Showing posts with label presence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label presence. Show all posts

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber:
I once heard someone say that my belief in Jesus makes them suspect that I intellectually suck my thumb at night. But I cannot pretend, as much as I would sometimes like to, that I have not throughout my life experienced the redeeming, destabilizing love of a surprising God. Even as my mind protests, I still can't deny my experience. This thing is real to me. Sometimes I experience God when someone speaks the truth to me, sometimes in the moments when I admit I am wrong, sometimes in the loving of someone unlovabl, sometimes in the reconciliation that feels like it comes from somewhere outside of myself, but almost always when I experience God it comes in the form of some kind of death and resurrection.

(Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix; The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint)
How often have I said I need saving every day? I've lost count. Maybe not quite what Nadia says, for my deaths and resurrections are daily, sometimes more than once a day. Saying I believe in God is not accurate, because, as best I recall, I never did not believe in God.  Throughout the course of my life I've known the Thereness of God, even when I did not pay attention. There was no leap of faith for me ever, because God was always real to me, though I wondered at times if she had anything to do with me after starting it all. As with Nadia, there would be no point in trying to argue me out of the faith because of the very real happenings and changes in me that happened because of the presence of God in my life. Of course, some might say all is delusion, but I won't be convinced.

Have you guessed that I read Nadia's book? I read quickly for she captured and held my attention from the introduction to the end. Nadia's concept of church seems very right to me. You will hear more from me about her book, which I recommend highly, and I'll probably include further quotes.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


From ENInews:
Some archbishops have told Williams they will not attend because of the presence of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, and because of recent developments in her province, including the recent election of a lesbian bishop, according to a report in the Times of London.

The quote takes my breath away. Whether or not Mary Glasspool had been ordained a bishop, I expect the mere presence of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church would have been an obstacle to the attendance of certain bishops at the Primates Meeting, because she is a woman. That the primates would object to the inclusion of Bishop Katharine seems un-Christ-like to me. What, in heaven's name, do the primates make of this passage from Luke's Gospel?
And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.’ Jesus spoke up and said to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ ‘Teacher,’ he replied, ‘speak.’ ‘A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?’ Simon answered, ‘I suppose the one for whom he cancelled the greater debt.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You have judged rightly.’ Then turning towards the woman, he said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.’ Then he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ And he said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’

Luke 7:37-50

In Jesus' time and even today in areas of the Middle East, the woman washing the feet of Jesus would be viewed as an act of surpassing intimacy. That the woman was a notorious sinner made the incident all the more shocking and scandalous.

And then this from Colin Coward at The Changing Attitude:
An article about the French essayist Montaigne and
research involving macaque monkeys in the Guardian review on Saturday by Saul Frampton suggested that there is indeed something of much greater significance in the absence of a number of Primates and even in my own absence from the Primates’ meeting.

Montaigne was concerned with the power of personal presence in moral life and a fascination with how people act on, influence and affect each other through their physical being. I connect this with Christian ideas of incarnation and real presence. We are more fully ourselves and more truly living the divine nature when we are more fully embodied and really present.

A team of neuroscientists at the University of Parma discovered something surprising about the behaviour of certain neurons in the brains of macaque monkeys. The neurons fired not only when the monkeys grasped food but when they saw the experimenter grasp it. These neurons have come to be known as “mirror neurons” or “empathy neurons”. Similar neurons have been found in humans.

I don’t need Montaigne’s essays or macaque monkey research to tell me something I believe and know in the core of my being; that God calls us to relationship and intimacy; that getting close to other people, especially those we find difficult and who hold different views, can be uncomfortable, risky and challenging. This is the essence of the Christian faith, of the parable of the good Samaritan, the sheep and the goats, the story of the woman at the well and the power of the crucifixion itself, of Jesus standing in the same place as Pilate, and nailed between two thieves.

To me, Christmas, the celebration of the nativity of Jesus, is the greatest feast in the church. The children get it right. God became incarnate; God CAME DOWN to become one of us, as a sign of God's all-embracing love for us. The wonderful beginning of the Gospel is the part without which none of the rest of the story would have happened. That Jesus walked in the dust with his friends, looked them in the face and in the eye, touched them, ate with them, washed their feet, and allowed his feet to be washed by a woman widely known as a sinner, is a bulwark of my faith.

With Colin, I believe incarnational presence is life-giving to relationships within the Anglican Communion. We meet Jesus when we meet our brothers and sisters in the flesh. I don't mean to say that close relationships can't be formed without physical presence, but, when possible, the relationships should be nourished and solidified by presence, and the primates who won't attend the meeting because of the presence of Bishop Katharine have their Gospel priorities all wrong.

H/T to Simon Sarmiento at Thinking Anglicans for the link to ENInews.

Thanks to Mark Harris at Preludium for the link to Colin Coward's post at The Changing Attitude.