Bob Cornner

Bob Cornner
Visting St. Andrew's Torrance

Thursday, May 17, 2012

God Is Love! Pass It On.


Over the course of my life, I have come to know Jesus and God through the witness of other people who preceded, overlapped, and then who died. And those other people came to know Jesus and God through the witness of other people who also preceded, overlapped, and then who died. This process goes all the way back to those early disciples who stood around Jesus as he prayed for them to his Father just before he was arrested and taken to the cross.


Jesus was faithful to God. He had first-hand knowledge of God and he shared this first-hand knowledge with his disciples. What Jesus shared was the knowledge of God’s existence, but more, he shared with his friends that God was a personal God who loves in ways and measures that human beings simply cannot fathom.


Jesus knows God as love and shared this heart knowledge with his friends. He described this sharing in personal terms in this prayer to his Father: “I have made your name know to those whom you gave me from the world.” Knowing someone’s name is knowing who that person is. Jesus taught the disciples that his Father was love and that he was sent to them out of this love and that his life was the message that God loved them.


The disciples were taken out of the world (life organized without knowledge of God as the loving creator who is personal and purposeful and married to his creation for the good) by God the Father and given to Jesus so that they could come to know God and to organize their lives around this normally impossible to fathom God). Love is action and in Jesus, the disciples saw God’s love in action. Jesus taught them the name of God and they came to believe that God had sent him to them for that very purpose.


Jesus, preparing for his death, says good-bye to his disciples and prays to God the Father for them. The disciples are no longer of the world, but they are to be returned to the world to live out the knowledge of the loving God whom they had met in Jesus.


It is those early disciples whose lives touched other lives in such powerful ways that a chain reaction of love was started that caught up those whom they encountered and which has continued to this day and will continue until the world has no one left who does not know the name of the one who loves us.


Jesus prays that those first disciples be protected by the Father in such a way that they might be one, even as the Father and Jesus are one. Many see this quote as a call of some sort of institutional unity, but I would suggest that the knowledge of God as our loving creator who is ever-present to those of us who have come to believe and know God by his name. 


I give thanks for those who have been one in passing along this truth to those who passed it on to those who passed it on and who finally came passed it on to me.


But there is more to this story. Stay tuned. The Holy Spirit is coming.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


I am not sure when God decided to create us. I wonder if, within the Trinity of persons Christians call God, love, which always seeks the beloved, made the decision to make room for humanity. God had already fallen in love with matter and the many and wide variety of ways matter could take shape and even take on the animating spirit of God in all manner of animals, fish, insects and birds. The work of God in creating was love because it made space and matter take on the shape of grace---the gratuitous gift of being and purpose.

What was missing for God were creatures who could imitate God, not by instinct or coercion, but by choice and even more, out of love. And so, on the last day of creation before God rested, God formed humanity out of the dust, out of the same stuff of which all other living things had been created. Into this person of dust, God breathed God's own breath into this new creature's nostrils and a human being was born.

I remember when, in the first days of marriage, we created a home and filled it with all manner of things: A new couch, a TV, a bed, a small dining table, a coffee table, pots and pans, and other creature comforts. It was great to be out on our own in our first habitation, but soon we felt it was time for us to make room for new life in our family. Children would be a wonderfully welcome addition to our life---and they were and still are.

We humans show love just as God shows love by making space for the beloved in space that had previously been only filled with a person or a couple. Jesus calls this sort of making space and place and grace, "laying down one's life for a friend." As we give thanks tomorrow for our birth mothers, let us also give thanks to God for loving us into life and making space and place and grace to abide in him. May we have the love of God that gives him space and place and grace for him to abide in us.

Making Space, Place, and Grace in God & in the Creation

May 13, 2012: Sixth Sunday of Easter

God’s love is shown in how God makes room for our full humanity within God’s self and then breathes out this full humanity into flesh and blood creatures, into us.

Our Love for God is our response to being loved by God and by making room for the full divinity of God within our humanity and in creation.

Faith is the action of accepting our full humanity within God’s self and accepting that full humanity within our individual person and within all people.


O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Our Collect for the day suggests that loving God is what completes the circuit of love that begins with God and ends with God. God’s love is not a feeling such as we might suppose, but a will and a delight in making room for something other than himself, but which shares in a smaller proportion the very nature of God.

God has already prepared a place for those whom he loves and those whom he loves are those whom God creates.

God has prepared good things for those whom he has created and our prayer asks that God pour that love which created space for us within God and within this created universe into our hearts towards God. How might this look? If God loves by making space within himself for us and allowing us to abide within God, our loving God is shown by making space within ourselves for God and that means making space for all of those who abide in God. This is what is meant by loving God (creating space and grace) within the created order for what God has made space and grace for within God’s self.

This is why God is like our Mother, bearing us within herself and finally birthing us into creation. God’s love is shown in how God makes room for our full humanity within God’s self and then breathes out this full humanity into flesh and blood creatures, into us.

Our Love for God is our response to being loved by God and by making room for the full divinity of God within our humanity and in creation.

Faith is the action of accepting our full humanity within God’s self and accepting that full humanity within our individual person and within all people. Peter sees God loving the Gentiles in the same way God had loved the people of the Covenant and quickly responds with a human action (baptism) to include these Gentiles, to make room for these Gentiles within the full humanity of God.

Acts 10:44-48

While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, "Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.

The Gentiles seemed to be overwhelmed by the words that Peter spoke. Peter’s words were culturally and time limited, but the Holy Spirit took those words to deliver a message that transcended the cultural and historical limitations of the moment.

The message was pure love which means that God has made room for these people even though they were not part of the covenantal people of Israel. It is not that they were previously not included in the full humanity that God breathed into creation, but that this message delivered by Peter, but translated by the Holy Spirit, meant that God had always made room for them from the beginning.

God, like a mother, bore within herself the fullness of humanity with no exclusions. This was the message that sent these Gentiles into wild and wonder-filled joy.

God’s love is shown in how God makes room for our full humanity within God’s self and then breathes out this full humanity into flesh and blood creatures, into us.

Our Love for God is our response to being loved by God and by making room for the full divinity of God within our humanity and in creation.

Faith is the action of accepting our full humanity within God’s self and accepting that full humanity within our individual person and within all people. The Psalm speaks of a divine victory that is new and breaks out in a song to celebrate that victory. The victory comes not as a military blow against enemies of God, but as a demonstration that God is the God of all creation. The language of scripture calls this “God’s righteousness.”

The victory comes as God becomes more and more clearly on the side of the whole human family whom God bears and births into creation. God loves creation and sustains it for all of humanity. When all of humanity, without exception, experience themselves as beloved of God and abiding in God from the beginning, the new song that was sung by a few will be sung by the whole of humanity.

Psalm 98 Page 727 BCP Cantate Domino

1 Sing to the LORD a new song, * for he has done marvelous things.

2 With his right hand and his holy arm * has he won for himself the victory.

3 The LORD has made known his victory; * his righteousness has he openly shown in the sight of the nations.

4 He remembers his mercy and faithfulness to the house of Israel, * and all the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

5 Shout with joy to the LORD, all you lands; * lift up your voice, rejoice, and sing.

6 Sing to the LORD with the harp, *with the harp and the voice of song.

7 With trumpets and the sound of the horn * shout with joy before the King, the LORD.

8 Let the sea make a noise and all that is in it, * the lands and those who dwell therein.

9 Let the rivers clap their hands, * and let the hills ring out with joy before the LORD, when he comes to judge the earth.

10 In righteousness shall he judge the world * and the peoples with equity.

God’s love is shown in how God makes room for our full humanity within God’s self and then breathes out this full humanity into flesh and blood creatures, into us.

Our Love for God is our response to being loved by God and by making room for the full divinity of God within our humanity and in creation.

Faith is the action of accepting our full humanity within God’s self and accepting that full humanity within our individual person and within all people.

This first letter of John builds upon the idea of our relationship to God as a parent. Specifically, the icon of Mother seems to fit this idea best.

Loving God is accepting our full humanity as having come from God. For John, Jesus is the clearest and only example that he can point to that demonstrates the full humanity of God in flesh and blood.

To believe that Jesus is the Son of God is to open ourselves up to the reality that God loves creation and did not create it as a sort less than perfect state of existence. God loves the material world.

Matter matters to God.

Matter is where God’s love takes what is within God’s self and makes it visible and concrete. Creation is the natural consequence of God’s decision to love and to love within that something called creation is to love our full humanity.

It is little wonder that Jesus constantly told stories about how no one is left out of the love of God. The Good Shepherd, the woman who lost one coin out of 10, the merchant in search of a pearl of exceeding beauty and value, all tell us that God is about the fullness of humanity and each and every created person who has abided in God and in creation.

To believe that God is seeking us out is to believe in the victory of God and to believe in the victory of God is to believe in the One within whom the fullness of God and humanity abides.

1 John 5:1-6

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child.

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world.

And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.

God’s love is shown in how God makes room for our full humanity within God’s self and then breathes out this full humanity into flesh and blood creatures, into us.

Our Love for God is our response to being loved by God and by making room for the full divinity of God within our humanity and in creation.

Faith is the action of accepting our full humanity within God’s self and accepting that full humanity within our individual person and within all people.

It is fitting that Mother’s day and this passage from John’s Gospel happen to come together as they do today because there is a real image of God’s full humanity that comes into the world each and every time a woman decides to bear a child.

The child comes from God and has abided in God and for a short 9 months abides in the heart of creation as she has abided in God from the beginning.

Birth is the moment when the eternal nurture and abiding within the womb of God and the temporary abiding and nurture within the Mother send the child into the wider spaces and places of creation where the child will learn to live by the customs and rules of the family, culture, and time of her days.

Both God as Mother and mothers know what it means to make space, place, and grace for life. This making space, place, and grace is what God calls love. Jesus says to his disciples, “abide in my love.” The way to abide is to keep Jesus’ commandments. And Jesus’ commandments are summed up in these words: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

How did Jesus love his disciples? He made room for them in his human life. He made them intimate friends by sharing with them the ways of God’s love. A slave is told what to do and does not require a reason for doing it.

A friend knows another friend well enough to know what that friend needs and offers it to his friends. The commandment of love within friendship is about laying down one’s life for the other person.

Parents know the meaning of such love and friendship. In pregnancy, the mother allows space, place, and grace to the embryo. Parents create space, place, and grace within their lives for the infant, toddler, child, adolescent, and young adults and when the time comes for their children to “leave home” the parents, like God, continue to have a place, space, and grace in their hearts for their children. But the children also have created a place, space, and grace in their hearts for their parents.

As the collect says, “pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire…”

On this Mother’s Day, we give thanks for our birth mothers who gave us place, space, and grace within their bodies and lives and taught us how to abide within God and to allow others to abide in us.

May we always find ourselves within that abiding place of God and creation and may we love God in others and above others to the glory and victory of God. John 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples, "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.

I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.

I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.

You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another."

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Is Resentment a Theme in Your Life?



Can you tell your story from beginning to the present time without a plot that includes resentments that continue to be a focus and predictor of what is ahead?

I think we all have our times of getting angry about someone hurting us physically or emotionally. Anger is a strong and protective emotion that is our human response to being attacked. Anger is the energy that sends us running away from our attacker or towards them to do battle. It is the energy of anger that accomplishes both tasks of self-defense.

Resentment is the re-living of the event over and over again until it becomes so much a part of our story and identity that we have trouble living life beyond the shadow of such resentments. In fact, we begin to see future events defined in terms of our resentments in a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.

For some of us, we can scarcely talk about the events of a single day without reporting how this person or that one infringed on our personal space and thereby injured us. Life without past resentments and current reincarnations of those resentments seems nearly unthinkable.

To live this way is like having a disease that does not cause physical symptoms, but slowly eats away at the very core of our lives. St. Paul once wrote, "who will rescue me from this body of death?" Cain lived out his resentment towards his brother, Abel and towards God and his entire life was lived according to the code of proactive protective revenge.

The real story of redeeming love is how each of us has been rescued from a life of resentments that define and destroy us. Perhaps you have a story of how God's redeeming love rescued you. What symptoms tipped you off that something was radically wrong? Who helped you see your life differently? What events shattered your identity of resentment?