Saturday, October 29, 2005

Theology to Live By

Recently I observed,
Despite the biblical "bloom where you're planted" (build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce; seek the welfare of the city where I've sent you: in its welfare you will find your well-being, healing, recompense, etc.—if your environment thrives, you will thrive—I'll blog that soon), being good theology, I need to discover and uncover another *where*!!!!! Yep, that's an exilic text, and in many ways we're not living as people of God unless we're living with a sense of exile yet living to the fullest and richest extent possible wherever we are right here and now, but there's also the imperative of responding to God's call to our next *where*!
Once soon has become right now, so here's my blog on the text: it's not much more than a list, and I've linked to four blogs from this far by faith, my testimony blog, so it looks as if I'm trying to take some of my own counsel. Likely it's obvious that again I need to get some stuff out of my head and into the 'net! First though, my readers may have noticed the daily Bible verse on this site, courtesy of a deft piece of code from Augsburg Fortress. I've been writing down some of the most striking verses; for Monday, October 17, 2005, the Bible Verse of the Day was Isaiah 45:4,

"I call you by your name." (NRSV) The NIV reads, I summon you by name!

When I sought out (summoned?) some synonyms for "summon," among others I got call together, assemble and convene. Call together, assemble, convene. Exactly what God does to the Church and the churches! Sometimes we refer to eighth-day worship as the "Sunday Assembly" and we speak of our judicatories convening.

Also from Isaiah 45:15, "Truly you are a God Who hides Himself, O God and Savior of Israel."

Truly a God Who hides Himself—not a God of apparently spectacular manifestations, but a God Who paradoxically shows Himself by not showing Himself, maybe better described as God revealing Himself in hidden ways, i.e., not manifest with the dazzles and pyrotechnics people generally would expect of a Divinity Who is Sovereign over all of creation!

In my current (ummm...currently somewhat hidden, since I'm not planning to make it publicly =manifest= any time in the near future) version of my faith journey, I mention my many attempts to really belong at a long series of protestant mainline churches. For me, belonging means not simply being included in the head count, not just begrudgingly being allowed to do something or other occasionally, but being invited to participate and having my volunteer offers met with the local equivalent of enthusiasm. With my vast(!) and extensive(?) experiences in life and churches I do realize the typical mainline denizen isn't often particularly Pentecostal histrionic in their everyday emotional expressions! A couple years ago in a theology discussion I pointed out, "The Bible's not a metaphysical witness." Okay, meaning it's an historical, material and earthly one. Though created by the Spirit of God, the gospel and the church are substantial and tangible—according to the Bible's witness, at least they're supposed to be! You're supposed to be able to feel, touch, hear, embrace and see the churches and the gospel in action, doing God's things in the name of Jesus Christ...the Church is supposed to be the proleptic realization of the eschaton! I'll translate that into the more everyday exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven—to the world.

Reading and actually knowing the Bible and having some familiarity with life, we discover God's presence frequently is concealed, and we know God most typically can be found in surprising places and situations, at least surprising in conventional religious terms. Precarious and shaky as those Salt Lake City years were, I got some support and some social opportunities from settings that sought me out and that I wouldn't have thought of, specifically a Tongan United Methodist Church and the local Latter-day Saint ward, where I went to most of the monthly Friday evening parties and attended Relief Society homemaking—these days called "enrichment," to sound more contemporary. At no point would I have denied the goodness and righteousness of either of those settings, but they never would've been where I first would've looked. In addition, in the social and intellectual discussions at my social and political activist activities I came across a lot of welcoming discussions and lots of welcome tables, too.

Verse of the Day for Tuesday, October 25, 2005—Leviticus 19:2, "You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy." About being holy and becoming holier, I just blogged, Thursday Blues.

During mid-August on this far by faith, in my Genesis 12 blog, I wrote (mainly) about God calling Abram/Abraham to go to a place "I will show you!" Is that where I am now? Start walking and start looking?

On the day before my Genesis 12 notes, I posted the lyrics to Let the River Run, which includes:
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.
I already used the word countercultural! in the last dsf blog before this one:
A few days ago a conversation reminded me of that essential word, countercultural! A people shaped not by consumerism, nor by greed; not by any type of trendiness, or by addiction; not by superfluity of finances or possessions...

...a community formed in the shape of Yahweh's own heart, an assembly convened and possessed by the One Who is Lord of All—Pantocratur...where the resurrection people of God in Christ Jesus always abide. Let's call that community "Christians, the Wilderness People!" Amen? Amen!!!
And I want to keep the countercultural concept going in this blog, especially since it's Theology to Live By! How do we, how can we "build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce; seek the welfare of the city where I've sent you" yet live as Christians, Wilderness People?

Here's Friday, October 21's verse of the day, 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Incidentally, if anyone ever disputed Paul's authorship of 1 Thessalonians, that verse alone blows their argument way out of the water!

Theologian Paul Santmire cites the position of an inner-city single parent who has done absolutely everything completely right from a human perspective but still gotten close to nowhere. His comment: "These people don't want a sweat lodge; they want the Eucharist!" They're not interested in a comparatively inert artifact of a local tradition nearly as much as they hunger after the life-giving bread of heaven and cup of salvation. This blog is called, "Theology to Live By," and without any doubt the sacraments need to be part of our Living Theology, and a large part of how the rest of society thrives in our presence, which, after all, equates with the Presence of the Crucified, Risen and Ascended One, as we live out our baptismal call as Speakers of the Word, Emissaries of the Divine and Stewards of Creation.

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