All The Things I’ve Tried That Failed

If I were writing a book about my work as a chaplain it could be suitably titled All The Things I’ve Tried That Failed. In this post I search for a different way of measuring my (our) participation in the mission of God. Exploring Moses, who the Lord knew face to face; Paul, who came in gentleness; and Christ, who set the bar at love – there’s a way of ‘measuring’ the Christian life that subverts and redeems all manner of downward slanting graphs.

To love God and love neighbour is to be drawn beyond ourselves and our own interests – it is, first, to seek fully and forever after a God who is both entirely beyond and within. It is to praisefully devote ourselves to the hidden and invisible God who we can know intimately. It is to experience and allow ourselves to be transformed by the Spirit of fire, without being consumed, without forfeiting agency. It is, second, to seek fully and forever after the interests of our neighbours who cannot be contained, controlled, or categorised. It is to joyfully commit ourselves to their flourishing and liberation, affirming their humanity as made in the image and likeness of God. It is to experience and allow ourselves to be converted by these encounters, without ever losing the confidence that who we are, as fearfully and wonderfully made, is, when coming to rest in God, enough

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The Ghost of Grace: A Christmas Carol, Tillich, & Caputo

In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge receives three ghostly visitations awakening him to the separation that exists within himself (and and between he and others). Grace has a similar ghostly quality, it haunts and it spooks – provoking us out of our apathy with a call beyond ourselves.

In the event on the road to Damascus, was Saul not visited by a kind of ghost? His own Christmas ghost (or better yet, an Easter ghost)? Saul was spooked by a moment of grace, which struck him blind (– that led to his great awakening and the overcoming of his deepest separation –) and haunted him for the rest of his life. Grace struck Saul like an apocalypse rupturing his existence, separating old order from new life. But grace stuck around, as ghosts are prone to do, so that the haunting might remain. So that Paul would not be content to revert to Saul. Grace remained to spook Paul when he would not do the good he desired, but the evil he did not desire (Rom 7:19).

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