Kenosis

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had the fortune to look into the Creeds of the Church and the history behind them with a bit more depth than usual. One of the central issues behind the Creeds is the dual nature of Jesus, who, as the Church holds, is both fully man and fully God. The implications of that being made a little more clear in a passage of Scripture known as the Kenosis Passage, Philippians 2:5-11

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Kenosis comes from the Greek word κενοω which means “to empty” or “to make void.” (http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G2758&t=NASB) Its traditional use is in regards to how Jesus emptied himself by taking on human form and making the move from divine to mundane. As has been mentioned before, this made him vulnerable to hunger, exhaustion, disease, stepping in camel poop, death, and ruptured relationship with himself should he sin. But throughout my life I’ve had the fortunate misfortune of being alongside family, loved ones, and friends as they struggled and suffered with the troubles life brings (along with the joys) and being human, have suffered many of those troubles myself. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve studied, the more I realized that becoming human wasn’t the final kenosis of Jesus. He could have been made a human and then become a king leading an army fed, healed, and even resurrected by his miracles. No one would have been able to stop him. His teaching and speaking ability could have made him a great rabbi and orator. Thousands more would have not only flocked to hear him teach, but paid money to study under him and learn from him. Instead he wandered the wilderness followed by a crowd of common, dirty, smelly people and specifically called poor fishermen and tax collectors and others who had been deemed unfit to continue studying in school and without a future in the religious teaching world. These people followed him and he had compassion on them. Looking at his life and ministry, he wept with the grieving, suffered with the suffering, and was low with the lowly. How often do we model this kenosis in our understanding of what it means to be Christian? What do we do to lower ourselves and our needs and quiet the million other things clamoring for our attention to be able to give that compassion and love to another human being?

Henri Nouwen says this about the compassionate life:

“The compassionate life is the life of downward mobility! In a society in which upward mobility is the norm, downward mobility is not only discouraged but even considered unwise, unhealthy, or downright stupid. Who will freely choose a low-paying job when a high-paying job is being offered? Who will choose poverty when wealth is within reach? Who will choose the hidden place when there is a place in the limelight? Who will choose to be with one person in great need when many people could be helped during the same time? Who will choose to withdraw to a place of solitude and prayer when there are so many urgent demands from all sides?” (Nouwen, Henri. Here and Now. p. 138)

How do we practice downward mobility, or as it has been called, kenosis?

 

 

 

Synon(amiss) – Why our approach to justice and mercy is missing the mark

Wow. We definitely need to think and look and do more on this.

Megan Westra

“Jesus and justice go together” he said.

 

It’s no news to me at this point, in some ways it’s astonishing to me that this is still news to some of my brothers and sisters in the U.S. Church.

I forget sometimes that my journey into God’s heart for justice is only a few years long.

I was in college interning with a nonprofit and watching Invisible Children with tears slipping down my cheeks into my cup of drink-to-do-good coffee.

I felt like I was going to change the world.  I watched the documentaries, bought the t-shirts, wore the bracelets, walked 3 miles without shoes on, talked about it to anyone who would listen, sponsored a Compassion kid and drank my fair-trade coffee.

Wonder Woman had better watch her back.  Now that Jesus had got ahold of me and instilled the call to “do justly, love mercy and walk humbly”…

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Music, Dancing, and the Kingdom of God

This is a much belated update, for which I apologize, but that’s because I have been rather busy for the past many weeks since I last updated. This will be the first of two posts (I’ll get around to the second one soon, I promise) talking about everything I’ve been up to.

Recently I found that CFLEC hosts a yearly English drama competition for many of the schools in the Cheonan area. It is a rather large to-do, with lots of schools and important people from the Office of Education attending. It was quite entertaining as the Korean elementary and middle schoolers did an excellent job of performing their skits and in some cases performing some surprisingly good coreography. One of the many things that we are expected to provide is intermission entertainment. So, as a word of warning for this next picture, I was Cinderella, and I’m quite the fetching blonde. (Taken with a cell phone camera by a friend)

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I also had the good fortune to attend the Baekche festival with some friends in the Korean city of Gongju (also spelled Kongju). The Baekche (also spelled Paekche) kingdom was one of the three kingdoms during the Three Kingdoms Period and lasted from 18 BCE-660 CE. It’s capital was moved to Gongju in 475 CE. There were lots of very interesting floats (literally) on the river and some excellent hiking around the hilltop fortress in the city. Korean festivals are a lot of fun and have a lot of different games and other forms of entertainment (such as fireworks, archery, and a performance by Girls Day, a famous K-pop band).

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Now for the meat of this post: the Cheonan International Dance Festival. When I first saw the banners advertising this, I figured it wouldn’t be very large and that “International” meant a bunch of Koreans imitating foreign forms of dance. To give some context, Cheonan is a city of about 500,000 people in a nation the size of Indiana that has multiple cities with populations numbering into the millions (Seoul 10.5 million, Busan 3.5 million, Daejeon 1.5 million, Suwon 1 million), so I figured that any truly international dance festival would be held in one of those cities. The last “International” festival that I had attended (the International Health and Well-Being Food Expo) was largely just Korean food being sold with a few interestingly grown vegetables being displayed and a small foreigner food area, and I figured it would be a similar thing. To my delight, I was incredibly wrong. I first heard from another teacher (who has been here for several years) that this dance festival is the party of the year and has crazy parades and people from all over. At this point I was pretty excited but still thinking it wouldn’t be much to look at. Then the festival came and Cheonan was packed. I was hearing about all of these different dance groups from so many different countries and I was get excited about the parade. Finally, the parade came and it was wonderful.

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There were dance teams from all over the world. Europe, South America, Asia Minor, India, and much of Southeast Asia were all in attendance. These people had flown for thousands of miles and practiced for hours just to perform at this festival, and it was glorious. The parade happened on two separate nights, and the day following the first parade had the competitions between the different dance teams. Furthermore, at the end of the parade, there was a massive dance party and everyone (the crowd, the dancers, the city officials in charge of the event) danced and made a conga line and just went crazy.

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Then the night of the second parade was when the magic happened. At the end of the parade route the dancers from all of the different countries kept dancing and started taking pictures with one another and making friends and playing music and just continuing to have a great time. If you aren’t aware, many of these different nations don’t have a very good history with one another (for example, there were two Japanese dance teams at a South Korean festival and competition and the Koreans are still very sore about the things that happened during the several decades of Japanese occupation) and in spite of all of the historic bad blood between many of the nations represented, these people were dancing together, laughing, playing music, and celebrating life. Getting to see this was like seeing a piece of the Kingdom of God unfold right in front of my eyes. In spite of years of conflict and bloodshed and hatred, these people forgot all of that and began to not only not be at conflict, but began to do something that resembled the presence of right relationship. There were Japanese, Koreans, Indonesians, Malaysians, people from Bali, Singapore, and so many other places, all dancing together. The conga lines from the previous night sprang back to life with renewed vigor, and laughter was the universal language as they danced. It was an absolute treat to see (I only have video of the dancing parts, and unfortunately I don’t have video upload capability on this blog unless I pay money, so I’ll see what I can do about that).

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This was the party of the year and I’m really looking forward to next year when this happens again. That’s all I have for this post, so I leave y’all with this:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” – Matthew 5:9