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...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Interdependency...and weak links

I skied today. It was a different kind of skiing, the first time out for some used gear I purchased while teaching in Austria this past December. Maybe you've heard of randonee skiing? Your skis can function as cross country skis, with a free heel and some skins attached, so that you can ski uphill. Once you've summited, you're able to lock down the back heel, peel the skins off, and ski down the same way you do with regular alpine skis. Today it looked like this: One hour and fifteen to the top - an apple and a few pictures, and then ten minutes to the bottom! The fun is literally indescribable, because of course you're skiing 'out of bounds' (a big thrill to a conformist like me), and so have access to untracked powder, of which there was plenty, and abundant solitude, even on a perfect day like today.

On the way home, I stopped to have my gear checked out by the experts in hopes that tomorrow I might try something a little more taxing, something that would actually challenge the gear. For five bucks I received a tune up of the skis, and a professional assessment of their limitations. They looked them over and explained the entire set up to me, the interplay of boots, skis, and bindings. They tried to sell me a much bigger package, but I realized that (never mind the money... this is just hypothetical theory) if I purchased new skis and bindings my boots would suddenly be the weakest link. You see, in the present moment, all three pieces of my gear are perfectly matched for what I might call, "blue square" skiing. In other words, I can get up to the top of anything with this equipment, but coming down I'll need to make broad lines, travessing across faces rather than screaming down the fall line (known as black diamonds). When skiing in bounds, I often prefer the fall line and the screaming, but my set up comes from Austria, where randonee often means this: ski up to a hut. Eat some schnitzel and schnaps, and then ski down the gentle, groomed face of the ski area. It's a good life by any measure. But this particular trinity of skis, boots, and bindings is desigend for just that: the good life; not screaming.

This evening, pondering the encounter at the ski shop, I realized that perfect interdependency is a requirement in order for the end result to reach the desired goal. This is, no doubt, the truth of it with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each play a significant role. Each depends on the other. Take the bindings away, or the Holy Spirit... and the whole operation falls apart. The Godhead is able to do what they do because each one plays their part perfectly.

I saw this in action today as boots, bindings, skis, all worked together enabling me to participate with them in what they're able to do. If any part had failed, my day is miserable, dangerous even. Of course, this too is the gospel. The interdependency of the Godhead is intended to enable us to participate with God in His redemptive purposes, making His life and hope visible in this world. For this to happen, we must be rightly connected to all three elements of the Godhead. When we're disconnected, even properly working equipment has no value. This is no small challenge to the church, as history indicates our trendy fixations with various elements of the trinity, rather than a triune devotion to all three. I fear that many are 'into Jesus' but afraid of the Holy Spirit, or find God the Father to be somehow distant, cruel even. Such selective appropriation of God's personhood is damaging in every way.

Did I mention the poles? Of course not, because that would destroy the silly trinitarian metaphor. What do the poles represent? Para-church ministries? Institutional Christanity? Christian Broadcasting? Blogs like this one? After all, poles make the journey more enjoyable, but they aren't really necessary for survival.

And just look at the people skiing who don't use their poles!

What do you think?

It's getting late...


At 13/3/09 06:53, Anonymous jess said...

yet another post on interdependence right as i am teaching interdependence in the garden to my students this year. it is nice to get a perspective apart from "why i need friends" or "pollinators in the garden". we need balance in all areas of our lives, but that can be easy to forget at times. personally, i find myself putting slightly too much focus on trying to live like Jesus. while that is important, i also have to remember to stay connected to the other two in the trinity. after all, as i tell my students nearly every day "everything is connected". thank you for being a challenging reminder.

(and i am with you, we do not need poles.)

At 13/3/09 09:14, Blogger Lilly Roadtrip said...

the conditions are great right now--I am glad you are getting out to enjoy it. how does this metaphor relate to snowboarding? ha! I guess that's why they call it the darkside! I am planning on constructing a splitboard though, should be a fun project.

At 15/3/09 06:35, Blogger Living-dom said...

I think poles, helmets, etc. are God's provision for the unexpected.

At 10/4/09 21:10, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



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