DISCIPLESHIP

Given the Nature of Faith

Discipleship
(Acts 7:55-60)

Discipleship and death…
This is not a happy theme for me.
I think of myself as a disciple of
the one I know as Jesus,
but I get itchy and twitchy when I think of dying for
this thing I know of as, “Faith.”

Stephen is the quintessential disciple/believer.

He died for his witness for his faith.
Could I do less?

But then, I quibble, what is death, anyway?

Is it actual and physical,

or could it be some other something, instead?

I suspect, that in our own time and place,
the real martyrdom for our faith
is the smug ridicule we get when we admit
to being believers.
“I always thought you were smarter than that.”
“Really, you?”  Or, just simply, the loss
of someone we thought of as a friend.

Discipleship/martyrdom, witness/ridicule
holding our faith firm:
these are the little deaths we face daily for our faith!

###

What are those things that are important enough to us for us to give up our convenience for?  Is there anything that we would really and truly give our lives for?  What do we care about—really?

In a theology class during my Masters work, someone proclaimed loudly and confidently that there was absolutely nothing that they could think of that they were willing to die for.  Yikes!!

I remember thinking, how sad that was, but on reconsideration, was it?  It is not a matter of whom we serve, or even what we believe in, but it is a matter of what value they have to us.  Life is valuable, and those who don’t think it is are either mentally ill, or liars.  Life is, at the last shake of the dice, the most important thing a human being has, and if we give it up, we should not give it up frivolously.  We must also remember that suicide and martyrdom are not so far apart–one being out of despair, the other deriving from courage mixed with commitment and a dash of stubbornness, combined with an outside ideal or person having a value larger than self.

For the martyr, Stephen, the faith he had chosen had a value higher and more important than his own life–

Sometimes the question is does anything have that level of importance for us?  Sometimes the question is, do we have any faith in anything?  Sometimes the question is, do we even know what the word, faith, means?

Sometimes we only get to choose once, sometimes we get another go at it.

AND GOD’S TABLE LOOKED LIKE THAT!

THE POEM:

And God’s Table Looked like That
Matthew 22:1-10
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

I had prayed and asked God

to show me God’s Table
to let me see for myself

what it would be like
to actually share a meal with
this Divine Reality,
we know as God.
The next thing I knew

An Acceptable and Expected Vision of God's Table

I was confronted by and old woman, and
She asked, “Excuse me,

but could you give me a hand, here?
I just can’t do this by myself,
and I need a little help.”
Well, that’s what God said,
and I wondered just a little
what was up with that,

that God would pose a question
like that, to me?
I didn’t know an 80-year old woman
could be God–But it wasn’t just her,

there was a drunk on the sidewalk

The Messy Reality of God's Table

and a stinky traveler asking

for some ground coffee
for his hobo village
then my son
then my daughter
my wife…  all these, portrayers of Divinity.
But God called me to
table with God
and God looked like that at God’s table!

THE REFLECTION:

God.  What a concept!  My more romantic, sentimentalist friends have an idea of God that is as fantastic as anything I’ve studied in mythology.  And of course, Christianity is considered a myth–our/my myth, but a myth nonetheless.  Understand of course that a myth is simply the best, most efficacious, heart-felt way a people has to express the who of themselves as a people.  And is that not what Christianity does for many of us, express us as a people?

God, however is a totally different concept for each one of us humans–us Christians, too.  I consider myself as a Christian who understands the power of metaphor.  If we understand the notion of metaphor, we can understand the workings of God a little better, than with systematic, or dogmatic, theology.

In systematic theology, God is understood by way of a series of expressed categories, such as: how best to express the nature of Christian Doctrine.  It is a taxonomy of qualifications or , or a catalog of expressions or doctrines of ways of thinking of God.  Sometimes it is used in reference to worship and liturgy, sometimes it is used as a method of teaching, as in a catechism (Catholic or Prote

stant), generally, however, I think that both systematic and dogmatic theologies strongly imply “right thinking,” “correc

t worship,” or basically, “this is how we do it.”

I think of all theological propositions and concepts as metaphorical.  This means that God just is…  God is whatever comes after the is.  God is…  God is…

God is Love.  God is

Almighty.  God is Omnipotent, God is Omniscient, God is Impassible, blaaaagh!!!  As Chuck Berry would sing, “Too much monkey business for me!”  As far as I can tell, these are all considered to be the opposite of human nature, and so have been made into the Godly nature.   Well, you do know that there are theologians and Christians in general that think anything of nature is evil, and nasty, and generally no-good.

I am not sure how this works as far as God is concerned.  I think God may well be more than a little troubled that God’s creation thinks of itself as not very well made, and somehow yucky.

I suspect that God’s Table IS OF AND FOR God’s Creation–all of it.

But, to continue my thoughts on metaphor.

Anytime you say that something IS something else you are using a metaphor.  AND you are using a metaphor because you are trying to help the person to whom you are speaking to understand the thing about which you are speaking.  I suspect the reason that there are so many metaphors about the Divine Being is because the idea of God just can’t be grasped by either the human mind or human imagination.  There are some problems with this.

One problem that comes to my mind it that we humans, being of small imaginations, tend to easily confuse the metaphor with the real thing.  Another problem, is once the metaphor is confused with the real thing, the metaphor itself is forgotten.  If God refused to be contained when the Hebrews wanted to put God in a tent, how more strongly will God refuse to be contained by a metaphor.  Another problem I see is that mainly, humans are fear-driven and need life to be as tidy as they can get it, and God is not very tidy at all.  God still will not be contained.

This is why I understand God’s table as something like a soup kitchen.  Messy, over-run with hungry, needy people, loud and hemorrhaging with fear and pain, and harboring more grace and healing and comfort than can be imagined!  God’s Table looks like this!

IT IS MORE THAN ALL THIS

Potentiality #10 -- Being in Place at the Right Time

It Is More Than All This
(Exodus 3:1-5 & 2 Corinthians 2:12-17)
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

Moved by God to be
in a particular place
at an exact time
to do a singular task.
I wonder at the mystery and
I marvel at the vastness and
I reflect on the simplicity
of this complex God of gods.
But it is more than all this:
God’s call, my response;
it is also a matter of recognition.
I must stay awake to recognize.
I have to be prepared to act.
I am required to be patient in the waiting times.
I wonder at
the need my readiness seems to fill
when I am in place–
the place God wants me to be.

Yes, I am a liberal Christian, but that does not mean that I don’t believe.  I tell folks, “Hey, I’m a Christian, Too!”  Which means to say that my faith is no less that the Conservative’s faith, and no less secure.  My header proclaims that I am unrepentantly liberal, and I added that because I am always having to explain that the brand if Christianity that gets the headlines currently is only one form of Christianity, and any sane reality check discovers that it is not a large part of Christianity, just a loud one.   I do.  I have faith in God.  I believe in the power of the Cross and the risen Jesus.  But that does not mean that I take every word of Scripture literally, or as some words whispered from God’s lips to some writer’s ear.  I believe in the Living Word.  Being a liberal Christian means my belief and my faith is based on Scripture, The witness of the Church, my experience of events I have interpreted as God’s involvement in my life, and in what I observe around me that is inexplicable, ineffable, and Mystery.

Spirituality and faith, are not so much based upon theology, as theology is based upon Spirituality and faith.  I may not believe in a resuscitated corpse, on Easter Morning, but I believe that Jesus did indeed raise from the grave.  I may not believe in the Bible word for word, but I believe that the Living Word we call the Gospel permeates its words, and is expressed in its pericopes of deliverance, healing, saving grace, and freedom.

There is a movement by some to eliminate the aspect of mystery in Christian faith by having everything in the Scripture considered akin to fact.  There can be no faith if there is no mystery.  There can be no salvation if there is no faith.  If ambiguity is eliminated from the Christian experience, if we can have absolute surety about all aspects of Christianity, then it is not a faith or a system of belief, but simply a learned program, like bridge or pinochle auto repair.

Most of all, and this I preach with every conviction I have ever had, I preach Grace.  I preach grace.  I preach God’s abundance of tolerance for me/us/you, and I preach it as hard and as often as I can.  And I believe that if we  just open ourselves to the possibility of God, and God’s ability to heal, deliver, set free, overwhelm us with grace, and make ourselves ready for God’s calling, both God’s calling, and God’s grace, will come to us loud and clear.

I pray that my response to God’s call, God’s word, is always what it needs to be, and not a day late and a dollar short, and above all, appropriate to the need.

A CREDO OF A SORT…

Mark of Grace

A CREDO OF A SORT…
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved

I believe
we are standing in the midst of grace.
Beyond our wildest imaginings we walk immersed
in grace.

Grace
is having friends who,
though they do not understand me,
and find me just a little disconcerting most of the time,
love me anyway.
I have discovered the possibility for grace
in the between places of
the dense lines of academic prose
and underlying midnight proclamations of agnosticism.
And, I have noticed its presence,
or should I say,
I have found Presence,
in lengthy and convoluted disquisitions,
build on well considered meta-perspectives
and truth-claims pertaining to
ritual and content and myth and symbol
and
how might be found the best way
to exegete these
in the most convincing
and heuristically appropriate
hermeneutic for our postmodern age.

But more,
I find grace in forgiveness,
in dead-ends,
in a baby’s laugh and gurgle,
in a lover’s touch,
in the sweaty aftermath of intimacy,
in my dissipating anger,
in the beat of my heart…

Grace
is in knowing that the divine reality
really
does have more to do with Creation than humans,
and while it seems
the actions of humans are mostly destructive,
God‘s action is to create.
Herein I find
Grace.

New Blog/New Thoughts–for me

Something with an inner being that is deeper that we can see!

I’ll be posting more on this site later, but this is the first and this is my introduction of me to you.  I am an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, and I am currently serving  a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) church.  The idea behind this blog is for me to simply express my theological opinions and share my faith-walk, such as it is.

I may get fancy with my words and thoughts, I may get really simple, but hey, it’s my blog.

In a very real way it is my attempt to reclaim my own theological and liberal Christian roots in an era when Conservative is what the general public thinks of when they think, Christian.  I am a Christian and I am a Liberal–NOT A PROGRESSIVE which to me is a watering down of the idea of Liberal to make it more palatable to the conservative mind-set.  Aaaack!!

I have a Ph. D. in Theology and the Arts, which gives me a license to think.  This blog is about me thinking.

Christianity has devolved into an “us and them” mentality.  Us Liberals/those conservatives; us humans/the rest of creation; creation as six-day-science/creation as big bang and ongoing; us right thinking Christians/the rest of the faith-filled world. The list goes on, but you get it.

I also write music and perform it as a rockabilly in bars and at festivals.  I also build guitars.  I also am a photographer.  I am a lot of things, but for this blog, I will be a practicing theologian.

I hope you enjoy or hate or whatever my next postings which I think will be, starting next week, on Fridays.  As per my Blog title, will have either poems, theological/spiritual reflections, or a prayer for something.  Thanks, should you wish to follow on this journey, Hilary