the goings on

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Been quiet here. No real reason. The calm before the storm? Quite possibly.

I haven’t been neglecting writing. This is the project of my past week, an interaction between Jurgen Moltmann and the Emerging Church.

Holy Week

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If you haven’t already passed through it, this is a fine week to wander about my version of the Stations of the Cross I put together about four years ago.

a bit of theology

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From my reading this morning:

“If in a community we take over responsibility for others, these others exist in a certain way in us, at least in our solicitude for them. That is why in Christian faith we say: because Christ is for us and gave himself for us, we are in Christ. In this relationship, in-existence (meaning location, not negation) is the other side of pro-existence. In a community the pro-existent and the in-existent relationships are so multifarious that any one-sidedness is precluded. We are always there for other people and in other people, just as other people are there for us and in us. In human community we mutually open up for each other the spaces of freedom through love, or we close them through intimidation. We are presence, space, and dwelling for one another.”

Merry Christmas

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Nativity by Barocci

Happy Thanksgiving

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Happy Thanksgiving

The Communion of the Saints

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Among my diverse activities this past weekend was a visit to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, otherwise known as the Los Angeles Cathedral. It is newly built, speaking of a new theological era, artistic and beautiful both physically and spiritually.

There are many aspects I love about the Cathedral, a curious thing given my hardened Protestant stances. Indeed I love almost all the aspects of the Cathedral, even the 8:00 am mass. The Pastor of the Cathedral is one of the most inspiring, winsome preachers I’ve heard, who packs more meaning in a fifteen minute homily than most pastors do in an hour. I love the colors, even though they are shades light browns for the most part, the color of the walls and the windows, which are pure alabaster. I love the way the incense rises from the braziers and forms into a cloud twenty feet off the ground, between the Monsignor and the top of the cross behind him.

I love the openness, the peace, the echo of the organ, the reverence of people who take their worship very seriously, seriously enough to allow the occasional levity. I love that one can realize at the end when everyone is walking out how incredibly diverse the congregation was, diverse without the lectures or purposefulness that diversity in Evangelical circles depends on. They are diverse because they are all Catholics, not because they think diversity is a goal in itself.

With that are the tapestries, these echoes of history and diversity and unity which line the walls North and South, each one containing a picture of five or six saints from the ages. The collection of these tapestries around the pews reminds one that Christian worship is not a lonely enterprise in time or space. We worship with those who gather on that morning and we worship with those who gather from all history. In the midst of those who have run the race and made it, who are even now celebrating the joys of their eternal reward, we worship, we who still await our hope and reward, who have many trials to yet endure before our own sacrifices are received.

I sat and noticed this Communion of the Saints while those baptized in the Catholic Church were participating in the Eucharist, the symbol of community I cannot share even though I shared the repeated affirmations of the foundations of the faith not five minutes prior. I sat amidst the saints and knew that even if I was not in communion with their church, I was in communion with the holy Catholic Church, not limited to the Roman variety by the Holy Spirit, who works among diverse communities towards the same goals of preaching Christ and him crucified to us and to this world.

The person I was with also noticed the tapestries at the end and we began talking about how wonderful a concept this was. It was wonderful because of how each saint is portrayed, without the golden plates or idealized forms of artistic eras of the past. Rather they are realistic. They are presentations of each era and region, showing that saints are not lowered from above, but rather rise out of the mists of the people, becoming symbols of Christ’s work because of their devotion in the midst of average life.

Each saint so called has a story. Each person shown ran the race and ran it well within their particular circumstances towards their particular calling, letting the Spirit echo throughout history in their stories. So they serve as symbols of our own holy ambitions, and guides as we wade through our own muck and mire.

Neither my friend nor I knew all of their names, and certainly not all of their stories. In these stories, however, are tales of the Holy Spirit, and so they are names and stories worth knowing. With this in mind, it seemed like a good task to consider these people with at least a little focus, learning from them about how God works in the lives of humanity.

It’s a daunting task, for they, together, encompass a greater part of the last 2000 years. So, we thought, maybe one a week wouldn’t be too bad, moving along one wall and down the other until over the couse of the many weeks we hear all of their stories.

Being a Catholic Church there are certainly names and faces who were not portrayed along the walls who will gather in the Great Communion of heaven. I also know that there are going to be aspects of many stories where I find my own theological opinions being challenged, and points at which I might even openly disagree with major aspects of a person’s life. Yet, even when I disagree I know there are lessons. Christ did not call us to be in agreement about all issues, and there is not one of us who understands the fullness of God with accuracy. We are all heretics in a way. God does call us to faith, and gives us latitude in our understanding so that we can together find the fullness of his revelation, even letting us err in parts as long as the core principles remain.

These principles are found in the Creed recited during the Mass, which I did share, and in sharing I placed myself in the Communion of saints surrounding me.

So, I celebrate that communion and seek to know more. More than this, I think it would be grand to have others share this regular consideration so that diverse voices interact with these great stories. Zippy noted he’d take part, this week and when he returns from his various voyages to impossible places.

Standing at the front of the tapestry next to us was a Mexican gentleman from the 16th century, well known for one major thing, though worth hearing from on various topics. His name is Juan Diego. And at some point this week I’ll post my thoughts on his life and faith.

Father be with us, Christ be with us, Spirit be with us. All of us, for all time.