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Wrath, Love, and the language of the inner life of God

Wrath, Love, and the language of the inner life of God

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by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters enewsletter June 14, 2019

On Sunday, we celebrate, "Trinity Sunday," a day set aside to contemplate the mysteries of the inner life of God. You know, a light, breezy, summer topic.

Trinity is the word we use to describe the inner nature of God. It never appears in scripture. It is the result of the early church trying their best to calculate the nature of God given the found formulas in scripture and values of their experiences with Jesus and the persistent presence of Jesus they felt after his death.

On the whole, southern preaching bears the heat of the wrath of God more than the mysteries inherent to the life of God. A wrathful God evokes fearful if familiar, tropes of fire and brimstone. A wrathful God's authoritarianism acts as a form of fear filled social control. Lookout! A wrathful God might zap you or damn you. Revivalistic tellings of the story of Jesus place Jesus as a sacrifice to abate the bloodthirst of a God who demands a sacrifice as payment.

On Trinity Sunday, we are invited to wonder about the inner life of God? Maybe we should ask ourselves, "why is it that we are so comfortable accepting a wrathful telling of the presence of God? What if we frame the inner life of God by love and not wrath? Does that change the way we tell the story of God from beginning to end? Could it change the ways we shape our communities of practice formed and forged to honor God?

Most of the time, when we think of the Trinity, we get stuck on the metaphors of composition. Just how is it that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three distinct persons, add up to only one God? How does 1+1+1=1? Is God like the three states of water: ice, liquid, and steam? While they attempt to name the constitutive elements of the divine, these fall short of revealing how God acts and by what motivation.

Instead, this Sunday, let us wonder about how the expressions of God that we find in scripture and history operate? Moving from constitutive metaphors to lived operations invites us into the movements of God as Father, Son, and Spirit. Instead of thinking of God as an angry judge and Jesus a willing sacrifice, we might instead imagine a trinity of persons who have always been working together in concert to create, redeem, and sustain creation itself, as an act of love. By examining the rhythms of the inner life of God, we might even move from a wrathful stance to a divine dance.

Learning God's new language

Learning God's new language

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter June 6, 2019

I have always wanted to be fluent in more than one language. Sadly, the only other languages with which I have proficiency are dead languages and not many people want to talk about parsing the Greek or plucking an obscure Hebrew verbal form.

Sweet Summer

Sweet Summer

by Cass DuCharme

published in Family Matters eNewsletter May 30, 2019

Fifty years ago this summer my mom, dad, brothers, sisters and I moved from Wells, Maine, to Brandon, Florida. It was the summer of ’69 and I was 8 years old. Little did I know at the time how iconic that summer would become for our country. I remember watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon while watching a little 13-inch black and white TV, and seeing news reports of the Woodstock music festival, narrated by Walter Cronkite. I remember how hot it was in Florida compared to Maine summers. That was a sweet summer that I’ll never forget.

Thanks for nurturing our faith

Thanks for nurturing our faith

By Johnny Pierce

published in Family Matters eNewsletter May 23, 2019

A few years ago we rebranded the products and services of Baptists Today publishing ministry to become Nurturing Faith. This includes our news journal, Bible studies, books and small-group travel experiences.

It is a name that expresses well our purpose — and, fortunately, it has stuck.

Seven Ways to Avoid the Summer Slump

Seven Ways to Avoid the Summer Slump

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter May 16, 2019

We have a few more days to go on the school calendar until families begin their seasons of vacation and teachers take a break from the classroom, but you don’t need a calendar or a thermometer to tell that summer has already arrived. I can see that dazed summer glaze on so many faces. Students are ready for a break. Families are ready for a vacation. Just at most folks are gearing up for a summer break the church is readying for a season that is heavy with activity and light on attendance.

Almost Summer

Almost Summer

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter May 9, 2019

Graduations mark our calendars in the coming weeks. School is about to be out. The bell is about to ring. Caps and gowns will fly in the air. We will need a different syllabus to chart summer's course. For a lot of folks, time in summer takes in a new quality.

Vocational Evolution

Vocational Evolution

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter May 3, 2019

Frederich Buechner has always informed the way I look at calling and vocation. He once wrote that vocation is that 'place where the world’s deep hunger and your deep gladness meet.' Over the past few months, we have worked to find that intersection for Ruth, and for Highland Hills, a place where the present needs of the church align with the present gifts of the minister.

Drop by Drop

Drop by Drop

by Ruth DuCharme

published in Family Matters eNewsletter April 25, 2019

Unlike my husband, I don't have one of those memories that easily retains numbers and dates. I don't do math well in my head, and if you tell me your phone number I will need to write it down, or it is lost on me. When I meet someone for the first time I have to associate their name with something in order to recall it later. That is just the way that my mind is wired. I need repetition and association to remember.