“What does God do all day long? God gives birth. From all eternity God lies on a maternity bed giving birth. What good is it to me if Mary gave birth to the son of God and I do not also give birth to the son of God in my time and my culture?” -Meister Eckhart
From an Empty Womb To An Empty Tomb
By: Ian Lawton
I’ve been thinking a lot about pregnancy this Christmas season. Good friends in Australia have just experienced the immense joy at the arrival of a baby boy. Someone else very dear to me is experiencing that agonizing mixture of anticipation and anxiety even this week of trying to become pregnant against great odds. Advent beckons us to journey again to the joy and anticipation of the Christmas story. In this case it is a story of a virgin birth.
The evolution of the Kosmos is one constant virgin birth. At least 95 percent of the known universe is an empty womb. Even the tiny atoms comprising the empty womb are themselves empty wombs. Life is like a cupped hand, holding a billion trillion molecules in what appears to be only empty space. In this apparent nothingness are elementary particles that are spontaneously emerging, out of nowhere and from nothing.
Life gives birth to life. That’s the Christmas miracle.
The Christian church has generally celebrated a story about divine intervention breaking into nature when nature itself is infinitely extraordinary and wonderful. The distinction is important. Divine intervention calls us to look elsewhere for miracles. Nature directs our attention to the everyday, the mundane, the human, to wonder in the miracle of every moment.
At Christ Community Church, we have been exploring the evolution of the Christmas story. We traced a pre-critical, critical and post-critical appraoch to the story. With a pre-critical mindset, the story is a fairytale. The details arent questioned, evidence is not weighed. It happened in a magical way because significant authorities say that it happened that way. This is the realm of surrender and imagination.
With a critical mindset, the story is pure fiction. It didnt happen anything close to the way we were told. Evidence is stacked against details such as a virgin birth. A virgin birth was written back into the story centuries later to embellish and legitimize an emerging religion. This stage spawned science and rational analysis, including IVF. IVF in turn spawned a host of virgin births of its own. The miracle came closer to human reach.
With a post-critical mindset, the story comes alive in a new way. It is true, but not necessarily factual. The relative truth in the story comes in the form of metaphoric parallels with modern circumstances. Embracing both imagination and knowledge, we see people around us as if they are angels. We follow our intuition as if we are following a star. We marvel at the birth of every child as if it is a virgin birth.
As we settle into the post-critical mindset, we begin to integrate the profound benefits in each stage. We move beyond an absolute dependence on a literal story or a complete scientific denial of the story. We embrace all things, all stories, all times as flowing from the same source, which is life or God or the Unmanifest or whatever word fits best.
So where will you find your Christmas miracle this year? Will you look for it, or rather will it find and surprise you? Will it be in circumstances or will it be in lessons learned and strength gained?
As we pay attention to the moment that embraces us, the miracles abound. If at times you can’t see any miracles, try not looking. If you’re looking for something, try enjoying the nothing. Shift your perspective so that the nothing you are trying to push aside gives birth to something magical.
Have a wonderful Christmas. Pay attention as life gives birth to life in every moment, rising up in the most surprising transformations. From the cradle to the grave, the miracle of life arises from one awe-inspiring moment to another.
“A Progressive Journey Through Advent” DVD 2-Disc Set
“A Progressive Journey Through Advent,” a 2-disc DVD set, will take you on a developmental journey exploring the Christmas story from the perspectives of pre-critical (superstitious), critical (skeptical), post-critical (relativistic), and progressive (an integral vision).
The Advent series features four sequential Gatherings from Christ Community Church each including; the sanctuary choir, drama vignettes, sermon by Ian Lawton, and sermon talk-back session where our local community expresses their reactions to the morning’s gathering.
This unique set will allow you to experience the Christmas story from a range of developments and through a variety of expressions.
We invite you to immerse yourself in the Bible in new and creative ways.
We invite you to embrace wholly and explore beyond any past understandings of the story. And we invite you to open yourself again to the limitless possibilities of the Christmas story to unite all things in a powerful vision of oneness.
Check Out the Bulletin for This Sunday and the Bulletin Archive!
The bulletins during the advent season may be of special interest to you.
The liturgies have been created uniquely to showcase an appropriate
liturgy for that particular stage of development. We hope that these
liturgies will help us to fully experience the many nuances to each of the
four stages we will be exploring this advent season.
Whether you will be with us on Sunday or not, we hope you can be encouraged
by this gathering words:
In The Beginning was the word, the was with God and the word was God.
Jesus embodied the fullness of grace and truth. The seed of God is in every person.
The word becomes flesh and dwells within us.
Angels attend us in the most surprising moments giving us ideas of God.
The word becomes flesh and dwells between us.
Let us wonder together in the miracle, the joy and many layered meaning of life.
The word becomes flesh and dwells beyond us.
The C3 Bulletin Archive has turned into a great resource center for other progressive communities around the world. Check out our Bulletin Archive for more progressive Christian liturgies today!
RESURRECTED To Premiere at C3
Before Brad Vander Ark was warmly referred to as the Master of Technology here at C3, Brad was a founding member of the Mega pop band The Verve Pipe.
“The genesis of The Verve Pipe can be traced back to 1990, when Brian
Vander Ark and his brother Brad began making names for themselves in Grand
Rapids, MI, with their band Johnny With An Eye. Watching them closely was
drummer Donny Brown, whose rival band, Water From The Pool, kept both
ensembles in peak form. Eventually, Donny joined forces with the Vander
Ark brothers and The Verve Pipe was born.
“With their own indie label LMNO Pop!, The Verve Pipe released a debut
album I’ve Suffered a Head Injury in 1992, followed in 1993 by Pop Smear.
Though self-distributed, both CDs together sold more than 50,000 copies,
quickly drawing major label attention. After signing with RCA, the band
released their 1996 platinum-certified album Villains, which spawned the
Top 10 Modern Rock hit “Photograph” and the #1 multi-format gold single
“The Freshmen.” The Verve Pipe opened for Kiss on a European tour and did
an extensive headline U.S. tour of their own. ”
In 1999 Brad left The Verve Pipe. After leaving NYC and returning to Western Michigan, Brad began to work at C3 in August. While feeling quite at home here in our community with his wife Kate, Brad has been making remarkable technical advances here at C3, all the while working on RESURRECTED.
RESURRECTED is a documentary of Brad’s life and the life of The Verve Pipe. RESURRECTED showcases the ins and outs of the music world, specifically the experiences of The Verve Pipe, and also explores universal human themes of death and rebirth.
RESURRECTED is a fundraiser for C3 with 100% of the proceeds going to the church.
The film is still in creation, but will be premiered at C3 in early 2006.
Check out a sneak preview of the film by visiting Brad’s website. Enjoy!