Wednesday, December 15, 2004


I visited the 12th street community

veni spiritus sanctus

on Monday, gathering with them for dinner and prayer for the first time in awhile. We ate and talked, enjoying the company of one another. We lit some candles and listened and began to pray. We prayed for one another, friends present and absent. And I thought

this is ordinary

Last night was our final Tuesday gathering for the semester. We read from the lectionary

with terrible recompense He will come and save you

and just talked. Told some inane stories and shared some frustrations, and looked to YHWH with hope,

redemption stares at you
in the mirror from behind
the glassy eyes and the
cold, barren face

becoming more and more aware that in our life together we reflect the glory of YHWH, that these moments are not fleeting, that they do not need to be protected or guarded jealously, that they are


And I see that grace does not run out, that restoration is not a weekend project, and that some things really ought to hurt and pain is not always bad

this veritable power is not transitory

i tire of the old ones the hollow men and women who being blind try to describe light behind their glassy eyes stares nothing

::the - candle::

they say
::the - candle - you - lit::
::in - the - dark - place::
::is - not - so - bright - as - you - think::

what if you were dead and nobody told you
i would tell you if you would listen but you hate when we disturb your sleep
(i'm sorry; you see, no one else ever will)

blind ghosts hiding among their pretty tombs whose whispers echo and drown the whimpers of those of us who are getting up our of our graves

i won't fear truth
i won't shirk correction
i will not deny our life

these gods need to die
these gods who do not raise the dead

In God's new world, resurrection is ordinary.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Reading Athanasius: Talking About Sin

It is also helpful to differentiate the brokenness and rebellion that spring from the corruption Athanasius describes. Our previous enmity with God emerged because of rebellion, not brokenness. He does not despise the weak. Not all sin is symptomatic of rebellion, but rather a manifestation of deep brokenness – some part of the personality still in need of Christ’s redemption. Perhaps we can differentiate between sin (as a condition of rebellion) and sins (as symptoms of brokenness or rebellion). This speaks to the insistence of some Christians that their sins yet separate them from God.

They do not.

Rebellion needs to be forgiven, but weakness requires an infusing of grace and strength. Sins (understood as symptoms) cannot separate the individual Christian from God, because in baptism one is sealed with Christ. The righteousness of the Messiah is imputed to the Messiah’s people, after all. As Athanasius illustrates, our restoration and healing are a matter of God’s honor: he has redeemed us, and there is a big sign at the trading post that says “no refunds.” (Groan) But it’s true.

If the God who knows to expect so much more failure of us than we do ourselves has already accepted us in Christ Jesus and sealed us in him through baptism, we don’t require more forgiveness just because we are more aware of our brokenness. I do all kinds of sinful things I don’t know to be sinful (just ask my friends!), but they don’t separate me from God, or my community. We confess to be known as sinners, and to appropriate healing and restoration in the dark and lonely places of our souls.

Jesus does not despise the weak. He does not find us lacking and so cast us away. He knows what we lack, and so has stood for us, and does stand, on those parts of our lives where we are unable.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Reading Athanasius: Why YHWH Redeems

For VBCC’s October schola, we read Athanasius’ On the Incarnation. Ancient theologians are loquacious suckers, often needlessly so. I feel a certain kinship. That aside, I found one of his arguments compelling and possibly fruitful for discussion. Athanasius argues that the salvation of humanity is required for God to maintain his personal honor. In his view, not only are the divine image-bearers sinful and rebellious, but they are descending into nothingness.
…death had them completely under its dominion. For the transgression of the commandment was making them turn back again according to their nature; and as they had at the beginning come into being out of non-existence, so were they now on the way to returning, through corruption, to non-existence again (1.4).
Since the Logos brought creation into being as a reflection of Himself, it would dishonor Him to surrender it to nothingness. Further, because sin results in the unraveling of human nature to death, it became necessary to renew and re-create human nature by exchanging places with men and bearing their deaths in his own body (2.7, 9). The Incarnation was necessary for this needful redemption:

The Word of God came in his own person, because it was he alone, the image of the Father, who could re-create man made after the image (3.13).

Athanasius illustrates this as a model posing again for the restoration of a painting. What we couldn’t be in our brokenness and rebellion, Jesus becomes for us, so that we can become like him. May God empower us to be his restored people.

In terms of comprehending the love of God and his dedication to people, this is a powerful idea that understands our help and healing as a matter of God’s honor and consistency with the works he has already purposed to perform. Those of us who have difficulty understanding how or why God would go to any lengths to love, heal and free us can see: God has staked himself on us completely.

More later.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Living in a Body

Resurrection is not the sequel to death.

It is its reversal.

— overheard in a lecture last year