Wednesday, January 16, 2008
post 201: jesus
Well, here it is -- the Jesus post. Aaack! Obviously this is impossible to cover in one blog entry, but I'll throw out a few thoughts...
I must admit I've generally been fine with God as Creator and Ground of Being. And as long as you say Holy Spirit instead of Holy Ghost (which for some reason makes me think of Casper the Friendly), I'm fine with that too. But over the years Jesus has given me a whole lot of trouble. In fact my last pastor will corroborate the fact that I confessed to her with some exasperation: "I really just don't 'get' Jesus." And it's not like I was a newbie to the whole church scene. But I think that was a big part of the problem. Jesus was buried beneath so many layers of STUFF. Just to point out the words of one hymn from childhood (and beyond):
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
I mean, what does one make of all that?!
Enter Marcus Borg. His book, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time was very helpful in terms of stripping off the layers to get to a new understanding of Jesus.
Borg talks about the distinction between the historical Jesus (pre-Easter Jesus) and the Jesus of Christian tradition and experience (post-Easter Jesus). Borg develops the point that the historical Jesus is different than the 'popular' image of Jesus. Borg writes:
His own self-understanding did not include thinking and speaking of himself as the Son of God whose historical intention or purpose was to die for the sins of the world, and his message was not about believing in him. Rather, he was a spirit person, subversive sage, social prophet, and movement founder who invited his followers and hearers into a transforming relationship with the same Spirit that he himself knew, and into a community whose social vision was shaped by the core value of compassion.
Reading about this Jesus is compelling -- e.g. his alternative vision of community, his challenging the social order of the day, etc. There was obviously something exceptional about him, and I would say that God was somehow uniquely present in him.
Borg states that at Easter, "the early movement continued to experience Jesus as a living reality after his death, but in a radically new way. After Easter, his followers experienced him as a spiritual reality, no longer as a person of flesh and blood, limited in time and space, as Jesus of Nazareth had been."
So, I think all of the layers began as people reflected on who Jesus was -- and also as more and more people "experienced" him. However, I don't have the "personal Jesus relationship" people talk about. (He's not helping me bat as in the above picture.) But that's fine. I'm ok with just having the confusing layers stripped.
Yep, it's a journey, and this is my present view from the road...