Tumbling in the Sand
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ – Mark 12:29-30
Love the Lord your God with all your Mind.
Ok, I love this one.
I love all things idea related.
I could spend all day thinking about ideas and how they connect with other ideas and how those ideas and the other ideas and other ideas I didn’t even think of connect with something in the world that could change something or give meaning to something or do something new.
I am a student of ideas and spend a whole lot of time in my mind…
I mean, I’ve spent 24 years of my life in professional, formal education earning a high school diploma, a bachelor’s degree, and three Masters degrees in Agriculture, Divinity, and Theology respectively.
And I stand here to unapologetically say to you: ideas and thinking are good. Especially ideas and thinking that come out of a love of God and a love of the world that God has made and a love for people.
And I mean by love: a genuine fascination with, a humility about, a passion for, and an honest curiosity with … And, ideas and thinking actually generally start from such a place. All you need to do to see that is to watch a child fascinated with an ant. Or see someone get some amazing idea for the first time. Those pure aha moments often glimmer with a holy passion and love.
The problem comes when they are misused or misplaced or misinformed or malformed, then ideas and thinking can be twisted into true evil. Especially when they come from a place of fear or hate or often both.
Which is why what Solomon asked for is so profound: “an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil.”
Would that we all pray for that: A discerning mind. An understanding mind. But, maybe, more than that even—maybe a mind centered in love: that all of the ideas that we learn and hear, that all of the thinking and learning and debating and reasoning and understanding and discerning that we do, be centered, grounded, surrounded with, love.
And by love I mean a genuine fascination with, a humility around, a passion for, and an honest curiosity about God, God’s creation, and our fellow human beings. But most especially with God. Because everything else kind of falls in line if we let all of our thinking and reasoning and discerning be centered in a genuine fascination with, a humility around, a passion for, and an honest curiosity about God.
Especially the God that we learn about in the Creed.
The Nicene Creed that is full of mind-words: Words that make you think and puzzle, but words that make you do that centered in the amazing activity of God that is all about love.
There are so many ways I could talk about the mind-words in the Nicene Creed, and there are lecture upon lecture about the history of how the Council of Nicea argued out what words to use and why—how to shape what they wanted to say about the God that they believed in, how to speak rightly about this God revealed in Jesus. And I could lecture on that, but I don’t think that that would be the best thing for reflecting on the Creed. Rather, I think that what I will do is ask some questions that the Church tries to answer through the speaking of the Creed…
The first is, how do you speak about the nature of Jesus? How do you say that he is the Son of God but yet God—that there are not two different gods but One God, but yet the Son distinct from the Father?
The Nicene creed says it this way:
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God, begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
How would you say it?
Well, then how do you speak of the relationship between the divine and the human in the person of Jesus? How do say that God didn’t just hide inside a human being and not really become human? how do you speak of the humanity of Jesus?
The Creed says it this way:
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became truly human.
How would you say it?
Well then, what of the Spirit? How is it related to the Father and the Son? How do you speak of God as three but one and one but three? How do you do that without sounding insane and not heretical? How do you speak of the relationship that is God in relation with God’s self?
The Creed says it this way:
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified…
And of this way—especially the proceeding from “and the Son” part—the church disagrees: because it sound hierarchical and not relational.
And the Creed does not mean to order them: rather it means to suggest that the love of the Father to the Son and the Son to the Father is made alive in the Spirit.
At least that is a little of what it means.
But, how would you say it?
And I guess finally, you might ask, why does it matter?
Because, as I said earlier, everything else kind of falls in line if we let all of our thinking and reasoning and discerning be centered in a genuine fascination with, a humility around, a passion for, and an honest curiosity about God.
Because what we say about God: what we believe about God, what we wonder about God affects how we love and care and think and speak about God’s activity, God’s creation and our fellow human beings.
And that is the substance of how we live in the world.
So, what do you say about God?