Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Belonging and Remembering

Don't let me come home a stranger! This blog from August 29, 2004 was Part 3 of a series of short "God, Strangers and Saints" blogs. Eight days earlier, August 21, 2004, proportional to this current belonging and remembering topic, I wrote Culture Bound, with the subtitle, Culture, identity, home, belonging, etc...

The "ing" gerund form of the verb indicates ongoing action. Reading some of what I've written in the past frequently amazes and impresses (!) me—I need to remember and heed my own counsel. I also realize that for the most part I've been reasonably wise but often not quite intelligent! One aspect of re-membering means putting together again the biblical texts in a plain and simple manner, making the words and their meanings literally members - belonging, in the same sense as church or club or family membership - of my daily ministry and life: re-membering my walk with the Lord of Life by binding the texts between my eyes (brain stuff) and wearing them on my body (trust stuff). You accurately can claim the Reformation began in a burst of emotional despondence, but at least as accurately you can assert it started in a burst of exegesis. Truth is, God says I do belong, you belong and we belong; each of us is a part despite often feeling apart; God's Word can be trusted. It's that precarious state of both belonging and not belonging at the same time--and of course, it's yet another paradox, and you know how I love paradox. Though I'm not going to wade through his sermons to find the exact location, Paul Tillich had elegant words about it, as essentially he said we are "separated and yet bound." By creation, by baptism and by the Holy Spirit's pervasive, persuasive power in the world and in my life, I cannot unbelong myself from the church or from the family of creation.

Several times I've posted [here's another one I found with a quick search], "I, the Lord of font and cup, covenant to lift you up; splash the water, break the bread, pour out your life..." In baptism, God gives us and we take upon us Jesus Christ's name and identity (even unto suffered under Pontius Pilate, crucified, dead and buried! One of Graham Kendrick's songs includes, "To be found, my Lord, in a death like yours, so to live with you and never die"), but we also retain and get to explore, celebrate and share our unique gifts within the community and out there in the world. One of the outrageous scandals of biblical faith and sacramental theology is that we find the Divine Presence apparent (uncovered!) yet hidden (concealed!) in the commonest things—we're not talkin' hallucinogens, entheogens, fantastically elaborately esotericisms. Therefore? We need to gather around Word and Sacrament as often as possible? This is most certainly certainly true.

I began the God, Strangers and Saints 3 piece with,
But how does this gospel requirement of strange living align with our need for belonging, our need for being at home, and particularly with the gospel assertion that in Christ we no longer are strangers, in Christ we've come home to a circumstance and even to a place where we truly belong?!
Extensively I've blogged about the call to gracious hospitality God always has given the people of God; Romans 16:7, "Welcome on another as God in Christ has welcomed you." The friendship, collegiality and respect I've been feeling and getting at design school is resurrection! Maybe my readers are noticing I'm writing on my theology site the kind of thing I typically reserve for this far by faith? In ages past, for me the church not only was the exhibition of the kingdom of heaven: it literally was the kingdom of heaven incarnate--exactly what the Church is supposed to be! How some ever - as sometimes we'd say back in Boston - in the Interactive Media Certificate Program I'm experiencing what I knew I'd find in church.

Last August 14 on this far by faith, I talked more about my story and quoted a blog I'd done on this site a month earlier. Citing myself again for a necessary reminder:
I was a Daughter of the Church, daughter of the churches. Drowned, then raised to new life in the waters of baptism, sustained by the Word of Life and the Bread of Life.

Here's a passage from one of my July blogs on Desert Spirit's Fire—and here's the entire post:

However, Israel became Israel, receiving the identifying name, not in the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey but in the desert of the trek toward that promised-landed freedom. In the desert's sparse economy, with surprising gifts like water from the rock and manna from the sky, Israel and Yahweh encountered each other into the kind of relationship that later would enable God's people to recognize God's paradoxical self-revelation in the preached Word and proffered sacraments...

Now and here, like Christ Jesus, face-to-face with the world, the church is the incarnation of the fullness of the time of salvation, the era of the Reign of Life; as persons of the ekklesia, of the church, our sacramental liturgies and lifestyles replay God's paradoxical self-revelation in the exodus desert, recognizing and celebrating God's sustaining presence in, with and under creation's commonest stuff, the utmost essentials for life produced from the heart of the earth.
The theological truth remains we are baptized into the vertical and horizontal life of the Church at the same time we are baptized into Jesus Christ's birth, life, death and resurrection.

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