Metropolis Maria

Thursday, January 16, 2014

[Theology Thursday] Life Always Finds A Way

This winter, we were trapped in the "polar vortex" that had crippled much of the country in the coldest temperatures in recent memory.  I was reminded that winter is often associated with death, but I have been thinking recently about the fact that death is never really the end of the story, and I am certain that life will appear once again.

We tend to believe that death is the final word, the in the Bible we often see death as being in one sense "cut off" or "separated." in Genesis 3, Adam and Eve "died" when they were cut off from fellowship with God and each other due to their disobedience. The nation of Israel "died" when they were separated from their homeland during the Babylonian captivity. I think you can understand what I'm trying to say here. God is never satisfied with death, and is always trying to bridge the gap and restore life just as He always tries to restore relationships

Some time ago I ran across this article  from the website io9 that dealt with a 100-year-old abandoned wreck that had been left on its own in the shallows that has now become the home for a small forest.

I ran through the images that were filled with exquisite natural beauty, and I was reminded of an article that pointed out that signs of natural recovery were evident near the Mount St. Helens eruption site about a year after the event.  I went looking for the article, but this one was as close as I could come.

Pictures like these remind me again of the wonder of creation.  In the midst of death and destruction, to quote from the film Jurassic Park, "Life always finds a way."

Likewise, I also believe that "life is not a malfunction" (from the film Short Circuit).  Life is no accident, but has purpose and created by God.  The Bible clearly communicates that God is at the beginning of creation and the Author of life (Genesis 1-2), even if there is some disagreement on timetables and such. Later, in the Gospel of John, Jesus is likewise identified as God and therefore nothing exists that He didn't make (John 1:3).  During His earthly ministry, Jesus again communicates that there is no life apart from Him: "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"(John 14:6, New International Version)

Sometimes, as in the case of the shipwreck and the Mr. St. Helens environs, life is born from pain and death.  Describing the pain of childbirth, God, through the prophet Isaiah says that He will not allow pain without something good to come of it.  'In the same way I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born,' says the Lord." (Isaiah 66:9 New Century Version).  Even in the midst of death, life can be found, and with this being so, we can have hope.  Author and theologian Leonard Sweet quotes from St. Clement of Alexandria: "He turned our sunsets into sunrises" Clement of Alexandria (c.150-c.215). To make it even geekier, J. R. R. Tolkien wrote "You can only come to the morning through the shadows."

Looking at the pictures linked above, I'd have to agree.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Times, they are a-changin’

This week, I was asked to give a devotional at my place of work.  I had planned on posting the text, and since one friend asked nicely, I will do so today.

Just before Christmas, it seemed as if everyone wanted to talk about the 50th anniversary of the British children’s television series, Dr. Who. Now I am not a fan of the show, only because it has never ‘hooked’ me the way it has for others, but I can appreciate the excitement many fans have for the series. Imagine that! One TV series – fifty years –with eleven different actors playing the title role.

In the series, the Doctor, as he is known, is a Time Lord, which means he has the power, via a very special vehicle, to travel back and forth through time.

Now, there are other time travel stories. How many can we name? Back to the Future, Quantum Leap, The Time Machine, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and many others. These are neat stories, and I think that in general people are fascinated with the idea of time travel, because I think we all do it.

Now, I don’t mean physically travel through time, but when we remember good times in the past, or we anticipate what tomorrow will bring, we are, in a sense, moving through time.1

Often, when we go back in time in our memories, we do so out of regret for something that happened that should not have, or something that didn’t happen that should have.

In the New Testament, there are two words used for the concept of time. One is Chronos, and from it we get words like “chronology” and “chronic”. This word has the meaning of a specific measurement of time. It is concerned with the seconds/minutes/hours/days/weeks/months etc. of time. If we were a true time traveler, we would need to know the specific time (chromos) in which to travel to get where we want to go.

The other word is a little more abstract. It is Kairos, and it deals with a moment in time, The music group Kansas released a song many years ago titled “Dust in the Wind.” One line says “I closed my eyes, only for a moment and the moment’s gone.” This is kairos.

Another way of considering kairos is the idea of the “opportune moment.” In the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, the good guys have just defeated the bad guys, and the hero, Will Turner, has come face to face with the woman he secretly loves. He wants to tell her he loves her, but just can’t. Take a  look at what happens.

The opportune moment. When we look back in time in our memories with regret it is because we missed the opportune moment. The time we should have acted and didn’t. The “if only” time.

The two verses that really speak to this idea are found in Ephesians and Colossians: “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16 NKJV) and “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” (Colossians 4:5-6 NKJV)

In Scripture, we read that God created time When he created the first day and night. He understands that we are finite, that we only have a limited number of days allotted to us.

He calls us to take advantage of the moments (kairos) he sends us in the limited number of hours and years (chronos) he has given us.

Many of the commentaries I looked at in preparing this devotional advocated 'care' or 'caution' in 'redeeming the time.' By I think, in this day and age, the right course of action is boldness. We need to boldly look for opportunities to redeem the time.

Dr. Who may be a Time Lord, but Jesus is the Lord of Time. How should we honor him this new year? By taking advantage of the opportune moment.

1. Most of my thoughts have been influenced by this series of blog posts

Monday, January 6, 2014

Relationships Matter

I’ve been reading No Cape Required: 52 Ways to Unleash Your Inner Hero by Kristen Parrish as a weekly devotional. Parrish uses pop culture heroes to illustrate themes and characteristics Christians should embrace in their daily lives and walks with Jesus.  The first, naturally focused on Superman’s quest for Justice. This week’s was on friendships, as exhibited in the relationship between Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock in the original series version of Star Trek.

As I have been thinking about that theme, I am reminded that humans were created to be relational.  We were created first of all to have a relationship with our God (Genesis 1:26-27). He also created us to have relationships with each other (Genesis 2:18).  God Himself exists in a perpetual relationship with the other Persons of the Trinity (the Son and the Holy Spirit). The Trinity – three Persons existing as One Whole – is an immense mystery, but it testifies to this fact.  If we are, in fact, created in God’s image, then we were created to live in perpetual relationship with each other.

Sin  - the active rebellion against God – is, by its very nature, a breakdown in the relationship between people and God (Genesis 3:9). It also leads to the destruction of relationships between families and friends (Genesis 3:16).

The temptation for geeks and nerds is to protect ourselves from mocking and teasing by withdrawing from people and building up walls to keep others out.  But as we prevent others from getting to close we inadvertently are also keeping God out.  While it may be difficult at times to open ourselves up to being hurt, it is critical for our redemption – for our restoration to full humanity as we were created to be – that we be relational.

Relationships matter.