In Time, Outside of Time

A logical mind says that some things happen in time.  It is a little bit more abstract to suggest that there are things that are timeless, things that exist out of time.

It does not make sense to say that a thing happened in time and outside of time.  It seems like it needs to be one or the other.  But for the cross, it must be both.

If Jesus did not enter into time, if the cross is not a fact of history, then it means nothing.

But it had to be outside of time to.  I had not been born yet, of course, 2010 years ago.  But somehow Jesus’ sacrifice atoned for the sins I have committed in the past.  And for the sins I will commit in the future.

Like so many other myseries, we can use pretty language to obscure this issue, to make it appear less mysterious.  But we can’t avoid it’s fundamental strangeness.   Jesus was crucified in time and outside of time.

The importance of that act traveled backward in time, all the way back to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.  And it traveled foreward in time.  Until Jesus comes back.

In a way it is like an endless instant.  Jesus is still crucified.  (Equally important, the fact of the empty tomb is also an endless instant.  The tomb is still empty.)

This is why Jesus suffers with us.  And we suffer with Jesus.  And perhaps it is why, when we care for the suffering, we are caring for Jesus himself.

This is a reason to serve others: because in doing this, we are serving God himself.   It is often said that service is a form of worship.  I suspect that this is why: Because when we serve others, we are serving God, in the way that impacts him the most.

When I have been the poorest, this is when a gift of a few dollars has impacted me the most.  When I have been at my most lonely, this is when just half a smile from someone really touched me.  When I have been at my most afraid, this is when the smallest assurances have seemed the biggest.

It can’t be any different for God.

If God’s suffering was not real then none of it is.  Things more easily identified as worship might be enjoyed by him.  But there has never been a time that God was more vulnerable than when he was on the cross, a time when our actions impacted him the most deeply.

There are so many ways to serve others.  You don’t need me to list them.  When ever some one is suffering and you do something to ease their suffering, you are caring for Jesus himself, as he stands, nailed to the cross, beaten and bleeding.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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