Archive for the ‘Inclusion’ Tag

Wingnuts Must Be Wingnuts!

Wingnuts Must Be Wingnuts!

Last year a couple of close friends of ours told us about an anarchist’s house in Richmond called the Wingnut House. As one might imagine, I was curious. I had to see it. The more we learned about the house the more I wanted to see it.news30_wingnut

The Wingnut house was a large home in the Barton Heights area of Richmond. It was an anarchist collective. The folks there believed in a variety of things… such as mutual aid, anti-authoritarianism, and direct action. The house was generally open to the public, it was a drug-free/ alcohol-free place where food, live music, community,  and, I’m sure, spirited debate were in ample supply.

At the core of anarchism is the belief that the governments of mankind are illegitimate and bring mostly oppression, poverty, and violence. There are actually a few tenets of anarchism that, I think, have a ring of truth about them. But anyway on with the story… you’re gonna love this.

So our friends got in the church van with us and began showing us the way to the Wingnut House. I was excited! So as we pulled alongside the house what struck us was that large portions of the house were covered in expertly painted murals containing various themes and messages relating to the care of humanity and anti-authoritarianism. On the front of the house there was said to be a mural dedicated to people killed by the State and I wanted to see it but there was a one-way street in front of the house and I didn’t want to drive all the way around the block so… yep you guessed it.

I thought, “What the heck, it’s an anarchy house so we’ll “stick it to the man” and drive the wrong way down the one-way street. (Since there was nothing coming in this quiet neighborhood) So picture it, we’re in the Richmond Grace church van, going the wrong way down a one-way street just to see a mural painted on an Anarchist Collective house called- The Wingnut. It is one of my favorite memories.

What happened next shocked me. (No we didn’t get pulled over by the police, that would not have shocked me) There were about a dozen or so people sitting on the front porch and steps of the house and as we passed by some began to shout at us that we were going the wrong way!

Can you believe it? The anarchists were upset that we were going against the signs put up by man-made governments. I began to laugh and then it hit me and I thought, “Be what you are.”

I must confess as we passed by the house going against the designated flow of traffic I was eager to receive accolades from the anarchists. I awaited my fist pumps and upward turned thumbs but… it didn’t happen. I’m not sure why my “anarchy” wasn’t celebrated but it got me thinking.

Do we, as believers, sometimes find ourselves unwilling to celebrate the achievements and freedoms of those who might not think and believe as we do? I catch myself sometimes grumbling to the Father, Son, and Spirit about the blessings and successes of those around me who don’t give nearly as much time, energy, and resources to the life of the Church, who perhaps don’t give God a second thought, and maybe don’t even believe there is a God.

As a Gospel preacher I know that “Jesus gives life and breath and all things to all mortals” (Acts 17:25) Notice that Paul distinguishes life from breath. The Greek word for life is zoe, meaning spiritual life. Yes Trinity and Humanity reader… Jesus gives you life with His Father in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit and he gives it to your Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic, or Muslim neighbor. The difference is, that when we begin to see and believe, our minds are transformed and we begin to recognize that Jesus is truly at the center of everything we do. It’s a Gospel fact, but much of the prevailing thought in our day would have us believe otherwise. Believing the Gospel in the world might just be a little like going the wrong way on a one-way street.

So our mission, as those who believe and especially at Trinity and Humanity, is to inform and educate every person in the world that they have been included in the Triune Life of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Whether that message is popular or widely accepted is only an indication of how much work there is for us to do as “Gospel educators.” Sometimes, to get the message out, it’s okay to go against the flow of traffic or be called a nut… I’ve been called worse.

 

~Bill Winn

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

I’m Always In the Way

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Happy Father’s Day Dad! I love you!

Ever since I was a little boy I have been in the way.I was always in the way. Even when it did not feel like it, I was in the way. I was in the way even when I didn’t know it. When I was a teenager I never ceased to be in the way. As a husband I’m constantly in the way. As a father, pastor, son, brother, and friend… I’m in the way. When I was an unbeliever I was in the way. As a believing Christian I’m in the way. In fact, I believe that from before the foundations of the world were laid… I have been in the way. I will always, for eternity, be IN the Way! And you too! (John 14:6 & 20, Acts 17:28) ~Bill Winn

Members Only? YUCK!

members onlyDon’t we all have some childhood memory of a day or time when we were excluded from a group to which we wanted desperately to belong? Isn’t there still just a little something inside us that cringes when we see a ‘members only’ sign? Are not all of us offended to some degree when we are shut out or excluded?

The wretchedness of segregation with its ‘whites only’ placards has left a scar on our society from which we are hopefully recovering. My favorite game, golf, has been notorious for excluding others to one degree or another.

What is it about us that enables us to feel pain inside when we are excluded? Why does it hurt so much?

Well, the answer is simple: Jesus! Yes Jesus is the reason we hate to be excluded or left out. It is because of Jesus that we ARE included in the life he and his Father share in the Holy Spirit.

Triune God has existed eternally in perfect love and fellowship, unencumbered freedom and wholeness, and complete and lasting union. It is here that the cause of creation is found. Did you know why you were created? It was not, first, to worship or glorify God. You were created by God for God.

In short, you were created for inclusion. You were created because before the foundations of the world were laid the Blessed Trinity set Their love upon you and determined to include you in Their circle of life and love. You were created simply and plainly so that the Father could share His love and life with you.

In the person of Jesus Christ you HAVE been included in the Triune Life of God. In His earthly ministry Jesus has gathered you up in Himself and placed you in the center of a circle of fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Often we hear it said that somehow we have the capability of being separated from God… because of sins or unbelief or some other such nonsense. The truth is we have no power to be here. Either we are connected to God or we cease to exist. So when we hurt because of some physical exclusion it is merely a shadow of a larger reality. That reality is that in Jesus we are INcluded where it really matters- in the very life and being of God.

So now the reason you hurt when you are told that you are excluded is simply because you are INcluded. If someone were to twist my arm it would surely hurt, but only because my arm is attached to my body. If the arm were separated from me that person could twist it all day long and it would not hurt. You are included in Jesus and the lie that you are excluded hurts simply because there, on your Spiritual DNA, is written the truth that you belong to the Father, Son, and Spirit and you always have and you always will.

So let us resolve to include others in much the same way we have been included in the Trinity… without reservation, judgment, or prejudice.

~Bill Winn

The Little Prince and the Triune God

 The summer is a time for reading all manner of good books, and I just finished a classic novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupery called The Little Prince.  Although this book isn’t a religious book, I think it has a lot to say about our relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Published in 1943, this fairy-tale story chronicles the travels of a little prince from his tiny asteroid home to other asteroids or planets where he meets and converses with adults who often show the most pointless aspects of being a grown-up.  Eventually, he lands on earth, where he meets the narrator of the story, a pilot downed in the middle of a desert, running low on water and trying to repair his plane.  In addition to meeting various grown-ups, the little prince meets a fox who educates him in the full implications of “taming:”

            But if you tame me, then we shall need each other.  To me, you will be unique in all the world.  To you, I shall be unique in all the world. 

The fox explains that being tamed or taming is the process of forming a relationship, and that in this relationship, each party views the other as completely special.  When the little prince confesses that he himself has been tamed by a rose, the fox shares the secret that “it is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Although it is invisible to the eye, we have been “tamed” by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  To them, we are individually unique in all the world.  Just as the little prince viewed his rose (which looked like any other rose) as special, so we are seen for the one-of-a-kind creations that we are.  The little prince explains to the look-alike roses that they could not be his rose:

            You are beautiful, but you are empty…One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you…But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses:  because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three that we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing.  Because she is my rose.

The fox explains to the little prince “it is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important,” and so it is the time that the Triune God has invested in adopting and including humanity in their relationship from the foundation of the world that makes us so important.

The fox also charges the little prince not to forget that “you become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”  As we look at our relationship with the Father, Son, and Spirit, we should take heart that there is nothing we have to do to make this relationship work, other than enjoy it.  The Triune God is responsible for us, for our salvation, for our inclusion forever because we have been “tamed.”

The little prince had to travel a great distance to learn from a fox that what really matters isn’t always seen with the eyes, and that when you make a friend, both of you are “tamed.”  The fairy-tale story of The Little Prince helps us to see the intricacies of our relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit from a new perspective.

         ~by Nan Kuhlman

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