Sunday, December 27, 2009

Adventure in the capital!

Tomorrow I head off to start my new job with a journey to the state's capital. It'll be the first time I've been there for more than a few hours in a long, long time; the last time I stayed overnight was in junior high for an academic competition (Future Problem Solving, anyone?).

Sadly, the friend who lives there is actually here on the east side of the state with her family for the holidays, so I won't have anyone to show me the highlights of Boise. I'll pop into the cathedral, of course, for evening and morning prayer if I can, but most other places I'd rather have someone with me.

It's been a few months since my last driving adventure. Sure, the jaunt down to Twin Falls kinda counts, but it was only for the day. Not for the better part of a week.

I hope the weather stays nice.

I feel like an adult now. It's amazing.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

To Escape or to Conquer

Since Kim asked, I'll post briefly on my new job. It's as an admissions consultant for a for-profit school out of Utah which recently opened a branch here. Full-time work that is more engaging than tackling problems at the service desk for a retailer, and I can actually start living a life since I can make plans more than a week in advance. Yay! Life is a little more exciting as of late, for sure. Also, other positive things are going on in live, but I'll save those for a later date.

Now, on to what I'd said I would do until Christmas:

The chapters assigned for the past few days in Father Benson's Benedictus Dominus have been dealing with the "Christians vs The World" problem.

Christians have been admonished to transcend the world, to escape it and its perceived evil. Or else we have been counseled to overcome it and replace it with the Kingdom of God as fierce warriors for God. This is a deeply political and religious problem in a pluralistic world. Are Christians to run away from the world so tainted by sin or are they to impose their worldview on others who don't share it? What about hiding our faith so as to not offend others? Or making the government into a charity to care about the poor and needy, whether or not others are so moved to help? Both conservatives and liberals are capable of escaping and conquering the world.

It's incredibly black-and-white, and thankfully both miss the point. To be a Christian isn't about rejecting or conquering the world, but instead giving up both of those ideas. I can't hide from the world because that would be giving up on it (and God doesn't give up, believe me), and I can't conquer it because there's no way I could run it right, as much as I might pretend otherwise.

So we can't reject the world, we can't conquer the world, and there's not much we can do, it seems. We can strive to love the world, even when we sigh as we read about the foolishness and cruelty of human beings to one another. We can't abandon them to their cruelty, just as God doesn't abandon us to our own cruelty and sinfulness. We can't impose our will on them, either, because we're not much better (if we even are better, which I doubt). But we can still love it and serve the people of the world.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Guiding Light

Instead of giving yet another update on life (I start a new job at the end of this month! Hurrah!) or trying to find something on the internet to comment on (which so many other people do much better), I'll be using bits of Father Richard M. Benson's book Benedictus Dominus (in the public domain, link here) as the basis for some meditations for the lead up to Christmas.

Father Richard gives four different titles to Christ involving light for today's meditation. They are: The Lifegiving Light, the Forthshining of the Eternal, the Transforming Light, and the Abiding Light.

  • The Lifegiving Light: Christ is the root from which we get all our spiritual nutrition; when contemplating God's love, we can't help but think of Christ's love for the world in his offering of himself. He is the Son and also our Sun. In this time of waiting for his coming again, Christ can feel incredibly distant. As Christians, we remember the time when the whole world was groaning, awaiting the arrival of its savior, and now we are waiting again. This time, however, we know what to look for. Christ is not the warrior-king who will conquer by force, but the priest-king who lifts earth up to heaven as a gift to God and who brings the love of God down to earth. Even across the distance of space, the sun still warms us, and even across the distance Christ still brings us to God and brings God to us.
  • The Forthshining of the Eternal: In Christ we get glimpses of the divine eternity. When we talk about the End of Times, it's not about darkness and tribulations and all sorts of horrible things happening; it's about our humanity finally being taken up to God. Instead of living in fear, greed, anger, distrust, jealousy, and hatred, we will be living in God's love and peace. We catch glimpses of that here, but the Kingdom of God isn't quite fully here yet.
  • The Transforming Light: Knowing that Christ nourishes us and also directs us onto a better future, we can't help but change. We can't be dead when we're alive in Christ! A relationship with God means I'm never done changing and growing. We all keep learning and failing and trying again throughout our lives, and Christ's presence continually changes us inside when we're open to God. Slowly, quietly, subtly, Christ is there in our prayers and work and slowly shapes us.
  • The Aibiding Light: Christ will be here with us until the end. Unlike our sun which will die out in millions of years, Christ never will die out. More importantly, Jesus will never abandon us in our darkest nights and seasons of deep pain. We might not see him as brightly as we see the sun, but Christ hears us and loves us deeply, weeping over the pain of his beloved brothers and sisters. Christ also abides in the love of friends, the church, and partners; the transformation Jesus works in us is not just for our benefit alone but for the benefit of everyone around us. The Transforming Light shines out through us to be the Abiding Light for others.
May the light of Christ be with you in this season of Advent.

(Note: Richard Meux Benson was a priest in the Church of England during the late 1800's and founded a monastic order for men, the Society of St John the Evangelist, which continues to this day in the US. The SSJE can be found through the link to the right.)