Archive for the ‘union’ 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

I need air!

We seem more and more divided in the United States of America and in much of the world. We tend to identify as this religion or that religion, as this group or that group, or even as this color or that color. Growing up in rural eastern North Carolina the group I most identified with was Southern. I was proud to be a Southerner. I was proud of our Southern charm and good manners. I loved how we pulled over and stopped the car when a funeral passed us on the road. I loved standing up when a lady entered the room or giving up my chair to a lady when seating was limited. As a young adult I traveled from N.C. to Texas, to Washington state, and Montana. Each place I lived brought new joys of meeting people and seeing their delight at the charm, colloquialisms, and good manners that I had learned in the South. But… I was wrong and did not know it. I was right to be proud of all of those things… don’t get me wrong, but my identity is not in being born a Southerner. My identity was, and is, in Jesus.

Recently the Black Lives Matter movement has thrust into our national conversation issues that we can no longer ignore. It is incumbent upon us in all walks to engage and seek the honest truth whether it pleases us to hear it or not. A couple of months ago I finally realized the proper way to even say “Black Lives Matter”. Our tendency is to allow the national media to tell us what to think and by cherry-picking what we are allowed to see on television it is not a difficult task for them to manipulate the American public. We are led to believe that the emphasis is on the word Black… this is why some well-meaning folks have said, “All lives matter”. It is true that all lives matter and that statement is valid in certain contexts.  Imagine 12 people sitting around a table and one person has a plastic bag over their head with their hands tied behind their back… now imagine that person manages

Hands

Union

to eek out the words, “I need air!” and the other 11 say, “Yeah, we all need air.” The true emphasis in saying “Black Lives Matter” is on the word Matter. Think of it in short form as “Black Lives Matter Too!” Or “Hey, have we in America forgotten that black lives do matter?”

As necessary as this conversation is, and I would submit that it is crucial, we must also never forget who we truly are. Dr. Jeff McSwain wrote our Generations Ministries Summer Camp curriculum this year and on the T-shirts that were given to the campers is the axiom, “You don’t know who you are until you know whose you are.” You see I am not a Southerner, I am not white, I am not a male, I am not a son, father, husband, or pastor- not in the first instance. In the first instance I am a child of the Father.

I am trying to understand, I am not trying to judge, I am trying to love, I am not trying to exclude, I am trying to empathize, I am not trying to pigeon-hole others into some collective which I can dismiss. We are individuals with personhood and distinction… yes we are all in union with the Father, Son, and Spirit, but we never lose our personhood and distinction. Evil tries to label us and press us into collectivism… it is a trap, it divides, and leads to hatred and fear.

Imagine a world where we all knew that we belonged to the Father, Son, and Spirit and that we are indeed all brothers and sisters because of the finished work of Jesus… what would that look like? Would we mistreat others so readily if we saw them as they truly are… fellow children of the Father?… I think not… I hope not. In Jesus all of humanity is in union with the Triune God of Love! Therefor, it follows that we are all in union with one another. Let us then love fully as the distinct persons in Christ that we are.

I am distinct in the Cosmos, in union with the blessed Trinity and in union with all of you. LOVE!

~Bill Winn

When Small(s) is Huge!

It’s exciting to see the redemptive genius of the Father, Son, and Spirit in our daily lives and it is equally, if not more exciting to peer into human history and see them at work in the lives of extraordinary individuals whose participation in the Shared Life of the Father, Son, and Spirit literally helps change the world.
Robert Smalls is one who stands out!
Robert was born into slavery 5 April, 1839 in Beaufort, South Carolina. When he was a young man he was hired out to work in Charleston for the city and the wharf. He loved the sea and working hard, he rose from the lowly position of sail mender and rigger to pilot. As a “wheelman” on small vessels, Robert learned the Charleston Harbor quite well. He navigated the Charleston Harbor and surrounding waterways well enough to have complete control over the navigation of a ship. A skill that would serve him well later in life. At the age of 17 Robert fell in love with Hannah Jones and married her. Together they would raise two children after enduring the unspeakable tragedy of their son dying at age two.
During the American Civil War Smalls was forced to pilot the vessel, CSS Planter, for the Confederate Navy out of Charleston Harbor- a decision that would prove strategically unwise for the Confederacy.

Robert Smalls

Robert Smalls (Image used under Section 107 (Fair Use) Copyright Act 1976

On May 12, 1862 Smalls and a few other slaves aboard the Planter executed a long-planned escape. They waited for the officers and other crewmen to take their leave ashore and quietly sailed out of the harbor. They used the Confederate Navy’s codebook to signal the fortifications they passed (including the infamous Fort Sumter) so that no one would be wise to their escape.
A man of integrity Smalls would not escape alone… he and his band of courageous freedom-fighters stopped at a pre-planned dock to pick his family and the families of the crewmen who were also escaping the oppression of slavery.
After securing their families on board Robert Smalls and his crewmen hoisted the white flag of surrender and sailed to the Union Fleet.
Upon surrendering the Confederate Vessel Smalls hoisted to the mast an American flag and delivered to the Union Navy the ship, its canons, and the most valuable prize- the Confederate Navy’s code book that the Union would later use to intercept and defeat Confederate Naval vessels.
The courage and fortitude to execute such a daring plan, risking life and limb for the cause of freedom has only one source… this sort of other-centered bravery and strength is found only in the life of the Triune God.
Robert Smalls went on to great fame as a member of the Union Navy and after the war achieved the rank of Major General in the South Carolina Militia.
After the Civil War Smalls moved back home to Beaufort, S.C. and purchased his former master’s home and cared for his master’s wife in the home through her elder years until her death.
Smalls went on to become a South Carolina State Congressman and a State Senator then in 1874 he was elected, on the Republican ticket, to the United States Congress. He helped pass civil rights legislation and the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.
His home in Beaufort, S.C. is now a National Historical Monument. A Godly and patriotic American, Robert Smalls, gives us all inspiration to reach above our station, to dream despite our situation, and to act with courage and conviction to right the world around us in whatever way we might.
It is not enough for the Father, Son, and Spirit to accomplish their mission alone. Jesus did not convert water to wine alone… the servants were invited to participate. The Lord did not raise the daughter of the High Priest in solitude… he allowed Peter, James, and John to see and experience his miracle. Even so the Triune God would not overcome the inhumanity of slavery without the extraordinary men and women like Robert Smalls.
Today you may feel insignificant. You may feel like the troubles of the world around you are too large for you to make a difference. It is my prayer that in the face of such giants you would feel Small(s)!

 

 

 

 

~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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