Advent 2012: “Kingdom in the Streets” (Ken Medema): Passions

I argued in the introductory post that we can think of human beings in terms of the reciprocal interaction of priorities, passions, and practices.  This is a logical ordering but in reality it more complicated and more like a continuous feedback loop.  All I use it here for is to give us a way to orderly reflect on these realities through Advent.

Advent is one of the two times in the church year especially designed for reflective examination of our life in light of the gospel.  In the Bible “heart” is what NASA would call the “Command Center” of the person.  Intellect, emotion, and will collaborate to integrate and choreograph a life of integrity and coherence.  Unfortunately, we often find our Command Center dysfunctional with each of its three elements pushing, pulling, and seeking dominance over the others.  Paul’s “What I want to do, I don’t; and what I don’t want to do, I do” in Romans 7 is a classic statement of this conflict.
 This week we explore our passions.  Passions are the energies that move us to act.  Jonathan Edwards called them “affections.”  Hotz and Mathews explain the difference between emotions and affections.

“By affections we do not mean the particular emotions we feel in one moment or another.  Instead, we mean the deep-seated dispositions, the settled and abiding postures of the heart, that qualify or color everything that we know or do . . . we are referring to the deep dispositional structures of our personalities, the foundations of who we are a creatures of God and how we are oriented toward God and the world that God has made.  By emotion, in contrast, we mean the particular way that an affection comes to expression in a given moment of experience.  In short, we feel our emotions, but we are our affections.” (Shaping the Christian Life, 14)
 Affections are formed in us by both a touch and a tale.  We experience a relationship or relationships that decisively set our orientation to others and the world.  We filter everything we experience through this grid and respond to others out of it.  For Christians, this touch is the embrace of God’s love in Jesus Christ which reclaims us from what has distorted us and restores us to begin to live anew as and for that which we were created.  Ken Medema’s “I Saw You” is his ode to this life-orienting touch through Jesus Christ.  Reflect on the touch you have received from Christ as you listen.

 Affections also need a tale to give them direction.  A captivating vision of where we and the world are going is vital to a healthy set of affections.  Obviously, there is overlap here with the priorities we looked at last week.  The difference is the aspect of us each impacts.  With priorities we are talking about the mind, or intellect.  With passions, or affections it is a matter of the energies and motivations to prompt us to act.  The two of course need to be in tandem.  That they sometimes (often?) are not is the reason for this series.  Medema’s song “Kingdom in the Streets,” the title cut of the album, paints a striking set of images for our hearts to feed on.  Feast!

The last slide and music I could not seem to capture and upload.  It goes:

Well I see his kingdom coming
and I see the victory day

There’ll be no need of fortress walls                                                                                 for there is a better way                                                                                              the prince will lift the lowly                                                                                            the proud will taste defeat                                                                                          don’t look for the kingdom on the mountain                                                                 because it coming in the streets


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