Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Dancing God…..or Distant Deity?

On Monday evenings, when in town, you will find a handful of others and me gathered at the home of a friend being church to one another and nurturing our friendships as sisters and brothers in Christ whilst seeking to take part in the purposes of His kingdom. Recently, we’ve begun to survey the Old Testament and are finding an undersatnding of God, in His revelation in the scriptures, which many of us thought we would not see until seeing the Father in Christ in the New Testament.

Only 18 chapters into Genesis and we have seen a God that seeks us out…a God not averse to intimacy. Rather, a God who walked with an Enoch, a Noah, an Adam, a Cain, an Eve, an Abel, a Shem, and an Abram. In fact, the interaction and His engaging presence shown in Genesis all but obliterates the notion of a distant but holy and awesome that is totally far-off and unwelcoming. Even after the choice to rebel by Adam and Eve, God chose to walk in the garden rather than leave them to languish and hide.

A new word has risen in recent years. (Maybe it’s really an old word that is recently making it’s way into the circles of more common usage.) The word, Perichoresis, sprouts from its Greek roots to flourish in the idea of God revealed as fully relational and even connected within Himself- expressed as three persons…distinct but one…and fully in fellowship with one another.

Recently, whilst chasing down the word, perichorisis, which eluded my memory but resonated with a point of present pondering, I came across a blog of an Anglican priest that develops the idea in the context of praxis. The priest is Maggi Dawn. The post is titled Ten minutes on Trinity and worship. It is worth the read. O yea, you might want to dig out and dust off your dancing shoes.

Ten minutes on the trinity and worship

A long time ago I decided that, were I to become a theologian, my mission in life would be to get all the best stuff in the ivory tower, convert it into everyday language, and share it out with the Church as best I could. So here goes with my ten minutes worth on the Trinity and worship.

.. conceiving of the Trinity as a relational being offers quite an alternative understanding of worship. A social trinity gives us a picture of worship that is already taking place within the Godhead. The Father, the Son and the Spirit have, from time immemorial, been in mutual companionship, joy, worship and adoration of one another. Their creative activity was an act of mutuality. Read the Bible slowly and carefully and you'll see that 'the Word' (later called Jesus Christ) and the Spirit were actively involved in conceiving and delivering the creative activity behind what we understand as the genesis of our existence. Jesus was never "plan B" when it all went wrong; no - the second persona of the Trinity was always completely present in the creation and sustenance of the world (See, for instance, Colossians chapter 1 for Paul's version). If a relational understanding of the Trinity is the context of our coming to worship, there is no longer a need to please or impress God in order for him to bless us with his presence. We do not need to create, as it were, a good enough party to wake God up and make him think he might join us. It's quite the other way around. The Trinity are already having a party of their own. There they are, communicating, loving, worshipping, laughing, dancing, always and forever, without a break. Grace, love and adoration flows constantly between the Godhead.

Come and join us? ……. The call to worship is therefore an invitation to join in with God's party. Worship is already underway - come and join in if you like. No need to DO anything - if you want to dance you can, but if you want to sit for a while and let it all wash over you and through you, you can do that too. Of course, at some point you will get drawn into the giving, communicating, adoring, loving activity - but there's no pressure, because God doesn't need your little mite of energy to drive the worship machine. But if you sit long enough in the presence of God, you'll stop being a wallflower and find that the dance is irresistible. This is a theology of worship that allows us to rest in God, that acknowledges that we are wanted, needed, invited in the right sense - but that the impetus, the initiative, is always God's.

Welcome to Trinitarian worship - the party where God is, and always was, and always will be, engaged in mutual adoration and praise, and where you can be drawn right into the centre of God until you can hardly spot the join. In the words of the old hymn writer, 'How can I keep from singing?'

To read the post in its entirety click here.

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