God Moves In

Format Image

“Before the creation of the world,” Ephesians tells us, God had a plan.

Before you made plans to join us here in worship at Immanuel.
Before the star in the sky led the Magi to Bethlehem.
Before the prophets first heard the voice of God.
Before the moon and the stars were set in the sky.
Before everything!
While “the earth was without shape or form” as the first words of the Bible tell us…
And while “the Word was with God and the Word was God” as John proclaims…
There. Was. A. Plan.

What kind of a plan was this?
If we look to the root of the word used here in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, oikonomia, we find that it describes the administration of a household or an estate.
It’s the same word we find at the root of ecology and economy.
It describes how something is held together… the rules that govern how it functions, what sustains it, how it thrives.
So Paul is telling us that from the very beginning, God had a plan for how all of creation, God’s household, was going to work.
God wanted to bring everything – from the highest heights of heaven to the deepest crevices of the earth – together and to make a home among us.
And God’s plan was made known to us in Jesus Christ.

In these weeks leading up to Christmas here at Immanuel, we have been exploring God’s love for all of creation.
When we open up our bibles to the very first chapters, we discover this plan of God’s was already set in motion.
For six days, God was building, creating, and giving life to all things in the heavens and on earth.
And God looked around and saw that it was all very good.
And then God rested.

Now, I have to admit to you. Typically, when I think about God resting, I imagine that God goes back to wherever God has come from… leaving earth to go and take a day off.
After all, that is how we treat Sabbath, isn’t it?
The day we get away from everything?
Turn off the work email… veg out in front of the television and watch Netflix… get away from everyone and go fishing or golfing?

But, what if we have it all wrong?
What if the Sabbath is part of God’s plan?
What if in that moment of rest, God is with us?

The theologian Jurgen Moltmann describes Sabbath as a time when God “begins to ‘experience’ the beings he has created… He adopts the community of creation… He allows them to exist in his presence. And he is present in their existence.” (God In Creation, page 279)
God-with-us. Immanuel.
God creates us and on the Sabbath day of rest and presence, heaven and earth are one.
That’s why we are called to honor the Sabbath and make it holy.
Because whenever we truly stop to rest and worship and simply be in God’s presence, we are participating in that amazing plan set in motion before the stars were put in the sky.
We remember that God has already moved into the neighborhood.

If we are honest with ourselves, however, we know that is not how we usually keep the Sabbath.
In fact, throughout human history, the people of God have often forgotten the presence of God in their midst.
We turn our backs on God.
We seek our own will.
We make mistakes and fail in our humble striving.
But God is not content to be driven out of our lives.
God refuses to be turned away.
God has a plan, remember, and so God acts over, and over again, in ways that bring heaven and earth together.
After all, as John’s gospel tells us, “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.” (John 1:5)
And so God heard the cries of the oppressed and rescued them and brought them into the land of milk and honey.
And so God called the people of faith over and over again through the words and actions of the prophets.
And then God acts by coming in really close… diving in deep to all of the mess and the struggle, the pain and sorrow of our human worldly lives.
As we moved away from God, God moves towards us.
The Word became flesh.

And it happened in a particular life, in a particular time, in a particular place.

Now… I don’t want to ruin the Christmas story for you… but I’ve come to realize that we’ve been telling it wrong.
And I think when we hear this story again, put back into its context and place, in many ways the story of Christmas becomes all the sweeter and more meaningful.

You see, as we read in Luke’s gospel, Jesus was born in the city of Bethlehem to parents who really weren’t anyone important. And Mary “wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.”
When you look back to the original koine Greek, it says katalyma. This was a place where travelers spent a night… and while it could have referred to an inn, it was used to describe “the sleeping area in a single-room Palestinian peasant home” or a guest space in such a house.
The homes in Bethlehem would have had one large living space and if they were lucky, they might have had a smaller private room set aside for guests.
There would have been an area by the entrance where animals were brought in at night to keep them safe and warm.
And that large multi-purpose room would have not only had places to sit and eat and cook… but also mangers, built out of wood or hollowed out of the ground, where straw for those animals were kept.

The scene reminds me a lot of Christmas celebrations among either sets of my grandparents. You see, my dad was one of five kids and my mom was one of seven kids and the holidays were always a big deal. Everyone would come back home and the grown-ups would get the bedrooms that they slept in as children, but the grandkids would all pile together in the living room with sleeping bags and pillows. If you had to get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you had to take care not to step on one of your relatives!

If we peered back into Bethlehem on that night long ago, instead of a cold and lonely couple huddled in a shed, we probably would have discovered Mary and Jospeh surrounded by family… in fact, maybe a bit too crowded by family – remember, Luke says there wasn’t room in the guest room. Everyone had come to town to be registered in the census so aunties and uncles and cousins galore would have been packed into the room together.
And right there in the midst of it all – in a normal home, in an everyday life, in the midst of community and the animals, Christ was born.
God moved into the neighborhood.

I think the most powerful statement of the incarnation is the reminder that right here… on this earth, among all of creation, surrounded by our community, is where we are redeemed.
God’s plan is not that this earth will waste away and we will be whisked away to some far off heaven.
No… in Jesus Christ all things in heaven and on earth will be brought together.
Right here is where salvations shows up.

As we have been leading up to this day, this time of worship, when we remember the birth of Christ, we have also been looking ahead to a moment that is yet to come.
For, we are still waiting.
This morning, I prayed for two colleagues who lost their mothers yesterday.
This world is still filled with disease and struggle and this might be the last Christmas we celebrate with certain loved ones.
We even remember that places like Bethlehem are today places of conflict and strife.
God’s plan isn’t complete yet.

So as people of faith, we are also looking ahead to that day of new creation when the kingdom of God is made known.
John tells us that the light shines in the darkness and has not been overcome by it… and when we keep reading to the Revelation, we find hope in the words that “death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying or pain anymore… There will no longer be any curse… Night will be no more. They won’t need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will shine on them.” (21:4, 22:3,5)
At the climax of all times, when the plan is fully complete, the heavens and earth will be brought together and God will make a home among us.

The Letter to the Ephesians may seem like a strange text to share together on Christmas Eve, but for me it is a reminder that the promises we hope for can already be experienced right now. Paul’s words here remind us that while the plan isn’t quite yet complete… it has already become a reality within the church.
You see, from the moment the heavens opened and the angels began to proclaim the birth of our Messiah, we have been invited to participate and respond to the kingdom of Glory.
Shepherds left their flocks to search out the baby in the manger.
Magi traveled great distances to greet the newborn King.
Fishermen would leave their boats to follow the Messiah.
Rich men like Zacchaeus gave away their wealth.
Scholars like Paul set aside everything they thought they knew about God to discover the message all over again and then carried it across the world.
The ripples from the birth of that one moment built the church, the Body of Christ alive in this world today.
Friends, you and I are that body of Christ right here and right now.
And as Ephesians 2 tells us, “we are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives.”
We have been adopted into God’s household, filled up with the Spirit of God, and called to imitate Christ wherever we go.
So fall on your knees in this time of worship.
Remember that God set the stars in the sky and the ground beneath our feet.
Imagine the birth of that child in Bethlehem.
And ask how God is inviting you today to love one another and to bring peace and joy to all who struggle.
Because it is through you… and you… and you… that the presence of God can be known in this neighborhood today, and tomorrow, and the day after that.
YOU are also God’s plan for this world.

what we are saved from matters – or – what if Rob Bell has a point?

I’m just a small voice, but I have a two cents to add to the pot on this whole “Rob Bell Universalism” controversy.

Before his book is even out, folks are making all kinds of assumptions about what it says.  And there are probably enough indicators in the youtube preview of “Love Wins” that you can say a whole lot.

But I want to back the question up a little bit.

What I think Bell is pointing out is that soteriology matters.  What we believe we are saved from is important.  Who is saving us means something.  What that process of redemption entails determines a whole lot about how we treat other people and how we live our lives.

Soteriology matters.

If God has already condemned all of us to a place called Hell because of the actions of a man and a women in a garden thousands of years ago… and then God saves us from that condemnation… we might think and act and worship a certain way.

If, however, our actions then and our continued actions now are themselves “hell-making”… if we are creating the conditions of hell each and every time we hurt one another through our action and inaction and if we dishonor our relationship with our Lord by turning towards the darkness rather than the light… then salvation looks different.  Then, maybe Christ saves us from ourselves… and then the Spirit empowers and sanctifies us to live the way God intended.

There are subtle differences in those two concepts (and they are only two among many!), but the differences are important.

Historically we have at least three major ways of understanding what Christ does for us:  Christus Victor, Substitutionary Atonement, and the Moral Example theories of Abelard. All three have a basis in scripture.  All three say something very different about what is wrong with humanity, about what hell looks like, and about how salvation is imparted into our personal and corporate lives.

Last summer, my congregation and I explored these various understandings of atonement and found all three of them interwoven in the book of Hebrews.  Christ is the priest who lays down his life as the final and perfect sacrifice.  Christ is the prophet who calls us to a different way of life.  Christ is the king who triumphs over the lesser kings of this world and conquers for us.

It gets complicated… but it matters.  Where we end up on these questions of salvation change how we interact with our brothers and sisters in this world. It changes our relationship with the one who does the saving.

And, I might also add, our inability to fully understand and agree about salvation ultimately says more about us than it does about God.

As I read the “good book” from beginning to end… as I look at the scope and span of the scriptures… no matter how we fail and get it wrong, no matter how strong the forces for darkness are in this world – in the end, love does win.
That is the firm hope that I stand on.
If God doesn’t win… if love and life and light don’t have the final say, then all is for naught.
I have many good friends who are reformed theologians of the Calvinist flavor.  And I understand their predilection towards preserving the sovereignty of God Almighty.
But what I want to know is why can’t that preservation of God’s sovereignty also leave space for the hope that God’s power is so great that it can transform and redeem everything?

Jurgen Moltmann once said in regards to claims he might be a universalist:

I’m not a Universalist because there are some people I don’t want to see again – but God created them and would certainly like to see them again.  Universalism is not only to speak about all human beings, but to speak about the universe, the stars and the moon and the sun and the whole cosmos.

If I were to summarize Moltmann’s statement it would go: I’m not a Universalist, but God might be.

Moltmann reminds us that at the end of the day, this is God’s story… not ours.  Who are we to tell God who can be saved and who cannot?  Who are we to limit the story of salvation to humans or a sharp distinction between a place called heaven and a place called hell?

When I read Revelation and Isaiah and whole host of other scriptures… I find a story in which not only people, but the whole creation groans for salvation. I am invited into a story of recreation, of redemption, a story where a new heaven and a new earth are realized and where God dwells among us.  And the way I read the story… love does win.

How we get there matters… but what really matters that the one who made us wants to redeem us… and has the power to do so.

what are we saved for?

What is your understanding of a) the Kingdom of God; b) the Resurrection; c) eternal life?

As I think about this question, the words from the funeral liturgy keep coming back to me: In the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ. In the past two years, I have buried many individuals that I never had the chance to know in this lifetime. Our denomination is a bit more inclusive that some of the others in our community and so I am often called in to lay to rest people who have had no faith affiliation. In many cases, I am not sure at all what was in their hearts about God.

This question for me is about redemption and about who receives it and about when we receive it. In the resurrection of Christ, we glimpse the radical and transformative power of God. It is not something that we can harness, grasp, or earn apart from the gracious act of God. That power is what re-creates not only individual lives but the entirety of God’s creation and when we talk about the completion of that transformation – we are talking about the Kingdom of God. We began to see glimpses of that reality through the life of Christ and we participate in that Kingdom now only through his power. How it will be finished, when it will come, what it will look like is completely beyond us, yet we are still responsible for embodying that kingdom sacramentally here and now in our own lives.
So when I stand before a family and I place my hand on a cold metal casket and say the words, “in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ,” I am placing that person in God’s hands. I stand there as a witness to the power of God to redeem. I stand there as a witness to the fact that Christ holds the keys to hell and death. I stand there as a witness to the hope I have for that person’s life – a hope that carries beyond their death. This past summer, I was profoundly impacted by the words of German theologian, Jürgen Moltmann. He said, “…if a life was cut short, God will bring what he had begun for the human being to its intended end and death cannot hinder God to do this, because God is God, and cannot be overcome by death.” So I cannot know the future of the man or woman I bury, but I do have sure and certain hope in the Lord of the Kingdom of God and the power of God’s transformative love and the promise that all things will be made new.

the redemption of creation

Over the next few weeks (months probably) I want to go back through my notes and blog a bit about some of the amazing things I have brought back from the Moltmann conference.

The first one that has been really chewing in my soul is the idea that creation needs redemption.

I guess this has always been in the background of my theology. I think about Paul writing that the creation is groaning. I think about how all of the earth suffers under the sin of humanity and our greed and destruction. But for the first time, I started thinking about how this planet itself has also fallen and committed acts against God’s will and needs to be redeemed.

Now – I don’t think that the oceans have a will. I don’t think that the skies and the clouds do things intentionally – but in many ways neither do we. But this world is not as God created it. And when a tsunami strikes land in southeast Asia and 225,000 people die – I don’t think that is God’s will. Moltmann said time and time again that God is with those who suffer, not the cause of the act. He said time and time again that an act against creation is an act against God.

So, in putting various pieces together, we could talk about an ecological soteriology. That as Christ redeems us, Christ redeems the world. That all of creation is taken through the cross to the promise of the resurrection.

We spend so much time worrying about theodicy, looking for God as the cause of these events, instead of thinking about God as the one who will ultimately redeem even the world from the suffering it has caused. God in Christ through the power of the Spirit bears all of these things through to the new creation. And that is an amazing thought to behold

Wisdom of the Cross

Why do you follow Jesus? And how far are you willing to go?

This past week, I got to spend some time with one of the greatest theologians of the 20th century – Jurgen Moltmann. At the age of 84, he traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to come and have a conversation with the 100 or so of us gathered in Chicago.

I had known parts of his story before and I had read at least one of his books. I knew that he was the mentor, a father-figure really, to one of my most important professors in seminary. But to sit before him and hear his story in his own words was absolutely stunning.

The center of Moltmann’s theology is the hope of the cross and the resurrection. Everything else in the world is futile if we don’t see hope there. And our journey of faith must travel through the cross to the love that awaits us on the other side.

The cross is a very difficult thing, however. It has become much easier in our lives to minimize it’s importance, to minimize its call, to polish it up and paint it beautiful colors and let it become merely the symbol of our faith.

But time and time again, this statement of Jesus’ comes up in the gospels:

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34, NRSV)

Why do we people follow Jesus? Are we willing to go to the cross?

Peter certainly thought he wanted to follow Jesus. As one of the disciples, sure he didn’t always get things right – but he tried. And when Jesus and his band stopped just outside of Caesaria Phillipi to refocus their mission, Peter was ready.

Jesus asked, “who do you say that I am?” And Peter got the answer right – “You are the Messiah!”

But he didn’t understand the depths of the word that he was uttering. He heard a word that was full of power and justice and victory – when Christ has a much different sort of path in mind.

And I think that is true for many of us as well. We too balk at the idea that of a suffering Christ. We like to quickly pass over the parts about his death and get to the resurrection. We, like Peter, are eagerly waiting for the victory of Jesus to be shown in the world!

And when we are focused on victory and power and success, then we get sidetracked by other things.

The cross that we are called to take up becomes a status symbol. We wear beautiful crosses around our necks… but aren’t willing to give all we have to the poor.

The cross becomes an excuse to flaunt our difference before others. We wear the cross all over our clothes on pins and hats and backpacks… but we aren’t willing to go the extra mile for someone in need.

The cross becomes excitement and entertainment as we flock to the biggest churches with the most charismatic preachers… but we aren’t willing to see the least of these on the street corner.

The cross makes us feel good and we show up for church once a month to get our fix… but then we turn back out into the world and leave our faith in the pews.

Wisdom cries out in the streets; in the squares she raises her voice. At the busiest corner she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? Give heed to my reproof; I will pour out my thoughts to you; I will make my words known to you.

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34, NRSV)

Peter needs to be shown another way. He needs to have his simple story of success and victory with little or no cost altered. He needs to hear the truth. We need to hear the truth.

This week, I believe I heard the truth.

Jurgen Moltmann decided to follow Jesus as a Prisoner of War during WWII. As a young man, he had sort of found himself joining the Hitler Youth movement – not really for any good reason, and then he was drafted into the German Army. During his time of service, he witnessed the Allied bombing of his hometown of Hamburg – where over 40,000 civilians were killed – mostly women and children. He saw his best friend torn to pieces by a bomb right next to him. The two questions that lingered in his mind for years were, “Where is God?” and “Why am I not dead like all the others?” He was later captured by British soldiers and sent to a POW camp in Scotland.

It was only there that Moltmann began to hear about what had happened in the concentration camps. It was there that he began to be wracked with shame and grief and agony. And he had absolutely nothing from his experience that could get him through his pain and suffering. He had grown up in a secular home, and humanist philosophy had no words to describe his loss and guilt and grief.

But in Scotland – as a prisoner of war – as a German soldier and as a man who carried upon his shoulders the guilt of a nation – he found grace. The guards in Scotland looked at them as human beings, not demons or enemies. One of the chaplains handed Moltmann a bible – and with nothing else to do, he began to read.

Moltmann talks about how his life was completely desperate and desolate – that all the prisoners in the camp were trying to conceal their wounded souls with this armor of untouchability. But as he read through that bible from cover to cover, he was deeply moved by two things in particular: The psalms of lament and the death cry of Jesus – “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” He found in these words a fellow sufferer who understood what true sorrow was like.

Moltmann dove into the study of scripture and theology because God was the only thing that could save him from his despair. And out of his experiences and out of the scriptures, he shares with the world a new understanding of the cross.

While we tend to emphasize the cross as this cure for our sins – this simple and singular act that washes us clean, Moltmann began to see it as a complex and messy and passionate and painful understanding of the cross.

At the intersection of the cross all sorts of separate things fight for one another: live vs. death, hope vs. despair, the godforsaken and the godless collide.

And Christ bears these tensions – all of them, and takes all of these struggling forces to the cross and comes out on the other side with only victory: there is only life, there is only hope, there is only God.

But first, God suffers with us.

We look at the sin in our own lives, and yes – that needs to be dealt with – it needs to be redeemed by God. That happens on the cross, as Christ takes our place on the cross, and in doing so, brings us through to the resurrection.

But Moltmann also talks about Christ suffering with us. Because while there needs to be forgiveness for the sinner, there also needs to be justice for the victim. The victim needs to find peace also.

In his experience, this happened as the stories of the victim were presented to those of the perpetrators.

After the war, Moltmann said, we listened to the stories of survivors of concentration camps- because we didn’t know what happened in the death camps. We listened to their stories and looked into the eyes of the survivors and became aware of who we the Germans really were. Same took place in the truth commissions in Africa – the victims must tell the stories, perpetrators must listen to the stories, or they can’t become aware of their guilt. Sacrament of repentance! Confess the truth, change your mind, make good where you have done evil as you can”

What does it mean to take up this cross of Jesus? To really take it up, to really follow in his footsteps.

Moltmann says that we must not become apathetic. He said that we shy away from love because we believe it will only bring us pain. “If you love no one, you will feel no suffering – if you don’t love yourself you will not feel your own death b/c you don’t care. I saw soldiers who became so apathetic that they don’t care about death b/c they were completely resigned and no longer in service of life, but in service of death.

If you love life again, you risk disappointment, you must be ready to suffer on behalf of your compassion for another person and you must be ready to feel their dying.”

When Christ asks us to take up his cross, he asks us to go to those places where life and death meet. He asks us to go to those places where the victim and the perpetrator meet. He asks us to go to those places where the rich and the poor meet. And we are to listen to their stories. We are to heal their wounds. We are to love them. And by loving them, we open ourselves up to feel their pain. We open ourselves up to be hurt. But we also open ourselves up to God.

Moltmann Conversation – Last Session Ecclesiology

• You gave me language to describe myself in Crucified God, as a person born with disability – how to people who have gifts and burdens have access to the full expression of the church In the power of the holy spirit: a disability concerned me my life long, because my older brother was a severly disabled person and he died when euthanasia began in germany. I think the church must be consist of disabled and not disabled persons – a congregation without disabled persons accepted is a disabled church. Let our families bring them into the congregation and as a part of the community – because they all are images of Jesus Christ.

• When we talk about the imago dei, we talk about our ability to reason – yet there are human beings who have not this same ability to reason from abnormality or accident, but you wouldn’t dare say that person wasn’t created in image of God – how does persons with mental disabilities affect our doctrine of imago dei: I think that imago dei concept speaks of a relationship not of a qualification of a human being – but a relationship of God to the human being by which the human being is an image, a resonance of God.l This is the first relationship – the relationship of God to every human being and this cannot be destroyed, not by disability or sin. The other is the relationship of the human to God and this is the similarity – our response to God. This is a life of faith and responsibility and a conformity of our life to the will of God. The first relationship of God to humans is in every human being, be it a Xian or Muslim or atheist – in every person or disabled person or child or older person, this relationship of God is in everyone. So we must respect God in every person we meet. The second is the similitude of our relationship to God – God created all men equal, free & equal, so we must respect the image of God in every person, even in a murderous person or a terrorist! It is difficult, I know, but it’s not a question of our judgment, it’s a question of respecting God’s presence.

• Inalienable human rights… Macintyre = these are unicorns, we made them up, the Aristotelian language determines them and as Xians we use the bible to live by them – theologically, what do you think of this concept on which America was founded? I praise your document of independence for saying this. In 1978 I wrote in a document God’s rights and Human Rights, adopted by World Alliance of Reformed Churches. The only question was then, afterwards in 1990, in Seoul, how to relate these on human rights to the world of nature. Unfortunately dictatorial governments deny their citizens the human rights with the arguments of the persons you just quoted. But every Chinese person, every African person has inalienable human rights and those who commit crimes against humanity will be brought to court in Denmark – we have this in the UN already. War crimes in Balkans, etc… unfortunately the US did not sign the establishment of international courts to persecute crimes against humanity and human rights. You have a court from the crimes in Rwanda and Brundi and Tanzania and other places and this is really good development, because the growing world community will be based on human rights or there will be no world community at all…. come to the insight that it would be better to join this cause in the world. Every government will respect the human rights of their citizen, b/c human rights are deeper and more serious than citizen rights in a given society. Every person in China or Africa says, “Am I not a human being?”

• Rowan Williams proposed that because of the growing propotion of Muslims in Great Britian, that british law should make room for Shariah law – and there was a lot of discrepancy about that: Yes, especially from women, who say are we not human beings too? This is the cry from Muslim women in Germnay. I do not understand Williams at this point, perhaps I don’t understand the british legal system. You can’t let everyone have their own rights, than no one can be brought to court. This is an impossible idea.

• You refer to God as a he and HS as a she in this conversation – it’s coming up with pronouns that are appropriately intimate and personal for God and yet don’t anthropomorphize God with a gender is difficult: yes of course, God is neither he/she/it – God is God. And we should not use God’s divinity to justify the domination of men, of women, and therefore, the image one can be described of the trinity is neither the F/S/HS, but they have unity – this can be reflected in a human community – the church is by the unity of the Trinity the united community. If you look carefully in the gospel of John you can find clearly – let them all be one, like you father in me and I in you… no human being is the image of the father, and no human being is the image of the son – they are in community the image of the communal identity of love.

• The filioque clause which was part of the great schism – you have written it has led to a monarchial monotheism, or hierarchical trinity, you align yourself with Eastern Christians on that cause and there is an Australian theologian who wrote that this has written to the subjugation of women… What led to your rejection of that and what is the politics around that among Western theologians (esp Catholics?): Well, let me begin wit hthe practical side. In 1984-5 we had a big congress in Rome on the HS. And then the good John Pope II when he came to the Nicene creed, he read it in Greek and in Greek it has no filioque. In the book of Concord – the Lutheran tradition, you have it in Latin with it, in Greek without it side by side. There are traditions which do not follow the schism.

• So we should probably describe what that is – that the HS goes forth from the father and the son, or the HS goes out from the father alone. If the HS goes out from the father alone, the HS goes out from the father of the son, JC is already present in the going out, therefore the filioque is not necessary to be added. If we start with not a filioque, we can say the F/S/HS – this is important to understand the relationship of the Trinity in the life of Jesus, in the synoptic gospels: baptism, in the desert, working through Jesus healing and accepting, in the life of Jesus, the real subject of action and passion is the HS, so we have the order F-HS-S, b/c the HS came upon the Son… only after the resurrection this is turned around. HS comes from F on behalf of S – Jesus asks God to send the paraclete… you have a much richer understanding of the tradition in the scriptures…. In filioque, HS is always 3 – but you can’t number them anymore in perichoresis, they are all equal. The congregation has the spirit not only from the pastoral and the word of God, but also directly from God. This is certainly a reason for Pentecostalism. On the other hand, trad. Protestant churches, the HS only comes through the pastor, he is a spiritual man and through the Word. There was a time in Sweden, in the Lutheran world, where pastors were not allowed to pray freely – they must read the prayer. One must say to Pentecostals “lets all be in the community with Jesus from which the Spirit is a part” you can feel the baptism of the HS in the community with Jesus, but not so to speak directly from heaven (like shamanistic tradition) the filioque might be good for Pentecostals, but not trad. Churches.

• This has a huge impact on our action world! Filioque has a bearing on our structues of power. Maybe this is held onto so tightly because it supports their own version of human community and sovereignty/authority – a lot of us in the us emergent community says that the authority lies with the church – the body – and the pastors role is an organizing role. If the spirit comes from the Son, then the pastor as the bearer of the word…: this was my criticism over Barth in his volumes on creation. In the trinity there is a commanding father and an obedient son, therefore in creation, heaven is above and earth is below. Soul is above, body is below, man above, women below – this was against everything he knew about the relationship btwn soul and body from psychology and other things and also from the relationship of man and woman – which he had a lively exchange of letters from a woman who said she does not like the idea of a beheaded woman and a bodyless man.

• Paul seemed to think a lot about sex, Augustine certainly, in the American church – sexuality is a schismatic topic currently and the reason why others of us have withdrawn from those denominational fights: let me first say, this is no problem in Germany. We never have a struggle about this in the churches and in between the churches, because the church is about the gospel and not about sex. ….. Homosexual or heterosexual who believes by faith alone is saved! And is certainly able to be ordained in a Christian community. I would not say that a lesbian or homosexual partnership is equal to a marriage, because a marriage is intended to father children, I’m not intentionally objected to adoptive children, but I’m in no terms objected to blessing such a partnership. It is neither a sin, nor a crime – I don’t see the schism or the heat of the debate on it. But I know how much this is destroying children in this countries. Why is this more important than questions of war and peace.”

• Death in a person’s life – am I not right in trusting in a future of togetherness in which we might all together live/learn/love/grow: I’m not one to get into a dispute with Jesus. But I trust that those who died are not dead, they are with us, they are watching over us and we live in their presence. They also, according to the understanding of … are growing until they reach the destiny for which they were created. So if a life was cut short, God will bring what he had begun for the human being to its intended end and death cannot hinder God to do this, because God is God, and cannot be overcome by death. Love is an expression for an intimate relationship… Barth was asked, do you think we shall see our beloved ones again? Yes, but the others too.

• You said the church is the agent of God’s mission in the world… in that you talked about what is the church, how do you do church in America – so what is the church? there are many perspectives on it. For a long time: Body of Christ, body of risen Christ, after Vatican II, even Catholics talk about the people of God. If we say this, we must also say that God has two parts of the people – Israel and the Church. And the mission is not only through the church of the peoples, but also through Israel and we must take care of both sides, not only looking to the people of the world/poor but also to the Jews who also are the elected people of God. New church order saying that the church is in dialogue w/ Israel b/c we have a book in common and a hope in common. The church has a task of Christianizing society in which the church is – but restricted. Now we have dialogue everywhere, but this is not good, because a dialogue as such has no goal if the dialogue is the goal we want to convert the other partner, the dialogue will end. The way is the goal to dialogue. It is good to know the other religious communities, but a dialogue needs a common ground and this is with Israel the OT and this is the special relationship of the church.

• You say it’s not so much what is the church, but where is the church. Can you expand upon where the church is now that we have not seen in the orthodoxy of the church in the past: on the one hand we have the mission of the risen Christ,whoever visits you is me… on the other hand we have the inviting Christ – whoever visits you visits me (Mt 25) we must not only hear the commandment of Christ, but listen to the invitation of Christ coming from the outside.

• With changing forms of “inside” and “outside” and with new communications/communities/forms of communities that are no longer geographically but relationally based – where parish has changed. What is the future of the congregation? I believe strongly in face-to-face community. Cyber-space may be nice to communicate with everyone in the world, but a cyber space without be without the human. In the new media, you can see and listen, but you cannot feel, taste, smell. So only two of our senses are engaged and the other senses diminish and are no longer developed. You can make the test in school where the children already have their iphones – let them close their eyes and feel – they can no longer differentiate between wood and plastic, because there is no education of their feelings. Taste – doing work on the computers they eat pizza and junk food – this tastese like nothing, not to speak of smelling or anything. The near senses which babies develop first by putting everything into the mouth are underveloped while our far reaching senses are over developed (seeing and hearing). This has effects on our communities and therefore I still believe strongly in local face-to-face communites where we can talk, see, eat and drink together and be a community of full senses.

You mention the eucharist – it seems that we can’t agree on what to call it b/c of different theological perspectives. Radical orthodoxy suggests Eucharistic rationality – with table as center of identity. Zwinglian experience = communion which is more agape meal, less sacramental, gathering and foretaste of great banquet. What is the role of communion/eucharist in the church? this is the most difficult point of the ecumenical gathering of denominations. I believe strongly that we do not celebrate on the Lord’s table our theories about his presence but his presence! We may have different thoeories about how and the way he is present, but lets celebrate his presence first! And then after the eating and drinking around the table, lets sit together and talk about our different theories. If we start with the different theories, we will never come to the table! After eating and drinking, every dialogue is better than dry throats and an empty stomach. I go to every invitation if I hear the inviting words of Christ. I don’t care. And so far no priest has said you are not invited, only those who belong. Jesus invited all those who are weary and burdened to come to him. He is not inviting Catholics only or Methodists only … this would be not the Jesus I know.

I often think if we are going to spend eternity together, its good practice to get to know one another now! My catholic friends and I get to a place where we are both happy: transubstantian is a ____ theory. We have a union between Lutheran and Reformed churches and we believe in full presence of Christ in bread and wine – whether this is transformed this is nonsense, but what is important is that we believe in the presence of Christ in both forms and we rject RC of wine for preist and bread for community. In Vatican II they came close to this form for both for all, now with brother Benedict we have some reactionary forms of eucharist in the tradition, which is unfortunate since he was my brother at Tubingen.

The cyber reality is one form of community/communication, but more and more as we are missional and our focus is in the community – church attendance is less and less because their lives are so busy and the stress of time is almost a commodity so spending time with neighbor is taking neighbor in some of the expressions of church rather than gathering for worship. Some worship is also in connection/serving people who are in their communities around them: this may be true for those who have a job, but not for unemployed people. For those who have a job it is a question of priority – whether they must go to the cabin/seaside or whether they be in the congregation. Its not that they have no time, it’s a question of priorities you set in your life.

Is it the church when it gatheres? Or when it scatters too? Both kinds – we gather people together and we send them into the world, like inhaling and exhaling. – weekly breathing? The summers rest is more heresy than the OT/NT tradition of work days and rest day.

• Writing an ethics! Love of life and political side of new concept of justice/righeousness according to biblical traditions.

Who should we be reading? What are you reading? All of course, the bible. It depends on your eyes. If you have curiosity to find new things in this old book, you will find it! If you have a traditional understanding it will be boring to read the whole text, but it is a revolutionary text and sometimes full of dangerous memories. Read: Miroslav Volf, Philip Clayton, Tony Jones, John Cobb, Nancy Bedford, many young people are coming up with new theological ideas. There are many good people coming up so we can step down and have rest.

Moltmann Conversation – Eschatology/Science

Billboard in MN, said “Unless you confess God cannot bless”, more I thought about it, the more uncomfortable I got. It seems like a reformed idea, but I’m not sure it fits. It seems to me that God is by nature a non-contingent being. God isn’t sitting around waiting for me to do something, I don’t give God the power to forgive me. Once we do _____, then Jesus will return. Almost like God is handcuffed waiting for us to do certain things… If ___, then God _____. But this seems to be against the nature of God: I agree! You cannot make as a human being conditions to God. This is what it means to make God an object, and idol. God will bless whom God will bless, whether you confess or not. And with the relationship of God’s blessing and your professing – the initiative is God’s, He will bless and then you will be led to confess. God is God and not a bargain partner for you in your religion. This is completely heathen! The original idea of other religions in the world is ____ we give sacrifices and then God will bless us – but this is not Xian at all. It is a denial of the freedom of God. I am opposing completely this bargaining with destiny or with God. If I do this, God must do that – this is pure commitalism.

So let me ask you about Jesus. If God as subject has complete freedom and God’s activity is not contingent upon our activity. Yet Jesus teaching about prayer is almost unequivocally – be persistent and God will give you what you want. (widow & judge, keep asking for bread): These are not the only sayings of Jesus about prayer. Whenever you pray, God knows already what you need, otherwise it would be nonsense to pray. The hearing of God preceeds your prayer.

What does that mean about God’s relationship to time as we have experienced it? Can I pray for something in the past? What do you want to pray for? There is a long tradition of prayer for the dead. Medieval tradition of praying for the dead. Luther – pray 3 or 4 times for the dead and then hand it over to God b/c they are already included in the prayer to the lord. Calvin, don’t do that. I think I am praying for the dead, because the dead are not dead. They died, but we cannot say they are dead now. For Luther, they are sleeping until the day of resurrection. For Calvin, they are watching over us. Tradition from Asia – the dead are not in a modern sense dead and gone…. They are present and if you believe Romans 14 that Christ is the Lord of the living and the dead then we have a community with the dead in Christ and a community of hope because we were raised from death together. And therefore we must overcome this modern understanding of death as annihilation. We should learn from the ancestor veneration in Africa and Asia again. This would help and then you may pray for your grandmother.

• This idea of zimzum, which you borrow from kaabalism Judaism – I understand it as prior to creation, God was everything and in order to create something other, God withdrew Godself enough to make space for a relation, an object, creation with which God could have a relationship. Two questions: 1) what relationship does God’s self-relationship relate to panenthism 2) is part of God’s self-limitation that God voluntarily bound Godself to time? I am not the first one who took up this idea from kabalistic thinking – in Xian tradition for 300 yrs. Before God created, God decided to become the creator. 1st act of creation was not on the outside, on the inside. Out of his unlimited possibilities he took this one – to become a creator. He contracted himself from all the other possibilities to this one – to be the creator of the world. 2nd he created the world in time and space. So before he created heaven and earth there must be a womb/room place to which heaven and earth could be place – this is the place of creation and this is due to a contraction of God that another reality – the limited and finite reality of heaven and earth can be and can co-exist with God. The coexistence of a finite world with an infinite being presupposes a contraction so that they can both be there. This is the reason why there is freedom of the creatures… that there is creativity of the earth to the creatures in Genesis 1:26/24 – this is important. We can… whoever of you that has children, knows that at the beginning you must do everything for a child so that it can grow – but then 10-12 you must take away your sovereignty so that your child can grow and have freedom and responsibility and this is very creative to retreat into yourself to let another being be. This is the other side of creation. Normally we understand creation as act – but to take oneself back to oneself to let another being develop and flourish is very creative

• Very much in keeping with the activity of God in Jesus and the hymn of Christ in Phillipians: If you put it in Trinitarian terms it’s completely understandable b/c the F/S/HS are kenotic beings, giving self to the others and receiving the others into the selves, so you already have in perichoresis the self-limitation, so not only outside to the creation, but the true essence of the being of the son of God in relation to the father and the holy spirit. The kenosis is not only God’s acting to the outside in Christ, but already inside the Trinity – the persons self-giving to each other in the eternal Trinitarian love.

• So, do you think if God has a being by nature that is timeless, is part of God’s self-limitation that God has bound himself to time as part of his own self-limitation, that God is experiencing time with us? Yes – otherwise he could not be the Living God! The Living God has living, limited relationships to Israel, to the fathers, to Christ, to the church, etc. they are lively by limited relationships, otherwise you have a dead God. But if you have a living God then he must be able to have life giving relationships to other living beings. To put it more abstractly.

• Some of us who follow your theology are accused of being too Hegalian – that God is simply the unfolding of History… it is very easy to accuse a german theologian to be Hegalian, but Hegel did not develop an understanding of the Trinity – he had an understanding of world history as an autobiography of God, but this is not a good theology. He developed this dialectical understanding of world history as a history of God out of a self-consciouslness of the divine subject. But this had nothing to do with the God in Jesus. Hegelian closed system – nothing new can happen under the sun, no eschatology. Is this panentheistic? This terrible term was brought into the debate by a Hegelian – it means everything is in God, but this is only one side of the biblical understanding of the presence of God, the other part is that God is in everything! Understanding of OT, Shechinah – God dwells on high and in the souls and is dwelling in Israel – the cloud/fire – the indwelling of God. Behind the covenant with Israel is the intention: I will dwell among the Israelites. In the NT, you have a mutual indwelling especially in John & letters of John – the perichoresis, the mutual indwelling. I in you, you in me., remain in love – remains in God and God in him…. Much more than panentheism! …. The orthodox theology has a sacramental understanding of nature b/c God is already in everything which has life. This is alsot the understanding of the presence of God/HS that God is in everything in John Calvin (Institutes Book 1). For Calvin, the glory of God is already reflecting itself in all things. The burning fires of God are surrounding ourselves form all sides, but we don’t have eyes to see it! Had a strong understanding of creation in the HS. In Trinitarian terms, quite understandable. Theistic terms – you may end up in pantheism – then the question arises was God in the tsunami, with the terrorists. So I would put it all in Trinitarian terms and avoid an abstract philosophical theism.

• Also embrace an Easter theosis – God became man so that man can become God (Athanasius): Martin Luther had a wonderful idea…. God became human being so that we could, proud and unhappy gods become truly human in community with Jesus. God became human to liberate us from our god complex. Hubris is playing God with God – making conditions to the sovereignty of God.

• Original sin – Augustine thought was impt – condition genetically passed on that left God no choice but to have this transaction. On Original sin, Judaism doesn’t have a doctrine of original sin: I think these ideas of Augustine are leading to a Xian type of Gnosticism. That procreating is already bad and that sex is… original sin is like aids which we deliver from one generation from another and you had better stop this and become a monk or priest to stop this procreating of original sin – this is Gnosticism. This is not following the OT understanding of life and the joy of life. We have received life and we should give life to another generation and those who cannot are poor. Original sin has nothing to do with sex and procreation – the idea is more collective guilt. This was the understanding of Luther in the articles – one fundamental sin, capital sin and this is general. So everyone is guilty of everything which happens in the world because everything is related to everything – same as Dostoevsky – collective destiny because we share into everything and everything shares with us and we need liberation of this collective guilt of humankind. This has nothing to do with Adam or Eve – in the NT, still debate of whether sin came through Adam or Eve! This is all speculation I think. We can follow the church understanding that guilt came into the world through Cain and Adam through brother murder and since that time there is one against the other and there is war and murder in the world – this is more realistic I think.

• Many of us grew up in a church that had this forensic transaction that God’s anger could only be appeased by this sacrifice of the Son – we’ve talked about “identification” atonement but there area also scriptures that talk about the sacrificial nature of the crucifixion: Other religions, I give so that you may give. If you don’t sacrifice enough or in the right way, the Gods became angry and you experienced disease/earthquake – so whenever these things happen you look around for whether there was one who didn’t sacrifice/offer enough! Happen to Jonah. This is all not Biblical. The scapegoat is giving by GOD! He is not asking this from the people of Israel, but giving this to Israel so that the sins can be put there and then the goat carries the sins away to the desert. God is reconciling himself with the world – he doesn’t need a sacrifice. He is himself giving his own son to reconcile the world to himself. 2 Cor 5 – the initiative is God’s initiative. They used the old temple language, but something completely different is meant – it is the love of God by which he reconciles the whole cosmos to himself.

• If that’s the reformed part of your theology coming out so strongly – it makes God always the protagonist – God is always the initiator of the action between humans and Godself. How is that… in the Trinity image of perichoresis… there is so much in that relationship that it overflows and sweeps all of creation into that. How is God in that way the protagonist, in allowing that love to overflow – in creating so much love: Love takes God outside of himself – he wants to communicate the joy of his love. He creates creatures which can resonate this beauty and love of God. So he is not in need of the creation – the creation is a result of his overflowing joy and love.

• Speaking of love… known as eschatological theologian – seems to me both liberals and conservatives have a negative view of the end. Liberals: church is shrinking, society more banal; Conservative: when Jesus comes back there is going to be a shitstorm. It was good news when Jesus came the first time, it will be good the second time – but this is not the overwhelming understanding today: If there is a new creation, new heaven, new earth – new song this is not the end but the beginning! The new creation will be the eternal creation so we must look forward not to the end but the beginning – the beginning is not behind us, its before us – the best is still to come. This is a certain kind of dispensationalist which is not a Christian idea – the old Jewish idea that God created the world in seven days, so the world history will follow seven dispensations. With every dispensation, the world grows older and older and our time is running out. It’s coming shorter and shorter to the end. You can think about this without mentioning Christ. Christ had just one part in it between disp. 5 & 6 or 6& 7 what is lacking is the New Beginning which we experience in the resurrection! There is already a new beginning inside of world history in anticipation of the general resurrection and the new creation…. The new has already begun, the future of God is not far away or very short, but has already begun with the coming of Christ/resurrection of Christ. Read the prophets – don’t remember the things of old – behold, I create a new thing! Old and new are the categories of God’s work in world history, not dispensations.

• My synthesis of Moltmann and Gotteman? Is that there is this horizon that is approaching us – and as I grow, my interpretive horizon is growing and at some point, these horizons meet and this is the eschaton when them meet? They met already! Because the eschatological horizon has already opened up with Christ and the Spirit of the resurrection so you can speak of this horizon, otherwise you would develop your own person horizons into the unknown. If you still have resurrection hope, you develop your personal relations in the horizon of your life inside the horizon of the resurrection – Morning has come!

• Do you think there will be a moment in time that is the paraousia? That humans will experience a moment in time of Jesus return? Yes. Well, we have this time of linear concept of time, future/present/past – this is the time of our clock. In linear time, Jesus will not come – otherwise Jesus will come at 10:15 tomorrow on a train from Chicago… this is impossible to think. We also have kairos time – good opportunity. Our life experiences are not according to clock time, but kairos – a good time. This kairos is an anticipation of the eschatological moment wit hthe trumpets and the dead will stand up/rise up. So you can put it in terms of fulfilled time. In a fulfilled time, for fulfilled life, you don’t care about the clock anymore. You live so to speak in an eternal moment. Therefore whenever you come into an intensity of living, the clock goes away. Clock time is not very good understanding of time. I had a friend who visited and interviewed an Indian swami and said I must go and the Indian said you have the clock and we have time.

• Truly reformed person doesn’t think we cooperate with God in anything – yet you write, of us being co-creators with God and cooperating with God in creation, particularly in your ecological theology: Paul spoke about his work as a co-creator with God. I don’t think putting all the responsibility on God is a good Christian understanding of God’s presence in the world. It’s not that God has no hands apart from our hands, but that God enables us, gives us chances, and energy to work in accordance with his will. To resonante with his tune and to take responsibility to which includes response! If God would be all-in-all already, the reformed pastor would be right, but he is not all-in all, it is our responsibility. I think he was speaking to come of age and not little children to go and do anything. I think Calvin would disagree with this reformed pastor.

• Daniel Harrell – Nature’s Witness – my question/interest goes back to testimony of science that it brings to our understanding – creation bears the handprint of God. Trinity in creation esp that creation that science portrays for us is rife with decay, death, disease – all of this preceding the advent of the new creation. Who is the Trinitarian God in creation giving this nature? I think the fundamental question of natural sciences is do you understand what you know. Our knowledge is duplicating, we know everything it’s in the computers, but do we understand what we need. We need a hermeneutics of nature along with scientists. Interpret science of nature explained by scientists. Scientists explain, but we need understanding. EG: a doctor measures your blood pressure/temp/data from your body to tell if you feel not well. He takes the data as symptoms of a disease. He interprets the symptoms of a disease you have – then therapy can begin. Similar w/ natural science. They take the data, we must understand as symptoms of whatever we suspect and interpret these to understand what we know. And to understand the data we get from climate research and economic research as we put them together to see them as symptoms of the coming natural catastrophe and then we can react and put therapy in as requires to prevent the danger that is coming with a hermeneutics of nature.

• I would agree with that… original question – when you see what science reveals regarding nature, what is the Trinitarian interp. Of nature that comes to bear: we put whatever we know of nature in the transcendent dimension. The evolution of live – we see that they all belong to the same family. The transcendent dimension there is no progression of value – the primitive forms are just as important as the advanced lives! Bring us to Darwin understanding of evolution. Second – we can see the working of the HS as the immanence of transcendence in every complicated being forming their self-transcendence. Or biologists say more complex life forms are open systems, transcending themselves. This is an expression of the immanence of the transcendent spirit – there can be no self-organization in the natural world with out transcendence!

• So then part of the struggle for some Xians who try to see Darwinian evolution through a theological grid is the problem of decay/death/deformity – how is that an manifestation of the spirit? Is it a fallout of the spirit? You must differentiate between the HS herself and the energies of the HS – lots of different gifts of the HS – every Xian is filled with energies, therefore they form a community of different gifts and different energies. It is similar in the world There are different energies/gifts/ one spirit. The annihilating energies are not from the spirit. In each criminal act, or negative act of destruction, there is energy which must be redeemed! This is in another book of Dostoevsky that even the sinners redeem the sin – that is transformed the criminal negative activity into a positive life giving, affirming energy.

• Would you then say that the necessary organic death that happens in context of evolutionary epoch – is that redemption? Which would make that death a bad thing, or is that necessary death which leads to life a positive of the spirit? Lets start from the final end = if death is no more, there will be a creation without organic death. Not only death of the sinner, but no more death So new creation, new biology, so how is that different from now? The indwelling of God – we have only an anticipatory glimpse of the creation, that is not yet here in this experimental way of creation that this is.

• So kairos time in this new experience, it is something that has to be something that is so radical that we can’t really have an experience in our current life that would approximate it. There has to be this dramatic transformation if we are talking about brand new creation. If we are talking about physical/experienced reality. Maybe no different from whoever is in Christ is a new creation – what is new in you/ over and against… is there a radical discontinuity in the new creation ? You cannot talk about discontinuity without continuity – not an either/or question. But we have so many anticipatory changes from the old to the new that we cannot understand this quite easily. For Paul this was a change of name. new identity with Christ living in him. This is to some extent true for every Xian, whether we are conscious of it or not.

• So to the scientist/biologist for which such discontinuity would defy everything they know about created reality – how would you speak to them regarding that unfathomability? In biological terms, you either have an evolution of causes and everything is in development because everything isn’t already enveloped in the beginning – so nothing new can happen – everything is already included in the original. New term – emergence… something new can develop, the whole is more than the sum of the parts… always something new is happening and we try to integrate it in what is already… without the new, nothing would emerge. We cannot understand the coming new as a coming old from the past. To analyze the parts of something does not lead to an understanding of the whole. “Genome” – looking at a genome you can’t tell who someone is, because from the past of his genes, you cannot extrapolate who that person is!

• Given that this earth as we experience it will certainly end, if physics is correct. What does our hope anticipate for us on the other side of that. I strongly believe in the teliosis concept of the church fathers/orthodox theologians – God will be all in all! in every science, the end is not the annihilation of the world, but the deification of the world . Lutheran: annihilation and only God/angels/saved survive somewhere in heave; Reformed: not annihilation, but transformation of the world, into new creation; Orthodox: deification of the world, indwelling of God in everything – very close to reformed tradition of transformation.

• Part of this dialogue is for the theologian that is open to the contributions of science – there are ways theology adjusts to that, but you don’t see science adjusting to the hermeneutic that theology can bring, so I find a struggle there: The struggle between religion and science is better than ____ science. We came out with a book, the end of the world and the ends of God.

Moltmann Conversation – Breakout Workshop on the future that is coming towards us

Finding the Future Session:

• Recognizing wisdom in the gathered congregation – tool for genereative listening

• Cataphatic = likes images, sensual concepts; apaphatic = way of negation

• Website – blog Sabbath journey (typepad) http://web.mac.com/terrychapman/A_SABBATH_JOURNEY/BEGIN_HERE_files/Moltmann%20Breakout%20Group%208-26.pdf

• Icarus – Matisse… Sabbath is a way to a safe place in the heart of creation (6 stars/birds) – when we stop to rest, God is there for us. Life is not endless productivity! We don’t have to opt into Pharoah’s plan of endless productivity.

• Gospel of Evacuation (the chasm, the bridge) – future was always important to him in his history

o Moltmann – this gospel draws love away from this life to the hereafter, spreading despair in this life, we only live here half-heartedly – sell off these treasures cheap to heaven – in theory it’s a refusal to live, a religious atheism
o Subjects eschatology to chronos – flattens the big picture – the dance of God in 4 steps (1) creation, 1a) the crisis, 2) covenant, 2a) conversation. 3) incarnation, 3a) gospel/cross 4) resurrection 4a) easter, the beginning

• Cardiography – scientific monitoring of the heart – measure the heartbeat of what is wanting to be born

• The telos, the future that wants to happen is also moving towards us… so he’s not a cartographer, not a map-maker .. this measures the heart, more of noticing our posture as we face the future

• Metaphorical tool to carry over God’s unfolding future into our lives so that we can build a praxis for our congregations

o God as wholly other – the canvas of all that is – the zinsum, the self-restriction = separate and different, but encompassing all (he can still hold all of the omni’s – because within God there is self-withdrawl… kenosis!!?!!) (chora – empty space in the middle of the perichoretic dance) God created us and set us in the place that he had

o In the eschatological moment, God fully dwells back into that space and is all in all – primordial time and space of creation will end when creation becomes the eternal temple for God’s Shekinah. (Moltmann)

o Center of the circles – mandorla (almond) – overlapping of realities – al lot of Christian art is framed in this image, the almond… (heaven and earth, good and evil,)

o Add temporal dimensions – chronos (temporal time) – aeon (eternity – fullness), mandorla = kairos! – the moment that is pregnant with opportunity, the aha!, that of eternity that we experience now – the time and place of transformation!

o Does time happen in creation, or creation in time? Moltmann – time happens in creation – time is created.

o Biblical God is in time and beyond time (chronos, and aeon)
• Sabbath = a broad place, kairotic Sabbath place – two pillars of sabbath: covenant and creation, from both the chronos and aeon
• See slide 11 for covenant – incarnation (shekinah – assumption… God’s revelation in history) on the chronos side, and creation – resurrection on the aeon side (god as all in all)
• Generative idea of the Sabbath – in stopping, there is a memory of covenant that is renewed
• Early Christians practiced both Sabbath and lord’s day for 200 years – because both were important!

o Trinity same way (but I might disagree here, we need 3 circles)

o Praxis rooted in presence: present – absolute future – mandorla = epiphany of the ordinary = transformational osmosis – moment where the spirit seeps into our lives, from a region of higher concentration to that of lower concentration through a semi-permeable membrane – human soul into all of creation


o Within our chronological sphere – field of freedom, field of awareness conscious/intention. NOT Autonomy. Free when we confess the sacred bounds – bounded by love and justice and our covenant relationship. We don’t like bounded freedom, we would rather be unbounded Conscious/Intentional vs. Unconscious/Conventional

o John 3:16: the Aramaic and the Hebrew word for love is rechemet – womb (sounds a lot like zimzum) God created a place in God’s self for love, for creation – move into this space in order to be reborn (the part of freedom that is in the mandorla) so that we are transformed!

o Inconsumation (Rholheizer?) – the place of beginning of longing and restlessness – it is in the torment of the insufficiencies of everything attainable in this life that we come to realize that all symphonies remain unfinished. – we can never satisfy that longing in this life, we need a mourning of that loss (Jephthah’s daughter) – the only hope is God, but it’s an infinite horizon… don’t try to fill it with things, feeling of desolation

o Inconsumation and Kenosis, through transformation we experience discernment – innovation, breakthrough, co-creation – 8th day of the new creation

o When we are far away from the kairotic moment, time seems driven and chaotic, – when we get to the intersection, time seems to stop… crises can move us into these kairotic moments – instant community can form, sometimes we stumble onto kairotic moments but we look for intentionality – how we can move into these places

o We normally operate without going deep into this transformative kairotic moment – we talk-judge-pray-act-talk-….. and we bump up against that sacred/future, but never enter it. we restructure, reengineer, rearrange and are stuck

o Theory U (slide 23) – Shirmer
• On the edge = downloading, operating only from the assumptions from the past, living conventionally and unconsciously
• Open mind
• Open heart
• Open will
• Allow inner knowledge to emerge and act in an instant

o Learn by reflecting on past (downloading)

o OR learn from the future as it emerges (presencing)

o Applying theory U to the mandorla = downloading on the blindspot – moving through open mind (go to the limits), heart (step out of self), will (letting go) to the center. New information, relationships, letting go of it all – trust into the place of transformation…

o out of this place of transformation comes discernment. – new choices based on a new perspective = practice becomes the 8th day – co-creation… so our discernment gives us the power to innovate/participate…

o but this is a journey, so we always need to begin this cycle again

• To the open mind = voice of judgment, we need to suspend these voices
• To the open heart = voice of cynicism, the emotions of disconnection that keep us from going forward, requires commitment to love
• To the open will = voice of fear, fear of letting go of familiar, fear of surrendering into some unknown, requires commitment to courage, letting go of the things that we think are our “selves” to open ourself up to the Self.
• Many obstacles to discernment (crystallizing for Shirmer)
• Need for a holding space – world café, open space, spiritual direction

o Agricultural metaphor for this process in Psalm 126 “those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” Farmer has to take the grain that could be used for bread now, has to sow for the future, memory of the “harvest” enables the letting go of the “seed”

o Language of our experiences – we tell our stories, “what was that like? – metaphor, to the ineffable – the wordless/place of transformation/sit in silence/cry/joy, to the mystery….
• As people in our congregations tell their stories, tease out the metaphor, help them to stay with that for a while – if they are open to God’s presence, they will move to a place of kairos

o Movement – Brueggemann (slide 44) – OT paradigm Psalm 30 or 73… life, death, resurrection

o Eastern tradition of deification, the impossible/possible, God all in all as the spheres merge

o Kairotic moment of possibility that comes in crisis is very narrow – but through intentional movement of transformation and deliberately letting go creates a wider space for transformation.