Sunday, June 2, 2013

First Cup—Lectionary Sunday

Recently I was asked by a student to help him think about his 410 paper and how it might be developed into something more. I’m reading it now and it certainly suggests some interesting rabbit trails. Yesterday as I was walking around Sunrise Park near my house, I began ruminating on that provocative (even as it is often trivialized) phrase imago dei.

This phrase is multi-layered and inviting. Most often used to address human spirituality, in the Christian tradition it includes our creation, our soul, our connection with God. Grounded, I think, in the second creation account, it suggests that in our being we carry God’s image. One reading of that account tells us that God, first, created us out of the dust of the earth, molding us into our physical state; then, he breathed his breath into us and we became human.

The Lord God formed a human being from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, so that he became a living creature. (Genesis 2:7 REB)

Some commentaries say this differently: They use words like “person” and "personality" rather than living creature; I like these terms because, perhaps, they are more contemporary, although we abandon creature at some risk, I think. Also, I think they suggest the mystery that while we are all the same in our origin, we are also distinctly our own person. Another commentator, I remember, embraces the word “soul.” I like this old word because it helps to avoid Cartesian dualism, allowing us to think, as I believe we are meant to think, about Hebrew wholeness rather than Greek division.

The scriptures for today engage me in this context, inviting me to think about image of God in connected but different ways. If the Bible is, on some level, the record of God’s self-revelation, when we talk about imago dei we have to ask, well, who is this God whose image we bear?

So, the readings for today reveal to us some of God’s character:

In Kings, Elijah confronts the prophets of Baal and God is revealed as faithful, trustworthy, can be counted on, attentive, awake, saving. And Solomon prays to the unique God who is available to the “other,” that is, the foreigner.

In Psalms, God is great, deserving of glory and worship and reverence; God is king and judge.

In Galatians, if we understand that Jesus is God’s face, that is, the most complete revelation of God, in fact, God himself, then, God is the good news God.

In Luke, God is capable of being astonished (amazed, perhaps surprised) in a good way by human beings.

Then, somewhere, in this question is also the theo-ethical question, how is that image expressed in and through my life? I have to ask, if I am indeed an “image bearer,” in another metaphor, an icon, how does my life reveal God—how does my life distort God?

Am I faithful, trustworthy, attentive, awake, redemptive?
Am I open to and available to the other?
Do I reverence God?
Am I a good news (Gospel) person?
Am I amazed by the beauty of those around me and their capacity for good?

I am brought again and again back to this question, “How then shall I live?”

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