Seeds, trees and budding leaves; all pointing to Christ

Yesterday I preached on the iconic nature of germinating seeds; anchored into the soil and reaching for the sky, connecting heaven and earth, mysteriously moving from darkness to light. Every plant and tree that fills our city (and world) is a pointer to the incarnate Christ. As I walked this morning I pondered these truths with the chorus of a new Decembrist’s song running though my head;

“I am hopeful, should I be hopeful, all around me
When all around me…

Is the sunlight, it’s the shadows
Is the quiet, it’s the word
Is the beating heart
Is the ocean, it’s the boy
Is you, my sweet love
Oh, my love
And the light, bright light
And the light, bright light
Bright light, bright light
It’s all around me…”

At times it was hard to keep my eyes dry. Everywhere the  gospel being preached… all around me.  It took me three hours and 268 photos of trees in glorious bud to do my one hour walk. Here are a few of the images that slowed me down…

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Learning how to read God’s World

It seems that lately I’ve been calling everything a parable; people’s jobs, current events, films, songs and stories of germinating seeds. If all things are spoken by God, then I suppose this way of engaging his revelation makes sense (even through their falleness). God speaks through complex, eloquent, everyday stories – those found in the bible and those filling our world.

In a recent article for the Collegeville Institute, Susan Van Zanten writes about how reading (fiction mostly, but surely the connection can apply to real life stories as well) helps us grow in our ability to relate. As I read her words I kept doing the God-math! How does reading all of the parable-like stories God’s speaks (via fiction and real life) help us to know God more?

VanZanten writes, “Recent scholarship in cognitive psychology and neuroscience confirms [that] reading literary fiction… helps people perform better on tests measuring empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence. Fiction helps create and inform a person’s capacity to attribute mental states to others and to explain people’s behaviors in terms of their thoughts, feelings, beliefs and desires. It changes how we view other cultural or ethnic groups more effectively than non-fiction.”

Did God give us reading to help us develop these capacities so that we could empathize, know and experience him more; the ultimate Other?

“Reading is capacious,” she writes. “It has multiple potentials. Reading doesn’t merely offer an escape from the world but is a path for Christians to engage with the world in multiple ways as faithful imagers of God. We read literature to encounter and grow in our relationship with God.”

Reading is incarnational. We image God as we enter into the stories of others and take on their flesh, emotions, hearts and minds. Through all of these things we can get a glimpse of the nature of their maker; even as we grow and develop out empathic capacities in general.

All of which makes me think I need to read more, so that I can know him more.

 

Finding Christ through David Brooks

DavidBrooksWhenever I encounter New York Times columnist David Brooks – on Meet the Press or via an online talk or through one of his articles – it’s always the same; I feel like I’m engaging the humble wisdom of Jesus Christ. Brooks and his writings are becoming iconic to me; especially his recent NYT’s essay entitled, The Moral Bucket List.

Here’s a piece I wrote on the essay for @thinkchristian (and of course he was born in Toronto!)

(image credit – “DavidBrooks” by Library of Congress. Original uploader was Biruitorul at en.wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Nobunaga24 using CommonsHelper.(Original text : [1]). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DavidBrooks.jpg#/media/File:DavidBrooks.jpg)

Seeing an Exasperated God (through a judge)

After watching this news story tonight I couldn’t help but wonder if this judge was imaging the exasperated heart of God (watch the clip, then read the verses below)!

“Yet they did not listen or pay attention; they were stiff-necked and would not listen or respond to discipline.”   Jeremiah 17:23

“Your ears are open but you don’t hear a thing. Your eyes are awake but you don’t see a thing. The people are blockheads! They stick their fingers in their ears so they won’t have to listen; They screw their eyes shut so they won’t have to look, so they won’t have to deal with me face-to-face and let me heal them.” Jesus in Matthew 13:13-15

 

Melting snow on spider webs

I’m always amazed at what there is to see on my hikes in the Weaselhead. Very grey morning and last night’s snow was clinging to and melting on the spider webs everywhere. The images were hard to capture on a macro because of the wind blowing the webs and causing them to spin, accelerated melting as soon as I drew the camera near, and the fact that it’s snow/ice/water, which is always hard to capture… but take enough shots…  (plus I took a few shots of sap again… just so interesting).

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Losing your mother tongue

Korean_PeninsulaI just read this headline, “North and South Koreans are speaking increasingly different languages; After a 70 year divide, scholars say about a third of everyday words used in the two countries is different.”

As I read these words I thought about how people of faith have lost their ability to hear what God is saying through creation/nature/culture. This of course has been a problem ever since the ‘divide'; humanity’s separation from God via the fall, and the ‘walling off’ that’s happened in much of present day Christianity where the bible has been increasingly understood as the only language God speaks.

Over the past ten years there have been many times where I’ve felt that I’m learning a new language, or moreso, reclaiming an old language that I’d long forgotten. When I preached on mathematics I came across Galileo’s five point perspective on how nature speaks; “ ‘(1) God has written the book of nature … in the language of mathematics. (2) Man can learn this language.’ (3) Man can ‘apply it to the study of nature’ due to its logical structure. ‘(4) [H]andled with care, this language cannot err or go astray.’ (5) This language is ‘not only the most certain epistemological tool, but’ in fact is ‘the most perfect one capable of elevating the mind to divine knowledge.’” (page 23, Mathematics through Eyes of Faith)

Leave it to a mathematician to say that math is the ‘most certain epistemological tool’. But I’m sure the artist of faith would say the same – ‘art is the most beautiful language'; as would the biologist, dancer, psychologist, athlete, etc…  God speaks 10,000 languages, and for many of us, most of them of foreign. If 70 years can lead to 1/3 of the North and South Korean language loss … imagine the linguistic cost that would come with centuries of division.

(image – “Korean Peninsula”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Korean_Peninsula.jpg#/media/File:Korean_Peninsula.jpg)