God is still speaking

The idea that God stopped speaking at the close of the canon is a modern notion dreamed up by the Protestant Reformers some 500 years ago. But the Catholic and Orthodox traditions, otherwise known as the majority of Christians worldwide, have always left room for more revelation. Even Pentecostal Protestants have continued to believe that God could give us new truth or a fresh word.

God is still speaking. God’s revelation is not complete. God’s Kingdom is not fully realized. But as human history progresses, as the Universe continues to expand, so too does human consciousness, led by the Spirit of God. 

From “Gay and Christian, No Contradiction: A Brief Guide for Reconciling Christian Faith & LGBT+ Identity” by Brandan Robertson

God Creates Good

Today’s guest quote is by Brian McLaren, from ”A New Kind of Christianity”

If Genesis sets the stage for the biblical narrative, this much is unmistakably clear: God’s unfolding drama is not a narrative shaped by the six lines in the Greco-Roman scheme of perfection, fall, condemnation, salvation, and heavenly perfection or eternal perdition. It has a different story line entirely. It’s a story about the downside of “progress”—a story of human foolishness and God’s faithfulness, the human turn toward rebellion and God’s turn toward reconciliation, the human intention toward evil and God’s intention to overcome evil with good. It begins with God creating a good world, continues with human beings creating evil, and concludes with God creating good outcomes that overcome human evil. We might say it is the story of goodness being created and re-created: God creates a good world, which humans damage and savage, but though humans have evil intent, God still creates good, and God’s good prevails. Good has the first word, and good has the last.

Gratitude resists unhealthy environments and empowers the possibility of change

We might be grateful persons, with thankful hearts, and be fanatical about gratitude journals and intentions, but as soon as we walk out our front door or turn on the news, we are confronted with a world of payback, quid pro quo, corruption, and ungrateful neighbors. Thus, even for those of us who live more gratefully, our personal practices and habits are at odds with the world in which we live. We are like fish swimming in a polluted river. The chances are not very good that one healthy fish can survive in a poisoned stream. We get used to toxicity. We cannot sustain even our own health. For the good of all, we must resist the status quo, we must clean up the water. Here is where gratitude and resistance combine. Gratitude resists unhealthy environments and empowers the possibility of change. If gratitude is built upon a myth of scarcity and imperial hierarchies, it has been corrupted. If gratitude is privatized and collaborates with injustice, it is not really gratitude. Thus the better the surrounding environment, the more grateful people become, aware of gifts and abundance, open to hope, creativity, and joy. Gratitude begins with a profound awareness of abundance and builds communities of well-being and generosity. Gratitude opens toward grace.

From “Grateful” by Diana Butler Bass – HarperOne

Obedience is an unpopular word nowadays

Perhaps the reason I shuddered at the idea of writing something about “Christian art” is that to paint a picture or to write a story or to compose a song is an incarnational activity. The artist is a servant who is willing to be a birth-giver. In a very real sense the artist (male or female) should be like Mary, who, when the angel told her that she was to bear the Messiah, was obedient to the command. 

Obedience is an unpopular word nowadays, but the artist must be obedient to the work, whether it be a symphony, a painting, or a story for a small child. I believe that each work of art, whether it is a work of great genius or something very small, comes to the artist and says, “Here I am. Enflesh me. Give birth to me.” And the artist either says, “My soul doth magnify the Lord,” and willingly becomes the bearer of the work, or refuses; but the obedient response is not necessarily a conscious one, and not everyone has the humble, courageous obedience of Mary. 

As for Mary, she was little more than a child when the angel came to her, she had not lost her child’s creative acceptance of the realities moving on the other side of the everyday world. We lose our ability to see angels as we grow older, and that is a tragic loss. 

From “Walking on Water” by Madeleine L’Engle