By Whose Authority?
I have a little secret. *motions you closer* Now, don't get all excited, but *whispering* (((I am going to have a book published))) Shhhhh...I know!!! I don't know when it is coming out, so hold on a minute before you start throwing your money at me.
I bring it up because (I am insanely proud of it and can't contain myself any longer), in that book I explore theology from the standpoint of a lay person. One of the major editing phases for this book was going through the manuscript and removing all of the qualifiers and apologies. These thoughts, these theologies, excite me and move me, but who am I to claim to have insight into the study of God? When I clean my house, theology is what I listen to. When I read, theology is what I read. It fascinates me.
But I don't have the credentials.
Many of my friends and colleagues have Master's Degrees in Divinity. I don't. My husband was rigorously tested and examined before receiving his ordination. His ordination gives him sacramental authority.
I am not ordained.
But I am baptized.
In the beginning there was water, there was darkness, and there was God. The droplets falling from the trailing edges of the Spirit's wings into the chaos of God's creative potential ran down my face in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
So, I wrote from the authority of my baptism.
I wrote about mystery and beauty and confusion and God. I let my imagination draw me into the stories about and my experiences of God. And, after the editing, I did so without apology. Because there is authority in baptism.
The God, there in the darkness, isn't a particularly Christian God (For more on this see God Unbound by Elaine Heath). Baptism is a Christian ritual which opens the baptized to the deeper flow of God. Into grace. Into the abundance of a God who is deeper than what we construct to describe or explain God. God is wild, unbridled, free, and love.
God said, "Let there be light."
God said, "Let there be an expanse."
God did not say, "Let there be order, doctrine, rituals, and authority."
There have been those who said these things and then went on to damage or destroy. There have been those who have claimed to trust and know God and, in God's name, displaced and enslaved. Does God do these things? Is this unbridled God dangerous? Malicious? Careless? Is the persistent expansion of God more of a rupture than an unfolding?
If I am to walk with these questions, if I am to explore the chaos, if I am to wrestle with this, I must know, first, that I will not be alone. Because the darkness is a place of mystery and wonder, but it's a little scary.
Will you hold my hand?