Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Streetwise: After the Spirit

Eugene Rogers on the economy of giving between Father and Son, and that economy's implications for our feasting in the Eucharist and the practices that arise from that engagement:

"Jesus and the Father, like Isaac and Abraham, are oddly not at odds. Jesus like Isaac is willing. Abraham and Isaac, Jesus and the Father are at one in pursuing the promise. That feature of the stories is odd enough to become one reason why Christians say that both Jesus and the Father are God, so that God’s sacrifice is first of all a sacrifice of himself. Thus we return to the feast. “This is my body,” Jesus says, “given for you.” God would renew the feast even on the night in which he was betrayed. A vain attempt, perhaps; a death-bed wedding. But God risks the worst that human beings can do – crucifixion, child sacrifice – and transforms it into yet another invitation to the feast, another occasion of gift. God gives back for love the son that Molech would kill; God gives back for feasting the body the Romans would break. When Christians break the bread of communion, it is the breaking of God’s own body that they enact. By God’s dramatic irony it does not so much break apart, as break open: the Trinity takes this occasion to lay itself open – O Felix dilatio – and human beings, with Abraham and Sarah under the Oaks of Mamre, join Father, Son, and Spirit in feasting. Surely the feast of Abraham will turn hostility into hospitality…It is part and parcel of this pattern that the community formed by the Eucharist provides a means to resist both evil and victimage: Turning the other cheek, walking the extra mile, loving one’s enemies, and praying for those who persecute one both expose evil and preserve agency. Then the promise will be fulfilled that by the name of Abraham all the nations of the earth shall be – not curses – but blessings to one another."

-Eugene Rogers,
After the Spirit: A Constructive Pneumatology from Resources Outside the Modern West. p.129

And on prayer within God:

"You might also try to undo the offense of talking about prayer in God by claiming that Jesus’ prayer is still, if not account of some non-divine human being, nevertheless on account of the Incarnation. That may be, but I find it shallow. That would disallow the presence of bidding and granting and courteous structures in the divine love. Rather, the testimony of Romans 8 and Luke’s account of the Transfiguration reverse the order of implication. They do not imply that only humans can pray to God. They imply that only God can pray to God, so that when human beings pray, they are caught up into the triune activity of the Persons praying one to another. That is why the Spirit has to “pray for us,” as Romans so clearly puts it. On this account, prayer is what the Trinity does, and that is the explanation for why prayer “works,” if it works. Prayer does not “change God’s mind”: prayer is a transfiguration of human beings who do not know how to pray as they ought." P. 174

Great stuff: tolle, lege!



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