Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter Vigil

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Tonight marked my first Easter Vigil service and my first Easter in Davis. From the fire in the front lawn, we began the service by entering into the darkened sanctuary. A solitary candle led the way, from which we lit our own. Then through liturgy, scripture, and hymn, the development of God’s covenant relationship with his people was laid out – from Genesis all the way through Isaiah. The high point of the service was the baptism of baby Eddie, at which point we entered into the resurrection of Christ. The first (official) statement of ‘alleluia’ of the Lenten season was proclaimed, and we rejoiced in the new covenant available through Christ. [And here’s to communal rejoicing over a shared plate of pork dumplings afterward!]

In the course of this service, I was struck by the continuity of the Old Testament covenant relationship with the new covenant. Putting Christ in context has been something of a mission for me since I came here to Davis. The more I’ve found out about what his actions might have meant to his contemporaries, the more challenging and inspiring I have found Christ. So often I think that I get sucked into solely thinking of the ‘cosmic Christ’ with the mental gymnastics that inevitably follow. While I do believe that this aspect of Christ is absolutely amazing in its implications for life, the universe and everything, the person of Jesus and the life that he lived seem to give so much insight into figuring out the walk that I want to follow in the here and now.

I believe that we are called to emulate the example that Christ gave us, as an ideal of how to redeem the surroundings that we find ourselves in as we make our way through this life. Back to the question of context, though, how can we actually get at this issue of understanding Christ? I guess that the main impression that I am left with is a healthy dissatisfaction for my understanding of Christ. I know that I will always be able to seek out new insight into the way we are to walk following him, much as we followed that first candle into the sanctuary this evening.

Bible study at Steve’s this week should be a good time to get into that a bit – I’m hoping that we can start a good conversation about the personhood of Christ (and its implications) as we wind our way through Hebrews.

Happy Easter, all!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


The 40 day journey to the cross that we take every year at lent always yields some of my most spiritual times, though in the midst of it, it rarely feels like it. Usually lent makes me feel a bit crazy - wondering if giving something up or taking on a new spiritual discipline was really that good of an idea.

I find myself struggling with my faith, wondering at points if any of it is worth it and if I really do believe in God but as time moves on and I draw near to Easter I find life starting to spring up in the desert of my lent.

I wonder what this year will bring...

Friday, December 11, 2009

The second candle: Love

The second candle on our advent wreath represents Love. We meditated on what God's love is. Can we grasp it? Tyler brought us a message on how God comes to us, where we are and meets us. When we read the words - "Prepare the way of the Lord." It doesn't mean, make everything perfect so that God can show up. Rather, as a statement - God is coming. Things are changing. He will make a way to us. What might God change in your life this advent?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Noah: was there really a flood?

So I've been thinking about Noah and our discussions on Genesis.

Reading the wiki article about flood mythology, it seems that most of the world's cultures have giant floods as part of their tradition. In most of the stories someone builds a boat or goes to the mountains with "seeds of life" or a way to repopulate the earth.

To me, oral tradition isn't usually factual truth but is usually based on a truth and is remembered in a meaningful way.

Geology research shows that there is no evidence of a global flood, but instances of several major floods throughout the world at various times from 1,000 to 10,000 BC.

So I wonder -- was there a global flood? Were there several floods that paralleled each other? Was Noah's flood a regional flood that covered the whole "known world" of Noah's time?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

All knowning, All powerful, All present ??

This past week's biblestudy was quite interesting. We have been studying Genesis which gets at a lot of core issues -- Did God create the world? How? Did God know that man would fall? Was the fall part of his plan? Did Adam and Eve have a choice, or since it was part of God's plan it was inevitable that they would fall? Or do all of our choices lead to the same end?

These questions are hard, but I think useful in helping us confront the limits of our ability to understand God. At some level we all struggle with a little bit of agnosticism. Can we fathom a God that exists outside of time, before time? Can we believe in a God that we can not fathom? Some how I feel that faith is deeper than this. I keep searching for words to describe what faith might be if not belief -- trust maybe? love? connection?

Can we love God or have faith in God if we cannot know God? Do relationships begin with knowing each other? Or is it that God knows us and the relationship is one sided?


Advent is a time to be still. To be quiet. To wait. We think of candles and evening secrets, stars and wreaths. We prepare for the coming of Jesus.

This advent Crossings is making room for Jesus in our lives by taking time to be quiet and meditate. Our journey is marked by the four candles of our advent wreath, Hope, Love, Joy and Peace.

The first candle, hope signifies the hope for the messiah. What sort of savior do we hope for? What do we hope God will fix in the world?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Adam and Eve

I had some thoughts regarding the discussion on Adam and Eve, and, since unfortunately I can’t make it to Bible study on time, was not able to put out the ideas at Steve’s (and now that I’ve finished writing it all here, realized that perhaps it was better to write it out anyway, so you can read it or not, as you please!). I realize that this thought runs counter to what most people at the study seemed to be thinking, but in the spirit of good discussion and critical thinking, I will put it out anyway, and you can feel free to agree or disagree, and post a kind-hearted reply if you can add more light to my thinking. :)

I want to discuss the idea that other people besides Adam and Eve existed at the time of the initial creation of human beings. I realize that from a scientific point of view, the development of many human beings at once would be most sensible; and at first glance, it seems not to create any serious theological problems. On deeper reflection, however, I am disturbed by the possible implications of this hypothesis. For if not all humankind descended from Adam, then not all were subject to the same fall into sin. And if not all fell with Adam (being as yet inside him), not all were given the promise of redemption (crushing the serpent’s head as he strikes the heel, Gen. 3:15). And as Jesus is the second Adam, the life-giving spirit (1 Cor. 15:45), then only those descended from Adam’s sinful line would be saved through Christ. But in Romans 5:12-19, Paul seems to be saying that sin came to all through the one man, Adam, and reconciliation to all through the second Adam, who is Christ.

So, if other human beings were around but not in the line of Adam, then are they not saved through Christ? For the story only works when Christ is the savior of the entirety of Adam’s line. If others were there, but not part of Adam, is their redemption then outside of Christ? As in, they may be saved through Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, or whatever is indigenous to their culture? Is Christ only the answer and completion to the Hebrew “myth,” if that is what we’re calling it, or is He the savior of all? “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God,” said Peter (Jn. 6:68). Is this true? If other words of life, means of salvation, are out there, how am I to know that I am descended from Adam and therefore under the salvation of Christ? And what reason would Paul have had to spread the gospel to the Gentiles, if they perhaps had not even descended from Adam? Could not their gods save them, completing whatever creation myths they believed?

This is where, it seems to me, this manner of thinking could go. Is this what we want?

If not, I perceive several ways around it. First, to interpret the passage as meaning that Adam and Eve are indeed the father and mother of all the living (Gen. 3:20: “The man called his wife Havah [life], because she was the mother of all living” [CJB]). As they lived a very long time, they could have had many children (as is mentioned in Gen. 5:4). Perhaps not all of these children were born after Seth, and perhaps these were the people Cain feared as he left the presence of God and from among whom he chose a wife. It may not be extremely plausible to the scientific mind, but to my simple mind, it seems a possibility.

Another possible solution is to consider the flood. As Noah and his family were descended from Adam (and, by the way, not from Cain, whose descendants all perished in the flood), then of course all people subsequent to the flood would have been children of Adam (provided that we are considering the flood to have been an actual worldwide event).

The third and most tenuous solution would be more philosophical than literal. That is the notion that Christ is the savior of all humankind (and indeed, all creation), but that he fulfills the mythology of each culture in a way unique and perfect to it. So to the Hebrew culture He is the Messiah prophesied in Isaiah, the sacrificial lamb of the Exodus, and the second Adam prefigured in Genesis. To another culture he may be the fulfillment in another way, of which I yet have no understanding, since my cross-cultural knowledge is limited. Yet for all cultures He would be the fulfillment, completion, Savior.

I am beginning to rather like the last option. However, I do have some trouble with it, as it seems dangerously close to what my atheist/Buddhist/Hindu/Jain friend said about Bodhisattvas. A Bodhisattva, as I understand it, is an enlightened human being who has escaped the wheel of suffering through good karma but chooses to postpone his or her entrance into nirvana in order to help the rest of the human race achieve the state of blessedness as well. In this view, Buddha, the Dali Lama, and other such revered teachers are considered Bodhisattvas. As my friend sees it, Christ is just another Bodhisattva, an incarnation of god among many others, and one can choose to follow whichever of these one likes—or to follow none at all, but simply trust one’s own inner enlightenment (inner god) through the practice of meditation. Books (and churches), my friend says, are a waste of time, and are just people trying to get you to believe whatever it is they believe so they can control you. So, is Jesus just another enlightened one, one among many that lead along the path of blessedness (which is, it seems, really a way to save oneself), or is He the true, literal, actual (and included in that is also metaphorical) Savior of all humanity?