more about this sight

"you're packing a suitcase for a place that you've never been...a place that has to be believed to be seen"...'Walk On' by U2

WATERSHED: A voice in the wilderness. DARYL UNDERWOOD.

 

The concept of Centerpoint Christianity briefly stated is:

Christianity from the centerpoint outward.

Christianity from the climax forward.

This blog constitutes concepts for a new view of Christianity that begins with what is foundational and moves forward from that point. It is based on the assumption that we are being pulled towards something unseen and pushed from a place that once was.

What Centerpoint Christianity attempts to do is bypass some of the constraints imposed by metanarratives by using the life of Christ and particularly the climactic actions of Christ as beginning points.

It supports the conviction that God is essentially timeless. From this beginning point we endeavor to move outward from the definitive moment of the parousia (visitation) of Christ and forward to the future which functions as a type of magnet to "what can be--and is coming".

When we begin at the life of Christ and move outward as from the centerpoint of a web, rather than in a linear timeline of history, another wide picture emerges.


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Friday
Oct172008

Your Love's Return: of boys, girls and One

Come to the door my pretty one
Put on your rings and precious things
Hide all your tears as best you can
Try to recall what used to be

Roses are waiting for dewdrops to fall
Climbing your windows and walls
Bells in steeple are ringing, singing
Listen to them talk about your love's return --Gordon Lightfoot, Your Love's Return"


Three things are too wonderful for me;
four I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a serpent on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a virgin.

By Daryl Underwood

The movie, City of Angels, is haunting. I was first turned on to it when I spent a week with worship leader composer Brian Doerksen in the mountains of Colorado. In a casual exchange he had indicated that the musical release of the songs contained in the movie constituted one of the best CD’s he had ever heard. I took notice. Brian is intuitive and thoughtful. He is a superb musician. I bought the album and watched the movie again. It sank into my consciousness. While I do love the music form the soundtrack the message has begun to have a profound impact on my thinking.

Seth (Nicolas Cage) is considering ‘falling’ to the earth because he wants to experience ‘touch’ with a human named Maggie (Meg Ryan). Human touch, the kind the Bible unabashedly describes as ‘knowing’. In the story the draw becomes so strong that Seth ‘gives up’ eternal to taste human relationship mitigated in sexual oneness. The enticement is that powerful. The lure is impossible to resist. The concept appears to have ‘new age’ written all over it. Most evangelical Christians would reject it outright as a stretch and frankly an almost absurd notion.

It isn’t.

The more I consider it from an eternal holistic view of the unfolding narrative the more I am drawn to the concept. What is really stunning is how stories and songs grasp this concept so fully, so intuitively. Hollywood often 'gets it' and isn't afraid to portray that which we all long for. Not all that comes from the studios is redemptive but some efforts are downright revelatory. When we listen to the artists we hear the echoes of life whisper God's name--His story is found in so many other stories.

The reality is God desires and blesses the immersion of creation into One. When He says it isn’t good for man to be alone He knows that from an ache inside. The trinity shouts about this reality all the time. Jesus doesn’t just know God—He ‘knows’ God and is One with God. The scripture imagines the emergence of the love affair of God with the essence of feminine which emanates from his side, his ‘rib’, in the form of the Christ. God longs for the completion in the unfolding of the narrative. Several times He speaks of his lover, His beloved, His bride in scripture. These are not so much anthropomorphic descriptions as anthropopathic emotions.

They reflect the ‘guts’ of God. 'She' comes from the bosom of God, God's side; the rib of God. God in masculine form is completed by she in feminine form. They are the picture of completeness.

God, in the story that unfolds, shows us what we crave when He reveals and invites the feminine into His life. God reveals as time unfolds the completion of the One in male/female compliment. Did He know this before in His realm? The answer is more than likely, yes. Do we know it? Most emphatically no—but we all want it. It is universal drive to seek to be ‘known’ in this way even if it is found in brokenness. We are made to be completed.

This is a key theme in the unfolding narrative and in our emerging world. One is not made to ‘rule’ over the other as ‘the gentiles do’ but to serve one another as the Christ and the masculine God ‘does’. Societies that have become ‘civilized’ have embraced this mystery and are closer to working this out than more primitive ‘paternalistic’ cultures.

It is truly a mystery.

Tug-of-war

I am not an egalitarian. Not about equality, in relation to gender, as in tit for tat. I don’t even know how to spell it. No, I think we can do so much better by letting the “otherly” come together as One and marveling at the wonder of that.

How little we care as little boys. They are unnoticed or even troublesome. We make signs to keep them out of our forts, rules to keep them out of our lives, and soon…walls to keep them out of our hearts.

They are the girls.

But in time she comes out and how embarrassing, “completes us”. I ought to be careful employing that phrase, isn’t that just the ultimate chick movie line? What if other guys heard me? Of course, in my insecurity I would have to try to hide my impulse, my desire. You can't let your warrior side down lest they, "men", castigate you and toss you out of the club. Yes, to finally come to terms with the notion that she completes me is humbling.

Truth to be told she finishes me.

This, by the way is so like God.Yes, I am referring to the all powerful, Almighty God.

Try this on.

At the beginning of Scripture she appears to be a nuisance. She, the feminine is the problem, the cause that got us into the mess. She suggests the eating in the garden which begins the lower story, that will eventually, after we have walked this long and winding path, elevate us to a new place, a place that has to be risked for, to be believed in…to be seen.

God instinctively gets it. At this point she is second rate if noticed at all. And God is always the masculine at the onset. It is always, no matter what modern interpreters try to do, God is He and He is God. But the 'scent of a woman' is in His nostrils and he is being pulled forward, enticed, and invited into a new place where He has never wandered. He has never been here before. He longs. She draws. He is being clued in. This is the narrative we know.

Initially in the story of God she is such a distraction, a liability, as in "Rebecca, why do you talk Jacob into stealing the birthright?", and as a result easily becomes the “fall guy” in scripture. To put it bluntly, she is not respected and somewhat tangent to what is going on. When she enters she is often a prop or a pain.

“Sara you laughed”

“No”

“Yes you did”,

“But, you know it is funny; do you really think you can pull it off?”

“Why, yes, of course”

And so He does pull it off. She makes sure of it just by the way she is…it is beautiful “the way of a man with a virgin.” It is hard to understand. Indeed it is unlike, as the fourth stanza in Proverbs 30:18-19 declares, this one phase standing alone, or triumphant over the other wonderful, majestic, intriguing things--anything else in the world. Nothing compares to the mysterious way of a man and a woman.

Listen.

Proverbs 30:18

Three things are too wonderful for me;
four I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a serpent on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a virgin.

Three things and a fourth that is even so great as to mystify the author. And man is made for a woman and she brings life out of him. She draws out the masculine and then helps tame the violent, testosterone charged edges. Touch me, softly, she says. I have heard that, too.

As the story moves on, the lower story, she is coming up, being brought up, ascending, more and more.

Getting more ink in promising roles. For example, Hannah gains this conversation with God. And He responds kindly to her. I don’t want to shock you but that is a first. Until this moment that role had been the sole right of the boys, Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Joshua and such. Hannah who loves is here and God is noticing.. “When she moves into the room you can hear the strings", man, is she graceful, gracious and grace giving. She is complimentary, soft, it is something she is adept at, and He responds, is drawn to her, something He is natural at.

This has untapped potential.

And she moves “into the fair” from cameo roles, to character roles, to starring roles. In fact as we watch this phenomena unfold we see something very enlightening. God gets accustomed to her and learns from her. She is Wisdom of the book of Proverbs--so listen to her, she is the hero of Esther, using her beauty to save, just watch her work for it is really a thing of beauty, and then, she is the faithful companion named Ruth, who sticks with Naomi, risks in a new land, covers Boaz’s feet, who wouldn’t want to “save her”…in fact, have offspring with her. She is so attractive and interesting. The beautiful story of Ruth and Boaz is, of course the story of true love, of vulnerability and protection, of trouble and triumph, of serving and being served, loved and esteemed. Boaz wants to 'cover her with his garment'. She wants to hide in his hand. He wants to ransom her--she needs to be ransomed. It is the perfect love story. What happens when the prince climbs the tower and rescues her. She rescues him right back. 'As it was in the beginning is now until the end--woman draws her life from man and gives it back again--and there is love'.--The Wedding Song by Noel Paul Stookey.

"He can't live with or without her." And God, in the revelation, the unfolding of the narrative scripture is really beginning to discover something, a new love within.

And he soon loves openly, no ‘keep out” sign here, in the book entitled The Song of Solomon. This is a place unexplored and exciting, here romance rules. It is fresh, and makes the heart skip, it just feels good. And, of course, less we miss it, God is singing that song. This comes at a dismal, disappointing period in the Tanakh as to emphasize its importance. It is as if this is saving God, entreating God to keep on. It is also and more likely mainly about 'us'.

Why does He sing? He is singing because…she is a bride, His bride, You, we, the gathered church, are a bride…His bride. Am I making this up, is this making any sense? He, she, God, Jesus, the King and I. Esther the woman who saved all of Israel. Jesus and the church. Draw your own conclusions.

He learns how to sacrifice, He is tooled for it. He becomes more accustomed to her influences and reflects her, or does she reflect him? I suppose it doesn’t matter what the children look like, whose image they reflect, they are ours. Soon He is comfortable with saying tender things that are a little feminine, not “you complete me” but still motherly, like “would that I could gather you up as a hen gathers up her chicks”. Would that who would gather up? Are you my mother?

This man’s man, the Lion King, the warrior of Exodus, has just called himself a mother. It’s O.K….in fact, it is good.

Because they are One. Male and female He created them. And they were created in the image on the One God who is.

The feminine softens the brash, confident male, seeing an insecure child beneath the bold bravado of maleness, she speaks, and then waits, for him, and soon He answers, rightly.

At the end God appreciates her in Him. She may have been lifted from Adam's side at the creatures urging but the Creator has discovered her in His bosom as well. She sort of snuck up and it really surprises him.

In reality, she becomes the ultimate treasure, the bride, the equal focus in the now reconciled God at the table at the Wedding feast of the Lamb—who is notably softer than the Lion. Here God is now at peace and, well, less aggressive, yet strong, really strong. And together they lay down. They don't face off. They lay down. She is with him and He is with her.

They are in “love”. They are “One”. This is heaven.

They are the epitome of where we are going. The "fourth that He does not understand" is with God. And He is helplessly, hopelessly, recklessly, falling in love.

Isn't that one of the primary reasons He clings to the cross. There He will redeem her, pay the bride price, build the house, write the letters, put all the cards on the table. It is here where the spear pierces the side of the Man and the woman comes back in. And they are One at home, at ease, at peace. It is The Story and when it goes well our story. We, both male and female, long for this in all cultures and societies, in stories and songs, for all time. It is from God, of God, in God. There, at last again, they are found to be naked and unashamed. It is a moving metaphor that lingers and hangs above us lightly touching down when things are at their best.

They are in “love”. God and the Woman. They are “One”. This is heaven. It is really all quite sexy, without all the fallen lust that clouds the purity of the deal to 'fallen' mankind (being both male in female).

I am not an egalitarian. Not about equality. I don’t even know how to spell it. No, I think we can do so much better by letting the “otherly” come together as One. Gdo has shown us the way over and over again in sliding repetitive refrains.

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