Archive for the ‘Home’ Tag

Personhood, Distinction, and Our Union with the Blessed Trinity

When my older daughter Faith was about 4 years old we all sat down to watch a movie together as a family. It was probably a Disney, Barbie, or a My Little Pony cartoon but I can’t recall. What I do remember is an event that bowled me over theologically. You see, at the time I was only one year into my “Trinitarian transformation” and the Father, Son, and Spirit seemed to have me on such a fast track that nearly everything around me appeared to shout some aspect of the Gospel of our Inclusion in Jesus.

As we prepared the movie, Faith asked if I would make some popcorn popcorn-stovewith “extra, extra, extra butter”. I agreed and off I went to make real old fashioned stove top popcorn like my grandma Mary Ethel Winn used to make for us on her magic stove.

As the movie began Faith and I sat close so that we could share our bowl of popcorn. Just moments into the movie I found myself staring, jaw dropped, and wide-eyed at my 4-year old daughter. She wasn’t levitating or quoting Shakespeare, she was eating popcorn. Yep, I can guess that right now you might be thinking, “That Bill Winn sure is a weirdo.” Well, you might be right. You wouldn’t be the first person to ever tell me they wonder how my brain works and frankly I don’t know either except to say that more and more, in the past 10 years I have tried to make my brain more available to the Holy Spirit.

What I had a front seat to that night on the couch with Faith was her personhood, she’d always had it but in her development as a child it was becoming more obvious.  You see I was eating the popcorn too, and the butter and salt content was perfect (if I do say so myself). I was enjoying the popcorn but Faith was too, why? She was enjoying the popcorn because it tasted good and, as a distinct person in the Cosmos, she liked it.

We are distinct persons given a place in the Triune God’s Universe. The great news of the Gospel is that we have been included in the life of Jesus with his Father in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit and we will never lose our personhood. We will never not be us. Our inclusion and union must never be thought of like a droplet that gets included in a bucket of water. If we put a droplet of water in a bucket of the same substance it become indistinguishable from the rest of the water.

Our inclusion, our union, did not cause humans to disappear into God. No, our inclusion and union highlight us as persons so that we are more brightly shining as the Image of God than ever!

Humanity has been included in the Shared Life of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Trinity and Humanity- in unity, but forever distinct persons.

Thank you Jesus that you love me and have included me and that you value me so much that you have ensured that I will always be me and someday… a more awesomely Christ-like me than I can imagine!

~Bill Winn

Somewhere In God’s World

 

Recently we celebrated Veteran’s Day in the United States. It is a time when we honor those who have served our country in the Armed Forces. My Uncle Joe Winn is someone our family honors and respects greatly for his service to our country, his selfless life as a family man, and for the legacy he has left us in his children and grandchildren. Joe D. Winn made an impression on all of us in our family but I wanted to tell you about a time in 1945 when the events of Joe’s life impacted one little girl who was only 4 years old. You see after completing flight school in the Army Air Force, Second Lieutenant Joseph Daniel Winn was assigned to the island of Iwo Jima as a bomber escort flying the famed North American P-51D. On 28 July 1945 Joe was shot down during a strafing run over an airfield on the Japanese mainland. He was taken prisoner and (as were all allied flyers) classified by the Japanese as a war criminal.  One evening my Aunt Beth could hear her parents and grandmother talking about Joe. She was only 4 at the time but she recounts the story in this way. Joe Winn

 “Mama, where’s Joe?” No answer. “I heard you say Joe’s gone to ‘War’. Mama, where’s ‘War’?” “Honey, there are some things children shouldn’t hear. Please don’t ask any more questions.” Later, I heard Mama and Daddy talking about Joe again. They used words like “Japan” and “missing” and that enormous word, “War.” Mama was crying.  Young as I was, I knew where to get an answer. “Grandma, please tell me, where’s Joe?” Grandmother put her arms around me and held tight, so I wouldn’t see her tears, but I knew. “We don’t know exactly,” she said, “but wherever Joe is, that place is somewhere in God’s world.” Fear slipped away, just like that, as Grandmother’s words drew a picture in my mind: a circle of light surrounding and shrinking the dark place called “War.” Then Grandmother said, “Let’s say a prayer for Joe.” 

Being sent to Omori civilian prison in Tokyo, Joe and the rest of the boys in his cell block endured conditions too horrible to mention. One ray of hope came from their guard who had gone to school in the USA. As Japan’s surrender grew near the guards could be heard going from block to block executing the Allied P.O.W.s. Joe’s sympathetic guard locked the large steel door to their cell block and slid the only key under the door with instructions not to open it for any reason. Moments later Joe and his comrades heard the other prison guards shoot their friend who had just saved all of their lives. Joe made it home after the war, raised a wonderful family, and lived the rest of his life in peace. He is one of our family’s greatest heroes, though I doubt he ever thought of himself as such. 

So this Christmas if you find yourself unsure of where a loved one may be or if there is some reason you and a loved one are apart remember: Jesus is the Light of the Cosmos! (Jn.8:12) Jesus called his Father the Lord of Heaven and Earth. And Jesus himself declares that we are in him and he is in us. (Jn 14:20) This is indeed Triune God’s world and whether we know exactly where someone is at any given time, whether we worry about loved ones serving in the military, a son or daughter that we have not heard from in a while, whether we are estranged from family because of brokenness or divisions we must remember that where ever that person is they are in Jesus and in God’s world. It is no small comfort to know that we are all in Jesus and we are all ultimately safe as long as Jesus is safe. Just ask my Aunt Beth.

~Bill Winn

The Waiting Father

Luke 15: 11-32, for me, is one of the most beautiful passages of Scripture describing our Father’s love for all humanity.  It provides each one of us the foundation to stand before our Creator with no fear, no shame, no guilt, and no doubt.

A number of years ago my family and I were flying home from a vacation trip.  I entered into a rare moment of deep meditation, lost in my own thoughts.  A vision flooded my mind when my mom and I were waiting in the parking lot for my dad.  It had been years since I thought about those trips to pick him up from work to take him home.  I remembered very clearly, how, as a young boy, I would wait for the doors of the RCA plant to open at the 4 p.m. bell.  I eagerly waited to see my dad in the crowd, on his way “home.”  I remembered the joy of seeing him.  Although it brought a smile to my face, I didn’t know why I was recalling this, until I felt God’s presence speak to me.  In that moment, it became clear.  I heard God say to me, “that’s how I feel toward you.  I get the same joy of seeing you just like you did in seeing your dad come through those doors.”  I immediately broke into tears with an awkward hope no one was looking.  It became a very touching memory and metaphor of the Love our Father has in seeing and waiting for all of humanity, all of his children, “coming through the doors of life on their way home.”  He always smiles with joy at seeing you and me, just as I did, when I saw my dad.

Commentators have called the Parable of the Prodigal Son, many things.  The one I love the most is, “The Waiting Father.”

Breaking into the story, when the son requested his inheritance, his father had an amazing reaction.  There was no imposition of fear, or shame, or guilt, or doubt.  There was no anger, or punishment. He simply gave him what he asked for and let him leave on a trip leading to a life less than zero.  The son gathered what he had, left home, and “headed for Hollywood.”

Verse 17 begins with a beautiful line, “When he (the son) came to his senses…”  Because of God’s love for His creation He sent His Son to unite us forever and included us (and the entire cosmos) in Union with Him.  When Jesus died on the cross, he said, “It is finished.”  Our Union in Him is accomplished forever, and is irrevocable.  For any one human being to cease to exist, Jesus would have to cease to exist.  It is an accomplished fact. Unfortunately, most of humanity is included without a clue, until we come to our senses, believe, and come home.  When we do, we find a Waiting Father.  A Father who doesn’t wait for a moment, or a few years, or just in this lifetime (as some Christian friends may tell us) but one who will be waiting for eternity, as long as it takes.

In verse 20 we find that Waiting Father (waiting for his son to come home)…”but while he was still a long way off, his father saw him.”  The son had worked up a repentance speech to make his way back home into the family just as a hired servant, but his dad didn’t allow him to finish his speech.  He restored him to full fellowship in the family as if he never left.  His dad didn’t allow sin to separate him from his son.  He had been his son, and the relationship with his son had never changed.  He had always been his son.  But when the son came to his senses and came home, the son’s relationship and fellowship changed toward his Father.  His Father never moved, never changed his love for his son, and remained…waiting.  For us, just as with the son, it is always our move, because Jesus made the first move toward us when he brought us home.

Just as I would wait with anticipation for my dad, our heavenly Dad waits with anticipation for us.  Our loving father waits, and waits, and waits, and will forever wait until all humanity comes to its senses, and comes “home.”  While He is waiting, He never loses His sense of joy and feeling toward us, despite what we may think.  When humanity comes through those doors, comes home, one by one, our dad will be standing there with open arms.

~by Craig Kuhlman

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