Daily Riches: A King Clothed In Rags (Belden Lane and Flannery O’Connor)

“To the the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures.” Flannery O’Connor

“Our image of God doesn’t prepare us for a truth realized in brokenness. We need to be shaken out of our expectations. …The grotesque reminds us who we are, but even more it discloses the mystery of God’s presence. Repeatedly in biblical faith we discover a broken and despised people calling upon a god made accessible in pathos and tears. God is never what Pharoah, Ahab, and Herod expect. There’s a shocking, almost comic quality about the annunciations one finds in scripture. Angels announce to shepherds standing in a field of sheep dung the birth of a king clothed in rags. A figure clad in white announces to John of the Apocalypse the majestic Lion of the Tribe of Judah, but when he turn to look there’s only a slain and bloody lamb (Rev. 5:5-6). In biblical experience what you see isn’t necessarily what you get. This is the mystery of God as Deus absconditus. The God of scripture is equally revealed in vulnerability and in triumph. This is because both actions are rooted in love. God wills us to be broken for the sake of a strength to make whole. Divine love is incessantly restless until it turns all woundedness into health, all deformity into beauty, all embarrassment into laughter. In biblical faith, brokenness is never celebrated as an end in itself. God’s brokenness is but an expression of a love on its way to completion. Hence we never can accept, much less romanticize, the plight of a people rejected by the world as aberrant and unfit. They invite us to share in the ‘groaning of all creation’ for a redemption yet to be revealed (Rom. 8:19-21). The paradox of the grotesque is that it summons those who are whole to be broken and longs for those who are broken to be made whole.” Belden Lane

“His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.”
Isaiah 52:14

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you familiar with the vulnerable God of the Bible?
  • Do you think of God’s love as “incessantly restless until it turns all woundedness into health, all deformity into beauty, all embarrassment into laughter?” Is God doing that for you?
  • In what ways are you whole needing to be broken? …broken needing to be make whole?

Abba, thank you for your love that will not rest until I am whole.

For More: The Solace of Fierce Landscapes by Belden Lane

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow/share my blog. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: Laughter and Taking Your Proper Place in the Universe (James Martin, Karl Rahner, and David Robb)

“If people don’t have some lightness in their lives then they end up taking themselves too seriously and are unable to move outside themselves. And a great deal of spirituality lies in putting yourself in an appropriate place in the universe. Those who can laugh at themselves can also look at themselves critically, but not harshly, a key element of emotional growth.” David Robb

“The truly holy are humble because they know their place before God. But how, with our accomplishments and our egos, especially in a culture that tells us that we have to be on top, to be number one, to be successful, do we keep that humility before us? Self-deprecating humor … is one way to do this. Laughing at yourself, not taking yourself too seriously, not making every situation about you, not demanding that life adjust itself to suit your needs, and laughing at yourself when you forget all this are good places to start.” James Martin

“Laugh. For this laughter is an acknowledgment that you are a human being. An acknowledgment that is itself the beginning of the acknowledgment of God. For how else is a person to acknowledge God except for admitting in his life and by means of his life that he himself is not God but a creature that has his times – a time to weep and a time to laugh, and the one is not the other. A praising of God is what laughter is, because it lets a human being be human.” Karl Rahner

“Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
‘The Lord has done great things for them.’”
Psalm 126:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is laughter in your repertoire? If so, how does it help you keep things in perspective?
  • If you can laugh at yourself, you can look at yourself “critically, but not harshly [which is] a key element of emotional growth.” Can you laugh at yourself?
  • It’s not about you. You’re not in control. Can you laugh at yourself “when you forget all this” and let humor bring you back to your senses and proper “place before God?”

Abba, keep me from taking myself or others too seriously. As your people, may our mouths be filled with laughter.

For More: Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and please share it! My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Fun Jesus (James Martin)

“When I imagine Jesus, it is not simply as a person who heals the sick, raises the dead, stills the storm, and preaches the good news. It’s also as a man of great goodwill and compassion, with a zest for life …brimming with generous good humor. Full of high spirits. Playful. Even fun. Interestingly, in the past few decades two images of a joyful Jesus have enjoyed some popularity. The first is The Laughing Christ by Willis Wheatley, a sketch that shows Jesus’s head thrown back in open-mouthed laughter. The second is The Risen Christ By the Sea, a colorful portrait of Jesus wearing a broad smile and standing beside a fishing net, painted by Jack Jewell, a seascape artist, in the 1990s. These two paintings, among others, serve to counteract countless images of the gloomy Messiah. But both images are often mocked in sophisticated religious and academic circles. Admittedly, they are not ‘high art.’ …But I wonder if some eschew these portraits not for the quality of the artistry, but rather for their subject material. Is there something about a smiling Jesus that threatens our understanding of the man?” James Martin

“Jesus frequently called together His disciples, His followers and often strangers to dine with him. It doesn’t take too much imagination to picture these as joyful events – just think of enjoyable dinner parties and celebrations in your own life, full of laughter and good cheer, everyone delighting in one another’s company. There is a reason that one enduring image of heaven is a banquet. Maureen O’Connell, an assistant professor of theology at Fordham University, says, ‘At my house, we often laugh ourselves sick around the dinner table. Isn’t this the point of dinner parties?'” (Martin)
 .

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say,
‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’”
Matthew 11:18

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you uncomfortable with a Jesus who is “fun?” If so, can you say why?
  • Have you perhaps created a Jesus in your own image? …serious? …intense? …confrontational? …humorless?
  • It’s interesting to me that a woman says “we often laugh ourselves sick.”  Statistically men have fewer friends than women, and die younger. Men, in the future, will you regret not “lightening up” more – being so serious so much of the time?

Abba, help me not to take myself, or my life, so seriously.

For More: Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Laughter and Taking Your Proper Place in the Universe (James Martin, Karl Rahner, David Robb)

“If people don’t have some lightness in their lives then they end up taking themselves too seriously and are unable to move outside themselves. And a great deal of spirituality lies in putting yourself in an appropriate place in the universe. Those who can laugh at themselves can also look at themselves critically, but not harshly, a key element of emotional growth.” David Robb

“The truly holy are humble because they know their place before God. But how, with our accomplishments and our egos, especially in a culture that tells us that we have to be on top, to be number one, to be successful, do we keep that humility before us? Self-deprecating humor … is one way to do this. Laughing at yourself, not taking yourself too seriously, not making every situation about you, not demanding that life adjust itself to suit your needs, and laughing at yourself when you forget all this are good places to start.” James Martin

“Laugh. For this laughter is an acknowledgment that you are a human being. An acknowledgment that is itself the beginning of the acknowledgment of God. For how else is a person to acknowledge God except for admitting in his life and by means of his life that he himself is not God but a creature that has his times – a time to weep and a time to laugh, and the one is not the other. A praising of God is what laughter is, because it lets a human being be human.” Karl Rahner

“Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
‘The Lord has done great things for them.’”
Psalm 126:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is laughter in your repertoire? If so, how does it help you keep things in perspective?
  • If you can laugh at yourself, you can look at yourself “critically, but not harshly [which is] a key element of emotional growth.” Can you laugh at yourself?
  • It’s not about you. You’re not in control. Can you laugh at yourself “when you forget all this” and let humor bring you back to your senses and proper “place before God?”

Abba, keep me from taking myself or others too seriously. As your people, may our mouths be filled with laughter.

For More: Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin

_________________________________________________

These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”