neither do I

Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”

John 8:10-11

I was thinking about the story of the woman caught in adultery. I was thinking about how the story ends with Jesus not condemning the woman. Compassion over law!

Psalm 139:7

Refrain:    Search me out, O God, and know my heart.

1    O Lord, you have searched me out and known me;  ♦
you know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
2    You mark out my journeys and my resting place  ♦
and are acquainted with all my ways.
3    For there is not a word on my tongue,  ♦
but you, O Lord, know it altogether.
4    You encompass me behind and before  ♦
and lay your hand upon me.
5    Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,  ♦
so high that I cannot attain it. [R]
6    Where can I go then from your spirit?  ♦
Or where can I flee from your presence?
7    If I climb up to heaven, you are there;  ♦
if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.
8    If I take the wings of the morning  ♦
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
9    Even there your hand shall lead me,  ♦
your right hand hold me fast.
10  If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will cover me  ♦
and the light around me turn to night,’
11  Even darkness is no darkness with you;
the night is as clear as the day;  ♦
darkness and light to you are both alike. [R]
12  For you yourself created my inmost parts;  ♦
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
13  I thank you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;  ♦
marvellous are your works, my soul knows well.
14  My frame was not hidden from you,  ♦
when I was made in secret
and woven in the depths of the earth.
15  Your eyes beheld my form, as yet unfinished;  ♦
already in your book were all my members written,
16  As day by day they were fashioned  ♦
when as yet there was none of them.
17  How deep are your counsels to me, O God!  ♦
How great is the sum of them!
18  If I count them, they are more in number than the sand,  ♦
and at the end, I am still in your presence. [R]
19  O that you would slay the wicked, O God,  ♦
that the bloodthirsty might depart from me!
20  They speak against you with wicked intent;  ♦
your enemies take up your name for evil.
21  Do I not oppose those, O Lord, who oppose you?  ♦
Do I not abhor those who rise up against you?
22  I hate them with a perfect hatred;  ♦
they have become my own enemies also.
23  Search me out, O God, and know my heart;  ♦
try me and examine my thoughts.
24  See if there is any way of wickedness in me  ♦
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Refrain:    Search me out, O God, and know my heart.

Creator God,
may every breath we take be for your glory,
may every footstep show you as our way,
that, trusting in your presence in this world,
we may, beyond this life, still be with you
where you are alive and reign
for ever and ever.

Common Worship: Daily Prayer

Psalm 139:7b is the verse about anchorites!

abide in me?

I wanted to comment on John 15. Maybe more like asking some questions without any answers.

What does it mean to “abide” in Jesus? Is that the same as the resolution that Kierkegaard speaks about? Is it an action rather than an attitude?

I will look these up and think about them a little more.

John 15

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

emptied?

I just wanted to comment on the previous post. In the Greek verse 7 looks like this:

ἀλλὰ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν μορφὴν δούλου λαβών, ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος: καὶ σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος

Phil 2:7

The root of the verb used for the action, “emptied”, is κενόω:

1) to empty, make empty
1a) of Christ, he laid aside equality with or the form of God
2) to make void
2a) deprive of force, render vain, useless, of no effect
3) to make void
3b) cause a thing to be seen to be empty, hollow, false

The Wikipedia article is not too bad.

In John of the Cross’s thinking, kenosis is the concept of the ‘self-emptying’ of one’s own will and becoming entirely receptive to God and the divine will. It is used both as an explanation of the Incarnation, and an indication of the nature of God’s activity and will. Mystical theologian John of the Cross’ work “Dark Night of the Soul” is a particularly lucid explanation of God’s process of transforming the believer into the icon or “likeness of Christ”.

So what does it mean that Jesus “emptied himself”? And what does that mean for me in terms of my life?

Phil 2

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God
    as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
    he humbled himself
    and became obedient to the point of death—
    even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him
    and gave him the name
    that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
    every knee should bend,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
    that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

the moment

I have been thinking for this coming Sunday’s gospel, Luke 13:1-9. Yes, repentance and fruit. But is there something deeper happening? Is it about the eternal now of faith – the moment of choice? That reminded me of one of my favourite SK quotes:

God is present in the moment of choice, not in order to watch but in order to be chosen. Therefore, each person must choose. Terrible is the battle, in a person’s innermost being, between God and the world. The crowning risk involved lies in the pos­session of choice.

Kierkegaard

A number of great themes in the one quote: moment, choice, freedom, risk. All relate to faith. The moment of choice is that overwhelming point where the past is gone and the future is not yet. That moment between penitence and reward. It is the moment, the now, that is completely God’s and in which I must meet Jesus.

I like the image of God’s presence in the moment. Maybe that is contemporality – Jesus present in the moment of choice, ready to be chosen? But the point is: that moment is always the eternal now.

… and followed him

This Sunday’s gospel reading, Luke 5:1-11, is about two topics: risk and discipleship. The reading moves from a crowd listening to an individual responding. It takes us from the risk of faith to the call of Jesus to follow Him. So two Kierkegaard quotes:

Without risk, no faith. Faith is just this, the contradiction between the infinite passion of inwardness and objective uncertainty. If I can grasp God objectively, then I do not have faith, but just because I cannot do this, I must have faith. If I wish to stay in my faith, I must take constant care to keep hold of the objective uncertainty, to be ‘on the 70,000 fathoms deep’ but still have faith.

And …

The difference between an admirer and a follower still remains, no matter where you are. The admirer never makes any true sacrifices. [They] always plays it safe. Though in words, phrases, songs, [they are] inexhaustible about how highly [they] prizes Christ, [they] renounce nothing, give up nothing, will not reconstruct [their] life, will not be what [they] admire, and will not let [their] life express what it is [they] supposedly admire.

John 6:24-35

The lectionary continues the journey through John 6. It skips a couple of verses but the overall flow is still there.

[The next day the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there. They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.] So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

John 6:[22-23]24-35

The introduction – setting the scene – reminds me very much of Fear and Trembling. The double movement of faith – surrender and receive – setting out mind on things above and receive the Bread of Life.

John 6

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”

When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.

John 6:1-21

The next five weeks of the lectionary look at John 6. There is a sense of confusion and continuity in the texts. John gives meaning to the old in the life of Jesus. But those who are with Jesus just don’t get it.