Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Blogging Towards Sunday, March 20th

What is faith?  Is it about God or is it about us?  In Genesis 12 we hear the foundational story of faith as being about a journey not the destination.  Abraham and Sarah set out on a risky journey, leaving behind the safety of their familiar and established social network and safety net in order to hope for something bigger, better and God-given.  Their story of faith is one of journeying, walking, adventuring.  For them, faith is not the memorization of doctrine, nor the confession of established tenants, but the open road of being challenged in terms of their expectations and preconceived ideas, the limits they put on what is a "good life" and what the passion and purpose that gives breath to their life is.

John 3 tells the story of Nicodemus.  A member of the upper-echelon religious establishment, he should have it all, yet doesn't seem to.  He sneaks up to Jesus under the cover of night darkness to ask what Jesus understands that seems to consistently elude Nicodemus.  He wants faith.  He longs to know God.  He dreams of experiencing the power, passion and purpose of the Divine in his life.  Yet he seems to only let God into certain parts of his existence.  Is his handicap in terms of faith about perspective, trust, contentment or maybe compartmentalization.  Jesus tells him that you can just squeeze God into the life you already have - you have to be born again - you have to start again - building your life blocks from the starting point of faith as opposed to adding it like a spare room.

The word of this text makes me wonder about where I limit God.  Where do I think God is?  How do I think that God acts?  More often than not, my conceptions are based on my wants, dreams, fears and personal baggage, more than on the belief in a living, risky, wild and somewhat dangerous Divinity who calls all of us to life without slavery, dependence, addiction and limitation.  Where is the Spirit of God maybe inviting you to leave behind your inner Nicodemus?; to risk the open road like Abraham and Sarah?; to leave behind the limitations that we place upon God, each other, and ourselves?

I think of the catastrophes in Japan - earthquake, tsunami, nuclear accident - and I wonder where is God in all of this?  How can God make or let this happen?  Maybe what I should be thinking is more along the lines of the journey - how is God acting to bring healing, inviting me to stand up in solidarity, or challenging me to love wildly and riskily?  The Celtic Tradition of Christianity envisioned the Spirit of God as a wild goose - untameable and unpredictable, disturber and comforter.  Why do we so often envision God as an old guy sitting on a chair in heaven throwing down lighting bolts?  Maybe the first step in the challenge of faith is coming to grips with what image of God we put our faith in?

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