The Theology of Feathers and Bananna Peels

May 31, 2006

Read Feathers and Bananna Peels first, here.

I've been thinking more about feathers and bananna peels.  Specifically, thinking about how this relates to the Trinity.

I've been thinking about it like this:  God the Creator is like the parent, watching the little girl play with the feather, observe it, blow it.  Enjoying the reaction, loving her for it, believing that she can learn from it.  And when she takes that experience of how the world works and starts to apply it with others, and begins tearing up the bananna peel with her siblings, he hopes she doesn't make a big mess.  And if she does, he hopes she cleans it up.  When she fights with her sibling over the bananna peel in the milk, he doesn't judge her for it.  He doesn't interfere.  He understands that those are part of the interactions that she needs to mature.  That she needs to learn how to negotiate with others in order to become a fully functioning adult.  He understands that it is difficult sometimes.  But he also knows that we are here– that we have to have full free choice in order to learn and grow.  And that when we make the right choices– when my four year old finally uses words instead of hitting to get what she wants– those are the moments when God is delighted with us.  Those are the moments that make it worthwhile.

But God also knows that our fights, our troubles, our adventures aren't limited to bananna peels going into the cereal bowl.  God feels for us with our ups and with our downs.  And because God isn't here with us, and because we have a hard time with "things unseen", God sent Jesus here as a way to show us that he knows what it is like to go through those trials and tribulations.  That God understands what it is like to be human through Jesus.  Jesus suffers in solidarity with the world.  When we make a mess in the kitchen, when we fight over bananna peels, even when we blow feathers, Jesus experiences it with us because he lived it firsthand.  And he did that for us, not for God.  So that we might have something tangible, something seen and not unseen, to put our hands on.  Jesus came to let us know that God understands the world so much that we all receive infinite grace and are forgiven.  And that God hopes for us that we will live in love as we are loved.  That the loving parent expects us to grow into adulthood– to learn to "use our words" as I tell my four year old.  Translating that metaphor into something literal, I think that means to love as much as we can.  To see God in the "least of these."   To try and grasp the bigness of God, knowing that we never will, but also knowing that the fruit is in the journey towards that unreachable goal.  To make rights wrong.  Not rights in the sense of implementing the strict law of Leviticus or literal Scripture, but the strict law of the resurrection- that we are all able to be born and reborn over and over again as we grow into new stages of faith and trust in our relationship with our Creator.

How do we get there?  The Spirit guides us.  The Spirit gives us the resources, both to "fill our tank" in the soft, still moments of our quiet contemplation, as well as building the communities of love that allow us to flourish and do God's work in the world.  The Spirit knows just when to drop a feather into our lives.  She knows when to put a new brother or sister into our lives.  She gives us the communities that connect and bind us, one to another, without which we would be nothing.  The Spirit is the plumbing which is hidden but through which the essence of all life flows freely between all living things.  Sometimes gently guiding, other times shoving forcefully, we only need be open to the voice of the Spirit to hear her.  Whether we are open or not, she is always there working ceaselessly on our behalf, which happens to be also on God's behalf, as God's will is always what is best for us because God's love is so big.

God wants for us what we want.  Not the wants that are on the "top of mind" for us– material needs, or selfish desires.  But God wants our innermost dreams, the things that we want and are afraid to ask for, the things which we want but cannot, for a variety of reasons, ask or make for ourselves– God wants those things for us.  And God wants us to unlock those secrets for ourselves so that we can experience the joy of self-discovery.  In so doing, we unlock not only our own potential for self-realization, but also a more altruistic objective– the ability to serve our communities with our God-given talents from our most true-selves.

When this happens, we are free.  Free to love unconditionally.  Free to serve without fear.  Free to trust fully and surrender our lives to God.  We are no longer bound by the rules prescribed by our earlier constraints.  We can appreciate the differences in others without being threatened by them.  We can work for peace and justice with a source of compassion rather than anger.  We can work for inclusion to achieve love rather than justice.  We can work doing just about anything without our own burdens prohibiting our ministries from growing in the way that they could.

It isn't a fast road to get there.  It isn't a theological "switch" to throw.  In fact, I think it is much less theology than psychology.  It is much more about working to achieve a balance of mental health with spiritual health than theological health at all.  Once those two areas are healthy, the theology just flows in on its own.  The spirit makes sure of it.

So that's it.  Creator God, Jesus, Spirit.  And what they expect from us.  Basic Theology according to Jeff- the Theology of Feathers and Bananna Peels.  Let me know what you think!

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