Listening for the Mind of Christ in Time of Crisis: Do not be afraid, Part 3

12 Meanwhile, when many thousands of the crowd had gathered so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing is secret that will not be made known. So then whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms will be proclaimed from the housetops.

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more they can do. But I will warn you whom you should fear: Fear the one who, after the killing, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Aren’t five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. In fact, even the hairs on your head are all numbered. Do not be afraid; you are more valuable than many sparrows.   Gospel of Luke 12:1-7 (NRSV)

Fear is powerful and at times needed. Fear alerts us to danger and prepares our bodies for confronting that danger, either by fighting or fleeing.  Jesus though calls us to not fear those who would have the power to end our life, “…do not be afraid of those who kill the body”. Why might Jesus tell us not to fear such a threat as someone who has the power, opportunity, and means to kill us?

I suggest part of the reason Jesus encourages us to not live in fear even of those who can kill us, can be found in reflection upon the tenor of the GOP national convention in July.  That whole week the GOP and Donald Trump wanted us to be afraid, to be very afraid. We were told to Fear the terrorists, fear the refugees who might be terrorist, fear immigrants and the list of what to fear continued on. One may argue that there’s no need to fear these things. The terrorists aren’t refugees Yet there are those who aren’t controlled by any legitimate government nor represent a nation who seek to harm the U.S. and its standing in the world. There is a real danger, though, not an immediate danger to most of us residing in the U.S. One may even want to counter that it is more realistic to be afraid of a random person carrying a legal firearm than an Islamic Terrorist (who actually kill more Muslims than Americans).  Whether or not what the GOP and Trump wish us to fear is based in any actual potential threat, the effect is still the same: the focus on who or what is feared, a focus that doesn’t allow us pay attention to much else, let alone seeking to find other possible responses than fight or flight. Fear works at its best in instances of immediate threat, in which we can immediately respond in either standing to fight or in getting away. Then the fear and adrenaline can dissipate once the threat is dealt with. But to fear that there are people in the world who may harm or even kill when that threat isn’t imminent keeps us from seeing the larger picture. Fear about generic and non-immediate threats allows us to be manipulated by fear mongering and we begin to fail to make a distinction between actual imminent threat, possible future threat, and plausible but unrealistic threat. We saw this mix of real and unrealistic fear in the GOP convention in July.

Yet, Jesus’s remarks aren’t only set against this jumble of undiscerning fear mongering. For Jesus, the reason not to fear isn’t that the fear is misplaced, but that it is generic and not immediate. When we live in fear even if of a legitimate but not immediate threats our focus is still on the fear and the feared. Jesus, says do not be afraid of some future possibility that there are people in the world who can harm you.

In order to demonstrate this, Jesus goes on to say that if one must be afraid of a possible future bodily threat, then be afraid of God. Jesus isn’t counseling actually fearing God, but if one is going to fear a potential real future threat, God serves as good as anything else to fear, after all, God is much more threatening, and then at least your focus would be on the source of ultimate meaning and of all life. Jesus is pointing us to an awareness and a way of being beyond fight or flight of our fear response.

What is Jesus doing here? I suggest that the reason Jesus says to not be afraid of even legitimate possible future threat is that we know God the creator of the universe who knows us intimately and lovingly knows odd details about us (the numbers of the strands of hair we have on our heads). We are intimately known by and sacred to our creator. So if we are going to fear a legitimate but future potential threat then we should fear God, but if you know God, when you come to know God, you are aware that God is a ridiculous thing to fear. For the members of Christ’s Body, we know something further about this God who knows intimate details about ourselves that we can’t know about ourselves; this one not only cares for us but is joined with us in our humanity and suffers with us. In Jesus of Nazareth God went to the extremities of life even death.  This one who cares and upholds our life also knows what it is to suffer, to be oppressed and abused and knows what it is to die, Jesus of Nazareth the Christ.  This is the God we know and love.

Now this doesn’t tell us what to do in the place of actual imminent threat. But it can and has led many to face and submit to violent death without fear. Yet, it has also led others to flee in the case imminent danger, until it was no longer time to flee the threat. To not be afraid doesn’t mean to be passive and do nothing in the face of a threat. But, it is to be put in the place of discerning beyond fight or flight. It allows us to be critical of all calls to fear something by the powerful (including the call of the Clinton campaign for us to fear a Trump presidency.).

So be not afraid, and oppose the powerful, but do not fear them. Don’t focus your attention on such potential threats.  Focus on God and the transformative work of God’s coming kingdom in the world through Jesus Christ.

Part two can be found here and part 1 here

The Mystery of the Good Shepherd: Easter Mystagogy Week 4

How are we to hear the parabolic speech of Christ and God as our shepherd?  “The Lord is my shepherd…” and “I am the Good Shepherd...”?  In these passages of the third week of Easter and in the image of the Good Shepherd we are contemplating belonging. We are contemplating hearing and speech: “...they will listen to my voice.“.

Jesus alludes to Psalm 23 when he says he is the Good Shepherd. Within this parable we are in the midst of John’s subtle but persistent high Christology. Though, Jesus takes the shepherd analogy, in a different direction than the psalmist.  Jesus uses the economic investment a shepherd has in his flock to illustrate Jesus’ investment in us.  Investment is elided with care.  The shepherd will care for the sheep and defend them from danger in ways a hired hand simply wont.  The hired hand doesn’t have the same investment in the sheep as the shepherd does.

What sort of investment does the Good shepherd have in his sheep?  Life itself.  God in Jesus Christ lays down his life, undergoes death.  God invested God’s very life in us.  This is even greater than any human shepherd will actually do for his sheep.  a Shepherd may risk more in the face of danger than the hired hand, but actual death?.  Here the analogy is exploded to give us an image in which God’s love for us can come through in its extra-ordinariness.

But what is the point of all this the laying down of the life to take it up again.  A shepherds care, sheep responding to the shepherds voice and not the hired hand or the thief?

Is not the point love and relationship that leads to life.  Is it not an appeal to continue to respond to God’s voice to as the psalmist says: “Today, oh that you would hear his voice! Harden not your heart, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness:”

God speaks to us a continual invitation into the life of the Holy Trinity.  This Life will shepherd us in the way of life.  But are we listening? Do we hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, and the invitation into the community the fold of God?  Do we trust and listen as sheep who know the difference between the one who really cares for them and the one paid to care for them?

Are our hearts softened by the voice of the Good Shepherd and do we turn to the voice?  Are we transformed by our name being spoken and do we allow are hearts to be softened thus that we can love as the Good shepherd has loved us?

Are we in the fold? or have we wondered off?  Are we in the fold of the very life and love of God, Father Son and Holy Spirit?

This is our life, this is the place of transformation : hearing God’s voice in our hearts, invited into the fold of God’s love.



The Mystagogy of Easter : The Doubt of Thomas the Twin

The lectionary each season of Easter brings us back to the same texts. Lent has a similar structure but there is a little more variation between each year in the three year cycle, while for Easter we read the same  passages from the Book of Acts and the Gospel of John.

This all is related to Baptism: preparing for the waters of Baptism at Easter and then unpacking the meaning of living in our new life given at baptism.  The teaching that prepares one for baptism is called catechesis and the teaching of the meaning of the baptismal life is called mystagogy, teaching about what had remained hidden before one gained sight in the waters of baptism.  We must learn to see.

The texts for the Second Sunday of Easter direct us to sight and touch.  The author of the epistle of John claims the reality he is speaking of and witnessing to is what he and the other apostles not only saw but handled. And of course the Apostle Thomas famously says I will not believe unless I touch the wound in his side and holes in his hands.

We can get caught up in Thomas’ doubt.  When so many Christians act so very certain, Thomas becomes the patron saint of those who aren’t always so sure.  This use of  this story of the Resurrection of Christ allows many to have the faith of Thomas in the face of the absolutism in which doubt is seen as akin to darkness and thus a sign of God’s absence in a distorted interpretation of 1 John 1:7.  Yet, we shouldn’t settle into the comfort of this interpretation, which still focuses on the doubt rather than the encounter.

1 John 1 is about the tangibility of the truth which the Twelve Apostles handed on and which has come down to us.  They saw and handled.  Thomas, an Apostle needs to handle his faith. While, Jesus’ words of blessing to those who believe without the tangibility given to the Twelve and the disciples, still affirms that we have faith in  something that was visible and tangible: that is in the physical and not just ethereal, spiritual or psychological, but something that affects the whole of us and the universe.

1 John 1 expands upon the story of Thomas the Twin: It invites us into faith beyond mere assent.  We misread the testimony of the epistle of John if we think it says just accept what I say because I say I handled and saw.  No, this witness of seeing and handling is an invitation into the tangibility of the faith of the Church, the Body of Christ.  We are invited into the actualization of the Blessing Christ bestows on those who will hear Thomas’s story and his encounter with the Risen body of Jesus Christ, still bearing the wounds of his passion.  This is real, no fantasy, no story to make us feel better. The doubt of Saint Thomas the apostle tells us there’s no point to go along with it all if one has never had the encounter with God in Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ.

If someone tells me they don’t believe because they have never encountered God, or experienced the reality of Christ (and especially if they say this as one who had been formerly a Christian, as one merely assenting to propositional belief), I think of Thomas, and I say yes, there is nothing I can say to you – mere assent to belief you haven’t encountered isn’t the faith of the Church.  All I can do is witness to my own encounter within the realm of the faith of the Church that has been handed down from Thomas the Twin and the other eleven Apostles, who handled and saw this mystery. Through their witness handed down through the centuries I too have handled and seen.

12 Chapters on Listening and Being Right

Ed. note: after publishing this I recognized  the genre .  It’s the ancient Christian genre of writing on the spiritual life in “chapters”: short paragraphs over which one is too linger in contemplation as one reads but which together form a sustained reflection on a topic.  I’ve now numbered the paragraphs and revised the title of the blog post to reflect this realization.  However, I do not claim to match the wisdom of those who mastered this genre.

1) Listening is a key piece to the cure of souls.  As various controversies rage and people dismiss others views, I believe listening becomes even more important, listening to those who may say things that one finds offensive or even dangerous.

2) Not everyone is in the place to do such listening.  And not every thing said is worth being heard.

3) But listening from the perspective of Spiritual Direction and the Cure of souls isn’t about validation or agreement. Listening in such a view also isn’t about letting one person simply rage or lash out.

4) The listening I’m talking about is giving space to questions.  It is also giving space so that genuine sentiment, faith, and experience can come to the fore.

5) In the Cure of souls it is also listening for the voice of God, in the floundering words of the one speaking.  This spiritual act of care is listening for the lacunae, the gap, the fissure that shows a contradiction, the place of the spiritual illness or blockage in a person’s life.

6) In  listening one can’t seek to make one’s own point or convince the other of the truth.

7) Listening is then an act bounded in love between the one speaking and the one listening.

8) Listening also means responding,  reflecting back, taking time to hear what the other may not hear in their own words.  Listening is interactive, its a negotiation, where the Holy Spirit plays a key and necessary role of illuminating and reviving the soul

9) Listening is seeking the truth through clearing a space where a soul may be lead into the truth by the Holy Spirit.  Listening is being willing to give oneself up to the work of the Spirit.

10) This sort of listening means each time one enters this clearing, one begins again.  Previous conclusions are held lightly, so that the truth of the soul may continue to emerge and come to light.

11) This listening in the cure of souls is the continual abandonment of the sense of having come to the right conclusions and being right so that relationship may emerge and thus the health and wholeness of the soul with whom one sits before God may come to completion and perfection.

12) Listening is accompaniment on the journey of the soul, so that the soul on her journey will have a relationship with, and remain in relationship to the source of life.

Seeing the lie behind a truth: Sermon for First Sunday in Lent

Sermon preached for the Oratory of Jesus Christ, Reconciler.  I don’t always post my sermons here but this sermon has a tone and subject matter that fits well within the Cure of Souls thread.  Our approach to Lent at the Oratory is a form of  group spiritual direction around different aspects of Lent and spiritual disciplines.  This Lent we are fasting together.  

Was the serpent correct?  Today we read the account of the Fall and Temptation of Christ. We hear of the first and last temptation of humanity.  During Lent we confront sin and its consequences.

What are we to make of the words of the Serpent and this story of the fall? Is it fair of God to put in front of us this fruit we couldn’t eat, and did death truly result from it?  In one sense, the serpents mocking of the consequence of eating the the fruit was correct, Adam and Eve didn’t drop dead on the spot, but as Paul says it brought condemnation and dominion of death.  We see this immediately, Adam and Eve who were open and free with each other suddenly experience separation and shame and they hide from each other and from God.  No longer are they free and completely open, naked with each other.  They experienced separation; death ultimately is a separation that can’t be bridged.    Don’t we know this separation, from ourselves, from our loved ones, from our friends, and most obviously from our enemies?  We may have moments of connection, and yet there is always already separation; a painful awareness that we could be left alone.  We have the painful awareness that making and keeping the connection with others is tenuous, this is part of the dominion of death. We might say that one act set in motion a world torn apart, where relationships are tenuous, even the best ones still come to an end.  The serpent spoke a half truth.

We humans have this tendency to believe the half-truth, which is really to believe the lie that is contained in the other half of the half-truth.   In both the temptation in the garden and Jesus’ temptation in the desert, we see what we are up against and what we (I think) can recognize in our own souls:  temptation often comes as half-truth that appeals to a good desire, but asks us to trust only the desire, rather than trust the whole truth about the world, others, and God.

The tempter comes and says, “ Look, you won’t drop dead!  You can look and see that this fruit is not poisonous. You can see and smell that it is good to eat.”  All true but covered over in these true words is the lie that God doesn’t really care for you, God is keeping this from you for no good reason.  This is the slipperiness of temptation and the winding path we follow into Sin.

We don’t know what would have happened if we hadn’t grabbed at the knowledge of good and evil.  We arent’ told what was ultimately intended by this one fruit. Did God intended us to have the knowledge of God and evil?  What we are told is that we grabbed it.  And what we do know is that our knowledge of good and evil didn’t give us the power to only do the good and avoid the evil, rather it has given us the propensity for both, and in such away that our doing good never really overcomes the evil. Many faithful have said that at some point this knowledge would have been given to us, but because we took it, because we sought it separated from God and God’s caring love for us, it could only distort our true humanity.  Now that we have it we can’t deliver ourselves from evil and the consequences of that first mistrust of God, that first failure of faith.

The good news is that all our sin, our separation our pain and suffering all the evil  in the world is just the beginning of the story, not the end.  When we sin, when we see oppression and violence in the world, we are simply playing out that scene in the Garden with Eve and Adam and the Serpent, but God tells another story .   God rewrites the story and changes the ending.  This rewrite is that one comes, a human, and meets the serpent again. This human being is so united with God that trust in God isn’t shaken by the half-truths the serpent speaks; the tempter, Devil using the Scriptures the Word of God against God in human flesh.  So, this time humanity is ready, In Jesus of Nazareth, the incarnate Son, sees through the half-truth to the lie, and trusts that God truly fulfills our good desires.  Jesus of Nazareth, hungry and tested doesn’t need to grasp after the good things because God never intends to keep from us any good thing.  In fact all good is from God.  Your desire is from God, even that desire which might be unfulfilled at any particular moment, or even for one’s whole life.

Here we are, on the edge of the desert and the garden, intentionally entering a period of fasting and yes temptation, called into the desert with Jesus.  You will hear the tempter, the serpent; you will encounter your demons.  Be not afraid, know your desires are good, know that God will truly fulfill them.  However, hold your desires lightly.  Accept that not all desire can or should be fulfilled immediately or at all times. We fast to remind ourselves that our desire for food and other things while good should not devour and control us.  Desire is good, but if we accept the lie in the truth of the goodness of desire and believe that a good desire must be satiated now we fall into sin: we become separated from the one who will fulfill the desires of our hearts, the one who is what our hearts ultimately desire.

So, contemplate this Lent these two temptations, one which lead to our fall, the other which lead to our victory.  Let Christ’s faithfulness be your faithfulness.  Remember this Lent that you are Christ, you are the beloved, and in baptism you have the Spirit and have taken on Christ.  Trust in this and see the Tempter flee from you.  Even so, don’t be disheartened by a failure, for even in failure you are still Christ’s.  Repent, get up and accept God’s grace and forgiveness, assured that you are being transformed into this new humanity, which saw through the half-truth to the lie through faith and trust.

God loves you, your desires are good but they don’t need to be fulfilled: before temptation trust this truth. And to paraphrase St Augustine: as we begin this Lent and fast together, Love this one who is the desire of your soul, and do what you will.  Amen

Trust even when the crops fail and teraces produce no nurishment

One of the canticles said at Lauds is taken from the third chapter of Habakkuk. It begins so confident , with such surety that God will vindicate and show God’s power.  But then the reality of  the siege of the city sinks in as the author sees beyond immediate circumstance even immediate suffering and hardship.    It doesn’t make much sense.

For the community this past year has been a bit like crops failing, terraces producing no nourishment and flocks disappearing from the fold.  Things have been shrinking.  God hasn’t intervened.  Things haven’t lined up, opportunities have come but slipped away, not because of missed opportunity based in inaction or mistake, but due to bad timing and things beyond our control.

It’s been difficult to know what to do.  So, I’ve just continued on the path before me.  I could step away.  Find something less difficult.  But I’d have to seek it out.  No alternative is presenting itself, there are not other offers.  Without the obvious second path, without the fork in the road, I’ve chosen to stay the course and not veer off the current path in search of a different one.  I’m not sure that is a good or bad thing.

No clear direction.  Just hints. Small affirmations that although difficult and full of uncertainty, that this is what I should be doing.

Trusting even when there is no obvious direction, from God.  Trusting God, and resting in God even when everything seems to be failing and dwindling.   This trust is difficult and appears, even to me, to be  fool hardy.

I relate to this canticle the swing from confidence that God will do some dramatic work and decisive thing to swinging to the other side seeing how helpless things are, and somehow settling in a quite trust in God even in the midst of failure and hardship (I’ve experienced nothing close to the extremes of having no food or threat to life). Somehow I still find God’s presence and movement of the Spirit.  No dramatic alteration of the facts, no miraculous intervention, but God is there, and I’m sustained in relationship to God, and I see God at work even though, I don’t know where we are going to be living in a week and a half.

I don’t get it, yet there is trust in God, there is a sense of God’s provision and sustenance that is beyond circumstance.  There is even joy and rest.  Well…, if I trust in what is beyond my control and my understanding.  So I trust in God even when things don’t seem to be going right, even when God doesn’t intervene on my behalf.  Trust even though the terraces produce no nourishment… though  flocks disappear from the fold…” and nothing seems to be going right.

Further reflection on this theme and the communities struggles, from the standpoint of leading the Community of the Holy Trinity through this difficult time. LEK 7/21/2013

Presence, Absence and Belief in God

I’m continuing to expand on some comments I made at over at glassdimily, as requested by Jeremy John.  In the previous post, I compared Peter Rollins and St. John of the Cross.  I concluded that a difference between Rollins and St. John is that while both may call for a radical doubt of our conceptions or beliefs about God; for St John there is a more radical act, that of trust in what is beyond our conceptions of God.

In Micah Bales post (yes I haven’t moved on just yet.  I think there is a great deal to unpack and good reason to sit with the disagreement between Micah Bales and Peter Rollins)  he used a comparison that I both understand and question, between needing God and needing air to breath.  In the context of Atheism for Lent and Rollins’ work this seems like admitting he needs his belief in God to get along in the world, that with out his beliefs he’d be unable to function in the world.  This is how Rollins’ chose to read Micah’s statement in his response to Micah.  When I first read Micah’s piece I chose to read it differently.   I heard him articulating that God is like air in that we as organisms can’t exist without it. Analogically God (not our beliefs about God) can be likened to  air as God can be said to be that in which all that exists subsists and receives it’s being as gift.

One doesn’t have to grasp what air is (and even saying air is imprecise as what we actually need is oxygen) or even name what we need correctly for the relation between my being alive and “air” to simply be the case.  

I also recognized the romantic element that Rollins points – As we may speak about a significant other, or spouse or lover as one whom one needs like air.   Such a statement can romantically speaking either simply be untrue or co-dependent, but it also can be a hyperbolic expression of true and deep intertwining of two people in a deep love and trust.  Thus, I heard Micah’s words as an expression of depth and experience of God as ultimate concern (to use Tillich’s term as Rollins did) as that which simply is in which all things have their existence.  But also, recognize that such analogy suffers from the limits of all metaphorical speech, and if taken literally is then problematic even destructive.

I interpreted Micah in this way because, as i said over at glassdimly,  as far as I can remember I’ve never given much importance to my experiences or “beliefs” of God.  Feeling God’s presence or feeling God’s absence were of no particular significance for the possibility of God.  I have long, first intuitively and then more consciously, been aware of what I might project upon God.  But I have also had moments of encounter that were not simply an experience of beliefs I might hold about God.  At three and ten years of age I experienced seeing the world glowing, become translucent with a light that came from nowhere and everywhere accompanied by an overwhelming sense of love for all.  At ten the experience occurred while sitting at the edge of the camp fire at church camp, somewhat bored with the campfire program, looking up into the starry night.  At a great depth in myself, answering a question I had hardly articulated and would always wrestle with, a thought/voice/resonance said “It is true.”  When queried “what is true”, the resonance simply insisted “It is true.”

 It is relevant to note that while I was baptized as an infant, the denomination in which I was baptized and raised  also had those who were very concerned that children “say the prayer of salvation”, concerned that we children of the church have a moment of conversion (my parents and their friends didn’t have such a concern).  I never went forward for an altar call. I never went forward or raised my hand in Sunday school.  I disliked those Sunday School teachers who felt it was their duty to get us to say some silly prayer.  Yet, it wasn’t that I doubted there was a God, or that I was to be in relationship with God.  I didn’t find the prayer necessary for me to be in relationship with God.  I was baptized after all.

Baptism and the experiences of the un-created light at three and ten, were the only overt experiences of God I had as a child.  The cathedrals of Europe and the shrine of Lourdes I encountered when eight and nine resonated with me but it was only as an adult that I came to recognize their spiritual impact.  

For much of my life God’s absence has been a more enduring experience, that is if evident spiritual experiences of God’s presence and God speaking to one are signs of God’s presence.

“Belief” in God, as I was taught to believe, had little to do with these experiences or even discrete propositional statements, called beliefs.  Even something like the Apostles Creed was not interpreted to me as beliefs I was to hold, rather it was given to me as expressions of a trust in God, who was totally other (though I didn’t use that phrase until an adult in college).  Belief was trust, it was faith, that is entrusting oneself to an other.   This ‘belief’ did not guarantee outcomes.  My father lost a number of jobs, often due to his faith (that is the way he lived his life as a person of faith).   Dad believed all the same, not in spite of the evidence, because trusting in evidence would suggest that God was an object to be manipulated and controlled for our benefit.

I never found apologetic literature, like that of Josh McDowell’s “Evidence that Demands a Verdict”, convincing let alone as having anything to do with the faith I had, or raised to believe.  I saw such apologetic as a profound lack of faith.

Once in University I plunged into intellectual exploration with gusto, I read widely, was part of a philosophical theological and literary group called The Society, we read Marx, Nietzsche  Feuerbach, and I surprised a Religious Studies professor in a course on Christianity and Marxism with my familiarity with Hegel, and Marx and Feuerbach.  Around this same period,  I doubted my salvation, was convinced I was going to hell, found myself to be an atheist (though I never stopped going to church, so if Wittgenstein is correct and practice and belief are intimately connected then I sabotaged my atheism, but also if Wittgenstein is correct atheism is just another language game no more true or real than any other).  In the midst of this or at the culmination or throughout this time, a persistent image remained of my self represented by large stone bricks suspended in space slowly dissipating into the nothingness, and as they dispersed at the center the crucified Christ was there, and it was the gravity of the crucified one on the cross that kept the pieces of myself from dispersing into oblivion.

Doubt, faith, relationship, and the Crucified One all conspired together to keep me in relation with God.  A god who is as absent as present, a god I believe in as I believe in other persons I trust and entrust myself to, not in the sense of mere propositions that have nothing to do with the real relationship, mere abstractions of a person.  I entrust myself not to that which props me up, but that which knows me and is closer to me than I know or am to myself.  Therefore each Sunday I say ” I believe in God…” not as some intellectual assent but an act of trust and love.

I have doubted. I have questioned all the major doctrines and dogmas of orthodox Christian faith.  I have more often than not felt God’s absence than God’s presence.  Even now as a pastor, someone committed to leading and aiding people in the spiritual life and a life of faith, God’s presence is not a consistent experience nor an experience upon which I depend.  I have no certainty.

As I transitioned from seminary to pastoral ministry, I recognized that beliefs and life of faith, the spiritual life, was more than struggling with questions and maintaining a dubious attitude towards the propositions of the faith handed on to me.  I came to see the creeds, the doctrines of Trinity, resurrection, divinity of Christ, and virgin birth as invitations to radical trust and commitment  precisely because they were things I doubted and because I could not solve them without remainder.  I committed myself to a path, though nothing solved without remainder.  I’m not certain, but I trust myself to the one who is other than I and in whom and from whom I have myself as a gift.