Today’s Word from Pastor Tom Kidd…
We are a dog family. We have two rescue dogs, Gucci 14 and Cleo is 6. It is typical of us to have an older dog and a younger dog. We have found it helpful to have an older citizen mentor a younger one in the ways of dogdom in the Kidd household. This is about the 3rd generation we have hosted. “Sir” was my first dog (predates the lovely Brenda Magdaline) who went to seminary with me, raised our three kids and probably is responsible for our marriage surviving the first years. Our son has a rescue dog, oldest daughter has two (and a two-year-old) and youngest daughter has one. You get the idea; we are a dog family. Rescue dog family.
This year has been a bit of a challenging year for the Kidd family and our rescue dogs. Cleo had what amounted to doggie ACL surgery and then one week before Christmas was run over by a vehicle who confused 35 MPH with 55 MPH. This happened to be but days after Brenda had her knee replaced (way to go Bren!). Worst Christmas in 45 years! Shortly afterwards youngest daughter and son-in-law had to put down their beloved pup. Shortly thereafter Gucci ad a tumor successfully removed from her liver. All totaled we have put down seven dogs. Besides mammoth vet bills (we are poster children for pet insurance… which we do not have), we know well the life cycle of rescuing and loving creatures in a shared life and then loving them to death. The last part never gets easier. Never.
There is something offensive, I find, in a religion that intimates that all life before Jesus was just prelude for God’s master plan for deliverance waiting to kick in. Like it didn’t matter. I find it equally offensive to suggest that current life alongside of Jesus, that lays claim to God by another tradition, is equally fodder for God’s wrath. This is a stingy God; one that I am not interested in following or calling Lord. The answer, I believe, is in the Christ. Christ is a lot more than Jesus’ last name. The Christ has been from the very beginning, “Through him all things were made… In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood it… though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.” John writes in the first chapter of his Gospel of this mystery of “the Christ” which resided in Jesus. The Christ is more than Jesus’ last name, the Christ existed from the beginning and has been the living presence of God in all of creation.
How? How has God been present in all of creation? How has God been actively revealing God’s self in the millennia before Jesus or in the course of history alongside of Jesus? Christ is present in great love and in great suffering; which all individuals have experienced from the beginning of time. Fr. Richard Rohr, in “The Universal Christ,” suggests that only great love and only great suffering are sufficient, especially when twinned with Jesus, to strip us of our “imperial ego” and open our lives to the transcendence of God. This has been the active property of the Christ since the beginning of time; God being present with us in our great love and in our great suffering. “Any kind of authentic God experience will usually feel like love or suffering, or both” (Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 51).
Which circles back to the story of our rescue pets. It feels reminiscent of God’s activity in our world… In Jesus we watch how God has rescued us and loves us through life and eventually loves us to death. What’s more, we learn how that’s what God has done for all of creation through the Christ from the very beginning. God can most easily be accessed in times of great suffering and in great love. I love Paul’s image of the church being the bride of Christ in the world. Here we are just loving each other through life and ultimately loving each other to death. Kind of like our household’s current life with Gucci and Cleo… we still need pet insurance, though.
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