Monday, April 18, 2011

Nothing comes from Nothing... and Vice Versa

That which is born will die. It is a universal law. Have you ever known it to be otherwise? That which comes into existence will one day cease to exist. Humans come into existence. Therefore one day we will cease to exist.

That which exists must have its source in what is eternal. How can it be otherwise? How else could it exist? As the von Trapps taught us in The Sound of Music, “Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could.”

The Scriptures speak of eternal life. If we have eternal life, then we must be – or be one with - that which does not die.  The ground of our being is eternal – the One who says, “I am who I am.”

The Scriptures teach that God spoke us into existence. We are the words of God – nothing more and nothing less. God formed us as his words and breathed into us the breath of life. We are divine speech - vibrations from the mouth of God, animations of his breath.

But we forget this reality until the Word of God awakens us and redeems us from our wordlessness. He tells us who we are. “You are the salt of the earth! You are the light of the world! Let your light shine!”

The secret of meaningful life is to hold this truth in faith. The key is to experience this truth in our lives - to be who we are. When we know who we are, our eyes are open to the world as it is. We see the Kingdom of Heaven around us and within us.

Nothing comes from nothing. Being comes from being. That is eternal life. That is abundant life now.
Art is “de nihilo nihil,” crayon and pastel, Frank Baranowski

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Mind of Christ

“For ‘who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16)

The apostle does not say we will have the mind of Christ. He does not say we should have the mind of Christ or can have the mind of Christ. He says unequivocally, “We have the mind of Christ.”

It is a reality now. He contrasts it to the old understanding of God voiced by Isaiah in the first half of the verse, in which the prophet assumes that we cannot know the mind of the Lord.

But now something is different. The coming of Christ changed things. Good Friday, Easter, and Pentecost changed us. We have the mind of Christ.

In other words, I am of two minds. I am doubled-minded. I have a mind of my own, and I have the mind of Christ.

Of the two, I prefer Christ’s mind. My mind is pretty muddled sometimes. My mind gets things wrong most of the time. I do not understand things. I misunderstand things. But Christ is God. He knows the mind of God. And we have the mind of Christ.

Psychiatrists talk about left-brain and right-brain thinking, referring to the two hemispheres of the brain, which process things very differently. The same is true of our Christ mind and our own mind. Christ views things from the perspective of eternity. He sees how everything works together in perfect harmony.

“Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 6:26-27)

The mind of Christ thinks God’s thoughts. It sees the world through God’s eyes. It feels with God’s heart.

Paul tells us elsewhere to “have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus….” We are invited to set aside our way of thinking and embrace Christ’s perspective – to be single-minded instead of our usual double-mindedness.

This is not far away or out of reach. It is not an ideal. It is our natural spiritual state here and now. For we have the mind of Christ.

(Art is stained glass window at Central Christian Church, Orlando, Florida)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Wreath Police

I have been cited for a serious social infraction. This time it is not a moving violation ticketed by a local police officer or a state trooper. (Thank goodness! I have enough of those!)

This time I was sitting at a community meal in the basement of the church when I was informed of my offense. Two local members of the “wreath police” informed me that I still had a Christmas wreath hanging on our front door.

Apparently it is a serious faux pas in this community to have Christmas decorations visible beyond the first day of spring. It should have been removed by Valentines Day, I was told. Ash Wednesday would have been acceptable. But the vernal equinox is absolutely the latest permissible date for yuletide hangings.

People keep track of such things around here. They noted there are still eighteen offenders in our small community. I am one of them. My offence is particularly offensive because my home is in the center of the village for all to see. Furthermore as the local church pastor I am expected to set an example.

I pleaded for mercy. I told them that I had not been able to reach my front door since I purchased the house in January. There are still feet of snow and ice blocking my front door, prohibiting access.

I explained that it is not even my wreath. The previous owners left it on the door. I didn’t even want it! They should have taken it with them. If anybody should be blamed, it should be them. I told them that I had the former owners’ new address in Vermont if they needed it.

Nope. It is my responsibility now. Local social mores clearly state that the present owner is the responsible party for all decorative infractions.

Well it is April now, and we just got a few more inches of snow. I don’t think I will be digging out the front steps anytime soon. There is a good chance that the wreath may still be hanging there on Easter Sunday. I am wondering if the severity of the offense increases when the violation extends beyond the next Christian holy day.

But I have an idea. I am thinking of calling it an Easter Wreath. I’ll stick a few Easter lilies in it and start a new tradition. I am sure that Easter decorations are acceptable at least until Memorial Day. By then the snow ought to be melted enough to take it down. If not, I will just call it my Fourth of July Wreath. Anyone have any little American flags?