Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ordination Papers - Understanding of God

Here you go, another answer for the Board of Ordained Ministry's questionaire, the answers to which will go a long way toward determining whether or not I am ordained next Spring. This time, from the "Theology and Doctrine" section. Comments are appreciated:

1. Understanding of God
a. Theologically describe your current understanding of God.

I feel like the closer I get to understanding who God is, the more I realize there is to know. God’s capacity to be understood is infinite, so my current understanding is a relatively minuscule fragment, a single grain of sand in the vastness of the cosmos. I know God most fully in the incarnation, Christ Jesus of Nazareth. In Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection, I glimpse God at work in the world, and by patterning my life after the example of Jesus, I strive to live as God’s ongoing incarnation even now. As such, I come to understand God by striving to live as God desires, and my striving to live as God desires is informed by who I understand God to be.

I ground this dynamic understanding of God in my faith in YHWH, the God whose very name is a verb. In Exodus 3:14, It is written that God self-identifies as “I Am Who I Am” or “I Will Be What I Will Be,” thereby linking faith and action in an inextricable bond. The scriptures record the story of a God who creates, makes covenant, liberates, saves, heals, and most of all, loves. It is by these actions in history that God has been known for generations. And in Christ Jesus, God acted in the most complete way possible; God became human. In the act of incarnation, God became Emmanuel, or “God with us,” and gave the world a life pattern to follow. I have come to know Jesus through study and prayer, and I believe that as I follow the life pattern of Jesus, I come to understand more about God. That understanding then further informs my actions, and the resultant cycle of action and reflection facilitates my continued spiritual growth.

b. How has the practice of ministry affected your experience and understanding of God?
The practice of ministry has given me numerous opportunities to interact with people at many different life moments – birth, death, marriage, sorrow, celebration, and more. These relationships have afforded me glimpses of God at work in a variety of ways – a comforter for the grieving, a liberator for the oppressed, a burst of energy for the lethargic, a savior for the sinner, an uncomfortable agitator for the self-centered, a partner in joy, etc. The sheer volume of God’s capacity for active, vital, incarnate presence in people’s lives that I have witnessed and participated in over the short course of my ministry is indescribable. As a minister of Jesus Christ, it is my privilege to be able to help people name and claim the ways God is active in their lives. And as I have done so, my own knowledge and understanding of God has grown in the process, with the result that I am better equipped to name and claim how God is present in my own life.


Anonymous said...

Hi Andy,
Great answers. Don't worry, I won't copy your work. Some of that stuff sounds a lot like things I was writing about in Credo. When did you become a poet? This fish is flying again. Thanks for your advice. I am a vision caster. I also have been delegating, and we had a great snow storm here. I saw your blog listed at YANet. Really, I am sure with answers like this you will not only be ordained, but you will continue to shape the character of excellent ministry in your conference and in the United Mehtodist Church. Grace and peace, Princess Leah.

St. Peter's UCC said...

AndyB, at a statewide UCC thing last weekend, a guy named David Schoen gave us a unique translation of "I Am..." that he claimed carried some scholarly weight.

"I Will Be What the Future Demands"



Anonymous said...

I could be biased, but your answers to those ordination questions seem extraordinarily perceptive, informed and inspired to me. cb