Friday, December 15, 2006

the sea shall be no more

There are two scripture verses that deal with blood imagery which made me do a double take when reading (one in Exodus, the other in Esther). I want to write my thoughts about them, but before I do that I need to put down in a coherent form how blood is a poor but necessary substitute for water and how that physical reality ties into our need for grace. This leads to my understanding that our need prefigures a destiny when the specific deficiency we experience as sinners will be transformed into something unimaginably greater.

Science tells us that blood is a mechanism developed to replace the omnipresent source and sustenance available in the early phases of the evolution of life on earth: the sea. It is the localized, mobile and efficient method of sustaining life that replaced the osmosis of water through the cell walls as life evolved within water.

The Sea

Genesis 1
6: And God said, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters."

In Genesis, God separates the "waters" and creates the dry land which depends on the water, but is substantially separated from it. The whole statistical miracle of life on earth revolves around the multi-faceted union of water and earth - be that in the atmosphere, the oceans, the polar ice caps, the lakes, rivers, streams, and from that union water and earth join in the expression of their union through LIFE. No matter how far up the food chain an animal is, it depends on earth and water, because it originated from earth and water. Total separation of earth and water = death.

While it is true that we are "stardust" physically, in our essences we are much more than that. Living things, (and most uniquely, human beings) are the urgent poetry of all creation - the galaxies, the stars, the sun, the earth and, from the other direction, the protons, electrons, neutrons, quarks, gluons, and theoretical strings. The Spirit tells us this through Paul.

Romans 8
18: I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
19: For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God;
20: for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope;
21: because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22: We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now;
23: and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
24: For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?
25: But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

So much of creation is unseen to us, whether practically or purposefully - especially the presence of God in creation! This makes the poem urgent, and if living things are the poem, life is the language of the poetry. As massive and all-encompassing a mystery as this is, it is not wholly unknowable, since we've been given the Rosetta stone which allows us to learn and speak the language of all creation - even if our rational capacity to comprehend what's being said reaches its inevitable limit.

We have the one Word necessary to know all things...

john 1
1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2: He was in the beginning with God;
3: all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.
4: In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

...and to accomplish all things.

john 14
6: Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.
7: If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him."
8: Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied."
9: Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, `Show us the Father'?
10: Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
11: Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves.
12: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father.
13: Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son;
14: if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.
15: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
16: And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever

To know and love Jesus, is to know the why, what, how and Who of all creation. But that knowledge is not attained, it is given to us in the innermost rooms of our hearts without merit - so that we may join in the spirit of that gift and give of ourselves to each other without expectation of reward.

John leads us to the final stanza of the poem of life by emphasizing that Christ will recapitulate all creation in himself and make us heirs and children, not only by healing the wound of original sin, but by speaking a new creation into existence!

Do we think that the universe is a static and inert canvas? Not in hands of God. The fact that if the universe were the size of the earth, our galaxy would be a grain of sand, should be enough to convince anyone of the silliness of a person making himself the center of his own heart, let alone the world around him. Everything is so unfathomable big (or unfathomably small) to underscore the even greater position of the Father towards creation.

The divide between the Father and creation was bridged by Christ. In the end, John tells us, there will be nothing for the bridge to cross over. That is truly truly good news. Frightening, exhilarating, joyful, overwhelming - all the things that make love so awesome.

Rev. 21
1: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
2: And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband;
3: and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them;
4: he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away."
5: And he who sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true."
6: And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life without payment.
7: He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

salvation in the syntax

I wonder if the change in placement of the phrase divider (comma or colon, depending on Bible version) from Isaiah to Luke was purposeful by the Evangelist, or just an accident? Since the Holy Spirit is involved, you'd have to say it was a "happy accident" a la Bob Ross. It changes the meaning of the text, but both are true and provide platforms for meaningful reflection.

Isaiah ch. 40:
3: A voice cries: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

This is telling us that the way needs to be prepared IN the wilderness. John of the Cross expanded on that concept quite a bit!

Luke, ch. 3
4: As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

Luke is alluding to John the Baptist, as well foretelling all the voices in Church history calling people out of the world and back to Christ.

This certainly includes Mary, circa Revelation ch. 12
5: she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne,
6: and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which to be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

Fascinating stuff...