In this session Robyn Wrigley-Carr interviews Dr Brian McLaren about the themes of the book and in particular Part Three; God perpetually initiating, adoration and transfiguration.
Dr Brian McLaren is an American pastor, author, speaker, and leading figure in the emerging church movement. He founded Cedar Ridge Community Church in Spencerville, Maryland.
Start the session relaxing as a group. You could share a meal, go for a walk, or even just have a chat over a cup of tea. Whatever you do, make sure everyone feels at comfortable and at home. When it’s time to start moving towards the session’s content, shift the conversation towards prayer and ask everyone what their experience of prayer is.
You can structure this how you think best. If the group knows each other well already, a free-flowing conversation will be fine. If the group is less well established, it may be best to go round in a circle giving each person a brief opportunity to share their experience about the topic. Don’t let too much discussion develop at this point (if any). What’s important is that every begins to get comfortable talking and sharing and that you as leader get a gauge on where everyone is at.
So many Christians are like deaf people at a concert. They study
the programme carefully, believe every statement made in it, speak
respectfully of the music, but only really hear a phrase now and
again. So they have no notion of the mighty symphony that fills
the universe, to which our lives are destined to make their tiny
contribution, the self-expression of the Eternal God. Yet there are
plenty of things in our normal experience that imply the existence
of that music, that life.
The Transfiguration is one of the most astonishing and significant
incidents in the Gospels. Christ, a loved Master to those nearest
to Him, takes them up onto the Mountain of Prayer. And there a
revelation of the hidden mystery of His Life and Presence is suddenly made. He is changed. We cannot say much about it because
this experience transcends our ordinary apparatus of thought. We
try to express a splendour that doesn’t belong to our order – His
face shining as the sun, which we cannot look at; and His clothing
white as light, ‘much whiter than any bleach on earth can whiten
them’, says the homely Mark. The One we have read about, tried to obey and follow, Who’s given us His intimate, cherishing love, is
transfigured. We see in Him the Mystery Incarnate: the Presence
that reveals to us more than Itself. And in the shining Presence,
Moses and Elijah are talking with Him. The veil of separation parts
for a moment and we’re allowed to glimpse something of the rich
mystery of the Divine Life Christ came to share with humanity.
Music of Eternity is a beautiful metaphor to describe God and his presence. It is a rich window into the presence of God, not just as a concept, but something we receive, feel its rhythm and be moved by it. We must have an understanding that whatever is received is received according to the manner of the receiver. What we expect, we receive. God meets us where we are – as we open up and expect God to move we will receive that measure.
In terms of the idea of God perpetually coming to us is deeply embedded in the scriptures but paradoxically, even when God is always coming, He is always present! Perhaps the phrase coming of God is less about but more about preparing our hearts to receive what God has got for us. It’s as if the word presence is a verb – God ‘presenses Himself’ in our lives.
One of the themes of the book is about what we can do if we lose expectancy that God is coming to us. If we are ministering to people experiencing pain, from the circumstances of life we need to be present for these people and embody the love of God to them. We do not need try and win a theological argument but rather show compassion and love.
The transfiguration of Christ is an interesting meditation in the book. In this account we get a glimpse of the mystery of the divine life; Evelyn says that the most intimate experiences we have of God are only mere scraps of the mystery of the Transcendent pressing through. Sometimes, in our human thinking, we want to turn a spiritual encounter into a monument, just in case it is not there tomorrow – something to mark the occasion. Instead, perhaps we should be led by Jesus back down the mountain to the people who need to experience the same. This is following the example Jesus gave after His transfiguration experience. There was work to be done!
As we wait eagerly for the new heaven and earth, the culmination of Gods perpetual coming, let’s not miss the mighty symphony filling the universe right now! In each possible moment there is life; fingerprints of God in creation. The beauty and wonder in right here and now.