Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Abi ponders the roots of sin....

With gratitude to Mont Smith, Scott Bartchy, Scott Peck, Alan Hirsch, Paul Young, Wayne Jacobsen, Penelope Wilcock, Baxter Kruger...and so many others who have challenged my thinking. Thanks be to God....

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I have come, over the past 20 years, to believe that understanding sin requires that we back up and understand the primary will of God...so that we see clearly the target that sin misses.

Belief is certainly part of the will of God, but perhaps that is too narrow, or not specific enough. What is it that we are to believe?

Scripture tells us repeatedly that God is love. Love is a relational term that needs the context of the Trinity --Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- for proper understanding. Too many see God as alone and distant in his holiness (Greek thinking) rather than engaged as an eternal relationship of love that includes all creation.

If God is by nature a loving relationship of mutuality and equality, where there is such unity of desire that can only be described as Oneness, then we have to ponder the meaning of creation.

I believe They created in order to share Their life of loving relationship with humans. History has been the process of humanity's education. And this is where sin comes in.

I believe that the problem of human sin is one of laziness -- of taking the easy way rather than embracing the necessary work of growing through loving relationships. This laziness partners with a desire for independence, because it seems easier (better!) to do things our way instead of entering into the growth required by love that fosters the other's best interest and finds a way in unity. This is why sin almost always is manifest as coercion -- trying to get our way by force.

This coercive way is sin because it misses the mark of loving the other as we love ourselves. It weakens or destroys relationship and introduces fear...and I don't mean holy awe....

And when we are afraid, we trust less...and, boom -- we get unbelief.

The serpent sowed seeds of fear by suggesting that God was not to be trusted -- that he was holding something back -- and the rule against eating of the forbidden fruit was a form of coercion. Laziness took that seed and gave it place instead of running straight to God for the truth.

The serpent stole their innocent dependence on God as Guide and they turned to independence instead of growing toward greater interdependence.

I have come to realize that much of Western Christianity is mired in the unfortunate blending of Roman/Greek philosophy, which forms a pair of legal/rational information-as-knowledge contextual glasses. This moves away from God's Hebrew experience + information = knowledge philosophy, which is founded on cHesed -- gracious loving-kindness -- within God's series of covenants. When that happens, misinterpretation will follow about the very nature of God and humanity...with the horrific results too many accept today as God's will. So very sad....

Only by the continual renewing of our minds by the Spirit will we have eyes that can see the Truth in Jesus, and this calls us to die to self so that we can be alive in Christ.

Lord have mercy on us in our blindness...and lead us out of the darkness of our own fallen thinking!


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Abi and the Fabric of Accommodation

Inspired by Kate’s post at The Junia Project and a brilliant spin off post on how racism and patriarchy are cut from the same cloth….

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Back in the spring of 1997, I watched a riveting speaker rebuke the folks at TBN – from TBN’s stage.  I don’t remember his name or the response, but I’ll never forget what he said.  The bottom line of his rebuke that spring afternoon was:  Do not confuse the apparent blessing of God with a stamp of approval on your methods.  Wow.  So much of what is wrong with the world can be attributed to this issue….

I think that this rebuke rightly joins with another important concept I learned while a student at PCC (now HIU)frozen accommodations.  The late Dr. Mont Smith coined this wonderful phrase in his important book, What the Bible Says About Covenant (College Press, 1981, pp. 370-371; unfortunately out of print), as part of a larger discussion on the Doctrine of Implied Power. He begins this section with:  “Inherent in the doctrine of implied power was the danger of holding a group at a point of accommodation after the social situation changed.” Then he gets to this:  “What the Apostles would have insisted upon was a return to the standard of full Christlike service for all and to all, as soon as possible.”

The problem has always come when that which was meant as a temporary accommodation becomes frozen in time and custom and culture.  Then it is no longer seen as an accommodation to human weakness; it becomes “the will of God,” complete with out-of-context proof-texting.

God always stoops to accommodate our immaturity, because They love us and are always looking out for our best interest.  They are not willing that we should perish.  When there is an issue we have problems with, rather than just blowing us away, God woos us bit by bit…beginning right where we are and slowly nudging us in the proper direction.

The Apostles, as they helped the young churches live out the mind-blowing freedom Jesus brought, had to continue God’s use of temporary accommodations to the weakness and hard-heartedness of men during the process of growing up in the kingdom family of God.

In their writings we see more of the same problems with the fluid nature of growth being frozen into structures of power and domination, rather than freedom in Christ by the Spirit.

So how do things become frozen?  I think it stems from what M. Scott Peck, M.D., thought about original sin.  Peck came to see original sin as laziness:  “attempting to avoid necessary suffering, or taking the easy way out.”  Laziness is the anti-cHesed.  

(Terminology break:  cHesed is a Hebrew concept usually translated something like gracious loving-kindness -- I believe it is the concept used to describe the primary nature of God as Love -- it describes the activity of faithful covenant keeping. I join it with the Greek concept of perichoresis, which describes the Life of the Trinity: mutual interpenetration without loss of distinctiveness.  The result:  Perichoretic cHesed.)

And so the Fabric of Accommodation is woven with threads of laziness … because growth is hard work.  Life is difficult, and learning to think clearly – not simplistically – is the weak link in all humans. Paul tells us that this can only be done by the continual renewing of our minds by the Spirit. We must learn to think with the Mind of Christ!

The drive for independence actually leads to a worse kind of dependence.  Rejecting dependence on God as faithful covenant partner, the human drive for independence (at the Fall and since) was a rejection of the necessary suffering required for growth and interdependence and cHesed: mutually seeking the best interest of the covenant partners.

The cross Christ has asked us to take up daily is the dance of Perichoretic cHesed:  to both receive and give love that submits, grace that serves, and mercy that initiates and leads. To allow ourselves to be drawn into the Eternal Perichoretic cHesed in order to share it. This is a profound paradox -- his yoke is easy and his burden is light....

  • Patriarchy as a system of social order was allowed as an accommodation by God to the social order of humanity in its infancy. There are many examples of how God rejected patriarchy when new lessons were being taught.  (Think about what Jesus meant when he said that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.)
  • The subjugation of women (and children and slaves and other members of the family/tribe) is a foundational principle of patriarchy. As a consequence of the Fall, God foresaw that women would desire their men (even with increased pain in childbirth) as protectors and providers (a mere shadow of their originally intended dynamic partnership), and that their men would use their power to rule over them. To state that this has always been the intention of God in the creation of humanity is a bizarre kind of blindness.
  • Polygamy, as a sub-system of patriarchy, was also accommodated and used by God to educate humanity and provide justice for those involved – as a part of experiencing kingdom life that was already, but not yet fully, being realized. From creation God intended that marriage would be a permanent bonding between one man and one woman for the purpose of experiencing a foreshadowing of the blessing of the Perichoretic cHesed of the Eternal Triune God – including being sub-creators under God (HT J.R.R. Tolkien) and procreators.
  • Divorce, then, is abhorred by God – but is yet another accommodation to the hard-heartedness of men. It was provided as a protection of the wives (and children) from abuse and abandonment. It shows the immaturity of those who are not willing or ready to do the hard work required for intimate relationship and community to flourish as Perichoretic cHesed.
  • Slavery was a reality in every ancient human society. God tolerated slavery as an accommodation to human social and economic circumstances. However, he fostered maturity in humanity when he gave slaves a frequent place in Their kingdom work – offering protection, respect, and ultimately hope for freedom as well as adoption in the redemptive work of Jesus!
  • Racism is a subset of slavery in that those races that were victorious in battle took slaves both as a way to humiliate the defeated (put them in their place, as it were) as well as to provide laborers. The history of slavery in America is full of talk about slaves not being fully human. Makes me ill to even think about it, especially having recently read the original manuscript of 12 Years A Slave….
  • Monarchy in Israel was an accommodation by God to the weakness of humanity, who wanted a human king – even knowing that a king would tax and dominate them – rather than accept God as king.  "Lording it over" others is NOT the plan of God, as Jesus clearly taught.

All these are forms of accommodation God made to the hardness of men’s hearts.  Each of them represents a rejection of the will of God that They were willing to accommodate in order to lead humanity home.
But in the fullness of time, God came in the flesh as Jesus – God With Us – and set the record straight for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

In the section on Increasing Interpersonal Competence, Chris Argyris developed and articulated his Immaturity-Maturity continuum as a way to show how institutions always tend to foster immaturity because they value order, efficiency and conformity over creativity, effectiveness and diversity.  (Management of Organizational Behavior, Sixth Edition, Paul Hersey and Kenneth H. Blanchard, Prentice Hall, 1993, pp. 64-69)

I believe the theory known as Situational Leadership, developed by Hersey and Blanchard (Management of Organizational Behavior, Sixth Edition, Paul Hersey and Kenneth H. Blanchard, Prentice Hall, 1993, pp. 183-219), is so powerful and true because it is a representation of God’s leadership style as They exist as Three who mutually submit, serve and lead together as they live out their Oneness as Perichoretic cHesed.

As They work to help humanity see the reality of our inclusion via adoption in the New Covenant in Jesus, They submit and serve and lead us for our best interest.  Their actions are always about growth and freedom and participation in the Great Dance of Perichoretic cHesed (which I call the perfect relational pH).
Leaders with the proper pH lead according to the readiness level of the follower, not according to their preferred leadership style.  Hersey and Blanchard identify four paired styles of leading and following, and humans need to recognize themselves in each style. The challenge is that our leader or follower style will be different depending on the situation.  We can’t just turn on auto pilot – we have to think clearly in order to discern the proper style. Here is a quick summary and a handy chart.

Pen Wilcock’s fabulous Lent book calls the name of God – I AM THAT I AM – Present Presence. I think that’s just right. Our Eternal Triune God lives in Kairos time…it is always NOW. Their presence is always present – we are never alone! Perichoretic cHesed is a dance of expectant responsiveness.
Jesus said that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.  Jesus shares the cross/yoke that is the perfect pH for us to bear: he stoops in cHesed to bind himself to us, so that we may walk out that cHesed together as we do God’s will.

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Well...my firstborn is on his way home from college for spring break.  Woo hoo! 

May you be swept up into the Great Dance, beloved....


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Abi's Graphic Wound...be forewarned!

Update!  On April 11th, I was back at the "scene" with my youngest son -- and had him take pictures of the log (which is about 4' long) with a close up of the infamous "stump" that did the damage...that's his hand (which is the same size as mine) there to show you just how big that sucker is!  I am in the midst of Week 10...and the healing sure seems slow!  Months more to go....

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This picture, taken on Day 5, seems to show me taking this purple martyrdom a bit too far...and the extent of this bruise grew for two more days, until it covered the entire back of my right thigh.

...but this is week six since the sledding accident that saw me impaled on the broken-off branch of a hidden log.  Lesson:  trailblazers can get hurt!

And yet, there is a deeper lesson...

...one that is learned after the bruising is gone, and the sutures are removed, and all the scabs have fallen away:  the wound that cannot be seen, yet was the deepest and most dangerous, is far from healed.

But it looks so much better!  Yeah, looks can be deceiving....

I still cannot sit down or put any pressure on the back of my right thigh.

Really...after six weeks?

The doctor says it may take three month for the internal wound to just stabilize...and six months to finish reconstruction...and nine months for full range of motion...and a year or more for strength and the lessening of the scar tissue and any accompanying adhesions. Ugh!

I have never had a wound like this...it's exhausting.  But I am going to be well in time. And I am going to remember these lessons. The sharp stabs and the aching and the shocks as nerves reconnect.  And I will marvel at the brilliance of God's creative masterpiece with humility and gratitude....

So that when I see the wounds of others, I will remember the deep pain. I will listen to their pain and frustration. I will remember how long it takes to heal.

And I will shed tears of seeing over them. So they will know they are not invisible. Their pain is seen with gentle eyes that know woundedness.

And I will not make them have to ask for my help. To see if they can do things for themselves. There will be hours and days when they have no one to pamper them...when they will have to spend so much energy just shifting to be comfortable in bed that they break out into a sweat.

No, no...love that submits to their needs with deliberate affection, and grace that serves with unmerited favor, and mercy that initiates kindness mutually owed...this is what perichoretic cHesed does when one's beloved is in need.

But more than what small comfort I can give, I hope to remind them that our amazing God -- Father, Son and Spirit -- are I AM THAT I AM. They are the Present Presence...always there with us in our pain and suffering. Not to save us from our suffering, but to walk through it with us.

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You still have time, during this season of Lent, to pick up Penelope Wilcock's lovely and insightful book, The Wilderness Within You. I finished it yesterday and am going back to make notes of the many profound insights she shares. I picked up Present Presence from this book...and it has been such a bit of comfort to me! This is a woman who gets it -- and I am grateful to have her friendship.

Be blessed!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Advent with Abi -- Peace as Relational Reality

Peace ... what longing there is for peace everywhere. And yet there seems to be so little peace -- in families, in marriages, in politics, in schools, in neighborhoods, in churches, in relationships, in countries, in the world.

My little corner of the world has struggled to find peace for too many years to count. It seems that strife and heartache and brokenness overwhelms all.

But that has begun to change -- just recently, if you can believe that. And it has changed because I have finally seen the Truth that has been just out of reach ... just a bit out of focus ... just around the next corner ... just needing one more conversation ... or book or video or whatever.

That truth is what I have finally called Perichoretic cHesed.  It is the reality of the eternal relationship between  the Triune God -- Father, Jesus and Grandmother ... where there is so much unity of purpose and will that they can only be described as One, yet with no loss of their distinct individuality.  Their relationship of merciful loving-kindness dreamt up this amazing universe in order to provide a habitat for those who would bear their Image as male and female.

It is the realm of adoption, which Jesus crossed time and space to make possible by the miracle of his incarnation, life, death, resurrection and ascension. It is the mystery in which Jesus has taken his creation down in his death in order to set it free from the Death it suffered through Adam's rebellion.  It is the mystery in which we have also been raised from the dead with Jesus -- and taken up with all of creation, including all of humanity, and brought home with Jesus to be with Father and Grandmother.

But it is a reality still hindered by human blindness and stubbornness -- for until we repent and allow Grandmother to renew our minds and heal our blindness, we cannot see what Jesus has done.  We truly see through a glass darkly....

My circumstances have not changed.  All is as chaotic tonight as it was last night. But I am finally learning how to live in the space between the already adopted and the not yet fully transformed. The space where I live by the faith of Jesus, who tells me that I am included in the Perichoretic cHesed of the Three-in-One already. That I am never is a group smaller than four -- three of whom are totally dedicated to my best interest.

I do not have any peace around me.  But I dwell as sister of the Prince of Peace.  And he shares with me his peace -- one that is not as the world gives. And with my hand in his, I walk through the baby steps of my life without believing the lies that swirl all around me. I listen to his voice -- to the Truth.  I see myself and others in the brightness of the darkness-scattering Light of the World.

As I approach Christmas, I breathe in Peace as Relational Reality...and look around me to see bits of it sprouting here and there in the chaos. I do not know what the future holds, but the One that holds the future is the One that holds me tight. I am leaning into the love that brings peace to my heart and mind.

May the Breath of Peace steal sweetly over you this night and every night.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Abi has finally come Home for Christmas...

Update:  I have added the rest of the posts for the Synchroblog at the bottom.  Please do check them out as you have time.  You will be blessed!  Abi

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It has been a very long time since I participated in any Synchroblogs out there ... but I had a feeling that I might have something to say this time around.

I grew up in a pretty tight knit family -- Thanksgiving and Christmas and (usually) birthdays were always family time. Family time for our family almost always included the church family's activities ... because we were the church-planting minister's family. If we weren't there and involved, well, things didn't happen....

There are lots of ups and downs to being a PK (preacher's kid)...and this post is not going to talk about any of that. But I have to say that this Christmas will be the first year that I will really "be" home. And that will need a little unpacking....

Regulars of The Virtual Abbess will know that I have been processing heavy things for many years ... and that this past year I've been processing what I have just recently come to call Perichoretic cHesed.  The reason things have finally come together is that I have finally unpacked the last piece of the puzzle (should I more humbly say the next piece?!?) as I continue the process of reconstructing what the journey of Kingdom Life is supposed to look like -- for me, at least.

Home is where family is -- and where one is always welcome. Home always means extended family, too. While I love my biological family, I have lived very far away from them for 22 of my 57 years. Most of the past 18 years have been spent away from them as our nuclear family left Southern California for Washington State.  I had no idea how difficult raising children would be without my extended family in a church family that was not full of relatives ... or people who knew me BK (before kids).

The sad thing that I have come to realize is that I, somehow, did not carry away many "traditions" ... because they were anchored in people who were not where I was.  When I was with them, the traditions lived on. But not here.  Not at the place I called home.

As I have pondered this source of grief, it has finally occurred to me that somehow, I have never really been "home" anywhere ... because I never felt like I fit in. I was useful, most of the time. And that's part of the problem.  Rather than relational, family had turned out to be something more utilitarian. And when you are a broken down person, as I have been for much of the past 18 years, sometimes you're not as useful as folks think you should be. Maybe you no longer fill roles that have come to be expected of you -- in the way that is expected.

Yes, I actually said that out loud....

But I have been pondering a different foundation for family.  One that has been seemingly lost to much of humanity for much too long. I have found that the truest foundation for family comes from the original Family: The Holy and Eternal Trinity.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit have been recognized as the Triune God for a very long time ... but I think that the familial nature of their relationship has not been.  And I think some of that comes from the fact that many have seen the Holy Spirit as either male or gender neutral. I, however, have joined forces with some who have embraced seeing the Spirit as female -- as God our Mother ... or perhaps, as our Grandmother.  There is lots of evidence in the Hebrew for the terms used for the Spirit as being female or feminine.  We know that there are many images of God which are maternal.  I'm not going to argue that here.  You will have do your own searching.  (But both of Wm. Paul Young's books, as well as Baxter Kruger's book, The Shack:  Revisited, may help you as they have helped me.) But in order for the image and nature of God to be seen in humanity, it needed to be expressed in what we know as male and female.  Both are necessary -- one is not more important the the other.  (It seems that even in the Trinity, there only needs to be one female to two males ... please be smiling!!!)

Of course only Jesus, the Father's eternal Son, is actually human and male -- since that first Christmas so long ago.  The other two members of this triad are still whatever it is that they have all been for all eternity. We have been dressing them up in language and images that help us relate to them ... and it is only in Jesus that we have definitive answers.  So, I am finding it terribly helpful to relate to God as Father, Brother and Grandmother -- because of the reality of the new family forged in the New Covenant in Jesus Christ.

[It's okay ... no bolt of lightening has struck me.  God can handle this. It's all good.]

In this Eternal Family I have found my truest family -- the family that is always with me...from which I cannot be separated. They are the Truth about family as it is intended to be.

  • I have a Father who loves me with deliberate affection regardless of what I do or don't do.  He is "especially fond of me" as Young has made so famous with his Papa from The Shack. He sees my true self and calls it out into being bit by bit -- regardless of what others think I am or should be.
  • I have an Elder Brother who extends me the unmerited favor of grace because I am his little sister and he has crossed all worlds to joyfully bring me -- with  my Adoption Papers -- home to his Father and the Kingdom. He walks with me at all times -- he holds my hand (he holds everything in his hands!)
  • I have a Grandmother who breathes wisdom and power on my baby steps -- while showering me with gifts of kindness and mutuality -- so that I make a difference in the family.  I have a part to play in each interaction with my brothers and sisters. I participate in the Eternal Will of God as it is lived out moment by moment. She isn't harsh with me when I don't do things "correctly" ... she is happy that I engage and embrace life.
This family reality I have described is, in essence, what I mean by perichoretic cHesed.  It is being part of the family while still being myself. It is resting -- relaxing! -- in the love of Father, the grace of Jesus, the mercy of Grandmother -- knowing that They are holding everything together, making everything work together for good, teaching me the family recipes and traditions.

This Christmas, I will be home for the first time.  I'm not quite sure exactly what it's going to be like compared with the previous 56 experiences ... but I do know that it will be filled with more hope and love and joy and peace than any Christmas I've known. I'm going to relax into it and be surprised by joy....

I am reminded of the line from Sleepless in Seattle, when Sam is describing to Dr. Marsha what it was like when he first held the hand of the woman who would become his wife:  "It was like coming home, only to no home I'd ever known."

As I finish typing this, I can almost hear them clapping and shouting:  "Welcome home, child.  We have been waiting for you for so long. Come on in and join the dancing and singing ... and you don't really need your dancing shoes anymore!"

Be blessed this Christmas -- may you find yourself coming home to no home you've ever known, too!  I'll see you there...  ;^)


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Other bloggers writing so far about “coming home” this advent:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Advent with Abi -- Joy as Wholehearted Response

The third week of Advent begins ... and I'm working through Baxter Kruger's books again, now that I have finished listening to so many hours of his lectures.  Reading the books, I hear him and his wonderful Mississippi accent in my head....  :^)

During the time I've been reading and listening to and meeting Baxter this past year, I've also been watching and listening to Brene Brown talk about courage and vulnerability and wholeheartedness. Their messages have arrived at just the right time -- kairos time -- when I was both in need of the message and able to hear and receive the message. What a blessing....

I was struck this morning as I was reading ... struck at how much power we give to the lies that are whispered around and about us ... rather than believing Jesus and his Father and the Holy Spirit. The darkness of our fallen minds, Baxter says, makes sense to us.  The amazing perichoretic cHesed of the blessed Trinity -- well, it doesn't make sense to us at all.  Not unless we repent of our fallen and darkened wrongheadedness!  Lord, have mercy!

At this third week of Advent -- as the darkness is starting to lift because of the approaching birth of the Light of the World -- I found a small trickle of joy welling up in my soul. As I have walked along with Jesus, choosing to side with him against the lies of "I am not", I have a new kind of courage growing.  The courage to tell the story of who I am with my whole heart. (Thank you, Brene, for these words!)  And I find that the telling of this story an act of joy.

Joy is the fruit of courage, it seems.  We know that it is a fruit of the Spirit, too...but I find the telling of the story of who I really am with my whole heart cannot be told without joy.  I think this is because those willing to risk sharing their whole heart -- not just the good stuff and not just the bad stuff, but the good and bad stuff along with the hard but important stuff makes up the whole.  And Father, Son and Spirit love the whole me...not just the nice shiny parts....

C.S. Lewis wrote a book called Surprised by Joy ... and I am beginning to understand that a bit better today.

This week, as you ponder the Joy of Jesus -- Father's Eternal Son Incarnate -- may you find that his joy is your joy, too.  That his truth is your truth. That his peace is your peace. That his courage is your courage. That his faith is your faith.  Because everything that he shares with the Father in the Spirit is yours -- if you will radically reorient your mind and believe that what Jesus has said and done is actually, finally, totally, joyously TRUE.

Joy to the world!  The Lord has come.  Let earth receive her King!

Be blessed....


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Advent with Abi -- Love as Perichoretic cHesed

Today I finished the 33rd and final lecture in Baxter Kruger's The Big Picture series.  Took me about five weeks. Wow ... thanks so much, Baxter, for sharing your passion! Now I need to go back and re-read all of his books -- I have a much better perspective for them now.

It has been through Baxter's goal to make perichoresis a household word that I found the perfect pairing for making cHesed a household word:  make them a household phrase!  :^)  I have already blogged about that some.  Please see this post.

But for today, as we begin the second week of Advent, it is time to talk of Love.  But the full, deep love that is perichoretic cHesed.  The eternal love that Father, Son and Spirit -- the blessed Trinity -- dwell in together.  Love that is other centered and self-giving ... the eternal reality out of which came Creation, and it's crowning glory, Humanity.

As Baxter has hammered into my brain over the past year, to say the name of Jesus is to say that the Trinity and Humanity now dwell together. Forever.  Begun before creation, incubated in the Old Covenant, brought forth from the virgin Mary, hammered out as the babe grew into a man, shown to those who had eyes to see in the years of open ministry, Jesus was fully God and fully Human.  The only fully human person ever to live. And in his willing death at the bitter hands of his fellow humans, Jesus entered fully into human darkness -- felt all the pain and agony and loneliness and blindness -- and took creation down with him in death.  He did this so that the Father could raise us up with Jesus from the dead and so that Jesus could take us home to our Father's side with the Deed of  Adoption signed in his own blood.  Done deal.

This is the Gospel.  The Good News.  The news that too many have not yet seen in their blindness or heard above the deafening cacophony of their own ideas about who God is and who they are and who others think they are supposed to be ... and how are they going to find a way to make it through another dark and lonely day all on their own....

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It is all good and well to talk about the love of the Trinity being other centered and self giving.  But I believe that there is a richer concept that comes to us from the Hebrew language -- just as the beautiful word perichoresis comes to us from the Greek language.  If you know anything about me, you know that this concept is hidden in the gem of cHesed ... merciful loving-kindness.

You could read quite a long time on my blog if you looked up all the posts on cHesed...which would not be a bad use of time.  I have mentioned before that there are many things I've written about over the past seven years that I would need to tweak considerably.  And cHesed needs a bit of that as well.

I have begun this tweaking with this labeled and colored version of the ancient Celtic Trinity Knot.

Just as we see the interpenetrating, looping reality of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you will see the ring of gold that encircles them.  I have labeled this ring with the three descriptors of cHesed:  love, grace and mercy.  But underneath these three are three others: submit, serve and lead.

To say that Father, Son and Spirit live in an unbroken dance of love -- so much so that the foundational description of God is love -- is saying much more than the western mind has generally had the tools to grasp. This has led me on a twenty year quest to, as it were, redeem the word "love" from the too-often shallow usage to which western civilization has adhered.

Trinitarian cHesed is a Love of deliberate affection that submits its wants to the needs of the beloved ... it is a Grace of unmerited favor that serves the best interest of the beloved without thought of repayment ... it is a Mercy of kindness mutually owed that initiates and leads the beloved in ways that move toward the accomplishment of their mutual goal.  In this circle there is no competition or hierarchy or envy. Their's is a unity of such togetherness that the only way to describe it is to say that these Three are One!

It is descriptive enough to show us what it actually means to say that God IS Love.  That the Trinity have lived in this amazing relationship from all Eternity ... and that They have desired to share this love in and through their creation -- and especially in Humanity.

Their desire to share their love with Humanity was so strong that the Father's Eternal Son decided that, for the remainder of Eternity, he would live as the Human Man named Jesus ... Emmanuel -- God with us!  And in this form, Jesus entered into a New Covenant with God as the representative of Humanity ... resulting in our Adoption -- joint heirs of God with Jesus.

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While I am yet a long way from distilling this down, what I hope to leave you with this week is the assurance that this cHesed -- the merciful loving-kindness of Father, Son and Spirit -- is the gift that God has been showing Humanity from the very start.  And that this gift has been permanently given to Humanity in the New Covenant in Jesus.  You and me -- we all are already completely loved and adopted by Father, where we may dwell with him and Jesus in the fellowship of the Spirit.

May you have eyes to see this love all around you in the beauty of Creation -- in the heavens and on the earth and in your adopted brothers and sisters all around you.

May you have ears to hear this Good News of love and adoption in Jesus ... all ready finished and just waiting for you to recognize.

May you rest -- truly rest and relax -- in this knowledge of God's love made flesh in Jesus. This is the only healing balm for your soul sickness.  Nothing else matters if you are blind and deaf to the Love Song of the Trinity.

Be blessed, adelphoi -- brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.  I am grateful to have your fellowship on the journey in the Kingdom.