I've posted the first three classes in this series on desert spirit's fire; this last class is a review and roundup, so I'm posting it here.
Advent 1: Historical Witness – Creation and Prophets
Advent 2: Historical Witness – Jesus Christ
Advent 3: Liturgy, Word, Sacrament
Advent 4: Contemporary Witness – us and our neighbors
Abraham, Jesus, us—from the other side of the dominant social and economic culture of consumerism and exorbitant consumption; from the other side of death…alive in Jesus Christ!
2 Samuel 7:5-6 "I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling.'"
John 1:14 And the word became flesh and tabernacled, pitched a tent among us...
Genesis 1:1 - 2:4 God creates humanity in a multifaceted Image of the Divine; God's attributes and our attributes include holiness, justice, righteousness, servanthood and creativity. Yahweh's specialty was constant, unmediated presence with creation. How about us?
Acts 1:1-8 …they asked him, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?" He replied… "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
RCL Advent 3A: Matthew 11:2-11 "Are you the one who is to come?" "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk…and the poor have good news brought to them…"
Historical and contemporary
Exodus 5:1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, 'Let my people go, so that they may celebrate a festival to me in the wilderness.'" The church gathers as the community that already has experienced its first death and second birth, fully alive under the subversive Lordship of Jesus Christ and called to live in a radically culturally incongruent, actually counter-cultural manner. An individual becomes a person by becoming embedded in a textured, connected, interwoven history of shared experiences and different viewpoints; there is no other way to create a humanly connected sense of your own identity, form memories and become part of history. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are cosmic events in each of our lives and part of our transformation from individual into person.
In worship, especially when we celebrate the sacraments, we anticipate, celebrate and commemorate and carry with us a microcosm of a redeemed world, a living and a life-giving memory of Jesus. In us, Jesus again becomes alive in the world and we offer the world a living connection to the heaven of God's Reign here on earth.
Liturgy, time; Sacraments, space and matter
Liturgy - Holy Time: remembering Whose we are! Who has called us! We recall, retell and re-enact our corporate and individual histories of the journey from death into life.
Sacraments - Holy Place and Holy Stuff—sacred creation: re-membering who we are! The person and communities God has called and enabled us to be and to do.
Corporate Identity Package; God's call to us
We are the body, corpus, of Christ! Each of us is a member of the body of Christ. Jesus Christ incarnate, re-enfleshed in us. Corporate Identity [package]: our logo, our résumé, our curriculum vitae, detailing where we've been, what we've learned, what we live for and die for...who are we? In Christ, we have experienced our second birth and our first death. We live under the reign of life rather than in the enslavement, the subjugation of death.
Baptism: primal experience, water, womb;
Eucharist: we find sacred memory and discover hope for a free future in the meta-narratives of redemption, of deliverance from death to life in the Exodus and Passion/Easter stories. Theologian Jürgen Moltmann describes baptism as "sign, witness, representation and illumination of the Christ Event," and we can claim the same about the Eucharist. We know Jesus Christ as sovereign, prophet and priest; baptized, we participate in that royal, prophetic priesthood. In the Eucharist, the church in every place and every time blesses and reintegrates all creation in every place and time.
1 Corinthians 11:23-28
Liturgy: holy time - remembering Whose we are
Sacraments: holy space - re-membering who we are
Time and space are the conditions in which all creation lives. Living within the cycle of the liturgical year as it replicates the history of God and the people of God and celebrating the sacraments within that context helps refocus time and space as the necessary environment of God's revelation to us as human creations. How does the Divine Presence enter our lives in decayables such as human speech, grain, grape, memory and music?
Neighbors, co-workers, family, assorted "others"
Jesus' presence in our lives often becomes a two-way street in which we are both guests and hosts to each other; they are guest and host to us, also. Our experiences? Do we need to be open, or does God open our eyes in surprise? Both/and, maybe?
Living on the limen, the threshold
Can our presence in the world and in our neighborhoods be a liminal, in the process of becoming, though not-quite-yet one? Partly in our own world and way, partly in theirs, and wholly in the sovereignty of heaven?
© leah chang