The Body of the Risen Christ, also known as The Church and the churches supremely are a single body, one common community, eternally linked vertically and horizontally; admitting and living with those dimensions can make a person very uncomfortable! Boundaries of any kind are time-limited and space-demarked human constructions, but because God knows and understands our human condition and its accompanying propensities so thoroughly, in Jesus of Nazareth God became one of us and lived a fully human life, in order to wipe out all of the barriers between earth and heaven, because in God's Sovereignty no such limitations can exist. Since Jesus Christ' birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension obliterated them forever by reconciling us to one another and to God, why do we still live and act as if this were the old order of the reign of death rather than the new order of the dominion of life?

Once more I need to recall the beginning of the First Lesson from Advent 1 in lectionary year B: Isaiah 64:1 O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence...That's about a permanent breaking, a truly irreparable ripping apart and keeping apart forever of the obstacles and obstructions between heaven and earth. ...I've blogged on that text at least twice in this site, and since this coming-up Advent 2005 we'll begin RCL year B again, I'll probably theologize about it again.

In God's Sovereignty there are no limitations of time or space, of person, culture or creed, no distinctions of young, old, class or race, education or ethnicity. Today, Paul of Tarsus still tells us to discern the body, and Martin Luther's theology of the ubiquity of the Risen and Ascended Christ insists the Risen Christ is everywhere, not solely in the formally configured and institutionally recognized and authorized entity known as church.

Newness of Life

We teach and proclaim resurrection (is our central kerygma God's Self-revelation in Jesus of Nazareth or, indeed, is resurrection our primary hermeneutic?), but too much of the time we exist between death and life in a kind of no-person's land that's neither God's nor the devil's realm: we stay stuck in the three days and three nights in the Belly of the Great Fish, also known as three days and three nights in the Heart of the Earth. Nonetheless, with its nurturing, nutrient-rich, cushioning, fluid environment the Great Fish's Gut becomes a womb-like ambiance of safety and preparation for (re)-birth; the Earth's Heart reminds us of our origins in dust coupled with assurance of our ultimate return not to the dust but to a new re-borning to the fullness of resurrection. Whether Belly of the Great Fish or Heart of the Earth, it's still about baptism, endlessly about baptism, meaning wherever we are and however we are (primarily to remind myself, it's fact, not feeling), it's about community and about our unbreakable connectedness to one another and to all creation, past, present and future. God mightily acts to overcome the division between our old, solitary, disconnected existence and our new lives in the fullness of community. Baptism obliterates the boundaries and the unimportant distinctions between us and God and between us and every other facet of creation, human and not.

Katrina the Hurricane's destruction affects each of us individually and each of our communities, whether church, neighborhood, city or any other group; because of our irrevocably entwined lives, Katrina's wounded and broken are all of us, and the responsibility of every one of us, but especially those of us who live in Jesus Christ as The Church, who every day live aware we are the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. God calls us, and in the Spirit God empowers us, to be a crucified and resurrected presence among all people and all creation. As the Church and the churches, may we be, live and act as God calls us and the Spirit enables us: to be his presence, to live in trust and to act in compassion!

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