Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Friday, January 12, 2007

Come in from the Cold

I shot this picutre earlier this winter. It seems to capture the essence of the words from this song by Joni Mitchell. Joni's one of us boomers who's still got it. She continues to articulate longings for meaning and intimacy, continues to ask the question, continues to give voice to the search. I love that she does it with such grace and artistry. The essence of the song seems to be that, looking back on life, whether dancing in Jr. High or protesting the Vietnam war, or becoming suspicious of fame as an adult, Joni's life has been about wanting to 'come in from the cold'.

Indeed. It's a cold world: cold relationships, cold and calculating decisions, cold-war, cold corporate culture... and all we ever wanted was a place of warmth and safety. Might we find it through a world progressing towards justice? How about in intimate relationships on the home front? I love the way she looks back and see this longing to escape the cold in everything she's done.

It's way too easy (dishonestly simplistic really) to say, "Jesus is the warmth this cold world needs", because the reality is that his followers suffer deeply and face alienation and coldness just like the rest of the world. Perhaps the difference though, isn't that we have immunity from cold - but rather that we see ourselves as part of story that will eventually result in a vast melting of all that destroys and paralyzes, and separates. Perhaps Jesus' warmth will be a flame that will bring hope, even in the coldness of our own hearts.

This has been my experience. The presence of Jesus hasn't granted me a magical ticket to bliss, neither in my marriage, nor any other realm. Rather, in the midst of our cold world, there is a flame burning, a source, to which I return regularly for hope. I'm telling you, as crazy as it's sounds, it's real. Maybe we can't escape the cold completely. But there's a flame around which many are gathering each day. They're finding not only warmth for their own hearts, but the capacity to share the Source, as hospitals, and AIDS ministries, and refugee camps, and economic development, and addiction treatments, and so much more happen - ushering in the thaw that is 'all we ever wanted.'


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