Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Journey to Jesus - Kneeler Stage

Now that we have covered the stages of conversion, the need for conversion, the Apostle's Creed, and the Lord's Prayer, it is time for us to move into the 'kneeler' stage (for the overview of the series, start here). The kneeler stage fits perfectly with the season of lent, as it is reflective and asks the question, "how do I become more like Jesus?"

At this point, I teach the kids the circle and we walk through a few kairos moments to help them get the hang of asking the questions, "what is God saying? and how will I respond?" The kids draw the circle on a bright piece of paper and I ask them to hang it somewhere visible in their house where they and their parents can use it to discuss any kairos moments that come up during the week.

After we've gone through the circle, I tell the kids a joke. But they never laugh. The reason they don't laugh is because I don't actually tell the joke, I only say the punchline. Because they don't know what came before, the punchline isn't funny and they don't get it. I act all naive and pretend that I just don't understand why they don't think it's funny. When they finally explain to me that I have to tell the first part of the joke or the punchline isn't funny, I feign surprise and amazement. Then I tell them the beginning of the joke and the punchline now makes sense.

This is like our life with God. If we don't know what has happened before we were born into the story, chances are that much of the story of our life won't make any sense. Using the basic outline of Epic, by John Eldredge, I tell the kids the grand narrative of our story. While I tell the story, they draw a picture for each of the acts to help them remember.

Act 1: Eternal Love, fellowship, community of the Trinity
Act 2: Rebellion, Jealousy, God's character is questioned by Satan & his angels, who are cast out of heaven.
Act 3: Creation, Fall, Flood, Exodus, Nation of Israel, Exile, Rebuilding of the Temple, Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Pentecost, Early Church, all of history up until now.
Act 4: Christ Returns, Restoration of all things, New Heaven, New Earth, Eternal love, fellowship, community of the Trinity with humanity.

From this explanation of the story, we see that loving community is the beginning of the story and loving community is the continual movement of the story. Everything can be understood as God's goal of restoring, renewing, establishing loving community with humanity.

Now that we see the overarching story, we recognize that we live in a story that is incomplete. There is a protagonist (a hero) and an antagonist (an enemy) and humanity / creation is the place where that conflict is played out. The antagonist seeks to thwart loving community with the Trinity at every turn, and God keeps inviting humanity into loving community with Himself. Our role is to receive the invitation into loving community with the Father, Son & Holy Spirit, and humanity and to resist the natural inclination (sin) to turn against God and humanity.

This is where we find ourselves in our kairos moments. When we experience strong emotions, it is often because we are feeling the pull to turn against or to receive God's invitation to be loved and embraced. These are the moments that shape and form us as we continually make choices to receive or resist the invitation to loving community. This is the battle we face throughout our lifetime.

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