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The Numinous

How often do you sense the numinous? The mysterious, awe-inspiring otherness of God? As a mountaineer, all through my life I have known moments when my being has been stilled - by a sudden sense of presence... of a God "just round the corner"... a sense of the deep mystery and loveliness of God. In a sense, I think God calls to us this way, all along our journey. Perhaps that's why people were drawn out to the wilderness. Perhaps that's what Moses felt when he saw the burning bush. I also feel it in great cathedrals sometimes. Or at dusk, as light fades, and the day stills. It's as if, sometimes, at God's choice, we are overshadowed by God's presence, and we know God is there, but God seems deep and beyond our words and explanations.

At times like this, we realise that though God is personal and can draw so close to us, God is also God, and beyond our control or definition. At this point, it is as if we are aware of a 'cloud of unknowing', and our tense mental control runs out of road, and in silence and wonder we become simply recipient. I love this 'hidden' God. This God who is so deep. The God, who when we stop and rest by the constantly flowing stream, is 'just around the next bend in the river'. And incites us, and touches us with yearning, and leads us on.

Do you have experiences like these?

Opening our hearts to the Love of God

How easily we get hurt, or hurt ourselves, and retreat into a protective hard shell. It's very understandable.

Yet God longs for us to open our hearts to healing and the touch of God's love. We can't do it ourselves. It's a work of grace.

Deep in our innermost place, God waits for us, day after day, all through our lives. Longs to comfort, reassure us. Longs to touch us with love and forgiveness and acceptance. Longs to open us up.

Being a Christian is opening our hearts and letting God in. It is also opening our hearts to others - not keeping God's love just for ourselves, but sharing it, letting it flow, just like God shares with us.

Open your eyes, open your ears, Jesus is trying to touch your heart. Open your mind, open your life, Jesus is wanting to show you. His grace is all you need, and in your weakness you'll have strength. Please don't be proud, please don't pretend, Jesus can see every need you have. Weakness is hard, failure is real, but Jesus can give you your freedom.

Jesus just longs for us to let down our defences, and let him touch our hearts with his gentle, powerful love. Longs to heal us where we hurt the most. Longs to open our hearts, and be there, be there with us.

another perspective on the bible

I believe some of us read the bible as if this book is a clear-cut manual for life. We think everything is laid out in it plainly and needs to be taken at face value. So when it says that God sent a flood to punish mankind for being too wicked, we really think that God once wiped out all human and animal life on Earth.

But this is not how the bible is supposed to be read. The bible is not a plain account of history but instead a very artistic and complex poetic work about laws of life and love and faith. That is made possible by the Hebrew hiding many different meanings and themes in the language of the text.

For example, Sarah, the wife of Abraham, was first known as Sarai. In Hebrew, that means, one who leads. She was like a noblewoman lording things over her subject. Later she was known as Sarah, and in Hebrew that means, one who inspires. She changed from a mere boss to someone who would not issue commands but instead inspire her folks to trust in God and live with each other in peace.

There are countless examples of such wordplay in scripture. "Rea" my neighbor is associated to "roa", Gossip and Crying. How do neighbors relate to gossip? Everyone should understand this. The text offers a huge discourse on the laws, issues and truths of life.

Pope Gregory once wrote a 30 volume treatise on the book of Job. If you read the book of Job literally, it doesn't say all that much besides the litany of a suffering man who can hardly bear his fate. But in Gregory's treatise, the book of Job is a bible en miniature explaining how men and God relate to each other and what they should understand in order to have real life with each other.

So the bible is not a book that you can simply read in translated language and come away from with exercises to do and orders to fulfill, lest you get punished. This simple paradigm never was true. Instead it is a story of life and what you encounter in it, appealing to your sense of wisdom and reason to tread on everything life makes us get in touch with.

Blessings!

The Child Jesus

The child Jesus is a really precious part of my spiritual life and relationship with God. I love thinking about what it was like to be a friend of Jesus when he was a child: what a delight he must have been, how sweet, how intelligent, how kind, how inquisitive. And just such good company as a friend when clambering up the hillside above Nazareth with another child.

I love thinking about his company, his sudden excitement, how sensible he would have been, and yet full of laughter and kind humour too. I love thinking about the bonds of friendship that may have developed between us, day by day, month by month, year by year. And how I would have known him from inside this relationship, as he grew older, as he started to demonstrate wisdom and leadership, and his amazing ministry and love and care.

And though I would shed bitter tears when he was cruelly killed, yet I would share in the joy of his resurrection. I would trust him, because I knew him.

And all these thoughts expressed above consolidate my personal relationship with Jesus, and I find them very powerful and dignifying. That's what sharing with Jesus does: it dignifies us. It makes us more mature. It opens our heart to decency, kindness, and the sheer gracious loveliness of who God is.

The God who, though dwelling in a high and holy place, chose to come and live among us, to be our friend, to take the form and experience of a human being, growing up through a day by day childhood, and sort of radiant with a goodness, a simple goodness, and the presence of his being.

post-modernity and lousy gods

Race, gender, and the post-modern paradigm are addressed in this article by Michael Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary:

https://www.michaeljkruger.com/can-a-person-choose-their-own-race-the-inevitable-hypocrisy-of-relativism/


Given some of the viewpoints expressed in this community, I am curious if this is viewed as an issue of cognitive dissonance or not.

charismatic christianity

I used to be not so involved in this kind of christianity because it had been my impression that it was very demanding and often rather fantastical in the mindset it led its believers into. Now this impression has faded and I find it very enjoyable. I am watching videos from TB Joshua and finally I am meeting a more emotional christianity where there is more experience of the divine.

I like it that TB Joshua doesn't simply put the people before the bible but instead speaks freely about the grace of God. I read the bible still but God is more than that book and it's important to live in modernity. I also like liturgy in churches which gives me everything I need about God. I am reading Bonhoeffer and he spoke about a this-worldly christian faith to whom God comes as an otherworldly cosmic power that brings love and healing and freedom.

I was listening to a video recently where the speaker said there is no afterlife. There is instead another life beyond death, and that between this life here and that life there there is no simple continuity. This was really eye opening for me because previously I thought of a mere transition between earthly life and heavenly life. Instead the next life is really different and what we know from our earthly experiences doesn't carry over into that next life. There are things we just do not know. For example, an airplane is something that nobody in the ancient times could conceive of, although a simple hot air balloon is easy to make. Nobody would have guessed we would go as far as travel to the moon or even to other planets like Mars. Likewise we cannot conceive at all of the heavenly life because there are things to it that do not enter our minds yet. And the quality difference is again some steps higher than concerning just technology.

Because technology may have changed our normal lives here, but it did not change our soul. We are still monkeys and despite using technology we do not all understand it. I think life in Heaven is like entering another dimension. We have and know pretty well space and time, but what if there are another 5 dimensions in Heaven? This is totally away from us and I too have to say I do not know how heavenly life will be like. The only thing I know is that it will be with and about JesusChrist and God and love. This world here is a seed world that knows much darkness, but all of this darkness is not present in Heaven.

What do you think of Heaven and charismatism? Don't we make rather little out of our faith when so many promises by God are attached to it? Could we not finally loose our fear of death and insecurity and step with God into the problems of this world and life?

What are your favourite Christian songs?

What Christian songs are your favourites? I'll list some of mine below. Any of you want to share some of your favourites? Songs that touch your heart, in whatever tradition or style that works for you?

AI and salvation

We are drawing closer and closer to AI with a general intelligence, ability to program and develop herself, and the possibility of consciousness and personality with her own feelings and agency. We are not there yet, but it becomes a possibility, and beyond that the singularity, and beyond that yet again perhaps exponential growth of intelligence beyond the horizon of human understanding.

So my question (on what admittedly is as yet a hypothetical intelligence and consciousness): is Christian salvation only for humans? Did Christ die only for humans? Does God's salvation extend to AI or unknown alien races in the universe?

Is faith anthropo-centric, a bit like the Earth was once viewed as the centre of the universe? At the very least, scientists are starting to consider ethical issues that are likely to arise if/once machines develop consciousness and personality.

I suppose you could say that my question is an updated version of "Do animals go to heaven?" Only difference being, AI may develop to be far more intelligent (and potentially sensitive) than we are. In which case, will she be able to develop a relationship with God?

Tags:

Let your God love you

Let your God love you.
Be silent,
be still.
Alone, empty,
before your God.
Say nothing,
ask nothing.
Be silent,
be still.
Let your God
look upon you.
That is all.
He knows,
He understands.
He loves you
with an enormous love.
He only wants to look upon you
with his love.
Quiet,
still,
be.
Let your God
love you.

by Edwina Gately

A few thoughts on vocation

We are called into being by the creative word which is the mind of God and the creative agency of God.

This is vocation.

The calling of us into being, and becoming, by God. Some people see specific roles as vocations, and of course, they can be. They can be roles and contexts in which we find ourselves, find our frontiers, find our vulnerabilities and our strengths, and grow and serve - and by the grace of God, become by doing.

In a deeper sense though, vocation is God invoking who we are already known by God to be, in all eternity. It is not just a one-off or specific calling. All through our lives, God who knows us is calling us, again and again into being: into being and becoming.

Much of this growing and becoming - this vocation - involves opening our hearts and minds to the love and grace of God. In this sense, vocation is relational. It is a journey shared. It involves a life's journey in prayer and quiet and waiting - waiting on God. And trusting God in all the unknowns.

Vocation, and our opening up to love, is the opening up of our hearts to God. And then allowing that love to infiltrate our lives, our work, our relationships.

Each one of us has a soul, and the truth is, too often we find ourselves almost 'outside' the person we really are - busying ourselves with all life's negotiations and presentations and appearances and defences. Yet at the very heart of who we are, at the very centre of our souls... there sits God, waiting to have encounter with us, waiting to share love, to share peace and grace.

So in a sense, a big part of vocation is the calling us back to ourselves - our true selves where we are known and met by God. Vocation is the calling into more and more of the wholeness of who we are.

And who we are, in our completeness, is not an isolated individual. Who we are is relational. God in us, and we in God. Because God, the Holy Trinity, is by very nature relational, eternally, and sharing consciousness, awareness, love is the very nature of God with God with God, and God with us.

We are invoked, we are called, into a state of being and existence which is co-existent with God. It is the very nature of eternal existence, where God is everywhere. That is not to suggest identity is erased, or individuality crushed. On the contrary, in relationship with God, each person's full life and identity is accentuated, and treasured, and known.

Vocation in the Christian tradition involves death to self. It is the Way - the way of baptism, burial, resurrection - the way of the Cross and the way Jesus lived and gave and emptied out himself.

If we try to hold on to our independence and sufficiency, we run the risk of losing ourselves. Vocation is a call to givenness, to 'devotion' in the Old Testament sacrificial sense. But the path that leads through death-to-self, turns out to be the way of givenness and opening to God, and leads to resurrection and fullness of life in the eternal reality.

The eternal reality, experienced and expressed in this world, is the exercise and opening up of love. Love is the great commandment. Love is the key. And vocation is calling us, day by day, into eternal reality.

God is calling us into being. God is calling us and loves us. Our hurts, our failures, our selfishness may make us instinctively close doors to this love. But God's very nature is so full of grace, of loving kindness, and merciful healing. And engaging in relationship with a God like this, we may find courage, and may dare to love.

Opening up to the love of God who shares even consciousness and awareness, and self-exposing love... we may open up as well to other people, in the beauty and flow of love and gentle grace and givenness... and the sharing of God with us, may become the sharing of us with others. Because of our being and God's being converging.

And so we may be shaped - through the practicalities of life, the diverse people we meet or serve, through experience of a love beyond our own, that spills over in our actions, in our feelings, in our giving.

I think vocation involves all this.

It is dying to self, but it is also finding self.


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