Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Freedom! But Not for Freedom's Sake... -The Exodus

This seems to be one of those stories that almost all of us are aware of, the story of The Exodus.  It’s a popular story because it deals with themes that are near and dear to our hearts.  Themes like freedom from oppression and the vanquishing of ruthless enemies.  Even Hollywood has taken up this story, proclaiming the mighty acts of God from the big screen.  Indeed, it’s a story that resonates with us.  It resonates with us because, in some ways, it makes us aware that in our daily lives and world we are not as free and as in control as we would hope to be. 

All too often, I suppose, we miss the point of the story altogether.  We make it about freedom for freedom’s sake.  We do this in America, because freedom is the dominant storyline.  Freedom is king.  But, we must remember that this story of liberation and freedom takes place within the context of a larger Story.  In that Story, freedom is not king.  It is the Story that began with creation, where a stage was set, a script written, and characters formed.  Adam and Eve, these first characters went off script, forever changing the storyline and the stage upon which we play. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

We're Not Dead Yet... -Genesis 12

The promise is God’s power and will to create a new future sharply discontinuous with the past and the present. The promise is God’s resolve to form a new community wrought only by miracle and reliant only on God’s faithfulness. Faith as response is the capacity to embrace that announced future with such passion that the present can be relinquished for the sake of that future.
-Walter Brueggemann

After Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden, the Story turns bleak.  We aren’t long out of the Garden before there is murder.  Brother kills brother.  We’ve said that when we reject God’s Story and attempt to write our own that terrible things happen.  The eating of the fruit, brother killing brother, these are but the beginning.  Generations pass, and no one is listening to God the Director.  The evil that happens from seeking to live in a world of our own making instead of a world of God’s making multiplies and piles up.  As the Characters in our Story multiply and divide, so does their wickedness.  Finally, God has enough.  The Director, who is ever trying to get his Actors and Actresses to follow His script, decides that He is going to fire everyone except this Noah.  And by fire, I mean let go in a very permanent way.  So, God floods the world, intending to purge it of its evilness.  Only, after the whole thing is done, God realizes that the problem that his Actors and Actresses have with going off script isn’t one that can be fixed through destruction.  It’s a heart problem, and heart problems must be dealt with in very different ways. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It All Falls Apart... -Genesis 3

 “Anxiety comes from doubting God’s providence, from rejecting his care and seeking to secure our own well-being.  Failure to trust God with our lives is death.  To trust God with our lives is to turn from the autonomous ‘I’ to the covenanting ‘Thou,’ from our invented well-being to God’s overriding purposes and gifts.  This shrewd narrative does not believe there are many alternatives.” –Walter Brueggemann

“And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.”  There’s vulnerability in being naked.  We’re only ever naked, without the garments that protect us in so many ways, when we feel safe and secure, when we are with people who we know will not take advantage of our nakedness.  As adults, we’ve mainly lost those feelings of safety and security.  But, if you’ve ever spent much time around small children, or if you have small children of your own, then you will know that nakedness for them is no problem.  For innocent children, giggles and laughter often accompany the freedom of being without clothing.  Oftentimes my children, when they are without clothing – say after a bath – will run through the house laughing and yelling, daring us to catch them, daring us to once again encumber them with clothes.  They are free.  They are safe.  They are protected by their parents who have created an environment that allows them to be so. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

And So it Begins... -Genesis 2

 “The destiny of the human creatures is to live in God’s world, not a world of his/her own making.”
–Walter Brueggemann

There is no story to catch up on, only blackness, darkness, nothingness, formlessness, and chaos.  There is nothing, no order, no stuff only God.  God is the only character.  Really, if we are honest, God is the only character that matters, the only character that has ever mattered.  So, in God’s goodness, in God’s nature of love and relationship, in the Holy Trinity, God decides to bring life out of nothingness.

Everything that follows in this story of God and creation is an account of our development and sometimes our undoing as characters in the story that begins now.  Even though it is our natural inclination to focus our attention on our own development as characters in the Story of God, we must not begin to think that we are the center of the story or that we are the main character.  No, we are the supporting cast, and we are quite insignificant.  We are taking our cues from the guy playing the lead, from Jesus Christ, and from God the Father who has formed the plot, written the script, and now directs the play – ever mindful of the improvisation that takes place on stage by his actors and actresses.  God the Father, through the guiding and correcting presence of the Holy Spirit, works our miscues, our attempts to hijack the story, and weaves a new story line, but always the ending remains the same.