Sola Scriptura

“…and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” -2 Timothy 3:15-17

Getting back to my faith roots.

Scripture was my first love.  In the concrete walled halls of a small Baptist church school I fell in love with story.  Bible was the first class of the day. Memory verses were important, but it was the flannel graph figures whose lives resurrected against a velvet gray each day who captivated my imagination: from the great patriarchs of the Hebrews to the socially disenfranchised who found both mercy and healing in Y’shua‘s words and touch.  Some heard the stories and came away angry or confused at the cruel, punishing deity on one side of the book and the Utopian idealism of the ragged rabbi of Galilee depicted in the other.  Not me.  I heard the epic in a different way.

Always being smaller, slower, and socially awkward John the Evangelist dialed straight into this introvert’s frequency.

What will we play?  My words dismissed by the group as if unspoken.

When the Alpha would speak, play began.

We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. – Luke 7:32

Say again, John, all after “He was in the world…but the world did not know Him.”

He came to His own…but His own… did not accept him. –John 1:11

The jealous protective fiery response of the deeply loving, ever rejected God begins with a deep wound which could not be reconciled; a bustling playground vacated at the sound of the approaching happy-excited running-steps.

 When they heard the sound of God strolling in the garden in the evening breeze, the Man and his Wife hid in the trees of the garden, hid from God.

God called to the Man: “Where are you?”    –Genesis 3:8-9

So my mind was attuned to the God of the Bible who gives in grandiose ways and protects by exaggerated means, just to convey affection to those who seem unreachable and unresponsive.  And yet I remain keenly aware of the unresponsive ones who likewise find God unreachable and non-responsive; repulsed by the over-the-top gestures which seem to erupt out of nowhere with little to no context.

No one understands the Autistic God of the Bible quite as I have.

So I did not find the extravagant act of God: being found in appearance as a man, self-humbled, self-limited, becoming obedient to the point of suffering humiliation, even death, on a cross, such a difficult thing to grasp.  The words of the cross echoing the same confused cry spoken through creation and prophet since the world began: Love me!

The God-breathed text of the old covenant whispers the same audacious promise God speaks from the cross. It is as much a promise for us as it is a promise God made to Himself: that one day God will no longer be rejected- no longer alone.

Loved, and Loving, in eternal reciprocity.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” -Revelation 21:3-4

Broken

Mary arrived early at the tomb to clean up the broken body;

wrap it with soft cloth and spice.

Jesus forbad it.

       Hands off.        Don’t touch.

Broken punctured twisted bloodied naked shredded skin

A glorified body

presented to God in all its brokenness

visible to friends: see my hands, my feet, my side

Don’t hold on to me, Mary.

The world must see me just like this.

You cannot clean him up, Mary.

Let’s all stop trying to wash away the blood

and spice up the body broken.

Lest we all start believing the lie that people are basically good…

That the arc of human nature bends toward justice…

It is the disfigured figure of innocence savagedly razed to life

that testifies against the human race: a depraved race.

Holy Love embodied walks on calloused heels searching out the concentration camps of the soul:

unblinded eyes see the self-haters forgiven who embrace the leprosy-free as they dance with the lame-no-more.

Only one punishment to fit this crime against humanity:

Crucify Him.

No, Mary, you cannot clean him up.

      We must see Him as he is

as we made him

         or we will never believe it is true –

                        in denial

that we are the darkness we fear

               disguised as angels of light.

BrokenBody

Creator of the universe,
you made the world in beauty,
and restore all things in glory
through the victory of Jesus Christ.
We pray that, wherever your image is still disfigured
by poverty, sickness, selfishness, war and greed,
the new creation in Jesus Christ may appear in justice, love, and peace,
to the glory of your name. Amen.*

*Revised Common Lectionary, Vanderbilt Divinity Library (online)

Source: http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/prayers.php?id=87

Prayer for the Beginning of the Day

metropolitan-Philaret
Saint Philaret was a prominent figure in preparing a Russian translation of the Bible, and wrote many volumes of theological and historical works collectively known as the Filaretica.

A Prayer of St. Philaret of Moscow (Eastern Orthodox)

O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace, help me in all things to rely upon your holy will.
In every hour of the day reveal your will to me.
Bless my dealings with all who surround me.
Teach me to treat all that comes to throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that your will governs all.
In all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and feelings.
In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by you.
Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others.
Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring.
Direct my will, teach me to pray.
And you, yourself, pray in me.
Amen.

Why Are You Weeping? Whom Are You Seeking?

Image

John 20:12-16

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying.  And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she  said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher).

Why are you weeping?

Why are you weeping?

Each tear has a name, you know, for every pain

every loss, each hurt; all fears.

Those tears are recorded stories.

What do they say —

about love lost

or

life lost?

Mary, why are you weeping?

She was set free, you know.

Delivered.

Rescued

from a gang of dark spirits.

Now her Savior is gone.

Will they return?  What happens if they do? Who will defend her then?

Why are you weeping?

Well,

this tear is for fear of the dark, and the things that move in it.

The one trickling close behind swells with the anger born from abuse:  by men; being used by men.

From the other eye streaks one for the ladies.  

You know the ones.

They begin as mean girls and grow up to be wicked women

whose words bruise deeper than any man’s hand.

Why are you weeping?

For years lost

and

deep regrets

Not just two tears — but a tear for every lost year and every guilty regret.

Tears fall the more; falling still.

Mary weeps till her face glistens; bathed in the anguish of

depression

oppression

shunning

and

hate.

O why are you weeping, Mary?

And not one

Not nearly one tear

but a crowd of tears welling up into those crying eyes

for the One that was lost.

He once spoke of a lost lamb

worth more than 99.

Who knew He would become the Lamb that was Lost.

5,000 tears gather like a crowd in a valley

hungry

to hear the words of life pour from his lips.

Mary, why are you weeping?

For his smile.  Those eyes.  A voice resounding over sea storms

or

whispering life across miles to a child who has died.

Mary, why are you weeping?

For a life in shambles.

Never did anything right. Always.

Always

the wrong place

the wrong time

the wrong friends

the wrong side of the tracks

the wrong choices

Mary, why are you weeping?

He was her closest and truest friend.  The best of us.  He deserved a proper burial.

Don’t        

you        

understand?

It was the best we could do.  

           Sabbath was about to begin.  

This tomb was close.

           It was free.

We had no where else to take him.

She wanted to do right, for His sake.

Couldn’t even wrap him right.

Couldn’t even bathe him in fragrance.

          Always doing it wrong.

Here now, to finish the job

He’s gone.

Why are you weeping?

Do you know where he is?

Why are you weeping?

I’ll take him away!

          Why are you weeping?

                          Whom are you seeking?

Mary,

Whom are you seeking?

Relationships aren’t crutches.

They are Leg 1 and Leg 2 that gives the power to

stand up straight

move forward

jump for joy

But you have to know who it is you’re looking for… and why.

Whom are you seeking?

Some search for a lawyer type.  Someone who will defend and justify even our bad behavior.

Some look for a policeman.  Someone to enforce rules on them because they can’t police themselves.

But some,

some are searching for a helper… a teacher… a guide.

and will settle for a “gardener” —  a custodian of the dead spaces and dark places.

Someone who can offer directions, knows the markers, understands the graveyard layout.

Whom are you seeking?

Convinced that no one understands.

Sure that somebody got here just ahead of you—

taking what is rightfully yours

hiding it

abusing it

losing it

Just whom are you seeking?

If you’ve taken him away  — tell me where!

A gardener knows his way around these

tombs

Markers of forgotten memories

Resting places of lost loves and lives lost

Those sad, stone faces of dreams that died too soon.

Whom are you seeking?

Crying over an empty tomb.  What will a gardener do?

Or

Does your Hope demand something more?

A substance for Faith; Love actually:  that is, a real love that never quits

and can’t be extinguished by

mistakes or immaturity

not by torture

not even by Death.

Whom are you seeking?

Mary is here.

And He is there — standing just behind.

Blinded.

A tear drenched, swollen eyed blindness.

Sobbing over a persisting pain of the present moment.

Today’s tears prevent her from seeing clear — from seeing Him

from seeing the promise of Life more abundant

standing near

standing there — just an arm’s length away.

Whom are you seeking?

Would it surprise you to learn that the One for whom you are searching

is searching for you

“Mary”

Why do you weep?

       Whom do you seek?

Our Hope is in Him

Jesus

Through whom we are introduced, by Faith, into Grace

St. Paul — Romans 5:5

And Hope does not disappoint because the Love of God has been poured out

over us…through us…within us…by the Holy Spirit

And while we were still helpless

Christ assumed our helpless state

and by the great Mercy of God He has caused us to be born again to a living Hope

through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

St. Peter — 1 Peter

Some say “a crutch”.

I say two legs

to stand on

two legs

to move forward in faith

two legs to jump for joy!

We find Joy in suffering.

Not because we are crazy or lie to ourselves.

But because hell moments reveal the face of Grace.

Through red, swollen eyes we will see one we mistook for a gardener

becomes the one who saves;

turns out to be the one we’ve been looking for all along.

Faith, tested by hardship and trouble and pain is purer, stronger stuff.

And though you have not seen Him, you Love Him,

and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him,

you dance with an

inexplicable

inexpressible

irrepressible

Joy

Full of Glory!            Full of Glory!           Full of Glory!

Your tears are mourning blessed to comfort

Blessed are those, too, who seek, for they will find!

—Or should I say, He found you, weeping and seeking —

The Soul saving One

Jesus.

Messiah.

To Kiss the Face of God

To be loved is one thing.

To be certain of love is something else.

Words,

Gestures:

Impotent.

Useless.

unless —

linked to a

  Truth.sunrising_holdinghands

Actuality.

Something so reliable it goes without saying:

like, “The Sun will rise tomorrow.”

 

Can I know that God loves me?

More –

Can I know that God loves me now?

God Gives me daily bread. Essentials provided.

Nice. But easily placed under the column heading: moral obligation

What about gifts?  God’s favor and blessing!

Sweet. But if it comes from the surplus of your power, resources, time…

it is only a hand-me-down of the forgotten, easily discarded at the outskirts of

your heart

your passion

your self

Well, what do you want from me?

Something that doesn’t part from you easily

Something that costs you something

Puts you at risk

Awkward

Endangered

A statement that I or they are worth the counter-intuitive, reckless, self denying

action

How do I know God loves me?

That God loves me even now?

Communion.  The  Lord’s Supper.  

True food.  True drink.

A broken body.

A life laid down.

Bleeding.

Broken.

Humiliated – publicly.

The sacrificial

act

of God’s unrelenting love for you

God loves  you.  Loves you now.

In this moment

this same crisis, failure, unlovable-worthless-wreck-of-a-life moment.

 

Don’t think too much on it:
this gesture that embodies the act

Just close your eyes

and receive it…

By receiving communion, we lean into the One who is already leaning in toward us.

God kisses.

We are kissed

with a sacrament that speaks louder than words.

 

communion

 

Transplant

NOW you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,  and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—  a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.  ~Colossians 3:8-11

Put aside?

What?  All my best weapons?  I keep those for personal defense.

It’s quite a collection.

I have them because I’ve been hurt.

I won’t be hurt again.

Hurt people hurt others.

I know just how to

Fire a warning shot.

Graze the skin.

Disable.

Shoot to kill.

Anger, wrath, malice, slander, abusive speech… 

These are the energy sources for weapons of mass

keep-you-far-away-from-me-so-you-can-never-hurt-me-(again)

destruction

Do you think you will talk me into disarmament so easily?

The Grace of Growing Up

There is a good reason my past is located in my history.

God put all the hurt behind me:

in my thirty minutes ago

my yesterday

last week

past year

last decade

–back there with my  immaturity

So I could grow upand therefore out  of it.

The Grace of  a New Self

We never discourage the recipient of a new heart

or

a new liver

or

a new kidney

That is a courageous act of survival.

Necessary for life.

The lie we believed and passed on to our kids and closest friends:

“Time heals all wounds.”

Fine.

Keep your old heart — your old liver — your old kidney.

Time will heal it.

Nope. Some things just have to be discarded.

Some things simply must be replaced.

The wounds are too deep and debilitating;

rendering it incapable of good, proper function.

So, when the Bible teaches that the Self is like that

we shouldn’t gasp or grimace or guffaw.

Grin.

You’re at the top of the list for the next Self transplant.

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and belovedput on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patiencebearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.  ~Colossians 3:12-14

Revenge.

Retaliation.

Hard habits to break.

Impossible to break.  

Only a new Self is healthy enough to

pump, cleanse, filter,

respond 

to hurt

with

Kindness

Courtesy

Compassion

Humility

A new Self requires renewal — a re-shaping into the likeness — the attitude of Christ Jesus.

Immaturity set me up for deep emotional bruising.

I over thought my importance, my role, my authority.

Abusing the power of my right as a person to have personhood

to have dignity

to have a voice

I was easily, too easily, offended.

In maturity, I no longer use my Self as a collection point for all things

rewarding

affirming

Now, my Self is put to better use.

Bumper Car of Compassion and Service.

My Self gives its power to making other people’s dreams come true.

And when that is too lofty or too large for realism

I just take a cup of water to the thirsty who have none.

I just help the grumpy old woman with a ride to the grocery

and then stick around

to put groceries away

and

miss my gym class.

This is the functioning new self that gives authority and personhood and dignity to the wonderful, beautiful, anger-filled, wrathful, malicious, slanderous, abusive

people

who fill up the earth

covered with wounds

that time never healed

but let fester

into oozing infection that infected others into

mass epidemic.

Beyond this — Put on LOVE

Love

It’s the antibodies of the soul.

Impossible?

Is it impossible to love or receive love after being exposed to all the virus and cholesterol and bacteria and poison of this planet contaminated with humanism?

Would seem so.

Surrounded by

Deafened by

“You don’t know what they did to me!”

“You don’t know what I’ve been through!”

“I will never forgive them for what they did!”

The Grace of Impossible Suffering

Ravensbrück was a notorious women’s concentration camp during World War II, located in northern Germany, 90 km (56 mi) north of Berlin .

Between 1939 and 1945, over 130,000 female prisoners passed through the Ravensbrück camp system; around 40,000 were Polish and 26,000 were Jewish. Between 15,000 and 32,000 of the total survived. Although the inmates came from every country in German-occupied Europe, the largest single national group incarcerated in the camp consisted of Polish women.

Siemens & Halske employed many of the slave labor prisoners.

Margarete Buber: “At the end of each week, the reward was added together and the hours logged, so evident that it was what every worker earned in so many hours, but which they never received, which was taken away by Siemens per concentration camp slave. Through this system it was to determine immediately where a prisoner had his workload, which accounted for about 40 Pfennig per hour not achieved … my employment at Siemens consisted mainly in correspondence of the Director with concentration camp. … As I learned, the main directors were showing their zeal for following orders, for their career, and out of fear of being sent to the front.”

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ravensbr%C3%BCck_concentration_camp

The following prayer was found at
Ravensbrück death camp where 92,000
women and children died.

It was scrawled on wrapping paper near a dead child.

Lord, remember not only the men
and women of good will also those of
ill will.
But do not only remember the
suffering they have inflicted on us.
Remember the fruits we have brought,
thanks to this suffering–our
comradeship, our loyalty, our humility,
the courage, the generosity, the
greatness of heart which has grown
out of all this.
And when they come to judgment, let
all the fruits we have borne be their
forgiveness. Amen

Source: http://restornews.blogspot.com/2012/03/ravensbruck-prayer.html

Only a new Self could love so well in hell

.Image

Lord have mercy.  Christ have mercy.

More than heal us.  Save us with the grace of Self, brand new, molded in the image of You.

Undercover Boss

Hebrews 2:

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it

Drift away.

Glide aside.

Hydroplaning is different from aquaplaning.

Hydroplaning is where water wedges the road away from the tire.

Traction is lost.

Control is gone.

Hopeless.

Aquaplaning is what happens when the rain first begins.

Oils from the road rise to the surface.

The wet, oily road reduces traction.

The car seems to have a mind of its own.

Controllable.  Still, left to its own, its destination is disaster.

Difficult but not without hope.

Just enough had gotten between where the rubber meets the road in early Christianity that the author of Hebrews cries out for course correction.

Christian, take the wheel.

Try to explain the God-Man concept and you’ll find yourself drifting, quite naturally, to the left or the right.

One side claims Jesus is a glorified angel.  A celestial being who went to the Olympics of God’s will on the Earth and came home with the gold.  Maybe Michael the Archangel.  Maybe some other unnamed angelic triathlete.

The other supposes Jesus is an exalted man.  One man, out of the entire history of humanity emerges from the human race with a perfect time and no points deducted.

Oh glory.

Now, he gets to sit in judgment over all of us.

The one guy who managed to be perfect.

This does not bode well.

 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty,  how will we escape…

Our only hope of escape is that neither of those two options is true.

Angels couldn’t possibly understand us and would never judge our actions in any merciful way.

Humans are self absorbed power mongers.  No human, exalted or not, will share glory.

...if we neglect so great a salvation?

This is what makes this salvation such a great salvation.

Our savior is neither a glorified angel nor an exalted man, but a self-humbling God who became one of us in order to save us.

 After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by  gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.

Undercover Boss.

Bill Executive becomes Joe Worker.

They spend approximately one week undercover, working in various areas of their company operations, with a different job and in most cases a different location each day. They are exposed to a series of predicaments with amusing results, and invariably spend time getting to know the people who work in the company, learning about their professional and personal challenges.

At the end of their week undercover, the executives return to their true identity and request the employees they worked with individually to corporate headquarters. The bosses reveal their identity, and reward hard-working employees through promotion, or financial rewards, while other employees are given training or better working conditions.

It’s not about spying on workers.

Let’s see if they’re following company policy.

It is meant to explore life through the eyes of the common laborer who banks all their future and present on the means and benefits provided by this business.

It’s about better understanding the employee so that together, worker and executive, build a better company.

But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the  author of their salvation through sufferings.

To experience what it is to be the one who

— strains under the impossible task

–is tempted to cheat the company

— believes that no one in the ivory tower cares; abandoned, judged.

–lives in fear of being terminated…

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. 

To be that guy:

poorly trained, under supported, asked to do the impossible, then let go at the time clock, walked out the back door…

humiliated.

Don’t you know who I am?

Don’t you know all this is mine?

You don’t understand the power and influence I wield.

“Good luck in all your future endeavors.”

He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.

What a tragedy it would be to

neglect

reject

ignore

abandon

to glide aside from so great a salvation.

Question: What could be better than knowing, personally, the one who sits in the chair of the CEO?

Answer:  Being known, personally, by the one who sits in the chair of the CEO.

That makes the Big Boss

Merciful — to your situation

Committed — to building the business by empowering you to achieve greater.

Hands on the wheel.

The rain is falling harder now.

Don’t miss the straight and narrow that runs right down the middle of the road.

Jesus Christ was God in the flesh.

Hands on the wheel.

Saved.

The Dark Side of the Moon

Eclipse

All that you touch
All that you see
All that you taste
All you feel.
All that you love
All that you hate
All you distrust
All you save.
All that you give
All that you deal
All that you buy,
beg, borrow or steal.
All you create
All you destroy
All that you do
All that you say.
All that you eat
And everyone you meet
All that you slight
And everyone you fight.
All that is now
All that is gone
All that’s to come
and everything under the sun is in tune
but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.

“There is no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact it’s all dark.”

The Sun.  It touches everything. Illumines all.

The glorious radiance of God eclipsed.

A strange voice in the dark.  Faceless. Terrifying.  Motives uncertain. Try as you might your ear cannot locate its position.  Darkness is a greedy thug.  It will not surrender even the sheerest reference point.

In the dark, the friendlier the voice sounds, the more sinister it seems.

God speaks. Across the vast darkness divine love is lost in translation.

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.   Hebrews 1:1-2

Sin is not a thing.  It is a disposition.  Separated from the glory of God we are born creatures of the dark.

Light appears. This light is the Son of God.  Reflecting the Divine Image our world opens to us.

That voice now has a face.  That face…smiles…genuine.  The eyes glow…communicating love — on a mission.

That voice beckons us to be near Him, so we too may reflect the light.  To see Him as He is.  To know one another.

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…  Hebrews 1:3

Once in darkness now illumination makes it clear that God has been reaching out and speaking out from the beginning of human history.  Now it is clear that God is calling those wandering and afraid in the darkness to step into His marvelous light — the light of Christ Jesus.

It is clear now that the purpose of God, and so the power of Christ and the function of the Holy Spirit and the Church, is to seek and save that which was lost; those in the dark…

Matter of fact, it’s all dark.

That’s why it’s so important that the Church have more than the right words and the right purpose.

You must reflect the light.  You must have His face.

Otherwise

the wandering scurry terrified deeper into the dark.

http://www.godvine.com/Carry-Your-Candle-a-Very-Moving-Video-242.html

So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering… Ephesians 3:13

Tragedy.

Pain.

Suffering.

The ragged, razor edges born from broken people crashing violently into  other broken people by sociological forces beyond our control: like, ordering a pizza or crawling to work in rush hour traffic, going to college class or high school, or making plans to view the midnight showing of an anticipated summer movie.

When the ragged shards of humanity cut and crush deepest some lose heart.  Faith in God or hope in humanity plummets.  Despair is a first responder.  Blame is a crime scene investigator.  Rage is a coroner.

St. Paul once heard a deep, foreboding rumble in the ranks.  His own persecution generated frustration among his parish planted in Ephesus.  Where is God?  Where is the power of God when an agent of Grace actively suffers?

I bow my knees before the Father…that…he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner beingEphesians 3:14-16

The question is not an unfair question, just a revealing one.  Anyone perplexed by God’s seeming absence in tragedy is confessing, not the absence of God, but an absence of a relationship with God.  St. Paul quickly moves to encourage the despairing.  Stop looking for the power of God externally.  The God of the Bible is not an enabler.  Don’t expect God to work in ways that are counter-intuitive to the greatest proof of Divine Sovereignty, the  Divine Design of Freewill.  The power of God is not to be found holding the consequence of human fallibility and irresponsibility at bay.  Imagining God as the cosmic, celestial Dutch Boy with a finger in a failing dam paints God as a pathetic picture of an ever other-wise committed, helplessly stuck savior.

The power of God is within you.

The Spirit of God energizes the explosive dynamic of inward change so that Christ is able to settle in.

It’s a home invasion.

It’s a marriage.

Everything is reorganized and redesigned to accommodate, not the guest, but the new, permanent resident.

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:17-19

Knowing about Jesus.  That’s insufficient.  To know the love of Christ beyond knowledge demands relationship– a committed relationship.  There is no power within to respond to tragedy or pain or suffering if you are just Jesus’ Facebook friend: You share some likes and some interests.  You might have worked at the same job for awhile.  You know His birthday.  You might participate on occasion when He creates an event…

The power to respond with Holy Love to tragic, painful suffering– yours or someone else’s — begins with the power of God surging at the deepest levels of your self.  This is where you will find the power of God at work to respond to the  the gut-wrenching, sadistic   cruelty of a morning jog or a late night walk; mailing a letter or reading at a coffee shop tainted by the darkest and lowest a human is able to do to another.

So, St. Paul, we humbly receive your prayer for us.  Grace us with a blessed benediction, a promise, a cause to hope that the fullness of God is yet to be found in us and therefore among us…

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,   to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_OTz-lpDjw&feature=related