Sunday, 23 October 2016

Imagine the impossible dream

God's work is an impossible dream.  A dream that sees a place of justice, peace and loving relationship.  A dream that we as Christians dream and believe in as we live out our lives worshiping God and moving towards Christ as we attempt to live the Christic life.  This is as hyperbolic as the trunk in my eye as I poke around in yours for the minute speck, or as far fetched as seeing a Camel pass through the eye of a needle.  Christ proposes just such an impossibility in Luke (18.25), an impossibility that is open to God's grace to transform and change to increase or decrease our response to God's love.

Throughout the scriptures there are these fantastical images portrayed as being what God is doing or what the Kingdom is like.  The desert blooms and highways are put in straight and well maintained.  What is God trying to tell us as we read these parables, stories, images, etc.?  Everyday life seems to be somewhat of a let down if we think of these things being reality.  They are dreams that someone else is having and have nothing to do with our own boring lives.  If you go onto the net and search out modern surrealism, which of course is associated with Salvador Dali, you can see these dream like images coming to life. I particularly like the work of Eric Johansson and the changing perspectives of Rob Gonsalves, who takes an Escher like view of life that suspends our normal way of seeing.  In a way this is the view of life that the scriptures point us to.  We are being asked to suspend our normal thought processes and enter into God's life fully.  A life that upsets our traditional way of thinking, a life that we will turn away from if we cannot suspend our outlook on life, just as the young rich man cannot do in the Gospel.

What do we change the camel or the needle?

This is a life that gives up everything only to find that what we have given up returns to us in new, obscure and revitalising ways.  This is what it means to answer that small insistent voice that is God.  In listening for that voice we are too often overcome by our past and our pre-conceptions that have been built on the past.  The young rich man is unable to overcome his past to which he clings.  He is disappointed because he was looking for something that he could build on that was based on his past experiences.  Christ calls him to let go of these preconceptions, just as God calls us to let go of our modern pre-conceptions as to what our 'parish is', what our 'mission' is, what our 'worship' is and even what our 'church' / 'diocese' / denomination' is.  We are asked and are being asked to radically shift our viewpoint from one that is centred on ourselves and how we perceive reality towards one that is centred not only in the other but also in God.

So the question that we should perhaps be asking is: do we change the camel or the needle?  It really depends on what we think the camel or the needle is as to what we should change.  If we think that the needle's eye represents the small opening that God is calling us from and into then it is most unlikely that we change this.  We may not listen or we may not see or we could ignore this call but we cannot change this call on our lives.  However, if the camel represents our own lives then it is we who have to change.  Only by changing our perspective will be able to pass through the small event that God calls us into and beyond.  It is our baggage and our perceptions of who we are and what God calls us to that need to change.  Not only in terms of our involvement in God's work but our involvement in life. 

We need to start seeing things from God's perspective, something that is very different  almost surreal, certainly not from our sheltered understanding of who we should be but God's understanding of who God wants us to be.  We step from the desert that we have created into the new life that God has always wanted us to have. In order to do that we need to let go of our past and embrace the call that comes to us from the future, the call that comes from God.  To see the green pastures of God;s presence and the love with which he upholds us in our self imposed wilderness.

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