The Presbyterian Women of the Presbyterian Church (USA)
participated in a Re-Imagining Conference 
in Minneapolis, November 4 - 7, 1993.
The Conference called for addressing 
injustices to women world-wide
and promoting equal leadership with men
throughout all phases of religious experience and expression.
It emphasized the fundamental need
of Re-Imagining God and Christian theology
to get past male-centered language, imagery and authority,
and referenced Sophia as the Old Testament personification of wisdom.

It was bold and beautiful,
and swiftly laid aside 
by the General Assembly of the PCUSA meeting in June, 1994,
saying the Conference 
"went beyond the boundaries" of Reformed theology.

With that judgment,
the chances for a new vision for the church
were formally laid to rest. 

Formerly laid to rest.
They are presently stirring to life.

The Status Quo is crumbling beneath our very feet.
We always grow up against our will,
or not--
and are now faced with re-imagining God
or being forever arrested in our development
and never knowing what might have been
if we had only been more courageous and imaginative.

Re-imagining God is re-imagining the Church
is re-imagining the People
is re-imagining ourselves,
is reinventing ourselves,
is making all things new.

By "turning the light around."

"Turning the light around,"
is an Old Taoist phrase
that became an Old Zen phrase
(Zen is what happened
when Taoism met Buddhism),
that continues to be the crux of the matter
in every awakening/re-imagining/reinventing experience.
We do not wake up
without turning the light around.

When we turn the light around,
we look within.
We examine ourselves.
We explore ourselves.
We seek ourselves.

The Old Taoists/Zenists would ask us,
"What is the face that was yours
before your parents (or grandparents)
were born?"

They would be asking,
"What is your Original Nature?"

It all starts with,
and flows from,
our aligning ourselves with--
living in accord with--
as servants of--
our Original Nature.

Who we were born to be.

It is the Story of Adam and Eve
in the Garden of Eden.
Which is also the Story of Jesus of Nazareth
in the Garden of Gethsemane.

It is our story.

It is the story of who we are,
and who we were born to be,
and how do we--
here and now--
at this point in our life--
re-imagine ourselves
to be more like we were born to be
and less like we have become.

By turning the light around.

All it takes is, at once,
the hardest possible thing,
and the simplest imaginable thing.
We are never more than one slight
perspective shift
from the Kingdom of Heaven.

The distance of the Hero's Journey
(Which is also called "The Spiritual Journey,"
which is also called "Growing Up")
is the distance from the left side of our brain
to the right side of our brain.
Or, it is the distance from our head to our heart.

We don't have to go on some long pilgrimage.
We don't have to cross the oceans,
or crawl forever on our knees across burning deserts.
We only have to change our mind
about what's important.

(Sin is only being wrong about what is important.
is being right about what is important.
Changing our mind is how we get there--
by re-imagining what is important.
By turning the light around.)

It is hell.
The distance between the Garden of Eden
and the Garden of Gethsemane
is hell.
What would you go to hell for?
It is like dying.
What would you die for?

Would you go to hell
before you would dare to re-imagine God?

If so, you do not have what it takes
to turn the light around.

If re-imagining God
would be worse for you
than going to hell,
you do not have what it takes
to do the work of re-imagining God--
of re-imagining yourself--
of being different than you are.

Forget the face that was yours
before you were born.
You have become who you are,
and that is all you will ever be.
Dead, Jesus called it.
"Leave the dead to bury the dead,"
he said.
He raised the dead,
but he couldn't do anything 
with those who refused to change their minds.
They were deader than dead.
Nothing can be done for people like that.

How free are we to re-imagine God,
the Church,
How different can we allow God to be?

Do we have what it takes for the journey
from the left side of our brain
to the right side?
Do we have what it takes to 
turn the light around?

We are all with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Will we die to our old way of life 
(Of thinking)
and take a chance on being resurrected on the third day?
Will we change our mind about what is important?
Will we live or will we die?
What kind of life will we live?
What kind of death will we die?

The time is at hand.
What will we do?

Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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