It is interesting that you bring up “memory” as a way to connect with God: “In a recount of my day, attempting to remember my encounters with the bearers of the imago dei, I often find that God was much closer than I had realized prior or in the moments of.” I believe this is similar to a an ancient practice called “Examen,” in which the practitioner looks back on their day, and recounts how God was present in the seemingly mundane.
Thanks for sharing this. And I hope all is well at Oxford, friend.]]>
Within Barth’s Church Dogmatics, possibly volume three the section on historicity, but I do not have my copies with me, Barth mentions the necessity of how the word “god” is to be understood in a new way, or the proper way, with the historical event of the incarnation. Barth, along with a slew of other NT scholars, takes this proper understanding of the word “god” to mean many things. But perhaps one of the more shocking traits of the recorded incarnation is Matthew’s usage of the name “Immanuel.” The event that God Himself became close to humanity in a spatiotemporal way is astounding to think, especially because a deist view of a far away Jesus has been all too common. Reverberations of Genesis 1 and God walking with humanity tend to ring through my ears as I hear the nature of Jesus’ ministry. This is all very well in good on paper, yet the recognition of God not being a deist or epicurean god, far off and disconnected, is a bit difficult to accept these days. Jesus’ ascension and promise of his return leaves many to think, “well the glory days are gone. Of course Peter could stand and preach before those who had previously crucified Jesus, Jesus cooked him breakfast! But the spatiotemporal closeness of God is no longer there!”
I confess this to be true in my times of prayer. Many of my thoughts tend to lean on frustration when I am in a silent space praying for a far away heavenly kingdom in the midst of painful realities. While I can say to myself that this is where MY faith and hope must come into play, I have found another reality to be a bit more economical. I have said very little thus far on the role of the Holy Spirit. The comfort the Spirit has brought, and the role the Spirit has had in my times of individual prayer. Yet if I look back to the means of how the spatiotemporal Jesus walked in his ministry and lived with those around him, I see why some people may have been so enthusiastic to follow him (I am using a historical past tense but this does not mean a restricting one, indeed he has risen!). The traits that I find so appealing are those that the apostle Paul presents as the “fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22).” I have had people who occupy space and time around me during times of difficulty, yet these two traits do not insure communing or deep relationship. It is instead the action of those around me and my reflection upon those actions that harbor those deep relationship (there is obviously an aspect of my own agency, but such would be good for another time).
It is always shocking to me that Corinthians portrays such a broken church. In light of Luke-Acts this seems a bit strange to think that the church is the means of how God will dissipate humanity’s separation from himself. Yet it is in my own life that I really cannot deny God’s choice of method. The simple acts of ordinary folk expressing these “fruits.” Those who act to a fine tuned remedy that the Spirit leads them in, have been terrifyingly consistent through my life (and I’m betting in many of ours). But in times alone, it is in fact the memory of these acts, or reflection, that I see, hear, and know God to be “Immanuel.” As terrific a day at the beach may be, often times the realization of how terrific that day is comes from a retrospective, perhaps on a stormy day. In a recount of my day, attempting to remember my encounters with the bearers of the imago dei, I often find that God was much closer than I had realized prior or in the moments of. I suppose my individual meditation is a bit of my recollection on the corporate. And at the end of the recollection, when the fears of life seem crashing down, I am indeed aware of Immanuel. And heaven does not seem so far anymore.]]>