Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Ecosystem of God

While researching my sermon for this week, I came across a reference to the Kingdom of God as the, "culture of God."  This must have been working in the back of my mind, and as I read the description in Ezekiel of the Noble Cedar (a symbol for the Messiah), it occured to me, maybe the Kingdom of God is like an ecosystem, "Under [the noble cedar] every kind of bird will live; in the shade of its branches will nest winged creatures of every kind. (Ezekiel 17:23)."

Ecosystems are delicately balanced cultures of living creatures, animals and plants, that depend on each other and hold each other in check.  The introduction of a foreign species or the removal of a native species can cause an ecosystem to lose balance and begin denigrating.

This got me to thinking about God's coming reign as an ecosystem.  We might think of creation--the Garden of Eden--as a the perfect ecosystem in which humans, plants, and animals all lived in harmony with one another and in proper relationship to God.  This continues until an outside species--something foreign to God's perfect ecosystem is introduced--sin enters in, and the ecosystem spins out of control--death and destruction.

Suddenly, the world is in need of a new creation--a restored ecosystem.  In order to restore balance to the creation, something must change.  This was my read on the new and noble cedar.  A sprig is removed from the old cedar, and a new tree--a new ecosystem where every kind of bird will nest in the shade.

And so we, along with all of creation are indeed waiting for a new creation; a new ecosystem with restored balance and restored relationship with God.  For now, that ecosystem is but a sprig on a lofty mountain, but it will grow into the noble cedar such that all the trees of the field will know that Yahweh is God.

Let me know if any of you have thoughts on what it might mean to think of God's Kingdom as an Ecosystem that has lost balance and the balance is being restored. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Death of a Mentor

This week, I learned that in December of 2008, Dr. William Placher, professor of Religion and Philosophy at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, IN died.  

In some ways, I am glad I did not learn about his death until the week following Easter.  Bill Placher was a man of unsurpassed intelligence, unsurpassed wisdom, unsurpassed ability to communicate complex things in simple ways, and unsurpassed moral centeredness and humility--all these great attributes in a single person.  At Wabash, Dr. Placher was and I imagine will forever be a legend.

As a young student, I figured such a legendary professor would be unapproachable and I shied away from initiating a relationship with him.  But during the summer before my senior year, Dr. Placher reached out to me, inviting me to lunch that we might get to know each other better and so he could help give me direction regarding what graduate programs I should apply to.  His ability to listen to me as a student and help clarify my own thoughts and even God's calling on my life are an important part of who I am today.

And so I am glad to have only learned of his passing in light of our recent celebration of Easter--resurrection is so real to me.  Bill Placher's love, righteousness, and firm grasp on who God is live on in many ways despite his passing.  Who he was as a scholar and teacher were so intertwined with who he is because of Christ that even in his death he seems still very much alive--certainly he is alive in my memory, in who I am today, and in who I long to become.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wipe the Ashes From Your Face Before Pointing to the Ashes on Your Neighbor

My wife made a great observation after this evening's service.  She said that after receiving the ashes you don't really know that you have ashes on your forehead.  You know you have them, because you saw the pastor apply them, but you can't really see or feel them.  But then you see someone else, and the ashes on their head are quite obvious--hey! that person has ashes on their forehead.  Sometimes it can be easy to forget our own ashes while the ashes of others are quite obvious.