Sound of Buzzard’s Roost

On the eve of the New Year, I took an early morning hike up to a rock outcropping on the Land Trust trail called Buzzard’s Roost.  There is a light frost and the sun is rising over Monte Sano.  In the coolness of the morning, squirrels are busy collecting food for the coming winter and small birds are about getting a morning meal.

The Buzzard’s Roost outcropping is formed where Monte Sano and Chapman Mountains connect at an angle, with Huntsville in the distance.  This rock cropping is not about the view, trees have long blocked any view of the city.  This rock cropping is about the sound.  The angle of the two mountains amplifies the sounds of the city.   At this point, I can hear the traffic of a waking city, people going to work, running errands, and going about their lives.  But, underneath the sounds of the city, I hear the slight sounds of a waking forest.  I hear the squirrels scurrying in the autumn leaves and the birds rustling the vegetation. I hear an ever so slight breeze in the tops of the trees.  At the base of the cliff, I hear the spring gurgling from the rocks.

As we start a New Year, we are overwhelmed with the amplified noise of news, politics, and divisions.  Right now, I take a break, listening to the flow of the quietness.

Posted in Mysteries

Advent and Hope

Most of all, Advent is about hope.  We hope that all will be in communion with the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.   We hope, not only that all people will be in communion, but all creation.  Even though we do not understand the complete mystery of ultimate and total communion, we believe and hope.

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Mystery of Love

This time of year, we ask our children to believe in magic.  We ask them to believe in the magic of Santa Claus, of the North Pole, of Elves, and of Reindeer.  We ask them to believe that in one magical moment on Christmas Eve, a reindeer drawn sleigh transports Santa Claus and all the gifts into every home on the planet.

As we grow beyond childhood,  we mature beyond the childish magic.  We realize many parts of the world do not celebrate Santa Claus.  We realize Santa Claus does not exist. We realize there is no factory of elves at the North Pole.  We realize the impossibility of a reindeer drawn sleigh.   As we get older still, we become aware of poverty in the world, and we become aware that most children do not receive gifts at Christmas.  As the magic fades away, though, a parent’s hope is that the mystery remains.  Our hope is that in the loss of childhood innocence and magic, the mysterious love and hope of Christmas remains.

Christianity is very similar.  As a child we believe in the events of the first 11 chapters of Genesis as though they were magical events.   We believe in the magic of a prayer where we ask a benevolent God for magical gifts and those magical gifts appear.  As we mature, we see a world that is suffering.   We see poverty, death, destruction, and evil.  We suffer loss and hurt in our own lives. Finally, the day comes where we realize we no longer believe in the magic.

This year, I come to Advent once again.  My belief in magic may have gone away, but a small light of hope in the mysterious still exists.   I find myself still believing in the mysterious, but not necessarily the magic.  I believe in the mystery of Mary, mother of the Christ Child.  I believe in the mystery of God coming to Earth.  I believe in the mystery of the Shepherds and the Magi.  I believe in the mystery of the arrival of the Kingdom of God.  I believe in the mystery of the Trinity, the mystery of the resurrection, and the mystery of the 2nd Advent.

Most of all, I still believe in the faint light of the mystery of love.  This Advent, I am again drawn to my favorite passage in all the traditions of Christianity, 1 Corinthians 13. This is the chapter that tells us that no matter the loss of magic in the world, the mystery of faith, hope, and love still remain.  Most of all, the mystery of love still shines.

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

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Magical and the Mysterious

In modern thought, we separate the rational and the magical.   Rational is that which we can observe based on reason and logic.  We use information, science, and analysis. But, this time of year, we encourage our children to see the magical.  We have joy in our hearts as they see the hope and magic of Christmas, of Santa Claus, of the North Pole, of reindeer, and of elves.

As we age, we lose the sense of magic.   We are taught to observe all with reason and logic.  As the harsh realities of a flawed world destroys, hurts and fears overcome our belief, especially our belief in magic.

But, Advent is about renewing the hope.  We are not renewing the hope in magic, but in the mysterious.  We believe not in a magical world that consists of things which do not exist, but we believe in a mysterious world that does not follow reason and logic.  We believe in the mystery of God coming to Earth in human form.  We believe in the mystery of God coming to Earth to bring the Kingdom to Earth.  We believe in the mystery of the 2nd Advent. During this season, the desire of my heart is to believe and experience the mystery.

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Seeing in a glass darkly

I often see myself in a mirror or in a picture taken of my face from a camera.  My mind takes that frontal 2 dimensional picture, mixes it with my thoughts and emotions, and creates a picture of how I see myself.   At Thanksgiving dinner this week a family member was taking random shots, and from these shots I saw myself from the side.   This side picture did not match my view of how I see myself, and I did not like what I saw.

The Kingdom of God is here and now, but we only get glimpses of the Kingdom.  Just as I see an incomplete picture of myself in a mirror, I get an incomplete picture of the Kingdom.  My passions interfere with that picture.    As I walk the spiritual life, I get glimpses of myself in the Kingdom from a different profile and a different light.   I do not like what I see.

That is not the end, but the beginning.  I get glimpses of myself, mixed with my passions, my emotions, and my fears.   But, this is an incomplete picture.   God sees me without the baggage of passions, emotions, and fears.  God see me with clarity.

As we begin Advent, we look forward to both the first and second Advent.  We look forward to the time when we may see ourselves as God sees us, without the dark glass.   We will see God with clarity, and we will see ourselves with the clarity the God sees us.

 

 

 

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Where am I today?

I haven’t updated my journey in quite a while, so I’ll answer the question, “Where am I today?”

I believe in traditional orthodox Christianity.

I affirm the Nicene and Apostle’s Creed.

I commune with a Lutheran church and participate in the liturgical cycle of the church. I play in the hand bell choir. My wife and I help with contacting seniors who cannot attend church. I am not involved in any leadership, and I doubt I ever will.

From the Lutheran Tradition, I believe the wording “Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist” in the Lutheran tradition is a good and historically orthodox view.  I also believe that wording accurately reflects the Kingdom of God coming to the Kingdom of Earth.

Although I participate in the Lutheran tradition, I am not comfortable with everything the early reformers taught.  I believe Martin Luther’s words make sense in the context of the Late Middle Ages in Europe, but that they need further refinement in light of Eastern Christian traditions.  Particularly, the teaching of grace alone through faith alone makes sense in the context of Europe at the time, but that the teaching needs more explaining in context of historical orthodox Christianity.

For my philosophy of Christianity, I believe communion is the most important word to remember.   I believe the Trinity represents perfect communion, and that Jesus came to Earth to bring the Kingdom of God so that we may have communion with the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. I believe we experience communion hear and now. I believe that both history and the Christian life is following a path towards ultimate communion.  This ultimate communion will be complete with the 2nd advent of Christ.  I believe all will be in communion with Christ, who will in turn be in complete communion with the Father and the Spirit.  All will be one.

Am I a Universalist?  I believe the question is bad.  I believe in ultimate communion for all, but I also believe in the judgement as stated in the Creed.  This is a mystery.

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Communion

If someone were to ask me the impetus for the biggest changes in my spiritual thought, I would respond with a philosophy about the Trinity.   I always believed in the Trinity, but as I thought about what that meant in my belief system, everything changed.   Instead of a simple, monotheistic “Jesus” who was an imperial ruler over my life, I began getting mysterious glimpses of the Triune God.  I saw God the Father, the provider.  I saw Christ, the son and Messiah, the one who walks beside me.  I saw the Spirit, who flows through me.  I saw relationships and communion, not dictatorships.  I saw glimpses of an ultimate reality where communion is complete, and we are all in one.   I began getting glimpses of how this mysterious philosophy effects my life.   Instead of separate categories of people, I saw all in communion with all.  Instead of strict differentiation between Heaven and Earth, creator and creation, I saw glimpses of a single Kingdom.

Another change happened as I saw the logical conclusion.  I saw that same sex relationships in communion are equally as valid as opposite sex relationships.   I saw that the differences between male and female will be no more, and that those who question their sexual identify may actually be a perfect example of the perfect Kingdom.  In this Kingdom, communion always wins over differences, and we will all be one.

Rob Bell said “Love Wins”.  I say something similar, “Communion Wins”.

 

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