Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sudden Autumn

I had to get up Monday night and put on sweat pants and shirt because I was cold. Autumn suddenly showed up.

This morning was so glorious I almost broke into "Holy, Holy, Holy. Lord God of Power and Might, heaven and earth are full of your Glory...."

Then I remembered something Karen Armstrong wrote about the Sanctus in her book, A History of God. The Hebrew word that translates into Latin as 'sanctus' and English as "Holy" is kaddosh.

Ms. Armstrong writes: (I looked it up) "When we use the word 'holy' today, we usually refer to a state of moral excellence. The Hebrew 'kaddosh', however, has nothing to do with morality as such but means 'otherness', a radical separation. The apparition of Yahweh on Mount Sinai had emphasized the immense gulp that had suddenly yawned between man and the divine world. Now the seraphs were crying: 'Yahweh is other! other! other!'"

I second that emotion....For me God's 'otherness' is constantly looming out far ahead of me. There is a mystery inexpressible in what I experience as 'God'. God is, to me, both 'the Holy Other' and 'the wholly Other'. What does the pot know of the Potter or the painting of its Artist?

Which is why the sort of informal, friendly, collegial way some Christians talk about God makes me uneasy. A parody of a hymn goes, "What a friend we have in Jesus, Christ Almighty, what a pal....'

A rather fundamentalist Episcopalian once asked me if I had "accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior". I told him I was still working on accepting Jesus as my 'formal' Lord and Savior. Jesus as the Savior next-door, the friendly God from down the street, 'my buddy, Jesus', just isn't part of my Theology.

I upset quite a few people back when the WWJD stuff was going on. People looking at the next moment of their lives wondering What Would Jesus Do? seemed rather vain and self-centered. I told some of them I was like Lloyd Benson to their Dan Quail: "I know Jesus, and you're not Jesus...."

Besides, the answer to the inquiry of "What Would Jesus Do?" is pretty easy to answer: Die so that we might have seems to me....

A better question for me is "What the hell am I going to do?" when faced with life. I am convinced that God is always present to me, but it is usually as a silent partner. When push comes to shove, I have to make decisions that may be blessed or may be disasters....

I knew a woman in Charleston West Virginia who told me she let the Crucified One pick out her clothes each morning. "OK, Lord," she would say, staring into her closet, "what should I wear to give you glory today...?"

I swear she told me that. I simply thought the Logus, the Creator of All, might have something more pressing than being her fashion consultant. But then, she did have a lot of very nice clothes and most likely needed such guidance.

So, for this breathlessly lovely early Autumn day, just let me say thanks to the mysterium terribile et fascinans that is God. (Thanks also to Rudolf Otto for the words to 'name' the Otherness....

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.