Wednesday, 17 January 2018
Lk9v1-2 "power and authority" "demons and diseases" "proclaim and heal" both-and. You need both, to defeat both, to do both. I want to render this triplet of pairs as a comprehensive description of ministry, or at least to say with more precision what Jesus is invoking in bothing these. Particularly, what is authority when it is distinct from power?
🏛 Authority exousia ~ qualification and permission , ability and license , method and mandate , weaponry for the hand to hand skirmish and artillery backup . Dear self-identifying imposters, we move with authority, we are sent with a purposive commission, over-and-against the noise of spiritual anarchy, we are in charge now.
⚡ Power dynamis ~ the signs and wonders grow to a prominence in Luke's Acts. Christianity must engage power, the power of Power Evangelism, power vs power, against the cosmic powers of this dark age Eph6v12. We must believe that the power of the God who sends us, the power which is within us, power which is infinite but granular, relevant and acute in any given moment, this power is greater-than the powers we observe which control people in the world. God's power for freedom is greater-than every financial power and debt, every tendril of family shame, every bond of guilty duress, every system of parasetic politicking that leeches life from the body - these all have real power, they have power to hold and control, but they are each a power which is less-than.
Star Wars' formula is so successful for so reflecting the zeitgeist and so richly giving definition to the vocabulary of contemporary longing. Whilst it arrives at a nonsensical mysticism, having it's good&evil cake and eating it through incoherent balance, Star Wars does appreciate the universal experience of captivity, the long expectation of a begotten saviour and the role of power. Power from beyond, power to move rocks Mt17v20, power to grasp concepts Eph3v18, power to convert hearts and to hope. Hope requires power. Christians, we channel cosmic electricity which is more-than, in all things more-than, into every given minutiae, more-than.
Lk9v3-4 'take nothing'. This command has been round the peripheries of vision the last few days, it strikes me as important for my spiritual maturity in 2018, and centres on the near-impossible task of clinging to nothing in life, ministry and marriage but Jesus. What are my staff, bag, bread, money? What do I need to renounce, untie, leave behind? What does it look like to trust Jesus with everything in my context? What do the PJs need to leave behind together? How do we practically personally prophetically lean into simple trust? I don't know the answers to all these questions but I feel sure these questions must shape my and our conversations these next few days. Pray for us, that we would cling to nothing but Jesus.
Lk9v5-6 📤 "Leave." Christians, when is it persevering to quit? When is it loving to leave? When is it right to be ruthless? Agile evangelists believe in pragmatic providence, nimbly knowing that all timing is God's timing, they weather rejection lighty, relishing to suffer with Christ, they fail early, fail often, fail forward.. Bootstrapped and unsentimental, they move fast and break things. But who is called to that? https://xkcd.com/1428/ There is a tension between disruption and compassion, adventuring and caring. But if I was to assess the deficit in my life and in the church at large it would call me to be more barrelling forth, at the expense of less noodling at home.
🧖♂ "Dust" Dust's dustiness is a musty stasis, the detritus of life, the flakes of decay, the aroma of death, which clings to disuse, which settles on and settles for and settles down. No church should be dusty, and not by neurotic vacuuming, but by being-unsettled. The Christian is a kite in a hurricane, ours is a faith of the great outdoors, thieves cannot break in and steal, moths will find nothing there ~ we are romping through town, anti-static, and squeaky clean.
Lk9v7-8 Perplexed. Perplexity happens when self meets world and things are not as expected. It strikes me that we might catergorise two types of perplexity - egocentric and allocentric. The later is genuine confusion about how things are in reality, coupled with a desire to understand better, birthing the virtues of humility, curiousity and exploration. Egocentric perplexity is a form of outrage, an incredulity that reality - and therefore God - has not conformed to the understanding or will of the I, the Great Self, leading to the vices of hubris, anger, and a demanding and controlling spirit, as we see here in Herod - 'John I beheaded!'
I pray for myself specifically that my perplexed outrage, frustration and entitlement would be transfigured into perplexed surrender, openness and trust.
Lk9v9-10 "who* is this!?" Herod's WTF. There is something very unusual going on, extermination-as-usual isn't working, rule-by-force is unravelling. This comic turn riffs on a diabolical incomprehension trope. The baddie in his lair flies into a rage as it dawns on him: the swarm is breeding faster than we can swot them. Luke places this scene-change cutaway in between the sending of the 12 and the sending of the 72, and nestles it beside the feeding of the 5000. 🔢📈 Do the math fam. The emphasis being twofold:
- As a Holy Hydra, beheading John draws the blood of the martyrs, which is the seed of the church, this Kingdom movement is stronger than death
- As a Godly Grey Goo, this Kingdom movement is exponential
➖ So 2018, in my life, what should die?
✖ So 2018, in my life, what should multiply?
Lk9v11-12 "now the day began to wear away"...'"or we are here in a desolate place". I have never noticed before the emphasis placed on weariness and desolation at the beginning of this story, and it is interesting to note that with these two phrases there is an acknowledgement of weariness with both time and place, with process and product, with duration of time elapsed and with the barrenness of where that time seems to have led. If you are weary with where you find yourself, or if you are weary with the means by which you seem to have to try to get somewhere - know this: Jesus is an infinite spring of life within the finite, he wants to set up tables in the wilderness to feed you loaves and fishes. He makes something out of nothing. He can redeem your days and your places.
Lk9v13-14 "go and buy" is contrasted with "sit in groups" ~ perhaps I am heavily over-reading this juxtaposition in this context, but I am convicted that the comparison otherwise and generally is not nothing. I'm interested to consider the posture of faithful communion over-and-against the posture of market-exchange.
💱 "Go and buy.." I have been recently stirred by Alastair Roberts' account of gender in the context of modernity, and I find his very compassionate essentialism to be rich, provocative and vital. The rendering of the liberal individual as the primary unit of our universe and economy renders all labour and commodity as fungible and alienable. We are a hypermobile workforce that knows only exchange value. We go and we buy, transient consumers remunerated commensurably. We go and we buy. When the going get tough the tough go shopping. We go and we buy. Poverty is measured quantitatively and solved quantitatively. We go and we buy.
🧘♀ 🧘♂ "sit" See _How to Be a Poet_ by Wendall Berry begins "Make a place to sit down. Sit down. ..." https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/41087/how-to-be-a-poet To sit is not nothing. Be still and know that God is God. And, sit in a group, y'all, quakers gonna quake. As Leibnitz fears and Harman relishes, a circle of men holding hands is a thing, it has thinghood, and so we are so irreducibly thung to cast ripples in eternity by sitting in groups, for communion, and against the marketisation of everything, marketisation which is the source of poverty.
Lk9v15-16 Verb tables for the day.
(That we might set before others).
Lk9v17-18 🍞🍞🍞🍞🍞🍞🍞🍞🍞🍞🍞🍞 We exceed excess, we broke the brink, to more than mar a margin, for more and more than more-than. We left a land littered lots and now gather to defrag the fragments. Mosaic mosaicists, we reframe residue as the substance of superabundance.
Lk9v19-20 But who do you say I am? Apt after conversations with P this weekend on the foundational questions we are to ask ourselves and others, the who what where when why and how. The who is the only one we know the answer to, and this is our starting place and our source. Here Jesus asks the foundational question, and though I know the Sunday School answer, I seek to really know the answer to the 'who' question in a new way for the new year. Jesus is the Christ, is the answer - and in some ways the answer for me is also that the Christ is Jesus. In this previous season it has felt easier for me to speak in terms of the cosmic Christ rather than the historical Jesus. I seek to know deeply what it is to recognise that the Christ is Jesus. Part of this is to ask - what in the words of the Jesus of the gospels speaks to my depths? How does this flesh-and-blood Jesus speak by the Holy Spirit to me in the present? How does Jesus not only say what I am supposed to do in the abstract, but actually impart the strength to be able to do it - that is, the How as well as the What, Why and Who? Come Lord Jesus.
Lk9v21-22 📼 "must suffer.. be rejected.. be killed.." If Jesus had a cassette player and recorded the thirteen reasons for his death, would I be on those tapes? Hannah Baker's suicide account is disanalogous is many ways, the series is the darkly seductive tragic glamour of long-form intrigue playing reprehensible suicide voyeurism to baying binge watchers. But. It observes human depravity with a candour, and accurately portrays the dominoes of sin, how thick black pollution is funneled, curdled, and distilled to finally melt the lighting rod in death's pent up fury. We are such walking dead, victims each, pariahs each, and/but collectively culpable. Where does all the pain go? What do you do with the death you inherited? Jesus offers to drain the tank, he is the firebreak, he is the shockabsorber, he is the mop, he is the bucket, he takes all the portions of death we carry and puts himself to death.
Lk9v23-24 I have been dancing around these words a few days. This familiar saying of Jesus has a kind of black-hole quality to it for me - I feel in myself both a kind of magnetic draw and repulsion to these words at the same time, I feel like I can't quite access their depths but I know the depths are there, I teeter on the brink of them, attracted and resistant to the promise and cost of these words that I can't quite grasp, wanting to flee, longing desperately. Chasms of distortion are everywhere about me, and a hasty response to these words is sure to trip me into one of these chasms. Here I am God, a bundle of tension and trying and failure to try. Here I am, caught between death and death, between ego and resurrection, between wisdom and folly, between too much labour and not enough and the mysteries of grace, between glimpses of understanding and uncertain conclusions. I don't pretend that I have yet learned how to take up my cross daily. Part of me doesn't want to learn, but part of me does. Pray for me, that I would fall into the black hole and die daily, in order to be more fully alive.
Lk9v25-26 "gain the world.." 👜👟📱🎰🎸🏘🕹💳🚁 On Thursday to a small group of MW, JW said, of the title of his book, Stuffocation, that he has had no one puzzle over what his title means, we already know. The coagulation of modernity's detritus, a vast tide of preemptively obsolete broken plastic promises, Rem's Junkspace, fruit of a Frommian comportment towards the world via 'having' rather than 'being' How should we then live?
~ So to not forfeit our soul, W proposes "Experientialism" [coined from a more Virgin Experience Days meaning than the Metaphors We Live By meaning] Is this it? Is this all? Because the boomers sold the farm, the consolation prize for millenials is to become connoisseurs of cake and circuses, young and nimble gnostic cyborgs trapped in the long tail, precariat pawns in the palms of the tech tyrants, pliable poodles strung along chasing the next latte for their insta, choreographing a kinfolk community alone with a projection from their scandi ascetic pod, scratching off countries on a wall chart, pissing the world into a bucket list of private adrenaline highs? Experientialism is still trying to gain the world, and in so far as it has an overreactive antagonism towards that material world it will be soulless.
~ So to not forfeit our soul, JS, also on the panel offered that we should rather enlarge our tent (Is54v2?) in a way that only a barrister can say so blithely. As we peer through his privilege, however, there is a dazzling hope in his convicting vulnerability. It is by such an irreducibly very material household, formed and managed at an intermediate scale, humbly owned, generously shared, that the world is being made whole, people being made less proud, less lonely, less damaged and less damaging. And it was unashamedly about Jesus, by Jesus, for Jesus.
Lk9v27-28 I'm currently reading Philip Pullman's 'The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ', in which he re-writes the gospel stories with two characters - Jesus and Christ, brothers standing in for the historical Jesus and the ideology of Christianity respectively. It is an impressive and consistent picture of what it is to live in a totally disenchanted universe, a reductive naturalism in which ideology is layered over the top. I just read Pullman's storying of the transfiguration, reduced to strong light, manipulation and a sense of self-importance. As I think about what it means to try to get outside my own feelings and into reality this morning, I want to behold a fraction of the Christ transfigured, reality transfigured, all the way down and all the way through.
Lk9v29-30 💡❕ "altered.. dazzling white" Four of us walked through Piccadilly Circus a few days ago, the vast screen has changed in the last couple of months to an even more glowy seemless liquid 11 million pixel expanse of magic. C returned from Barcelona with patiently captured pictures of sun glinting in the tinted panes of Sagrada Familia. Moths to a flame, magpies to glitter, the human heart knows that the universe is luminous at its core and yearns for it. Jesus' metamorphosis is not an exception to the rule, but an illustration of the real: you are made of light, and you were made to blaze brightly. If Dn12v3 Ph2v15 are "mere" metaphors what are you left with? "Mere"ing metaphors is desertion of our post in the semiotic battlefield and embezzlement of the words of God. If metaphors are mere'd, light does not lose its power, it is simply released to serve another master with that power, coopted by other agents, as we outsource meaning-making to Hollywood we cede the keys to the gates of wonder.
🙏🔌 "..as he was praying.." Prayer is touching the live wires of reality, fingers in the sockets of eternity, the laying on of hands to a Van de Graff spirituality, God's great Tesla coil. As Vanilla Ice said in Mt6v6, when you pray, turn off the lights..