Sunday, August 20, 2006

Rejected, slain, and raised

I'm halfway through Francis Schaeffer's True Spirituality, and I have to say it's been awhile since a book has affected me quite so much. There was no chance of falling asleep while reading this one!

The emphasis so far has been on the sequential facts of Jesus's life: that he was rejected, slain, and raised, in that order, and that Christians must not neglect that order. That there is always a crucifixion in our lives before a resurrection -- that we die to self in baptism, and are raised with Christ; that we must reject the values of the world before we can walk with Him.

Now that's powerful enough -- and Schaeffer is a very good writer -- but when he elaborates this theme, the reality comes pounding home. When we are baptized, we actually die, in God's view. So that, in living our lives, we are to live as if we have really died, have been to heaven, and have been raised again. We are to live resurrection lives.

The reason this blows me away is that this is exactly how I felt when I got my life in order, after a series of failures (my own, all my own) and came back to church. I felt as if I had been raised from the dead. And every time I have made a correction in my life's course (as I have had to do numerous times, having gone astray), always through a sudden gift of grace, I have felt newly alive, saved, resurrected. So I guess this is a pattern we can repeat, if we wander off, as I have so often done.

Hallelujah! This means it is never to late to die to the old self and be raised again!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A blog? Really?

Blogging is a scary idea for me.

I have kept a journal for several years -- it now runs to five of those little journal notebooks you get from Levenger's -- and I'm sure I'm an odd sight, pulling it out of my bag before work or at lunch, scribbling madly for a few minutes before tucking the journal away again and (reluctantly) going back to my normal activities. I have been known to "journal" almost anywhere: in the courtyard of the building where I work, on a plane, in a hotel room when I travel for business. The journal is never far from me. My family knows it exists, but has never read it.

I began the journal after thinking one day, just before I turned fifty, that my life was probably two-thirds done (cheerful thought!), and I should probably begin to sort myself out for the remaining third. I wanted to leave my children something besides a few shares of stock and a house crammed full of stuff that they'd have to auction off or give away. The journal seemed a fine idea.

A few years into journaling, however, I have realized I'm not writing about what's often uppermost in my mind, namely my faith journey. It's easy to find myself recording the first snowfall of the year, the first fire in the fireplace, the date the hostas first poked up their heads in March, details about my daughter's college search, and all the rest of the details that make up a (probably too full) daily life. And those things are worth noting! But the details of my spiritual journey don't often make it onto the page, for the simple reason that I am a lonely Christian in a completely secular household. I love my family dearly, but when I talk about Jesus they look at each other as though Mom really needs to go to the Mental Health Crisis Center. I'm not complaining -- I have been very blessed in my husband and kids. But my husband's faith lapsed years ago, and our kids ignored the good example I tried to set. Such is life.

So here in the blog I'll be talking about my faith journey. If I'm only talking to myself, that's OK!

For 23 years, I've been a devoted member of the Episcopal Church on the Pike. As the only child of two only children, I've welcomed the "family" feeling of my parish, where I've found the siblings I never had. I can't imagine being anywhere else.

I have certain views, however, that some in my parish disagree with. I'm a great admirer of John Shelby Spong, though I don't always agree with everything he says. I'm a member of Integrity. I think marriage is a wonderful sacrament, and should be available to any two adults. I think our church will be richer when we finally consent (as we will) to ordain the people God calls, without questioning His judgement.

I'm delighted to be an Associate of the Order of Julian of Norwich, a contemplative order of monks and nuns in the Episcopal Church. OJN welcomes everyone and reaches out to them in love. I have made some wonderful friends among the other Affiliates, as we journey on together.

I believe the Holy spirit is feminine. I believe in the Communion of Saints; I believe the whole company of heaven is with us as we celebrate the Eucharist. I would not be surprised to see my late mother and father kneeling next to me at the rail (Yo, Mom! Give me some room here!).

I try to spend some time every evening in still prayer, after I finish the Office. I am not always successful! But I try. Lord, all we can do is try!

What I'm reading tonight: Francis Schaeffer's True Spirituality. If I don't fall asleep.