when one is surviving
swims around the edges
like the haze of the firesky
heated and dominating
of reason and reality
one turns left ways and right ways
looking for any way
just a chance to breathe
just a grasp at freedom
just to float is to win
to rest in a dangerous place
to swim in uncertain currents
sticking to it.
here we stand
The letter to the Romans, written by the Apostle Paul in the first century AD, is a great read filled with inspiration, challenge, and a big vision of what it means to live.
I’ve started scouting through it again recently and have a loose ambition to work all the way through, from start to finish, to see what I come up against. Here, at least, is a beginning.
“You ain’t left out in the cold”
Paul starts his letter with a declaration of identity. He is loving and loyal… a servant. He doesn’t exist for himself. The key player in the first paragraph is Jesus. Jesus is the one who calls Paul, calling him to be an apostle, a sent one. And what is he sent for? He is sent as part of the mission to reveal God’s good news.
Paul is shaped first and foremost – from start to end and all the way through – by his identity (which is a new identity as a servant of Jesus). And the mission he’s on has a special component: his faithfulness to those who share this new identity. These are people who have also been changed by Jesus.
He’s writing now to them in Rome, to the Roman house churches. When you think ‘church’ in the this context it’s a bit different, we’re certainly not talking the long-established institution that we perhaps are used to in contemporary New Zealand or around the world, with all the complications that have been around for hundreds of years.
No, he’s speaking to a young movement. And he starts with encouragement. You are not here by accident! You are here by divine intent.
He has a vision of the kind of people these chosen ones could become: the kind of people they could become is the kind of person Jesus is. And what is Jesus like? He is holy.
The highest, most delight-filled, energetic and active prayer that Paul can offer for his spiritual whanau or family members in Rome is that they would be holy. That is to say, that they would take on the characteristics, vitality, and vibrancy of the life of their leader, King Jesus. And they ain’t left out in the cold with Jesus.
Acting out of his sense of apostolic authority (i.e. harnessed to God’s purpose and vision for the world) he sends grace and well-being, joy and blessing from God to his friends.
“In the beginning was the Word”
At the dawn and before the dawn… was the Beginning that had no beginning. This is the intro to the Gospel according to John, a portrait of the life of Jesus.
This phrase mirrors the beginning of the epic Hebrew poetry of Genesis 1. So when we hear ‘Word,’ it’s a “you had to be there” kind of moment.
To refresh that, let’s have a peek at Genesis 1. What do we get to see?
I’m watching guitar videos.
Technique, tricks (just a few of them) and the launch into freedom. I watch these players and they’re screaming. That is when music is on fire, once you stop thinking and get out of your head, and let it come on out! Somewhere in there the chaos gets out of the way and something within you starts to speak properly.
Embodiment: Being Formed
In the beginning, God spoke with commanding intent. As he did so, all-that-is came into being. Through the repeating refrain, “God said… and it was,” the creative, rhythmic, breath of God is made the center and focus of this creation account.