Saturday, April 30, 2005

body language

my friend John said...
What does his incarnate face look like as a church struggles with issues? Often it seems that we mistake the appearance of a narrow presentation of worship on Sunday morning for the face of Christ. How malnourished we are!

I think the face of Christ we need to be loyal to in difficult contexts is the body working together with her differences. Often it seems those in power have not moved to be inclusive nor have we moved to be included. Perhaps that is part of the difficulty. The face of Christ is in the mirror and in the face of our brother/sister and we need to be changed to accept the fullness of Christ's face.

which reminded me of something i punched out a couple of years ago. it amazes me how a hyperlink to God can be found in so many of life's encounters... this one started with the liner notes from a fear factory (a heavy, industrial rock band, not to be confused with 'reality' t.v. shows where girls in bikinis try to hold their breath while jumping spiders make webs on their heads) album...

he unknowingly enters an abandoned building. it is dark, cold and deserted. there is a ray of light piercing the darkness from a window high above. the light exposes rows of old wooden seats. one row on either side. in the shadows, behind the ray of light, he sees the statue of a man, hanging vertically with his arms spread out from side to side. he has seen this image before, but a very long time ago. almost like a faded memory. he contemplates whether it was a myth or a legend. as he walks up to the figure, he views the coloured glass on the walls, and the paintings of men with glowing orbs around their heads. now standing adjacent to the statue, he extends his arm with a curious hand to touch the tired-looking face of the forgotten man.

walking away from the hanging figure, he glances back for a moment. the dampness in the air appears to be affecting the statue, for the beam of light is now hitting his face, and it seems as though he has been weeping.
(from the liner notes of "Obsolete" by Fear Factory)

the spiritual state of people that need to receive the gospel: lost and spiritually alone, many with only vague and disjunct memories of past religious experiences steeped in ritual and tradition rather than relationship.

these are the people that Christ died for, and christians know truth that can set them free.

worship isn't a designated time or place- it isn't a calculated emotional curve or a mosaic of isolated holy moments. no, although these can all be part of worship, it is a gestalt of all of them for the earnest servant of God... it is a day by day, hour by hour, breath by breath, heartbeat by heartbeat song to God. it begins at the foot of the cross, through the moment of acceptance and straight on 'til morning. it is both active and passive and therefore all consuming. it is the reason that all of creation exists- to reflect back the glory and the love of Almighty God.

worship is saying "you are" to "I Am"

we are to live lives that bring glory to God. all that we do should be worthy of being written down as the work of God. all that we do should be an act of worship. we are his hands and his feet- we are the body of Christ (I Cor 12:27)

it's not the words of Christ that are so confusing, it's the body language.

how can Jesus' people be true to the great commission found in matthew 28 if all they do is live tidy little lives? are the people that are wandering through the abandoned churches of this world going to make a commitment to a lifestyle or a saviour? will anybody be able to make the connection if the christians don't show that there is one? is it working so far?

nietzsche said
"one should not go into churches if one wants to breathe pure air."

although he was writing back in the late 19th century, one can still smell today the musty odour of tainted spirituality that characterized both the church of his day and the temple of Christ's. hypocrisy continues to abound and the forgotten man on the cross continues to weep when it happens. he didn't die so that people could be outwardly righteous and inwardly corrupt. he didn't die so that people could use his name to get what they want from each other. he didn't die so that people could sing "when i get to heaven gonna walk with Jesus" without actually trying to walk with their neighbour first.

the world is looking for a saviour, but first they have to get past the saved...

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Blogger Pensive said...

Worship, my friend, is a lifestyle. Worship is our saviour. There is no either/or. Only 'and'.
I wonder, if, at times, it isn't only the lost who are lost. There is a gnawing at my heart suggesting that we have lost so much.
There is a great sonnet written by priest Gerard Manley Hopkins that goes like this:

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonfires draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thin does one thing and the same:
Deals our that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves-goes itself; myself it speacks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.

I say more: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is -
Christ. For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.

Life is so much more than that bit we are aware of. The life that Christ carries forward is lived in us. But it is more! It is Christ who carries creation forward. He is ALIVE! And he plays in the kingfisher, the dragonfly, the stone, harp string, the bell and the life that is Christ is played in us. It is played in us as we sleep, rest, contemplate, the kitchen, the bathroom, the livingroom, the office, at school, at work, at the park, on the playing field, in our committees and in our sanctuaries.
What is key is 'play'. Christ is at play. For whom does Christ play? His Father, who is well pleased. For whom do we play? Christ plays in us and we play for our Heavenly Father. We play, we dance, we sing.
We are poor, we mourn, we are meek, we hunger and thirst, we are merciful, we are pure, we are peacemakers, and we are persecuted; in this is our play. The play is a shovel digging into our hearts tossing out the sand, dirt and gravel to get to the water that gives life eternal and waters a new eden.
My gnawing heart tells me we no longer know how to play. Why? Because we cry out that I know Christ. We blaspheme as we say 'I'. There is no 'I' but there are the other faces in which the Father shows his eyes.
May the grace of Jesus be with us.


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