Monday, 3 November 2014

Hallowed Light

The new season of BEYOND happenings began on 2nd November with Hallowed Light, following closely on the back of Halloween and being on All Saints Sunday.
For this series of seven events we are taking a phrase from the Lord's Prayer and associating it with one of Jesus 'I Am' sayings from the gospel of John.  This first event paired up 'hallowed by your name' with 'I am the Light of the World' to help us understand something of the identity of God.

We thought about our own identity and it's relationship to our names, we looked at some of the names of God in the Old Testament before focussing on Jahweh as the sacred name of God given to Moses when he encountered the burning bush.

Richard Rohr has written about this name and its meaning for us throughout out lives:

Breathing Yahweh
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the Jewish revelation of the name of God. As we Christians spell and pronounce it, the word is Yahweh. In Hebrew, it is the sacred Tetragrammaton YHVH (yod, he, vay, and he). These letters are breathed, with the tongue relaxed and lips apart. YHVH was considered a literally unspeakable word for Jews, and any attempt to know what they were talking about was “in vain.” As the commandment said: “Do not utter the name of God in vain” (Exodus 20:7). For all attempts to fully think God are in vain. From God’s side, the divine identity was kept mysterious and unavailable to the mind. When Moses asked for the divinity’s name, he received only the phrase that translates “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14).

This unspeakability has long been recognized, but now we know it goes even deeper: formally the name of God was not, could not be spoken at all—only breathed. Many are convinced that its correct pronunciation is an attempt to replicate and imitate the very sound of inhalation and exhalation. Therefore, the one thing we do every moment of our lives is to speak the name of God. 

This makes the name of God our first and last word as we enter and leave the world.
There is no Islamic, Christian, or Jewish way of breathing. There is no American, African, or Asian way of breathing. There is no rich or poor, gay or straight way of breathing. The playing field is utterly leveled. It is all one and the same air, and this divine wind “blows where it will” (John 3:8). No one can control this Spirit.

When considered in this way, God is suddenly as available and accessible as the very thing we all do constantly—breathe, the same breath that was breathed into Adam’s nostrils by this Yahweh (Genesis 2:7); the very breath “spirit” that Jesus handed over with trust on the cross (John 19:30) and then breathed on us as shalom, forgiveness, and the Holy Spirit all at once (John 20:21-23). And it is wonderful that breath, wind, spirit, and air are precisely nothing—and yet everything.

We then took some time to meditate on this while creating or own burning bush and listening to a piece of music by John Reynolds entitled Sunshine which you can hear here.

Being reminded of God's pronouncement to Moses that his name is 'I Am' took us to Jesus declaration of himself as the light of the world.

John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke out, “I am the light of the world. The one who follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

1 John 5: This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. 

1 Thess 5:5 For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night.

Julian of Norwich reflected on this theme:
"Thus I saw and understood that our faith is our light in the night; which light is God, our endless day." 

We closed with an opportunity for everyone to make a pledge to bring light into the world.

The next happening is entitled Kingdom Come and is at St. Luke's church at 8pm on Sunday 30th November, details are here.

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