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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Monday
Apr282008

Crossroads

Crossroads

I woke this morning with Don McLean in my bed. Not in a literal way. No, He came somewhere in the night and slipped songs in my subconscious. I imagine them as the songs of God, songs of Jesus, songs of man, and finally, songs of me. I consider all things are spiritual and God is always somewhere near me, speaking, in movies, songs, scenes, emotions, and words.

And my mind has been singing these songs all morning. Together they formulate a prelude to the two major divisions in this book. The songs are gifts I can’t help but hear.

CROSSROADS

I’ve got nothing on my mind: nothing to remember,
Nothing to forget. and I’ve got nothing to regret,
But I’m all tied up on the inside,
No one knows quite what I’ve got;
And I know that on the outside
What I used to be,

I’m not

Anymore.

Can you remember who I was? Can you still feel it?
Can you find my pain? Can you heal it?
Then lay your hands upon me now
And cast this darkness from my soul.
You alone can light my way.
You alone can make me whole once again.

Because

I’m all tied up on the inside,
No one knows quite what I’ve got;
And I know that on the outside
What I used to be,

I’m not

Anymore

At the close of the Old Testament, referred to as the Tanakh from the translation of the Jewish Scriptures, I imagine God as a bit weathered by the weight of the world and his ongoing unresolved conflict with His chosen people Israel. He is all tied up on the inside, stomach in knots, quiet, a bit withdrawn. What He was in the initial stages of the lower story was so different. What He used to be, brash, confident, and young—He’s not anymore. The walking of the road has beaten him down. He sings the song to Himself and They listen together. Then He turns and speaks to Himself--actually to the One we know as Jesus, for God is One, saying;

“Can you remember who I was? Can you still feel it?
Can you find my pain? Can you heal it?
Then lay your hands upon me now

And cast this darkness from my soul.
You alone can light my way.
You alone can make me whole once again.”

And the Other, which is always at His side, a faithful friend, responds and rises up voluntarily in support of His Soul mate. He is a friend like no other. He is a lover. He is unlike Job’s friends who accuse and place blame on the broken vessel that sits here with them. No, this One is unlike any other friend. He understands the wounded God and will touch Him and “complete Him”. So intimate this relationship.

In the final scene of "Pretty Woman" starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, Edward Lewis, the prince turns to 'Cinderella' and asks Vivian:

"So what happens after he climbs up and rescues her?" To which Vivian replies; "She rescues him right back."

This is the best ending for all true love stories. We rescue and save one another. We need one another--male and female. I imagine this exchange and relationship between God the Father, more male than female as we will see and God the Son, perhaps more nurturing, female, as we will see. He is not she but carries some of the sacrificial qualities so prevalent in the feminine face, and I believe, if culture had permitted, could well have been a she. And Jesus comes 'out of' the bosom of the Father God much like Eve came out of the side of Adam.

So for the sake of imagination let's envision God as the wounded, weathered, character in the film, Edward Lewis. He has made a name for himself by conquering others. He is a conquerer but He is so unsatisfied. He really wanted to be a builder, a creator, and never dreamed of being a rogue. One who plans takeovers and sells off others for profit. He is at a difficult stretch in life and needs a change, his successes have a steep price.

And let's imagine for a moment, realising the shortcomings of analogy, Jesus as Vivian. Vivian comes and lays her hands on Edward to relieve the tensions. Edward, like God, is renewed, given new life, new perspective. He is for all intents and purposes 'born again' by her touch. He opens up. He takes his shoes off and actually walks in the wet grass.

And yet Vivian is rescued by the prince. She is also set free, raised to a new place. This is a love story lived well.

In the same way I can see Jesus. He lays his hands upon God and heals the wound, He lays His hands upon us and heals us, He lays His hands upon creation, upon all things and casts the darkness from our souls. Coming from God, He is God, and He is about the “setting God free” and unraveling His wounded heart. He is close to God, the begotten Son of God, the final faithful friend of God, and of man, and of me, so close He and God are actually One. One came out of the bosem, the side of the other, so close as to be One.

He is Jesus. Healer of wounds, repairer of the breech. Hero. The rescuer and rescued One, all at once.

He alone can make God whole once again and restore life in God’s beautiful creation. And only God can 'save Him right back' which, of course, He does when he raises Jesus from the grave itself.

In Him, Jesus, new life comes forth. New creation begins. And new starts are filled with grace. We can walk barefoot in the grass and feel good. And God needs Jesus and Jesus needs God.

And I need Him, too.

Because I’m 'all tied up on the inside and no one knows quite what I’ve got'. It's true and I know it. Call it mid-life crisis, or what ever you please, I just know that the road I’ve taken in life to set me free hasn’t delivered. You see, the journey has weathered me and what I used to be—I am not—anymore, either. No longer so brash and confident, but a bit more tentative and thoughtful. And it’s true for us all. We hit this quiet crisis and try to work it through. Our plans have not gone as planned. Like God as he sits in the crisis of the silent close of the Old Testament, Tanakh, we think.

And that is all right. Because He is still saving me—and the crossroads I’ve come to is getting clearer. The fog is lifting and I can say with Paul, not the Apostle, but the Beatles Paul—'It’s getting better all the time' because slowly, but surely, it is. I am working it out. But it is so uncomfortable for those around me. I think they fear for me. When I look deep into the abyss of my soul will I come out ok?

The second song that Don Mac Lean gave me with this morning is Vincent. It is a song about Van Goth who was driven by his sadness to finally end it all. In it I see familiar patterns. This is: Like God. Like me. Like Jesus. We do long for it to end, to go away for the chord to resolve to a major. And upon the end the beginning rests. It is a fine line between the darkness and the dawn. I love the imagery.

gogh-1.jpg

VINCENT

Starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frameless heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can't forget
Like the strangers that you've met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
A silver thorn, a bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow

Jesus has been called the Ragman, a titled bestowed by Walter Wangerin’s tale of the same name. He is the Ragman, and even more the Raggedy Man, the Son of Man, the Son of God, a son given, who represents all mankind. And He is God who watches the world with eyes and can’t forget, who inhabits the distressed who can’t forget, who sees it all with empty, hollow eyes. You can find Him in those to whom you give a cup of cool water, or visit in prison, or feed. He is in them for they are His image. The least, the last, the lost, all those frameless heads on nameless walls, He knows them and sees them and can call them by name. They are beckoned to His side so that they can know Him and live. The elder son in us resists. But He stills beckons—come out of the field, with its thistles and dirt and its devils and dust and join us inside at the celebration called redemption and resolution.

He, Jesus, God, me, you, we are all a bit ragged you know. No matter. Jesus, on the cross, saves us all. And He saves himself as well. And the rags one day all fall off.

What we shall see is that He resembles Van Gogh, who is the subject of this song Vincent. He is like Vincent when He, in a maze of confusion, not so much His, but others, experiences a type of suicide. He doesn’t commit it as much as encourage it. Perhaps martyrdom is a better choice of word. This Man, who is confusing in His multiplicity of character, takes His own life, or is it Israel’s, or Satan’s? Or is it all three? I know it is always a bit more politically correct or theologically kosher to say that He lay down His life.

But I believe something. Something which says He is more intentional in this event than just that. He is not a victim but He is victimized. What we will see is a man true to his vocation. He believes and enacts just what He says—unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies.

He is the bloody rose that lay crushed and broken on the virgin snow. The snow is new fallen and virgin, unstained. The one who McLean sings of. The spirit that haunted, in a positive sort of way, Vincent VanGogh. And the 'world was never meant for One as beautiful as You' is true of Him. The suicide is sudden. This all happens quickly. Abruptly it comes. On one day it is done.

Zechariah 3:1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan [1] standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand [2] plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.”

5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by.

6 And the angel of the Lord solemnly assured Joshua, 7 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. 8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch. 9 For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, [3] I will engrave its inscription, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day. 10 In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.

'There’s a fine line between the darkness and the dawn…they say in the darkest night there’s a light beyond'. Lyrics courtesy of Jimmy Webb. The fine line is a thin life amongst many lives and the light that has invaded the darkness. In the end He is the fine line that separates the living and the dead.

Paul Simon sings that “God keeps His eyes on us all” and He does. But not in the way we have been told. He is not Big Brother of George Orwell fame. He does not lean upon me, like He seemingly does to those who believe that sort of thing imagine. The God of our fathers may have presented Him that way but it’s inside out. He doesn’t lean on us—we lean on Him.

As the Ragged Man, He comes and takes on the shame of all the broken hearted. He is the High Priest Joshua, (a translation of name Jesus), the One who is crushed and broken from the silver thorn and bloody rose, who is bleeding on that cross for all the brokenness of the world gone mad. On his shoulders which stretch from one end of this timber to the other, rests all of the pain of the fallen lower world. Sin is found here and now resides here evermore. And here is where its protagonist breaths his last breath.

When it is “over” God raises Himself up and enters His rest.

And one more, incidentally, important item. Especially for all of us.

We may have glossed over it unintentionally. If so, it will take intentionality to fix it. This landmark voice, cries out, declares that, “In that day when the Lord removes iniquity, he, we (those of this kingdom) will invite neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.”

What is being said is this: one indicator that the kingdom has come, a sure sign indeed, is this generous spirit of inclusion that follows. It marks the recipients of the kingdom. They don’t create boundaries to “keep others out” and they refuse to insulate themselves so as not to touch “them, the unclean”.

Why? Because there are no “others” and there is no “them” in this new kingdom which is resurrected in Jesus. They are One, as He is One. It was a final request of the broken Son, that you are One, as I and the Father are One. And one fine Day it will be granted. And if the Kingdom is indeed here at all we should be quite far along in the process. But sadly…we have not heard.

But they would not listen, they did not know how,

Perhaps they’ll listen now.

I’m listening now.

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