24 June, 2012

A "Worship or Wipeout" moment


Thanks to Johan van der Merwe for comment on my previous blog post (Is Three a Crowd?)

His sharing of the 15th century Russian artist Andrei Rublev's famous icon painting, Abraham’s Visitors  - also known as the Old Testament Trinity -  has, as John puts it so well  “the strong accent on the One-ness of God's being which is understood as divine relationship in love.”  Johan also comments on the 'open-ness' of this work of art, which invitesd our participation.

In contrast, I am deeply challenged by Eugene Peterson's words on the 'new' Holy Trinity of Me, Myself and I. He says: "The sovereign self expresses itself in Holy Needs, Holy Wants, and Holy Feelings. The time and intelligence that our ancestors spent on understanding the sovereignty revealed in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are directed by our contemporaries in affirming and validating the sovereignty of our needs, wants, and feelings."  (Eat this Book, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids; 2006)

In his comment, my friend Johan also quotes Mena Stamper (Working Preacher) - "When we become too sure of what we know... that is when we can perhaps expect to be undone like Nicodemus. (John 3. 1 – 8)”
I was recently blessed to share in a combined Zulu/English worship service in the Anglican Church. My text was Isaiah 6. In a moment of deep crisis Isaiah realizes both Communion with God and Commissioning by God. His heart and mind are overwhelmed in the Presence of God and he cries out “Woe is me, for I am undone.” As Charles Haddon Spurgeon says; “I am undone is not a bad place to be for God will never do anything with us till he has first of all undone us.”

When life 'undoes' us, when the stormy waves threaten to overwhelm us, perhaps it is time for a new and deeper experience of God. A letting go of some of our old certainties, and old griefs and fears, in a humility that reconnects with what Paul Tillich calls Ground of our Being (humus - soil).

We often face these critical 'worship or wipeout' moments. When the focus becomes the 'trinity' of "Me, Myself and I" - in the Afrikaans phrase "Arme ou ek"  (Poor old me!) - it is time for me to re-enter the open-ness of  "divine relationship of love.” To re-orient myself towards God, towards people, towards our Earth itself. To move from "Woe" to Worship and Witness and the all the Works of mercy.

It cannot be simpler than this perhaps naive, but very telling story:
A 5-year-old girl was busy drawing a picture. She was concentrating awfully hard and her mom got very curious. She came over and asked her daughter, “What are you drawing?” The girl replied, “I’m drawing a picture of God.”
“Don’t be silly”, said her mom, “No-one knows what God looks like”.
“They will when I finish my picture.”


For another delightful story reflecting the G-d who responds when called please look for Zeide here.


In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

1 comment:

  1. Yep, agree. We cannot explain, or understand the Trinity. It is a Faith, Belief, and Trust thing.
    The creator is in control, like it or not. Our only reason on this earth, is to look up in awe and great fear, adore and worship him. With obedience to Christ's teachings. Acknowleging the resurrection, is paramount.

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