Monday, February 1, 2010

An Unfinished Beauty

At Catalyst we're going through a series called "An Unfinished Beauty" which is sort of an overview of everything that the leadership of Catalyst Church believes. I have really enjoyed it so far and will post the podcasts when they come out. Here's a little taste of the first one, though. I love how it reads like poetry. I remember reading "The Singer" trilogy by Calvin Miller when I was little, as my dad really loved it and pointed it out to me. This reminded me of that.
I suppose the greatest thing that has stood out to me recently is the idea of Kingdom. We can participate in the Kingdom of God right now, through love and service and worship. It's just pretty cool to think about! I also like the idea that when we speak of the church Universal, we're talking about all the believers that are living and have lived. This means that when I sing along to the Matt Maher song, "Alive Again" we are BOTH participating in worship to God while singing the same words that St. Augustine wrote soooo many years ago. We join into the dance, we add to the symphony, we sing

"You called and you shouted
broke through my deafness
now I’m breathing in
and breathing out
I’m alive again"

and we echo the words of that early Christian, yearning for another taste of heaven.

I think Christianity makes the most sense to me (because, let's be honest, it DOESN'T always make sense... at least to me) when I think of God as Father AND Creator. Father implies a paternal love, that "mama bear" loyalty and protection, and a relationship that is as natural as it is prone to disagreement. We don't always get along with our fathers, but when our fathers are truly good, we can believe that they will do what is best for us.

I think the name Creator means a lot to me because I see all of creation as a sort of musical piece, complete with dancing, and song, and sometimes dissonance. I remember in the summer of 2006, a bunch of us took a "midnight hike" to hidden falls in Grand Teton National Park. I know that Bryan was there, but this is before we were dating, or even really friends. I walked with Heather, towards the back, and we started singing because it was night time and we didn't want to stumble upon a bear without announcing ourselves. We thought of songs that we both knew, and there were only a few that we could remember all the words. We started with silly songs, and random songs, and then Heather asked me about church songs. Heather is a TBM (oh yeah I just dropped that) or True Believing Mormon like most of Bryan's family. There are not a lot of church songs that the protestant church and the LDS church share, but there are a few. We went through a few "what about this one... " and "hmmm do you know..." The LDS church sings only hymns, and my parents' church (where my dad is pastor and my mom is on the worship team) sings a mix of hymns and worship songs, but mostly worship songs. So I'm not that good at remembering all the words to hymns.

It was when we were actually came upon Hidden Falls that the words to "How Great Thou Art" came to mind.

"O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,

Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!"

Okay, I didn't remember ALL of the words, but at least of few of them. In late Spring, the rivers are really swollen and Hidden Falls is INTENSE. The water is just so impressive and beautiful. The night we hiked was a full moon, and the moon shone on the water and it was one of those moments where God just felt NEAR, you know? Where you FEEL His power throughout the universe.

This isn't the first time that I've felt God while close to nature. I've felt his presence while on the beach in Humboldt, watching Bryan skimboard and just resting. So God as Creator makes sense to me. In 1 John we read "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." But the Greeks would understand "logos" not only as 'word' but as 'logic/ordering force in the universe.' That appeals to me and my sense of reason.

Anyways. That was long-winded. What I really wanted to post was the first part of week 1 in "An Unfinished Beauty"

Scene I: An Unfinished Beauty

"In the beginning…
Light explodes amidst darkness like a starburst.
Planets and universes spring into existence.
The elements are forged from pure energy.
Time takes it’s first breath.
In a far corner of this expanse a planet is being crafted.
Sea parts from sky, ground parts from sea.
Rotations and rhythms begin.
A single cell. Then two. Then four. Then a green bud. Then a blade of grass. A tree. A forest.
Another cell. A fish. A flock of birds. A herd of bison.
A serene garden is crafted as a womb. Within it the shaping of human form.
The breath of life. Humanity awakes. Naked. Stunning. Without shame. At peace with themselves, at peace with each other. Laughing friends. Sensual lovers. Equal partners.
They explore. They dance. They run. Enchanted by their world.
Excited with their work.
They plunge their hands in the soil and enhance its capacity.
They name the animals and learn their ecology.
From the raw material around them they make art and taste culinary experiments.
Their environment is kind to them, and they are kind in return. Clean food, air, and water. Cool breezes, warm sunshine, refreshing rain. Rustling leaves, babbling brooks, singing birds.
The voice of the divine is among them.
Order as a person, shares the secrets of his architecture.
Wisdom embodied, shares her boundaries.
Love in person, embraces them.
They call themselves God.
Life and garden are a radiant beauty.
Better than perfect, because it is incomplete.
Not finished for observation, but active for participation.
A beauty with work to do. Inviting them to create, alongside their Creator.
Beauty better than perfect. Beauty pregnant with potential.
An unfinished beauty."

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