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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« Déjà vu-updated August 19, 2009 | Main | Phyllis Tickle »
Thursday
Aug282008

Jesus: The God who fades to the back


'As one from whom men hide their faces he was despised,
and we esteemed him not'.
--Isaiah 53

 


Streets of Philadelphia

I was bruised and battered
And I couldn't tell what I felt
I was unrecognizable to myself

Saw my reflection in a window
I didn't know my own face

Oh brother are you gonna leave me wasting away


Psalm Twenty-two

Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. 

My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted away within me.

My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.

Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.

I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. 

 

The God who fades to the back

I believe one of the best lines from Springsteen's phenomenal song "Streets of Philadelphia" is 'and my clothes don't fit me no more, I'd walk a thousand miles just to slip this skin'. How easily this could apply to Jesus. He is shrouded in flesh by mortality. The flesh doesn't fit him. Mortality is an invader. The blood that runs through His veins is tainted by the infection of the 'fall'. And it is about to take His life. He has a history. If Jesus seems older than the thirty-three years historians have put on Him it is because He is older. He has the wisdom of the ages since time began and even before creation itself. He has walked the many miles that it has taken for Him to climb this hill to Golgotha, the place of the skull, which is an appropriate term for this desolate spot where He will die. He can feel himself fading away. He sees the faces of friends now vanished and gone. He is desolate. He that had no beginning is about to have His 'first' encounter with 'the end'. Jesus' final climb is not found in the city of brotherly love or the place that holds the liberty bell. His freedom is purchased in a place where brothers betray one another with a faithless kiss. The final road is in Jerusalem and known to us as the Via Doloroso.  It is here at last where he will shed this skin.

The movie that Springsteen penned the song for is named Philadelphia. 

In the film Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks), a gay lawyer infected with HIV, is fired from his conservative law firm who live in  fear that they might contract AIDS from him. After Andrew is fired, in a last attempt for personal peace, he sues his former law firm. With the help of a homophobic lawyer, Joe Miller (Denzel Washington) he pleads his case for justice. During the court battle, Miller sees that Beckett is no different than anyone else on the gritty streets of the city of brotherly love. He, a black man who understands prejudice risks all he has gained, sheds his homophobia and helps Beckett with his case confronting the formidable controlling class before AIDS overcomes Beckett. Hanks won an Oscar for his portrayal of the AIDS stricken homosexual man who was marginalized by the powers that be.

Some might think it scandalous to compare the Christ of glory to the despised countenance of a 20th century man, most likely branded with the name of "homo" or "queer", disfigured by the devastation of a disease called Aids. This is in the minds of some his come-up-a-tance. And some gloat over him as he walks the streets of Philadelphia, bones protruding rudely from a body once strong now wasting away. Some in the church certainly did.

But that is the point is it not?

Their stare, their glance, their way, is the same spirit that stood on the way of the Via De La Rosa. The crucifixion was a brutal and shaming end to a human life. There was no dignity on the cross outside the city gates. Christ was most despised and totally rejected by all here. Psalm 22, undoubtedly on the mind of Jesus expresses the scene vividly.

Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.

Springsteen gets it… and the real question that lingers is; do we? Do we get it when he says 'when you do this unto the least of these you do it unto me'. Where was everyone when He faced the end? Don't you think He 'heard the voices of friends vanished and gone'

How lonely it must have been at the ninth hour when Jesus shouted in a loud voice, "Eloi Eloi lema sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" the first verse of Psalm 22 quoted above.  Death, which cannot exist in the presence of God in His dimension, creates this unbearable chasm.  This "gulf of separation" that occurs between God the Father and God the Son, in the death of the latter, has been described by the theologian Jürgen Moltmann as 'death in God'.

(For a thought worthy video click on music link and find "Streets of Philadelphia' clip)

The night has fallen, I'm lyin' awake,
I can feel myself fading away,
So receive me brother with your faithless kiss,
Or will we leave each other alone like this

I believe Jesus takes his place last in line, at the back of the bus, and fades into oblivion beneath the powers of the world both religious and secular. But He doesn’t stay there. We love that part. And we should. But before we go to the ending we must appreciate the path Jesus trod to get there so that we might follow that path. The descending nature of God is the way of redemption, of renewal, and of deliverance. There is no other way, in a world gone horribly wrong, then to empty oneself, stoop down, step down and...to repent...to lay down "rights".  Or as Paul puts it--to crucify oneself...

'I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.' Galatians 2:20

This is the way of salvation and when the world--all the world-- gets this and lives by it--the world will be saved. 

But they would not.

It is a dream that I fear will never come true because our nature is violence, The curse of Cain looms like a heavy mist amongst us and nothing will lift the fog. Nineveh with its whole hearted surprising repentance will not repeat and we will not receive the broken Christ at the center of our respective societies. This is the stain that permeates all cultures for all time. The cycle of violence, of power, had to be rendered powerless. Unless the age is interrupted blood will spill and evil will continually prevail.

"Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.

So when Jesus says "Love your enemies," he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition.The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation." --Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.

This is one of the key reasons Jesus goes to the cross. In that one act God Almighty laid down His rights, His arms, His power to show us the way. Jesus broke the cycle of hate and violence by willingly going to the cross. The cycle was broken, the chain reaction of evil diffused at the cross--this is the message of God--this is love poured out--this is the message of the cross. This is the reason for the purposeful laying down of "rights" described in Philippians 2 and referenced by Jesus before Pilate in Matthew 26,

"Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?".


Of course He could--but the point is He didn't--and when Peter bears the sword in Gethsemane; Jesus' response is sharp and decisive. When the law courts of Jerusalem and Rome strike His cheek--he turns the other cheek. When James and John ask who will rule on the seat to the right and left Jesus says--you still don't get it do you? This is not about force but about upending force. It is not about being served but serving. It is not about my rights but being right in the eyes of God.

It is the message of God.

This is finally the reason for the return of the Christ. The present evil age with its 'Am I my brother's keeper?' mentality will one day come to a close.

World interrupted.

Other thoughts on 'slip this skin'...The snake on the pole raised in the story of the Exodus...Jesus as the snake...the cursed...the mortal flesh...lifted up He shed's his skin...He leaves a shroud called mortality behind. He has walked a long way for this, endured a great deal along the way. And now comes the time for it to end. When He declares it is finished the snake's outer shell falls away and tehcurse of the flesh is dead and gone.

 

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    you're packing a suitcase for a place that you've never been...a place that has to be believed to be seen" U2 - Journal - Jesus: The God who fades to the back
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    you're packing a suitcase for a place that you've never been...a place that has to be believed to be seen" U2 - Journal - Jesus: The God who fades to the back
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    you're packing a suitcase for a place that you've never been...a place that has to be believed to be seen" U2 - Journal - Jesus: The God who fades to the back

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