The Incarnation…a post by Rich

As we turn our minds and hearts to the birth of our Savior this Christmas season we are reminded again of the significance of the Son of God’s incarnation. The descent of God in assuming human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ is history’s game changer.  Malcolm Muggeridge expresses it this way,

“Thanks to the great mercy and marvel of the Incarnation, the cosmic scene is resolved into a human drama. God reaches down to relate himself to man, and man reaches up to relate himself to God. Time looks into eternity and eternity into time, making now always and always now. Everything is transformed by this sublime drama of the Incarnation, God’s special parable for fallen man in a fallen world. The way opens before us that was charted in the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a way that successive generations of believers have striven to follow. They have derived there from the moral, spiritual, and intellectual creativity out of which has come everything truly great in our art, our literature, our music. From that source comes the splendor of the great cathedrals and the illumination of the saints and mystics, as well as countless lives of dedication, men and women serving their God and loving their Savior in humility and faith.”

And so we marvel at this child, the enfleshed Son of God. Helpless and frail, dependent and in need of nurturance, and all the while by the eternal plan of God taking the material world, our humanity, into God. The incarnation is the visible manifestation of God loving us. It is God coming to be with us and for us. It is God making evident his relentless pursuit of those who are his own. It is not a generic love but a particular love. A specific one comes, one born in Bethlehem, who with parents Mary and Joseph, two very specific individuals, flees to Egypt, who is then tempted, as we are in every respect, and baptized. He drinks, laughs, weeps, heals, sleeps, prays, and teaches. He dies and is buried, is raised from the dead and he ascends to heaven. He sends the Holy Spirit. Jesus, this particular man, the Son of God incarnate does all of this for us and for our sake- for our salvation and God’s glory.

And now by faith we live in Him. His life is now our life. As Julie Canlis writes, “the circumference of our identity now involves another person.” Relational beings that we are we now have our truest identity reclaimed and redeemed in Christ. This is not a vague spiritual escapism. It is a particular love calling us to communion and in that communion we become ourselves as God intended. This particular Savior takes me and you in all your sin, wounds, and weaknesses and establishes us in the family of God as adopted sons and daughters, co-heirs with Christ in all our humanity. The incarnation does all this and more. Jesus said this, “he who believes in me has eternal life.” Life within the Trinitarian God now made possible through the incarnation. Thanks be to God.

Let the Gospels Define Us…a post by Rich

 

A recent discussion with a pastor led to us considering the question, what do the gospel writers emphasize as the message of Jesus? Did the gospel writers emphasize that Jesus brought a message about life or was it about sin. Our perspective at CrossPoint is that the gospel writers believed that Jesus in inaugurating and establishing the new creation through his life, death, resurrection and ascension was bringing a message of life. Perhaps John is most explicit when he records these words of Jesus, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Jn. 11:25-26 (Jn.3:17,4:13,5:24,6:27,7:38,8:34,10:27-30).

It is true the cross of Christ is Jesus addressing through his substitutionary death our enslavement to sin and God the Father’s judgement of our sin. The truth is all who believe in Jesus are now justified by faith and made children of God. (Rom. 5, Gal. 4) As a result the believer’s life is now hidden in Christ with God (Col.3:3, see also Rom. 6). We can never be separated from the love of God in Christ. (Rom. 8). Our primary attention is now to love God with our whole heart. For some their understanding of loving God has turned into a preoccupation with sin and the naming and repenting of idols. The pastor mentioned above came to realize in light of his preoccupation with sin and repentance that over time he developed a critical and judgmental spirit and was only experiencing more and more anxiety. Inordinate self-preoccupation especially if it is about sin will always prove over time to morph into severe soul-sickness.

We believe at CrossPoint our attention should be on gratitude and joy for the gift of participatory communion in the life of the Trinitarian God, which is eternal life. We believe that if we pursue with all our hearts what is true, good and beautiful God’s Spirit will make clear to us the sin in need of repentance. We see our self most clearly by seeing ourselves more fully in Christ. Our heart’s attention is on our love of the Trinitarian God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In fact, a lover of God will make regular times for confession of sin. But our liturgy does not end with confession of sin and endless idol hunting but with the assurance of pardon, which reminds us we are free to love our Lord and neighbor as best we can. The gospel of Christ is liberating and so sets our hearts on a spiritual journey of thanksgiving, praise, joy and wonder at the fullness of God’s goodness to us in Christ. Yes we live in a world that has lost consciousness of sin, but are we to have our life in Christ defined by the deficiencies of a secularized age or by the words of life and hope in the Gospel? We at CrossPoint say we allow the Gospels to define who we are.

Laughter, Laughter, Laughter…a post by Tom

Do you want to know what goes on in the heart of the Trinity?
  I will tell you.
  In the heart of the Trinity the Father laughs and gives birth to the Son.
  The Son laughs back at the Father and gives birth to the Spirit.  The whole Trinity laughs and gives birth to us.

When God laughs at the soul and the soul laughs back at God, the persons of the Trinity are begotten.   
When the Father laughs at the Son and the Son laughs back at the Father, that laughter gives pleasure, 
that pleasure gives joy, that joy gives love, and that is the Holy Spirit.

-Meister Eckhart

Grounded in Being Loved

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Being loved grounds us. When we are loved we have an essential experience of belonging. An infant in the experience of being loved forms a relational attachment with mom and dad. This relation attachment is essential for physical survival and all future psychological and spiritual development. Without this primitive experience of belonging, of being grounded in love, life will unravel for the child as his or her sense of self begins to fragment. The essential psychological and spiritual need of an infant child is to be loved. Our soul’s deepest sense of being grounded is always anchored relationally!

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Relational God … Relational Beings

Taken from The Relational Soul – We are relational beings because we are created in the image of a relational God. By definition the Christian God exists in relationship as Father, Son, and Spirit. While existing as three distinct Persons they share one divine essence that is described as love (1 John 4:8). God can be love only if God exists as community. The pure love they have for each other is unconditionally giving in its character. The Father gives Himself for the Son and the Son gives Himself for the Father.

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Great Launch to Deeper Journey 4

This past weekend more than 40 participants met at Country Lake Retreat Center near Louisville for the Retreat 1 of Deeper Journey (an 8 retreat experience … one retreat every 3 months). Discussion during the large group teaching sessions, sharing in the small groups, the food and fellowship were all most encouraging! Here is what made it to the white board in Session 2. A little overwhelming but great interaction from many people!

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Unconditional But NOT Uninterested

Easter is before us–the most compelling three days of human history. Here we see God’s honor inseperable from God’s goodness, God’s justice being fulfilled in God’s mercy, God’s righteousness that condemns being the love that restores by surmounting even the obstacle of human disobedience. Easter is God’s resolution to God’s twin decrees that humanity will share in divine life (2 Peter 1:4) and that death must fall on transgressors of God’s holy law (Romans 6:23).

It would be monstrous were God’s decree that sin shall merit death prove to be false. Justice must prevail for God to be God. But it would be unworthy of God’s goodness were God to let his handiwork, his crowning creation come to nothing. Mercy must prevail for God to be God. So Christ enters our story and accomplishes what we cannot accomplish on our own.

Love (which includes both justice and mercy) is the motivation for Easter (John 3:16). It is a love which is unconditional but not uninterested. Love which gives without reserve but without desire of return can never be anything but the energy of an absolute debt. Love that is inseparable from an interest in the other is truly selfless because it delights in the splendor of the other.

Simply put, God loves us because God delights in us (Song of Songs 7:10 “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me”). God’s love is one of recognition and delight, desiring all and giving all at the same time, giving to received and receiving to give.

A ‘uninterested’ love reduces the other to a mere formality. But Easter is a love entreating us to be loved and to love in return. It is a love which liberates us from debt because love must, in the divine economy, be returned. This is the love of the Trinity into which we are brought by Easter. We love because God first loved us!

Blessed Easter to you from all of us here at CrossPoint.

Trinitarian Love

Jesus lived trinitarian love when He came earth. It was self-emptying (the Greek term is kenosis … see Philippians 2:5-9). Such is the nature of Trinitarian love. The Father pours Himself into the Son, the Son into the Father, the Spirit being the bond of love between them (John 10).

This is the love into which we are invited to abide (John 15). And the promise is that no act of kenosis is ever isolated or wasted no matter how meaningless or unproductive it may seem. Rather it grounds us in the very being of God who is love. Whenever and wherever kenosis is expressed it is a tiny hologram of the Trinity.

Do we dare risk such self-emptying? Can we? Not without deep metanoia (change of consciousness). Only then does the ‘mind of Christ’ become our way of being. This is the invitation of the contemplative life … living into who we are in Christ. Such surrender, such risk, such relationality bears the fruit of the Spirit.