Thursday, 23 April 2009
Such light is greater than our darkness - the smallest ray is able to pierce us deep...
it brings hope, for its true exposure opens the means to a greater reality"
Three thoughts that need to be shared.
From Larry (over at The Old Adam Lives) in a recent discussion on Creation:
"We might even by analogy picture the entire cosmos in our mind’s eye like this great shiny perfect fruit that was “very good”. Then one day the parasitic catastrophe occurred and we immediately, from our high vantage point begin to see the decay take place in all realms. Picture a time lapse movie real of a decaying fruit. Something catastrophic and very unnatural has occurred as we see it rot more and more. But it will be raised incorruptible and very very good for ever and ever, and it will have the very good earthy qualities".
I think that's a very useful analogy of the current futility which besets creation, and a good summation of the hope which Paul unpacks for us regarding the breaking of these bonds in Romans 8. It makes you ponder on what the 'natural' is really meant to be like.
I also received an interesting quote from a friend, David, on the nature of seeing creatively:
"As the eye is a sense faculty of the body, so is the healthy imagination a sense organ of the spiritual mind. It can receive spiritual truths from the material world. But purity of heart is required for such a healthy functioning of the imagination. Without this purity, the ever active mind and imagination construct disjointed thoughts and representations that bear little resemblance to reality. Such images debase rather than dignify; they vandalize rather than draw people closer to the spiritual logoi within creation". By Aiden.
Having our minds redeemed and renewed by Christ allows us to see, through the 'window' of creation, something of a foretaste of the glory that truly resides in the fellowship of the Godhead and the genuine 'embeddedness' of our (true) natures within creation. Whilst I'd argue that purity only resides (until the day of glory, when it will permeate all things) in and through Jesus Christ, salvation allows us to take our first steps in this larger world. Some of these steps are sublime...
From Anne, over at the 'Heart, Mind, Soul and Strength' Blog, on a favorite composer:
"He did understand the basics of liturgy: that Scripture is not just for analyzing, but for praying and for singing. A musician and a poet notices things that an analyst does not: that the Psalms were originally for singing and are still best appreciated when sung, that the prophesies were originally announcements and are still best understood when proclaimed, that the imagery and symbolism of Scripture is more similar to a fugue with deep, hidden themes than it is to a textbook...Handel knew that, rightly understood, Scripture does not cause only analysis but ultimately it causes celebration. Rightly preached, the Word of God does not cause people to dedicate themselves to analyzing the Scriptures, but to go out into the world celebrating the glory of God".
This is a fascinating insight, and made me reflect deeply. When we 'study' the scriptures well, they lead us to the person of Christ - to a relationship with one who is Creator and Redeemer, to the God who is living amongst us and wishes us to know this and rejoice in such life.
Like sitting in a quiet woodland glade in a mellow, sunlit afternoon, I trust these thoughts will allow you to ponder and delight in a beauty and a joy that truly furnishes the soul and allows us to see a little more of the glory and wonder of our Great God and Saviour.
Thursday, 16 April 2009
"The Easter story answers their questions about the spiritual aspects of humanity. It changes people's lives because it helps us understand that we, like Jesus, are born as spiritual beings.
Every inner prompting of conscience, every glimmering sense of beauty, every response we make to music, every experience we have of love - whether of physical love, sexual love, family love or the love of friends - and every experience of bereavement, reminds us of this fact about ourselves.
A N Wilson on the relevance of Christianity today.
There are moments in a year when what might be termed the 'spiritual' dimension of life seems to become truly interlocked with the natural. Easter is a key example of this. The beginnings of Spring had commonly been revered as a point of devotion in the ancient world, generally to some personified deification of nature due to the miracle we encounter at this time of year - the regeneration of the land after the 'death' of winter. It is hardly surprising that we mark such a moment - the harbinger of longer, warmer days, when creation is adorned and enabled to bring about a richness of fruits which, when harvested, allow us to live.
The seasons are no accident. They speak to us of deeper truths - the redemption that is only made ours by the death and raising of Christ Himself, which brings about the new 'day' foretold in the forming of the heavens and earth itself (Genesis 2:1, Hebrews 4:1), to be fulfilled in the 'day' which is fast approaching.
As the re-birth of Spring is at the heart of the natural world, so the Redemption of that Creation through the work of Jesus Christ is at the core of our existence - the one who holds together the very fiber of every particle in the universe is the one who overcame the power of sin and death for every one of us. This allows a new life, an 'alien' righteousness, to justify the lost (we who are dead in sin) and to redeem us that we may become adopted into the wonder of the new day, when we are truly new creations, which is coming.
When our lives are furnished by such richness, then so much will 'speak' (resonate) of the great reality - that we are indeed the work of His hands, and as such, are honored with this day, this moment, to look to the depth of care and love that has been bestowed upon us, by the living Creator and Redeemer.
Sunday, 5 April 2009
sight of Mansoul; the which when they saw, the captains could
for their hearts do no less than for a while bewail the
condition of the town; for they quickly saw how that it was
prostrate to the will of Diabolus, and to his ways and
designs." John Bunyan - The Holy War
It's amazing to see what happens in a crisis.
I was intrigued to learn yesterday that as a result of the current recession, councils in my part of the world have been inundated with requests for allotments, so that people can go out and grow their own fruit and vegetables. What's particularly of interest here, is that whilst it's not really that more cost effective (in terms of the weekly budget) to do this, it is of enormous benefit to the people who do it - they live and eat better as a result, and the land is put to good use.
It's interesting to seek to apply this example to the modern church.
Like the bulk of our present society, popular spirituality has taken a 'fast food' approach when it comes to its delivery of the Christian message and practice. Having a 'take away' meal, as we all know, once in a blue moon, may be convenient, but imagine trying to live on that (remember the movie, 'super-size me'. Scary stuff!).
I understand it's possible to poison certain grains in such a way that the more you eat, the more hungry you become, until you ingest enough of the poison that you literally eat yourself to death.
We can all point to examples where the church is suffering from this form of spiritual obesity, so what is the solution?
One of the exciting aspects of the modern era is our astonishing ability to communicate. People walk around with phones on their ears all day, with Lap-tops on the trains and buses, with access to literally billions of pieces of information, but they're often 'fat' or 'anorexic' in their lives as a result of the diet they get here.
We need to harness such means and use them as a window into a larger world - a point of access to a place where we can feel and smell, handle and engage with the true benefits of the faith that has once been given for our benefit.
If you are ready to get your hands dirty, so to speak, in such an engagement, here's a sight I can recommend:
It's not for the faint-hearted - it'll require thought, inter-action and, possibly, quite a lot of change,
but it (along with the many other people and places you can link to through it) may encourage some real health in these trying times.
The crisis is here, and it's very real, but the remedy is where it always has been -
in the depths of His mercy and the riches of His grace.