Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"Traveling Light" - Chapter Two

This chapter, subtitled The Burden of a Lesser God, resonates with several recent or coming Bible lessons.

This Sunday, many will hear about Jesus' visit to Martha and Mary. It contrasts Martha, busy with "many things," and her sister, Mary, who listened to Jesus for "the one thing that cannot be taken away."

Morning Prayer lessons this week have included:
  • I Samuel's account of Hannah, who in her time of need let nothing come between her and God.
  • Luke 11:37ff, in which Jesus warns against using external religious behavior as a poor (and destructive) substitute for true relationship with God.
  • Luke 12:1-12, a truly Trinitarian passage in which Jesus tells us to fear God (the Father), confess the Son and honor and rely upon the Holy Spirit. (Jesus tells us to elevate God above all earthly powers).

Lucado rightly notes the awesome wonder of God (why would we seek help from anyone else?) and, at the same time, the intimate love of God who wants us to know His very name.

I don't intentionally "worship" anybody or anything to the extent that I value them more than God. I'm more like Martha, letting "many things" pull me this way and that until I'm not listening for that One voice I really need to hear and follow. So often, I find that when my prayer life gets hurried or neglected, "many things" move in to claim my attention.

Looking forward to your thoughts. I will post on Ch. 3 Thursday night, then be out of town for a bit. Will take up Ch. 4 next week.

3 comments:

DennyT said...

An important theme in Chapter 2 is that “God is Yahweh (I AM)−an unchanging God, an uncaused God,and an ungoverned God.”
The strength of the statement is that the only name needed is “I Am.”−No qualifiers needed.
When I was in early teens I received a church lesson discussing Eternity. It terrorized me at the time. I just couldn’t get my hands around it. It became so bad that I couldn’t sleep.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was a big contributor to my moving away from religion. I still believed in God, and still prayed every night, but wasn’t very Christian. At that time I definitely believed in God, just not religion.
Much later in life (I was married with two children), I became friends with a young man whose father was an Episcopal priest. Irene and I were so impressed by the family, that we decided we would become Episcopalians including Baptism for me, and confirmation for both of us.
We attended both churches where I felt close to God, and others where He seemed to be far away. The one where I didn’t feel God’s presence pushed me away and a number of years followed before I started attending an Episcopal church once again. In two instances in two different states, it was a wonderful experience. We were welcomed by the congregations, andbecame very active.
As I’ve gotten older, I have accepted the fact that much about God is a mystery not to be disclosed until I’m in Heaven. I have come to believe that God loves me in spite of who I am or what I have done. All I need to do is believe in him and be the best I can be. I do this through repentence, partaking of the Sacrament, and by being a Christian example to others.
Part of that promise God makes to all of us is reflected in Lucado’s “And you need a God who, while so mind-numbling mighty, can come in the soft of the night and touch you with the tenderness of an April snow.”

Scott said...

Chapter 2 is also titled "The Middle 'C' of Life".

I too appreciated the discussion of God's name "Yahweh" and why David chose it = "I am" and "I cause", or the one who is and the one who causes. God does not change - an important lesson for us when considering today's Episcopal Church and the non-ending pull to mirror society, instead of society lifting itself (or striving to lift itself up) to God.

Reaching perfection is not possible in this life, but it is what drives many of us in our earthly pursuits...including those of us who perform music. So why NOT in our devotion to Gods' Word? Why do we try to ask God to mirror us today?

As a musican, I enjoyed Lucado's analogy to music. Yahweh is like middle C on the piano. "Home Base". Always there. The center. The point from which all else is in reference to. Unmoving. Unchanging.

Lucado speaks of "lesser deities" which hold our earthly attraction. Perhaps money, possessions, political beliefs, allegiance to a thing rather than to God. For many, we sometimes want to treat God like a genie in a bottle. Uncork the bottle and let Him out when things are not going so well, and demand that He return to the bottle when things are going well in our lives. Are you guilty of this? I surely have been!

Northern Plains Anglicans said...

I find that Anglican spirituality, practiced well, helps me with some of the struggles described by Denny and Scott...

The routines of Morning and Evening Prayer ("Daily Offices") start the day with God, fill my mind with Biblical truth, and close the day in reflection confession, reflection and faith.

Denny is right - God is a mystery and we will not see "face to face" in this life (I Corinthians 13:12), BUT, although "no one has ever seen God, His only Son has made Him known" (John 1:18). The Book of Common Prayer gives us forms of prayer that have stood the test of centuries and takes us steadily through God's word.

I like Scott's "Genie in a bottle" metaphor. I remember a church I visited in California - they had lots of people involved in theatre, TV and movies, and they used chancel dramas to good effect. They did one called "The Old Testament in 30 Minutes." People were laughing until it hurt during the "Book of Judges" - the actors would stride across the stage in great nobility and courage, then run back screaming and cowering. That's exactly what Judges shows - people who are "godly" when they need help, but then fall away until the next disaster drives them to prayer.

Healthy Anglicanism has Benedictine influences, including the prayerful sanctification of each day and of all our work. It is a great spiritual method, in the right hands. Like any other form of Christianity, it can be distorted and corrupted. But it is a treasure worth uncovering and sharing.