with love shining

Gracious, unexpected moments…

Yesterday, the lay team (preachers) met for a usual training session.  This was the last of a set of meetings on Christology.  I always enjoy lay training.  It’s an enthusiastic and diverse group, and it’s good for me to watch their excitement as they catch new glimpses of God.  And of course it does me no harm to revisit the basic building blocks of theology, biblical studies, preaching and the like.  Our meetings are usually stimulating and often fun, but yesterday — well, yesterday was holy.

As in ‘take off your shoes’.

Insightful, deep sharing that left my arms tingling.

It began with an assignment:  delve into a theory of atonement (following up on earlier reading) or respond to the phrase ‘God is Christ-like’.  Options abounded:  ‘essay’; focused conversation; artistic response, other form of written response.   I had supposed the result would be one essay, one poem, one collage, and one conversation.  And instead, we got:

  1. an imaginary dialogue between the author and God (beautifully read aloud by two of the group) which simultaneously explored deep and honest questions and made us all laugh aloud.
  2. a passionate telling of the experience of reading a bit of Moltmann and a poem that formed the reader’s response.
  3. a simple and beautiful poem on a Christ-like God, that was read in such a way that this very chatty group was overcome by silence.

I know the member of the group who was ill also wrote a poem.  And I am fascinated by this.  What is it about Christology — about a real exploration of what salvation means, and how Christ shapes our understanding of God that led each of them into symbolic forms of expression?

It shouldn’t surprise me.  It’s what we do, after all.  But it was lovely to see, and deeply moving to be a part of.

One member of the group has posted the poem on her blog.  Another poem is beneath the fold.  The dialogue, we agreed, really needs to be heard aloud.  Fun sermon forthcoming, when the time is right.

A Christ-like God

Jesus said, ‘When you have seen me, you have
seen the Father.’
So thus — like Father, like Son.
God looks out from His eyes;
Speaks with His voice;
Works with His hands.
So God shows His compassion–
Heals the sick; cures the lame;
Makes the blind to see and the deaf to hear–
He it is who walks amongst us.
Gathering us to Himself with his words —
Calling His children to HIs side;
Showing the nearness of His Kingdom.
God it is who loves the outcat, the
Unloved, the dispossessed.
He who shows us the road to justice and truth.
He is the one who bids us love our neighbour.
And He it is who looks at us with
Love shining from His eyes,
Then stretches out His arms wide and
Suffers there and dies.

— Anne Narraway 16 Sepember, 2008

6 thoughts on “with love shining”

  1. You’ve described the event very well: thank you for that. In a way, poetry would serve me better for this occasion too, but you’ve managed without it. It’s to do with the depth of imagery matching the possible depth of experience.

    I think.

  2. “God is Christ-like”. Hello?! That is like saying “A hot drink is coffee-like”. That has to be one of the daftest theological mis-statements I have ever come across. No wonder David Chillingworth likes your stuff.

  3. Gosh. Where did that come from? A bit simplistic, surely? Or have we an undistributed middle here? (Never really got the hang of formal logic)

  4. Laura, I get the impression that you think speaking of God as Christlike is my idea. I deserve neither the praise nor the sarcasm (sarcasm which +David does not deserve either.)

    In modern theology, any discussion of God as Christ-like will link us back to Ramsay and John V. Taylor (The Christlike God), but really the idea goes back to the early stages of Christianity as the church struggled to find ways of speaking of the relationship between Jesus’ humanity and divinity and explored the implications of the incarnation.

    The question to explore is ‘how are the things we say of Jesus true of God?’ That may seem obvious if you start with ‘Jesus is loving:: God is loving’ but it gets more complex when you say ‘Jesus suffered:: God suffered’ or (to push towards an obviously silly analogy) ‘Jesus was hungry:: God was hungry’

    Thanks for pulling us back to this post, though, in a week when my schedule and head-cold have meant no new input.

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