Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Imago Dei - Image of God

This post is the result of the collision of several different trains of thought. 

I have been posting on various days as we have moved from Thanksgiving to Christmas, art in various forms as my “hymn” for the day.  For, Christmas Eve, I had in mind to share a clip from one of our traditional family Christmas movies, The Family Stone.  Simple right…

But this whole thing this past week over Duck Dynasty, and extending back maybe a little further, the debate on whether or not Santa and even Jesus is white, it has been frankly, a little irritating.  And I say this carefully.  There are many people I know well who are quite incensed at what was said initially by Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson.  This to them is very personal, and they have every right to be upset.  I am not irritated because they are upset, or even because others are jumping to his defense.  What irritates me is that much of the conversation is diatribes from both sides, doing little by creating more fires of hatred, fanned on by a sickening media hungry for controversy.  We have lost it seems the necessary grace and patience for civil discourse – we are not interested in discovering the position of others because we are to firmly entrenched in our own.

And then the morning of Christmas eve in the gym, I find myself watching a piece on the remarkable transformation in the papacy.  Video and images of Pope Francis doing and saying things that are not only shaking up the church he leads, but getting people across the Christian faith to take a good look at themselves through the prism of what the bible says about what we should be like as followers of Jesus.  I’m no expert on other faiths, but I suspect he has earned quite a bit of respect and has unleashed some soul searching there also.

And as they showed again, images of the pope embracing a man terribly disfigured by what I don’t know, it occurred to me…

Imago Dei - Image of God

The creation story in the Christian bible, probably quite similar in the Jewish Torah instructs us that God made us in the image of God, that we reflect the nature of God, even that we are godlike.  The problem is, we don’t really believe this, not about ourselves much of the time, and certainly not about those who are radically different to us, who do not look like us, do not think like us, or do things we find unspeakable horrors…

As a good friend of mine, Nar Martinez has said, “If the God you serve is always for everything you like and against all the things you hate, you've simply made him up.”

Imago Dei – Phil Robertson was made in the image of God, before and after he apologized for the hurtful, but deeply held personal beliefs he shared

Imago Dei – Syrian refugees, not just white Christians were made in the image of God

Imago Dei – Regardless of how we were coming into this world, or have become, we were made and remain in the image of God

Imago Dei – Megyn Kelly and all who have had fun publically mocking her for the silly things she said – yes – all of them – made in the image of God

Imago Dei – the least amongst us, and those who are unaware of them – again, made in the image of God

Imago Dei – these three boys, now facing murder charges for killing an Australian baseball player “for the fun of it” – also made in the image of God

We want God to be just like us, well mostly anyway.  But God is not so limited.  Most simply as I see it, all of us are like God – if not, God is not like us at all?  God is so immense, it takes all of creation, and all of humanity as the jewel of that creation to gain just a hint of what God is like.

And so back to The Family Stone, and why it had particular significance as my mind wandered this Christmas.  The Dinner scene as it is described on the DVD and generally can be found in searches holds for me a pretty darn good image of why God decided to intervene in such an extravagant way as unfolded that first Christmas.  And it also contrasts in the same character, our human limitations.  I am not tech savvy enough to extract a more focused segment, but the whole five minutes is worth the watching to understand the whole story and probably makes more sense anyway. 

After the stiff, starchy and quite conservative Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) fumbles around and through what I perceive as ignorance and insensitivity (as opposed to hate) insults and belittles gay people in particular, but also black people, Sybil (Diane Keaton), the matriarch of the family says and signs to her deeply hurt deaf and gay son, “I love you”.
Dinner Scene - The Family Stone
God’s love for us is not predicated on whether we are black or white, male or female, adherents of the Christian, Muslim or any other faith, gay – straight – lesbian - bi-sexual or transgendered, powerful and privileged or poor and marginalized.  We were created in the image and likeness of God, and yet right from the outset, different, yet no indication of inequality.  And so that is my takeaway, and I hope also perhaps one of yours this Christmas – that God Loves You.  And if God loves you, as Pope Francis shared insightfully and wisely this year, “who am I to judge”.

Genesis 1:26-28, The Message (emphasis mine)
God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them

        reflecting our nature

    So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,

        the birds in the air, the cattle,

    And, yes, Earth itself,

        and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”

    God created human beings;

        he created them godlike,

    Reflecting God’s nature.

        He created them male and female.