„Service Instead of Domination”

By R. Rohr, A Thought for Monday, July 16, 2018

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. —2 Corinthians 13:13

Without the nondual mind, it’s almost impossible for us to find another way of doing politics. Grounding social action in contemplative consciousness is not a luxury for a few but a cultural necessity. Both the Christian religion and American psyche need deep cleansing and healing from our many unhealed wounds. Only a contemplative mind can hold our fear, confusion, vulnerability, and anger and guide us toward love.

Contemplative Christians can model a way of building a collaborative, compassionate politics. I suggest we start by reclaiming the wisdom of Trinity, a circle dance of mutuality and communion. Humans—especially the powerful, the wealthy, and supporters of the patriarchal system—are more comfortable with a divine monarch at the top of pyramidal reality. So Christians made Jesus into a distant, imperial God rather than a living member of divine-human relationship.

Spiritual power is more circular or spiral, and not so much hierarchical. It’s shared and shareable. God’s Spirit is planted within each of us and operating as each of us (see Romans 5:5)! Trinity shows that God’s power is not domination, threat, or coercion. All divine power is shared power and the letting go of autonomous power.

There’s no seeking of power over in the Trinity, but only power with—giving away and humbly receiving. This should have changed all Christian relationships: in churches, marriage, culture, and even international relations. Isaiah tried to teach such servanthood to Israel in the classic four “servant songs.” [1] But Hebrew history preceded what Christianity repeated: both traditions preferred kings, wars, and empires instead of suffering servanthood or leveling love.

Since this is so ingrained in our psyche, we must work hard to dismantle systems of domination. I emphatically state, together with my fellow Christian elders and leaders:

We believe our elected officials are called to public service, not public tyranny, so we must protect the limits, checks, and balances of democracy and encourage humility and civility on the part of elected officials. . . .

We reject any moves toward autocratic political leadership and authoritarian rule. . . . Disrespect for the rule of law, not recognizing the equal importance of our three branches of government, and replacing civility with dehumanizing hostility toward opponents are of great concern to us. Neglecting the ethic of public service and accountability, in favor of personal recognition and gain often characterized by offensive arrogance, are not just political issues for us. They raise deeper concerns about political idolatry, accompanied by false and unconstitutional notions of authority. [2]

What if we actually surrendered to the inner Trinitarian flow and let it be our primary teacher? Our view of politics and authority would utterly change. We already have all the power (dynamis) we need both within us and between us—in fact, Jesus assures us that we are already “clothed” in it “from on high” (see Luke 24:49)!

Gateway to Presence:
If you want to go deeper with today’s meditation, take note of what word or phrase stands out to you. Come back to that word or phrase throughout the day, being present to its impact and invitation.

[1] See Isaiah 42:1–9; 49:1–13; 50:4–9; 52:13–53:12.

[2] Reclaiming Jesus: A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis, http://reclaimingjesus.org/

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Rebuilding from the Bottom Up: A Reflection Following the Election,” https://cac.org/rebuilding-bottom-reflection-following-election/;
The Shape of God: Deepening the Mystery of the Trinitydisc 5 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2005), CDDVDMP3 download; and
Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 95-96.

Reclame

On Dividedness of Christianity

Deserves listening.

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh was best known as a writer and broadcaster on prayer and the Christian life. He was a monk and Metropolitan bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church. Wikipedia
BornJune 19, 1914, Lausanne, Switzerland
DiedAugust 4, 2003, London, United Kingdom

„The way down is the way up”

The Way of the Cross
by Richard Rohr

Jesus is a person and, at the same time, a process. Jesus is the Son of God, but he is also “the Way”—the way of the cross. He’s the goal and the means.

For all authentic spiritual teachers, their message is the same as their life; their life is their message. For some reason, we want the “person” of Jesus as our “God totem,” but we really do not want his message of “descent” except as a theology of atonement: this is what Jesus needed to do to “save us.” We do not want to see the cross as the pattern of life and a path for our own liberation. We prefer heavenly transactions to our own transformation.

The way of the cross looks like failure. In fact, you could say that Christianity is about how to win by losing, how to let go creatively, how the only real ascent is descent. We need to be more concerned with following Jesus, which he told us to do numerous times, and less with worshipping Jesus—which he never once told us to do.

The following early Christian hymn describes and honors the Christ journey: a path of kenosis (self-emptying), incarnating in the “slave,” “as all humans are,” and even all the way to the bottom of total “acceptance” and “even humbler yet” (the cross). This allows God to raise Jesus up in God’s time and God’s way, and “name” him anew in a glorious state of transformation. He is the living icon of the whole journey.

If our life in Christ means anything to you, if love can persuade at all, or the Spirit that we have in common, or any tenderness and sympathy, then be united in your convictions and united in your love, with a common purpose and a common mind. . . . In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus:

His state was divine,
yet he did not cling
to his equality with God
but emptied himself
to assume the condition of a slave,
and became as men are;
and being as all men are,
he was humbler yet,
even to accepting death,
death on a cross.

But God raised him high
and gave him the name
which is above all other names
so that all beings
in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld,
should bend the knee at the name of Jesus
and that every tongue should acclaim
Jesus Christ as Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

—Philippians 2:1-2, 5-11, Jerusalem Bible

 

 

H. Nouwen’s Reflection for the Fourth Sunday in Lent

From John 3

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”[d]

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.[e] 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[f] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”[g]

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

OVERCOME FEAR
 
Nicodemus admired Jesus but was afraid to lose the respect of his own colleagues. I am becoming more and more aware of the importance of looking at these fearful sympathizers because that is the group I find myself mostly gravitating toward.
I love Jesus but want to hold on to my own friends even when they do not lead me closer to Jesus. I love Jesus but I want to hold on to my own independence even when that independence brings me no real freedom… I love Jesus but do not want to give up my writing plans, travel plans, and speaking plans, even when those plans are often more to my glory than to the glory of God.
So I am like Nicodemus, who came by night, said safe things about Jesus to his colleagues, and expressed guilt by bringing to the grave more myrrh and aloes (John 19:39) than needed or desired.

 

PRAYER FOR TODAY
 
Dearest God, help me to evaluate my motivations and actions in the light of your purposes and not be held sway by the advice of friends and opinion makers. Let me look to you rather than to others for guidance, for in setting that priority I learn to renounce my own will and keep peace with you.
Amen
Henri Nouwen Society| 1-866-226-2158 | www.henrinouwen.org