A moment of contemplation for yourself or on behalf of others on everything from the life-altering to the mundane.

Prayer: A conversation with The Higher Other who lives within each of us. An invitation to vent, to re-think, to ask, and to rest.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Meditation Moment in Lent ~ Day 23: Give Up, Take On, Pray '24

March 11, 2024 ~ 4th Monday in Lent

Just as how we conceptualize God
 affects what we think the Christian life is about,
so do our images of God. 

~ Marcus Borg*           

    Have you ever thought about what image of God you have? We’ve all had lifelong influences, some more unconscious than others. In your mind does "he" look like the illustrations in Children's Bibles, or maybe a kindly white grandfather with a beard by Michaelangelo, or a stern disciplinarian father? What about Jesus as a white sun-tanned, blue eyed European whose long flowing locks shine with expensive-looking highlights? How about a middle eastern semite ~ a darker-skinned young Jewish man deeply tanned from the desert of Palestine?  Does your mind see the Holy Spirit as a white dove descending upside down or as non-burning tongues of fire come first in your mind? 
    Of course it's easier to relate to and feel comfortable with someone we can picture in our minds, someone who looks like us or someone we know and like. Have you ever had the experience of meeting up with a friend from childhood ~ you have that old photo in your mind and suddenly you're confronted with the reality of time passing.  Perhaps it all works fine or perhaps the memory and the reality are difficult to mesh together. 
    Just as we watch children grow from newborns, to toddlers, to older children, teens, young adults...and just as we sometimes want to hold on to our images of them at a certain moment in time, it's important for our relationships with them to grow and allow who they become to deepen our bonds. It’s also important to understand that a Jewish child, a Muslim child, an Asian-African-Palestinian-Caribbean-South American-Christian child will likely [and hopefully] have imagined anthropomorphic images depicting the God of Abraham as much like older versions of themselves.
    Of course we don't have the luxury of knowing what God looks like ~ and if we did, would it be God? But, we can look at how or if our early ideas about our mind-image of God have or have not evolved as we’ve grown and how that expresses the stagnation or the maturity of our faith. 
     Sr. Sandra Schneiders, IHM, STD, Professor Emerita of New Testament Studies and Christian Spirituality at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley has said, God is more than two men and a bird. 
    Has your Trinity ever looked like two men and a bird in your mind's eye? How does your current mind's image affect your prayer, your relationship, your sense of who God is in your life?

Dear God,
       I'm concerned that I might have the wrong image of You in my mind. I want so much to capture the right picture of You in my imaginings ~ all of You, the Trinity ~ God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, so that I can feel that I'm relating to You correctly. And yet somehow that doesn't seem quite right, either.  Well then, for today I'll give up trying to apply and accept someone else's image of You. I'll take on thinking about how I am made in Your image instead of You being made in my image. I'll pray for the inner security and  spiritual freedom to let You out of the box I try to keep You in. And as I mature in my relationship with You, perhaps I will be able to realize that all I need to do to know You in my mind and heart and soul, is to look in the mirror and at all those I meet daily and all those I love and have loved, then I will see the faces of My Trinity.  amen.

*Marcus Borg [1942-2015], was a Fellow of the Jesus Seminar**, and the first person to be designated as Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University. Educated at Moorhead College in Concordia, Minnesota; Union Theological Seminary, in New York City; and earned a Masters degree in theology and a Ph.D. at Mansfield College, Oxford, England. A progressive Christian with a significant record of scholarship and research of the Historical Jesus, a prolific author and lecturer, and known internationally through videos, lectures, and television, Borg was a frequent collaborator with other theologians with whom he both agreed and disagreed. He remains one of the most recognized and influential theologians of today. Two of his best known works are  Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The historical Jesus & the heart of contemporary faith; and, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously but Not Literally.

**The Jesus Seminar, then and now: https://theconversation.com/getting-the-gist-of-a-historical-jesus-the-jesus-seminar-30-years-on-44465

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