Friday, December 3, 2010
God doesn't fit neatly into our flimsy notions about what is proper or distinguished. I don't think he cares if we belch at the table. I don't think he is concerned about the length of our skirt any more then the designer label. I don't believe that all world religions lead to the same destination; though they utilize similar imagery or have altars or religious text and prophets. I don't believe that all religious thought is on equal footing. Not all is beneficial to the person or to the race of man or for creation. I do believe most often it is true that false world religions take us from our destination, God.
However He (God) is not locked within the limits of the Bible or Holy Tradition. He cannot be contained by any fashioning of His own hand. No creature has a box large enough or collar fitted for God. He is ever expansive and has power and dominion. As a race of people we have sought to confine God to His creatures to race, culture, civilization, institution, gender, to species, to space. Interestingly, Christians as a very general demographic group however are willing to throw the God-bearer under the proverbial bus, unwilling to accept her Majesty containing within her womb undefiled (as God defiles nothing as there is no corruption in Him) the Creator of all that is or ever was or ever will be. Of course that impossibility is made real by God's will. When we think of God's sacrifice we think of the crucifixion but I believe that taking on flesh must have been difficult, more then painful, seemingly impossible.
Christianity is triumphant in the paradoxes and not contained, not even in reason which will not be enumerated now. So as we sit in our dwelling places we pronounce the excellence of our manners and the print on our diplomas; we have failed to recuse ourselves from adjudicating cases against fellow man and against the Holy Orthodox Church, the Ecumenical Throne, The God-bearer (Theotokos) and God himself. I have come to understand through interactions with learned men of God how we are called to love; to censor ourselves not others.
Through a return, u-turn (metonia) we can be refashioned. The Holy Orthodox Church contains within her Sacred Traditions and paid for with the blood of the martyrs the way back to God; the path markers, the light for our journey and the Life Giving Font and Manna. All that is necessary for our journey is contained and open for all to receive no matter how dull our intellect or how immature our spirit. It doesn't rely on the sanctity of the man holding the chalice but on the Chalice. Although all is set before us for our journey, it is not all that is, only what is necessary for us.
The desire to limit God to our limited understanding and need is insane. To borrow an analogy from Chesterton a circle is infinite yes but it is also finite; limited as is our understanding. But the cross is infinite and ever expanding extending its four arms to include not only the four corners of the globe but all of creation. For years I have been trying to put distance between who I am becoming and how I behaved decades ago. I believed I was misled by popular psychology (as I was) into thinking that the past is somehow behind us and has little bearing on our present. That forgiveness means forgetting or that the devil won't use it to get his tail into today. The reality is closer to the truth that God is with us when we are at our worst our most vulnerable most grotesque. It is a testament that even a wretch though we may be He has not abandon us, he did not forsake us, but loved us before we loved Him.
Though we may leave a sizable wake of destruction, pain, betrayal, perversion and sorrow in our path like Mary of Egypt there is the road home. There is our prayer not for ourselves but for those we have wounded. There is the current responsibility that we share to bring people to the truth to God's mercy and love. We are commanded to 'love one another as I have loved you'. God loved the murders, the perverse, the harlots and the drunkards. He was there in the midst of their despair and defilement. He made them clean he didn't tell them to get right, get clean and then come forth. He told them after their cleansing, their epiphany 'go and sin no more'. Their sin their disease was part of their testimony to the curative nature of Christ of the church. Their fallen nature or immorality has not been left out of the story for it is the contrast by which we understand their rebirth. I have always tried to hide my sin remove myself from my behavior but I should embrace it because it affirms the greatness of God the remembrance of God for all His creatures the lost, the blind and deaf.