An SSJE monk on “Judgment”

A tender talk. This is my favorite so far of the SSJE Lenten series.


Running Away

I’ve been closing my door on my friends.

Part of me tells me that I should certainly spend with them. I feel a desire to do so. But I’m not sure if that’s the nudging of the risen Christ or my own internalized high expectations.

Part of me thinks it’s enough to recognize that desire for friendship and acknowledge it before God. In my room. Maybe I shouldn’t expect too much from myself. And hopefully God will forgive me if it turns out to be the wrong choice to stay inside.

And yet, that would be like not showing up to church, to other flesh-and-blood people, and to the Flesh and the Blood. If it’s Sunday, and I know I want to be with Christ, why would I only acknowledge that desire and then stay shut up in my room? Wouldn’t I run, singing, to him? Well . . . maybe I’m more afraid of Christ than I like to think I am. And afraid of my friends.

I guess I’m wanting the hope that I have in Church – that of encounter with God – to come into my everyday friendships as well.

It’s about seeing Christ in your neighbor and responding to him, I guess. What an opportunity we have, to talk with Christ himself. To touch him.

As if that were the simplest thing in the world.

Human Nature part 1

Q. What are we by nature?

To this universal human question, which surfaces at life’s most intense moments, the Church responds:

A. We are part of God’s creation, made in the image of God.        -BCP p. 845

To know humanity, to see what we truly are, is to be referred to God.

There is indeed a God. We have a God. We are God’s people. God is real and things are real because of him and no question about fundamental human nature can be answered without putting God in the picture. In answering this question, the church doesn’t point at anything human, but points through the human to God. For the church, human nature indicates God.

We humans are God’s people in two ways: we owe him and we show him. We (along with the rest of everything) owe the raw fact of our existence to him. And we show him forth into creation – display him, reveal him. As his images, we represent him. We are God’s representatives on this earth.

And since ‘kyriakos,’ the Greek word that became the English ‘church,’ means ‘Lord’s house,’ we are his House of Representatives!

What the Church means by ‘image of God’ is coming up next time. But, at this point in the Catechism, we have heard that God is creator. What then would we show forth out of our nature, if not this original creativity? We create. We create through our everyday choices. We create through our conversations, meals, outfits, emails. We create our patterns of thought and our postures. In relationship, we create each other.

And what if we could keep both aspects of our nature in mind, and learn to create as creatures? Might God like that?

My interpretive lens

I’m going to adapt Derek Olson’s guidelines for interpreting scripture. Here’s his article:

I especially like “reading Scripture in order to learn how to live is thoroughly patristic: as Cassian’s Abba Nesteros reminds us, ‘receive the institutes and words of all the elders, preserve them carefully in your breast, and strive to fulfill them rather than to teach them.'” – fair warning, I’m not great at this, and I tend to over-explain. But I want this series to be reflections on striving to fulfill the catechism. I don’t think I’m qualified to teach it.

My other main focus is: “how does this passage reveal God’s desire for the church to be built up in love for service and reconciliation? how does this passage help the Body of Christ grow into the mind of Christ? [We look for an interpretation that] enables us to understand and embody how God’s action in Christ frees us for love and service.”

How does the Episcopal Catechism help the Body of Christ grow into the mind of Christ?

A beginner’s interpretation of the Catechism

A few other bloggers that I follow have expressed interest in how The Episcopal Church is going to teach the Catechism. A. Shouldn’t we be using this, especially with young people? and B. How could we flesh it out (alter it or comment on it or give Scripture citations or teachings from early Church teachers) from our Middle Way position?

So, as my first blog project, I’ll be giving my commentaries on the Catechism, focusing specifically on the question, what immediate relevance does this have to the Christian life, especially our life of prayer? Why should we care about the Catechism at all? This exploration will be an apology as well as a learning for me, since I haven’t spent much time with the Catechism yet.

I’ll be addressing one Q&A per post. Should be fun : )

Why Figs?

Dear Reader,

I’m glad that you’re here : )

At the time of this writing, I find myself with alliances to secular spirituality, (Authentic World, Integral Life), to Christianity writ large (Abp. Rowan Williams, the Fathers, The Episcopal Church), and to Christian spirituality (Cynthia Bourgeault, Thomas Merton).

Why the fig tree?

Mark chapter 11 is striking. It seems like a good place where we can climb up and get a new look at Jesus.