Saturday, June 3, 2017

Merry Christrmas

Morning email brings two Roman Catholic items. One is about Spiritual Direction. Several people have asked me to be their Spiritual Director, and I am glad to do that and am doing a bit as a new and different ministry and direction from what I have done before, ensuring they understand at the outset that I'm not certified. It seems or sounds like a reasonable carryon from parish priest, but it’s not the same. During my Jesuit adventures several summers ago, I looked into becoming a certified Spiritual Director, but it takes three years of courses and study including time away from home, and although I might still study and think, I’m done with being away from home; so not doing that. In lieu of, I’m trying to improve my competence and inform myself from 7H. Thus the daily subscription, and there may be more. 

The other Roman Catholic email item is “Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation.” Richard, Father Richard, is a Franciscan with whom, as I’ve blogged before, I can relate theologically. This showed up again in this week’s meditation series “Alternative Orthodoxy,” in which I saw that, not heterodox, no heretic (basically an obsolete term in 21st century Christianity), and so far not apostate, I am Alternatively Orthodox. My doxy is not your doxy, but I’m okay and you’re okay anyway.

Why am I writing this? Retired and have time, and it’s in my realm of messing around hobby, and I want to. 

Below, copy and paste, is Richard’s meditation for Wednesday, May 31, 2017 entitled “Incarnation instead of Atonement.” Over against the standing position of Paul, of the church, of Christianity and Christians at large, Richard offers this as Franciscan theology, calling it alternative orthodoxy. Though this could drive a mainline or fundamentalist Christian up the wall, I see it as, over against the Way of Paul, the Way of Jesus. I also see this as where I stand. I can further see, as I’ve realized for long years, that it fundamentally puts me outside the 16th century theology of Thomas Cranmer as centered in his eucharistic prayer, and as specifically asserted in several of our seasonal collects for the day, some earlier than medieval, samples below, scroll down. 

What to do about this in regard to myself? Well, I remember years ago when Bishop John Spong was a controversy, reading or hearing him say that, although he might not believe literally all that the church professes to teach and believe, he loved the liturgy, he loved singing the glorious hymns, the hymns Easter Morning and Christmas Eve, the hymns, the music, the gathered people. I also love the liturgy and the hymns. I can say the Nicene Creed Sunday after Sunday without choking, regardless that it contains theological assertions about Jesus that wrought wicked, bitter, bloody, murderous fighting in the Early Church struggling for unity and orthodoxy, and especially regardless that, as Schleiermacher said, are beyond human knowing. So, I can celebrate Rite One, and I can offer the collects, and I can say the Nicene Creed, all with clear conscience, and I do and will continue to do. But I am Alternative:

Here’s Richard Rohr’s meditation:

Incarnation instead of Atonement
Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Franciscan alternative orthodoxy emphasizes incarnation instead of redemption. For the Franciscans, Christmas is more significant than Easter. Christmas is already Easter! Since God became a human being, then it’s good to be human, and we’re already “saved.” Franciscans never believed in the sacrificial atonement theory because it wasn’t necessary. Christ was Plan A, not Plan B. Atonement implies that God had a plan, we messed it up, and then God had to come back in to mop-up our mistakes.

As I mentioned earlier this month, Franciscan John Duns Scotus (c. 1266-1308) said the plan from the beginning was to reveal Godself as Christ. Jesus didn’t come as a remedy for sin—as if God would need blood before God could love what God created. The idea that God, who is love, would demand the sacrifice of his beloved Son in order to be able to love what God created is the conundrum that reveals how unsatisfying that quid pro quo logic really is.

Franciscans believe that Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity. It didn’t need changing: God has organically, inherently loved what God created from the moment God created. Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God. This sets everything on an utterly positive foundation. Rather than being an ogre, God is Love. Rather than being sinners in the hands of an angry God, we are inherently and forever loved by God, no matter what we do or don’t do.

This is such an essential and foundational element in healthy Christianity that we will spend a whole week of meditations later in the year trying to clarify it. For now, just realize that the Church in the thirteenth century was broad-minded enough to accept this alternative orthodoxy as a minority position.

And here are some collects that stretch credence for me:

Easter Day
O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten
Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection
delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die
daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of
his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God,
now and for ever. Amen.

Friday in Easter Week
Almighty Father, who gave your only Son to die for our sins
and to rise for our justification: Give us grace so to put away
the leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may always
serve you in pureness of living and truth; through Jesus
Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and
the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Proper 15    The Sunday closest to August 17
Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a
sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us
grace to receive thankfully the fruits of this redeeming work,
and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Also the theology in Cranmer’s eucharistic prayer:

All glory be to thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for
that thou, of thy tender mercy, didst give thine only Son Jesus
Christ to suffer death upon the cross for our redemption; who
made there, by his one oblation of himself once offered, a full,
perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for
the sins of the whole world …

And we earnestly desire thy fatherly goodness mercifully to
accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; most
humbly beseeching thee to grant that, by the merits and
death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood,
we, and all thy whole Church, may obtain remission of our
sins ... (BCP Eucharistic Prayer 1)

Richard mentions that Franciscans honor Christmas above Easter. This is counter to everything I was told, taught, and learned in my Lutheran seminary years, that we preach Christ crucified; that Easter is more significant than Christmas -- which, alone in the class, I disagreed my first week there. Theologically, both Incarnation and Resurrection are manifestations of God's love for us: Incarnation because God loves us enough to come show and tell us how to live and love; Resurrection because God loves us enough to come right back notwithstanding what we've done to him. It's all incarnational. Incarnation precedes and transcends Resurrection.

feliz navidad

201706030508CDT at 7H

Nativity art pinched online

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