in the beginning was the Word
and the Word was with God
and the Word was God . . .
and the Word became flesh
and dwelt among us
Those familiar words from John, along with the rest of the first seventeen verses of Chapter One, were the text for Ginger’s sermon. As she talked about the Word – the Logos – she offered a twist on the translation, looking at word roots:
in the beginning was the Logic of God
and the Logic was with God
and the Logic was God . . .
and the Logic became flesh
and dwelt among us
John was saying what happened in the Incarnation gave us a look into the mind of God, into the way God thinks. The God of Creation and Incarnation is one who thinks relationally enough to become human and say things like, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” As she talked, another translation ran through my mind
in the beginning was the Imagination
and the Imaginaton was with God
and the Imagination was God . . .
and that Imagination became flesh
and dwelt among us
I thought about it again tonight reading a piece on the Israeli attacks in Gaza by Gene Stoltzfus, Director Emeritus of Christian Peacemaker Teams. Before I quote him, I have to set it up a bit. Last night, Jon Stewart did his own bit on situation, called “Strip Maul,” in which he showed clips of various American leaders – George W. Bush, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney, Jon Corzine, Mark Sanford, George Will, and Michael Bloomberg — giving unabashed support to Israel’s response to violence with overwhelming violence. Bloomberg “brought it home” by saying:
If you’re in your apartment and some emotionally disturbed person is banging on the door screaming, “I’m going to come through this door and kill you,” do you want us to respond with one police officer, which is proportional, or with all the resources at our command?
A couple of things. One, the Palestinians are not emotionally disturbed or crazy. The people who are being killed in the Israeli attacks are mostly civilians – now over 500 of them – who have nowhere to hide. Two, if all the imagination our leaders can muster to respond to what is happening is to validate the violence, we are in serious trouble. What they describe is not what is happening. Here is a video clip from CBS News.
With all of that on my mind and heart, I was glad to come across Gene Stoltzfus’ statement because I could see some of God’s imagination seeping through his very thoughtful and faithful words. And I quote:
Today I grieve over what is happening in the region of Gaza. Is there anything I can do? Am I limited to government statements, last minute diplomacy, or immobilizing personal outrage? How do I respond from this place of despair? What do I tell the children? Is this the time when the posture of prayer may provide the oppenness toward a solution waiting for recognition?
When people are pressed to the limit of their flesh, they find a way to struggle. The people of Gaza — whose democratically elected government more powerful nations rejected and who have been suffering under Israel’s crippling blockade — are not the first people to do so. Suicidal missions happen in most wars. Soldiers serving a cause in which they believe — freedom, empire, democracy, or religion — know they may die for the cause. They believe, sometimes with positive outcomes, that their sacrifice might reach beyond the limits of today’s reason into tomorrow’s solutions.
Where do those of us outside of Palestine and Israel, those of us who reject violence, turn for a resolution? Thousands of boardrooms, staff meetings, and grand peace councils set up to deal with crises like this have not produced solutions. As diplomats desperately grope for chimeral ceasefires, those involved in the conflict feel despair and guilt over lost opportunities. Will solutions ever come from diplomacy or councils? Will the sixty-eyar stalemate continue for another forty years — a full century of explaining the conflict to Christian, Jewish, and Muslim children?
Or can the Gaza crisis of 2008-2009 ignite our imaginations? Can we believe that our collective imaginations might help? Have we received one more opportunity to sharpen our senses for what divine mystery wants to reveal to us?
Religious and secular people committed to social justice and peacemaking are suspicious that meditation belongs only to the pious and those who hide behind spiritual exercises to avoid engagement. This split between people of action and people of prayer is a false dichotomy that appears in every tradition. If political analysis or raw activism could have provided the basis for peace in this region of God’s earth, it would have happened long ago. What has been lacking is the acknowledgment of unknown forces at work among and through patterns of violent conflict in Israel and Palestine.
The war in Gaza today invites me to prayer. I share our common desperation for a breakthrough. I don’t promise that prayer will enlighten my imagination in a fresh way. I will try because I know that liberation from false myths of security is born in times of violence. When a sign or a nudge to action comes, I hope I have the courage to follow it. And if it comes to you or me, we can share it with the people in the peace councils, in diplomatic corps, or organizations — share it with all the people on this journey with us. We may be here for just such a time as this.
Surely we are in this world to do more than justify the violence we see around us. This particular sentence challenges me:
I will try because I know that liberation from false mythis of sercurity is born in times of violence.
To see possibility in such an intractable conflict is Imagination become flesh. Perhaps it was what John had in mind when he said, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot put it out.”
May we be infected by the inextinguishable imagination of our God.