Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Year Seven Begins!

Well...I was so busy listening to Baxter and Paul and John from the Open Table Conference, that my Sixth Blogiversary passed on October 19th without my notice.

It is impossible to express what an important thing it has been for me to write my wee purple posts here in my little corner of the Interwebs, as my friend Bill Kinnon would say.  Whether or not it has been of use to anyone else, I cannot say...but it has been good for me to process my journey.

I am in such a different place, in just about every way, than I was back then.  But that is the whole point of a journey, isn't it?  To travel from where you are along the meandering path that life takes is how we participate in the life of God in Jesus.

There is quite a bit of dancing along the way.  I've gotten a good deal of use out of my purple dancing shoes. ;^)

Be blessed, precious companions!

Abi and Perichoretic cHesed

You've listened to me talk for quite a while now about Dr. C. Baxter Kruger. I just listened to the recordings from the North Carolina Open Table Conference (from Labor Day weekend) ... and he said that it has been his goal for the last few decades to make the Greek word perichoresis a household word. Well, I have had a similar goal these past 15 years -- to make the Hebrew term cHesed a household word.

Baxter defines perichoresis basically as mutual indwelling without loss of identity. He goes on to say that perichoresis is the reality of the interpenetrating relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are three who have always been one -- they are "in" each other without becoming each other.  They are so together that they can only be described as One.  The Trinity -- three who are one.

From all eternity they have dwelt together -- and together they dreamed of sharing the wonder of their life -- which Baxter calls The Great Dance -- together with us...even before the Cosmos was created!

The great Good News is that, after all the years of waiting and wading through the chaos of human blindness and darkness brought on by The Fall, in the fullness of time, they accomplished their dream of our adoption in and through the Incarnation of Jesus, the Father's eternal Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Through his death, burial, resurrection and ascension, Jesus has gathered all of humanity -- indeed, the entire Creation -- and brought us with him into their relationship. We are in Jesus -- and they are in us.  Done deal.

Many people do not yet know this Good News.  This does not change the Reality, however!

Baxter suggests that the relationship that is perichoresis is one of altruism -- other-centered, self-giving, mutual submission.  But I believe that it is in describing the actions of this relationship that the beautiful concept of cHesed serves more fully.

Most often translated as loving-kindness or mercy, I define cHesed (following Dr. Mont Smith) as looking out for the best interest of the other, according to the covenant. While that may sound like altruism, it is a much richer concept.  cHesed was too rich for just a single Greek word...and so the Septuagint and the New Testament use a variety of words to describe the covenant keeping attitudes and actions of cHesed -- love (agape) as deliberate affection that submits to the need of the other, grace (charis) as unmerited favor that serves the best interest of the other, and mercy (eleos) as kindness mutually owed that leads the other toward success.  And that not all there is to this beautiful concept....

Who knew that they would merge, these two foundational words!?!  Below is crude drawing of what is known as the Trinity Knot.  I have colored and labeled it to help me get my brain around this ... and perhaps help you see what I'm talking about more clearly.

I can't tell you the number of different diagrams I've played with these many years to try to capture the essence of cHesed. Now that my mind has been reconnected with the Good News of the Blessed Trinity through the beauty of perichoresis, it was obvious where cHesed fit.  Thank you, Baxter!

We will have plenty more to unpack, don't worry!  But this weary abbess is finished for today....

Be blessed ...

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Abi and Individuality

I was re-reading an old post ... and it occurs to me that I have changed so much over the past few years, that many of the things I've said in the past ... well, they just don't represent what I think now.  I leave those old posts up because they are part of the process through which I journeyed to today.

In the crazy world of American politics, I keep coming back to freedom and the individual.  There is a great deal of deeper thinking that needs to go on that has been bypassed, IMO.  And part of what I've been processing lately about perichoresis -- thanks to C. Baxter Kruger -- speaks to the reality that I think is too often missing from the conversation:  being fully part of the covenant community without losing one's individuality.

Too often today, to be part of whatever group is being hailed as essential, individuals are asked to lose their voice -- so that another can speak for them.  When someone represents us, they are to represent our voice, not supplant their voice for ours.

I believe that each and every individual is known and loved by our Triune God -- Father, Son and Spirit. Their voice is unique and valued.  Their own creativity is necessary. When someone proposes to silence the voice of the individual for the good of the community, I start to see the old red flag rise....

The changes I have made are actually quite subtle ... as if the purple hue of my cHesed glasses has changed slightly, or perhaps the prescription has shifted.  I have, really, moved toward God as I have moved away from religion and institutionalization.

Any talk that moves toward more religion or more institution ... and this includes more government ... seems like a move away from God.

Our young Republic is at a huge crossroads.  I hope we do not abandon our Constitution.  I pray there is a way forward that brings together all people of good will and sound mind to reason together without vitriol. Because I'm really so done with the name-calling and the straw-man arguments and the spin-meistering.

People of good will.

People of sound mind.

People willing to reason together.

People without vitriol.

...all coming together to find a way forward.

I know it is possible.  I pray that more will desire the same thing.  I trust God's love for all of Their creation as it spins in time, second by second.

Thy will be done -- on earth as it is in heaven.  If heaven is where God dwells, then heaven is right in our midst, because Jesus has taken up residence in every human heart -- and he has brought his Father and the Holy Spirit with him.

May this Good News spread.  May it cause us to recognize the light of Jesus in each one we meet.  May our love for Jesus inspire us to love one another.  May the great revolution of cHesed/perichoresis begin!

Be blessed....

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Abi and Gossip....

I don't have lots of time to read blogs...and even less time to comment...but I do when the Spirit brings up something in me that bubbles out.  So, after reading an interview by Frank Viola with the author of a book called Resisting Gossip, this was my comment.  Go ahead and read the post first.   ;^)
Interesting. But I think there is much more to gossip than Matt’s definition: “bearing bad news behind someone’s back out of a bad heart.” 
I think that sharing someone’s good news behind their back can be gossip, whether out of a bad heart or not. Maybe the five different heart-level motivators he talks about would shed some light, but I think the root of this is not so much jealousy as it is brokenness and shame — the whispered evil of the “I am not…” lie that they have believed about themselves — that looks to feel better by focusing on the lives of others rather that let the love of Jesus heal their own broken heart. As C. Baxter Kruger says, we tend to have the lid to our own “garbage can” duct taped down, lest anyone see us for who we really are and reject us. What we need to see is that Jesus is already in there with us in our mess — and he’s brought his Father and the Holy Spirit with him. Our darkness is not dark to him…we have nothing to fear from our loving Triune God who has already dealt with sin in and through Jesus. We just don’t seem to be able to believe it…and so we cry, at best: “I believe. Help my unbelief!” At worst, we are overwhelmed with guilt and shame — unwilling to receive the adoption Jesus died to make real for us…struggling under the burden of the expanded lie that whispers: “I am not ___________, but I can be if I _________________.” So very sad…. 
I have become persuaded that a lot that passes for “prayer requests” in group meetings is actually a form of gossip. I link it to what I call a culture of voyeuristic pride — we make other people’s business our business because we want to be seen as “in the know”. I’m all for transparency, but we have to be self-disclosing in real relationships — not “spiritual journalists” looking for a “scoop.” I suggest to my children, and those in my sphere of influence, that we don’t want to have a conversation about someone that we’re not willing to have with them. Or that they have not specifically asked us to share on their behalf. I tell my children that we need to let people tell their own stories so that they can provide the proper context — and clarifying questions can be asked, if necessary. 
So, if we hear something about someone, we need to ask the person telling the story to please stop speculating behind their back and go directly to the source. Then we need to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom and discernment as to whether it is even appropriate to get involved. If we believe God is asking us to intervene, then we need to find a way to approach the person and gently share what we heard and ask for clarification — face to face. This usually requires a level of relationship that can bear speaking and hearing the truth in love, which is not all that common, unfortunately. 
Everything comes down to right relationships, doesn’t it? First, our relationship with Father, in Jesus, through the Holy Spirit … and then, out of the security of God’s love, with those around us. And nothing gets in the way of relationships like guilt and shame and condemnation and judgment. Lord, have mercy — give us eyes to see your Good News! 
Thanks for letting me ramble on. Glad to see some light shed on this shadowy area.
Be blessed….