Monday, May 25, 2015

The Bound Will, and Trains

Note:  I've been gone awhile, actually not gone, just posting via other venues.  I'm back.  Hopefully will continue to be back.  Vamos a ver.  

Below is a message I sent out to some pastor friends, but which I think is appropriate for all.  

La Paz de Cristo sea con vosotros, pw  (Google translate should help you if you can't figure this out.)

Dear Brothers in Christ,

     Hurtling backwards at 253 KM per hour, four hours on the train leaves me with no excuse for not sending a “Friday” e-mail.  Actually sending it will have to wait until I get back to Sevilla, finishing up a weekend of travels, to Madrid for a service including a baptism on Saturday, then on to Valencia, where the congregation of actual members has dwindled to almost nothing.  Beneficial conversations with the deacon there, a good egg who is in a seminary by extension program with the goal of ordination.  Getting from here to there studying by extension, on the side, while working full time, and heading a household, is a daunting task.  

     The CTSFW website posts the OT and NT readings from the Treasury of Daily Prayer, which can be really handy for devotions on the go.  But they struggle to keep it on the right day.  The variable date of Easter is seemingly too deep a mystery for the webmaster.  But this limitation proved a benefit today, as the readings for this day, if it were not Pentecost Monday, would rightly come from Ecclesiastes and John 6.  Actually probably from yesterday, May 24th, since I’m 8 hours or so ahead of Indiana.  Anyway, the readings are the point, to which I will Lord willing get soon.

     Do you ever notice how the Bondage of the Will pops up everywhere, once you get your head wrapped around it, (insofar as this is possible)?  The Preacher’s mournful lament in Eccl 1 seems to me representative of the honest and wise human who has come as close as we of our own powers can come to the reality of our bondage, without yet being enlightened by the mystery of the Cross.  Vanity.  Everything new is old, and pointless to boot.  Eat, drink and be merry, for this is as good as it gets, and tomorrow we die, (which just so happens to be a world view altogether common in Spain.)

     The John 6 reading is the aftermath of Jesus telling His disciples that they must chew on His flesh and drink His blood or they will have no part in His Kingdom.  As the crowd grumbles at this hard teaching, Jesus and John throw down a series of free-will and human reason destroying maxims, (as if eating His flesh and drinking His blood weren’t enough already).  “This is why I told you no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”  “He knew who would betray Him” and yet allowed it to happen!  “One of you Twelve is a devil.” 

Lord have mercy.  Any one of these, pursued to the tying up of all its logical implications, is enough to destroy for us the Gospel, and with it our feeble faith.  The music of the liturgy that accompanies Peter’s words from John 6 is altogether too cheerful.  The bouncy tune and the added alleluias contradict the desperation of Peter’s reply to Jesus’ question, about whether the Twelve also want to leave.  Of course they want to leave.  Their reason and will are screaming at them to leave. All the sensible people have already left.  “But Lord, to whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life?” 
     Peter can only, and just barely, hold on to the Gospel of Life.  But that is enough, and actually an overstatement, because it is the Gospel that is holding on to Peter.  God’s gracious will continues to unfold, the Cross looms near, and with it comes the Resurrection, where all our impossibilities and the vanities of our bound lives dissolve in peace and joy. 

     The song we have drawn from John 6 to introduce the Gospel ought to be in a minor key.  But no matter, the words are good and right to memorize, and sing, for they do end in joy.  

      God grant you to remain with Jesus, hearing His Word of eternal life, for it is for you, and your people. 

La Paz de Cristo sean con todos vosotros.  D

p.s. While you were reading, we hit 300 km/hour.  Say what you like about socialism, the Spaniards have sweet trains.