Monday, September 24, 2007

Diving Down the Rabbit Hole

“Alice was getting very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do; once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, ‘and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversations?’” [After that Alice noticed an oddly well-dressed rabbit run by]: “Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waist-coat pocket, or a watch to take out of it, and burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit hole under the hedge. In another moment, down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.”

So begins the classic, The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland. I just began reading this with my daughter recently, right after finishing Tolkien's The Hobbit. This was right at the time we were beginning our current series on Exodus, Journey into the Adventure of God. Then it hit me: from nomadic people in the Ancient Near East to children in America today, it seems as if we're wired for adventure. There seems to be something in the human heart that just longs to join the quest, or discover the treasure, or save the world. I resonate with Alice's boredom sometimes, because in contemporary Christianity it often feels like we're just sitting on the river bank watching someone read. That is, we have been told that the point of faith is to "get saved," find a comfortable pew to sit on and tell stories as we watch the world go by, pining for the day when "heaven" will take us away from all of this. Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm all about seeing and being part of the new creation when Jesus returns, I'm just convinced that God is calling us to begin embodying that new creation even now. He's calling us to dive down the rabbit hole of his work in the world today; because Egypt-like oppression still exists in our time and there are still people enslaved today (literally and symbolically). The God who brought freedom for Israel in the Exodus stands ready to bring similar freedom today and what astounds me is that he invites us to be a part of this journey too.

So, as we have conversations through this biblical epic, I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts on the parallels you see in the world today. Who are the Pharaoh's and oppressors today? And where do you see God splitting seas and opening up new worlds in our time?

Enjoy the journey!


Sunday, September 2, 2007

Anchor Forward

Ok, so I've slacked in posting the last few weeks; but I'll say here how much I've enjoyed this brief series looking at anchors of our identity as a spiritual community. I got the image that shaped the series from Leonard Sweet, an image of how the anchors of our past don't just hold us down or hold us back, but can actually propel us forward. Here's how Sweet himself puts it: "The biblical image is clearly one of casting an anchor ahead, not behind, and then pulling oneself forward.... In the legend of the Welsh Prince Madoc and his discovery of America, his ship got stuck in the Chesapeake Bay. After trying every way concievable to get the vessel unstranded, the crew came to Prince Madoc and asked if there were anything he could think for them to do. He responded, 'Kedge on our anchor.' So they rowed out with an anchor, dropped it as far into the sea as they could, and then winched their way toward it. The ancient saling practice of 'kedging' is what I mean by the AncientFuture methodology of moving into the future." (Ancient Future Faith, 118-19).

I can't tell you how much I appreciate this image. For our Christian hertigage as a whole, I see wounderful resources in the stories, language and classic practices of our faith that will enable us to weather the uncertain journey ahead. For the congregation in which I serve, I see all that God has already done among us as beacons urging us forward to serve God as courageously in the future as he has allowed us to do in the past. And I see the possibilities of this image helping us as individuals redeem even the dark moments in our own lives, seeing even these experiences as directional markers for the journey God still has to take us on.

I guess that's yet one more reason I find the Christian story so compelling. It honors where we as humans have been--history matters, it's not just about great ideas. And yet, this faith does not honor complacent satisfaction with the status quo. Our God always has us asking, "in light of all of the places and ways that Jesus has shown up in the past, what fresh new places and ways will he reveal himself to us in the times to come?" So thank you Father God, for telling us a classic story with a cosmic twist.

Have a great week!