Tag Archive: scripture


Lectures and Beauty

“Verily” by Linda Ruth Dickinson 

 

Last night I was teaching about the means of grace. I have been exploring and working out a metaphor of a divine hug to attempt to illustrate God’s grace and our response and participation in God’s grace. It was a good class, but I came away feeling like something was missing.

I have encountered God in the morning reading scripture and feeling God meeting me and speaking into me as I journaled my reflections. There have been times of sharing in communion where I felt as if I were allowed to peak behind a veil to see the whole communion of saints across time and space sharing in a heavenly banquet and I was graciously let in to the party as a special guest among the likes of Abraham, King David, Martin Luther King Jr., my grandmother and so many more. Holding a hymnal or looking up at a screen singing with brothers and sisters in Christ in worship I have had those moments where singing became difficult as tears would well up as this became an encounter with the living God – God singing a song of love over us and our singing to God. I have tasted the laughter and joy in a group of friends intentionally trying to live faithfully together into what it means to be a disciple that seemed to be a wonderful step deeper into the abundant life Christ offers.

So maybe this was the difficulty of talking about these things in a class. Only giving lists and details of the means of grace will always fall short of actually experiencing it. Lectures point to the good and beautiful grace that saves us. Metaphors help point beyond themselves, but the true goodness of God’s grace is only brought a little closer by metaphor. The more I experience of God revealed in Jesus Christ in these means of grace the more words of a lecture falls short.

Maybe this is where beauty comes in. Not the beauty of God’s own handiwork like the stars of the night sky or a sunrise, God is already speaking there, but the beauty created by the artist who uses broad language that grabs at the whole of our being, that captivates, and inspires. Beauty created by our hands to grasp at and to express the deep mystery of God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ. I am surprised that more theologians don’t become amazing artists, powerful poets, and marvelous musicians.

Lord Jesus, thank you for your grace that comes to us without our cajoling and convincing you to love. Thank you for the mysterious beauty of the cross and the empty tomb that demonstrates the infinite extent of your love, grace and power. May we find the ways your have gifted us to respond to your love and grace so that we are perfected in loving you, ourselves, and others. Send your Holy Spirit to inspire us to fashion beautiful words, movies, art, and music to express the grandeur of your grace and draws all deeper in to you to declare the glory of God. Amen.

 

Check out more from the Artist Linda Ruth Dickinson http://www.lindaruthdickinson.com/main.html

Old Testament

In reading through Luke and Acts over these last number of months I have felt very convicted about my recent engagement with the Old Testament. I even hinted at this during my sermon this past week. In Acts when Peter mentions the Scriptures “which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago” he would have been referring to what we would think of as the Old Testament. Then to add to my conviction that the Holy Spirit is leading me to spend some more time in the Old Testament I was doing my morning prayer time and came across this quote:

Origen of Alexandria wrote, “I do not call the Law an ‘Old Testament’ if I understand it in the Spirit. The Law becomes an ‘Old Testament’ only for those who wish to understand it carnally, but for those who understand it and apply it in the Spirit and in the Gospel sense, the Law is ever new and the two Testaments are a new Testament for us, not because of their date in time but because of the newness of the meaning. For those who do not respect the covenant of love, even the Gospels are ‘old.’ ”

God, lead us to engage your word, all of your word so that all of our life will be transformed. Help us not to turn only to the words we like, but be willing to wrestle and engage with all you have to say. Amen

Story Time

I am so glad the new year is underway. I have missed the regular rhythm of meeting with our Life Group.  Last night as we gathered in the living room we shared fragments of Judy’s, Wayne’s, Shelley’s and other stories. We also opened the scripture and reflected on Philip and Nathanael‘s story. I have come to love watching how God is weaving our stories together.

The significance of becoming a community of being a people who share our stories, but also are shaped by God’s great story was highlighted in the first episode of our NCUMC tv program called Every Day Grace TV.  I thought you would enjoy.

Jars of Transcendence

IMG_0093In writing these papers for becoming a provisional member of ordained elders in the UMC one is led to do a great deal of personal reflection. I started looking at my shelves that were filling up with books that I have read, started to read, or intend to read as I have been on this school part of the adventure. I started wondering why I keep these books on my shelves. I also looked at this stack of composition notebooks filling up a corner of the shelf. Why do I keep these journals filled with prayers, reflections on scripture, but also just attempts at organizing thoughts and to-do lists.  These books and journals have an almost treasured position that I couldn’t imagine discarding them, but why?

Some of these books and some of the pages of those journals are places where I have encountered the living God revealed in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.  While it is foolish to think that ink on paper could contain God, or even limited human words could enclose the infinite creator of the universe. These sit on my shelf and are occasionally pulled down, referenced, words are re-read, memories are stirred. God transcends containers, but these have been jars that contain for me transforming encounters I have had with God. Flipping through a journal from 2010 and seeing a prayer I wrote or a reflection on scripture that has shaped and molded me is inspiring to read again. Flipping again through “On The Incarnation” feels like remembering a conversation I had with one of the saints about the amazing love of God. Going through these jars of transcendent encounters with God is inspiring knowing that even today I may find myself adding another jar on the shelf.IMG_0094

God, you who revealed yourself in your Son, continue to reveal yourself to us through the Holy Spirit. Thank you for your continued revelation. May we all have our eyes open to see, know, and be transformed by You and Your grace. 

Amen