Encouragement for a lifelong journey of faith

Category: Original blessedness (Page 2 of 2)

September 26, 2018 — Human Freedom

Today’s Bible reading

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” — Genesis 2:15-17

More thoughts for meditation

Humans, unlike the rest of creation, have the option to disengage from the great cosmic movement of love towards the Creator. God created us with freedom. John Behr, Eastern Orthodox priest, notes that whereas all else was created by divine fiat, no such command was used with humans. The Hebrew grammar brings that out more clearly. “Let there be light!” is the injunctive mood which implies command, whereas “Let us make the human being” is in the subjunctive mood, which implies something imagined or possible. God has invited us into existence and even invites us now to participate in our own on-going creation. This is our dignity as well as tragedy. We can reject that invitation, and indeed the account in the garden of Eden is a story of that rejection. It is as though the link of gravity that joins planet to sun were severed, and the planet goes off spinning into space.

This is quite applicable to our spiritual life. God still invites us to participation. He is not making us into passive puppets, but aims for us to be restored in all our capacities to choose, to love, and to create. At the core, we are developing the capacity to hear God’s voice in the depths of our spirit, and to respond. Jesus’ ministry was full of invitations to “follow me.” Invariably, this invitation to participation came with a sacrifice. People left their jobs and all that made their lives stable and predictable. The story of the rich young man tells of a invitation that was declined. Mentally he was prepared. He had “kept all [the commandments] from his youth,” and apparently was able to declare his intention for eternal life. However, the needful thing was to stop diagnosing and managing his spiritual problems, and simply accept the invitation to move with God. Eternal life is not about obtaining but about releasing. Jesus invites us to let go of the chains that bind our hearts so that we might enter freely into the eternal life that is present here and now.

Suggestion for action

One of the aims of prayer is to restore the connection of love between us and God. Part of this involves listening to your own life – where at this specific point of your life are you being invited into some deeper and richer? Another question that maybe is more helpful is to ask, what is the thing which, if I let go of it, just might make me free? Take some time to journal on that question.

September 25, 2018 — A Communion of Love

Today’s Bible reading 

So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones
   and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
   for she was taken out of man.”

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. — Genesis 2:21-25

More thoughts for meditation

The harmony of creation is expressed in this text as a communion of love. The original human is separated into two – the man and the woman – who originate from the same flesh. When Adam sees the woman, he exclaims, “bone of my bone! Flesh of my flesh!” They are destined to return to the point of origin, coming together again in the mystery of marriage. But the return is not merely a reversal, as though they would reabsorb one another into their bodies. Rather, they are bound together in a unity that preserves and perfects – rather than destroys – their own specific identities. Conformity is unity at the expense of distinction. Tolerance is difference at the expense of unity. Both fall short of communion, which is a real union while also maintaining distinction. This is descriptive not only of ideal human love, but also of our union with God. Unlike a river which loses its form when it empties into the ocean, our union with God actually makes our personality more vivid and defined.

In classical theology, this movement of going out and coming back is a microcosm of the procession and return that describes all of reality. The cosmos is the unfolding (explicatio) of God; God is the enfolding (complicatio) of the cosmos. All things are given existence and life by God. But, all things also are moving toward their fulfillment in God. For these theologians, gravity which moves the planets and love which moves the human heart are merely part of the one movement of the cosmos towards the Creator.

Suggestion for action

Conformity and tolerance are both false expressions of communion. Do you feel a pull toward one or the other in the relationships in your life? Notice how they make you feel. Don’t try to solve the problem, but bring it into your prayer.

September 24, 2018 — The Wholeness of Creation

This week we will be meditating on the creation accounts given in the first three chapters of Genesis. We will consider how our origins illuminate who we are called to be in Christ. The central idea is that we were created to be in harmony with God, with the rest of creation, and with ourselves. But we have fallen into disharmony. The work of prayer is letting God restore us to that original blessedness.

Today’s Bible reading

Read Genesis 1-2

More Thoughts for Meditation

There are two accounts of creation in the first few chapters of Genesis. The first begins with verse 1:1 and outlines the classic “seven day” creation. The second begins at 2:4 and forms a continuous narrative with the rest of the book of Genesis. The evidence of the text definitely suggests that they were composed in different places by different people in different centuries. One obvious difference is a shift in language for how the the Creator is named. The first account uses the word elohim, translated ‘God;’ the second uses the name yahweh elohim, usually translated ‘LORD God.’

There are other interesting differences as well, but I want to talk about what unites them. In the first account, God commands the world into existence. It is written in a stately, sober manner, emphasizing symmetry and hierarchy. In the second, the LORD God plants a garden, sculpts Adam out of the dust, and breathes into him the breath of life. In both instances, God brings form to formlessness. Clock-maker, gardener, artist, conductor – whatever we call God, He is the Great Giver of Form, the shaper of all things, who calls us into existence and makes things into what they are.

Existence is that which has been given form. To be alive, to exist, is to be part of the form of reality. There is a wholeness to creation that binds everything together. Each thing exists as part of that wholeness. Scripture also speaks of unity as a future orientation – that good and final end toward which all things in creation are moving. The central revelation of Christianity is that God has gone to the very depths of hell in order to preserve the wholeness of His creatures and His creation. Thus Paul writes, “With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and on earth.”

Suggestions for Action

See if you can find a dark place to sit in for a while. Maybe light a candle, and simply let yourself be. Take as long as you need.

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