Wednesday, January 27, 2010

BEN : It is a good thing . . .

It is a good thing when our life is so full that we must tell others, even when we don’t fully understand it. Much like when we announce that we are getting married, become parents, taking a new job, or starting retirement. Our perspective going into these major life events is grounded mostly speculation.
I suspect that it was much the same for Jesus. He had to know that each person who would talk, see, or walk for the first time as a result of their interaction with him would naturally become evangelists on His behalf. It was only a matter of time before the secret would become known.
The secret was no longer that Jesus was the Son of God or that God had come to live among us. We uncovered this one weeks ago. The secret yet to be uncovered is that there was no room for Jesus to continue His ministry uninhibited by those who would be threatened by His miracles and would conspire to end this nuisance forever.
Perhaps Jesus wanted to spend time with his friends and family and lead a normal life as long as possible. Once the secret was out, his life would be anything but normal. It was only a matter of time before the echo of the ONE he called Father would would pierce through the chaos in the last sentence uttered by the god-man this side of the Great Story: It is finished.
For now, normal is good. And the innocence of speculation shelters the pain yet to come.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

ROBERT : It does not take many . . . .

It does not take many Epiphany days in the lectionary scriptures to get to the first of the stories in which Jesus appears to someone, heals them and then admonishes them : Do not make me known to anyone. Odd suggestion from the One Who came to seek and to save all of that which was lost, methinks.
A fair amount of the stories of Epiphany are full of ordinary things : Jesus staying overnight out in the country; Jesus walking through a grain field; Jesus having his supper interrupted yet again by yet another crowd of people asking questions; people begging Jesus to leave their neighborhood; Jesus being rejected in his hometown; Jesus and his friends with nothing to eat at the end of a long day; Jesus taking another boat ride; Jesus on a visit to a synagogue; Jesus refereeing an argument over when to wash your hands and an argument about divorce and then another one about who gets to go first; Jesus taking more than a few long, dusty walks to Jericho and Bethlehem and Bethany and other really exciting travel destinations. And there is more than one story of Jesus telling yet another crowd of folks not to tell what they saw and who, of course, went and did just the opposite. These are the stories of the first Epiphany, Epiphany Past shall we say, the stories Jesus did not want told, oddly enough.
We followers of the One Who came have turned out a glorious Church indeed, a church without spot or wrinkle as someone once said — someone who had not been to church in a while perhaps.
But it is plain to me that the Church does have some difficulty doing what Jesus told us to do from time to time. And one of those times comes when those who have seen the Messiah in action cannot seem to keep quiet about it. And I say, thanks be to God.

Here is an assignment for Epiphany Present :
Go on out there, just go on out there in the world and try not see the One Who came among us.
And when you see Him, and you will, unless you have your head in the sand, then try and keep quiet about it.
You cannot do either one — you cannot miss Him or keep your mouth shut about it either.
Thanks be to God for that as well.

Monday, January 11, 2010

BEN : It is early morning. . . .

It is early morning of the Epiphany of our Lord. Christmas, as you suggest, has past for another year and all time once again. In Tennessee, the strange part is that the cold and snow often come closer to Epiphany than Christmas. Which doesn’t match any Rockwellian ideas of the season, but sure does make it easier for those of us who have young children to make multiple trips to and from the car to unload all those wonderful toys they get from their grandparents, toys that seem to come in a thousand pieces first to be assembled and then lost, stepped on, and broken in the coming days.

If it was as cold that Holy Night as it is this morning, I can’t imagine much about it was holy. Perhaps gathering together to view the new Messiah was as practical as it was divine. Surely it was warmer in the barn than in the field. And Joseph probably built a fire for his new family so they might keep warm. If we are to suggest to ourselves that we have a chance to find the divine hidden with the fabric of our ordinary days, then it must have been so from the very beginning.

It is on this day that we celebrate those who came to see the One Who created the world, talked to Moses on the mountain, and inspired prophets. These were the first people — outside of His parents — to greet the Word of God after so many years of not hearing a word from God. So Silent Night may be more historically accurate than intended. If God had not spoken in hundreds of year and then decides to appear and you realize you are one of the first people to see this with your own eyes, I would not have had much to say either.

I wonder what was on the shepherds’ minds. And what did the Magi think about as they intuitively knew the location was just around the corner? Did their steps slow wondering what they would say? Did their minds wonder what they were about to experience? Did a sense of fear grip them as it often does right before we decide to do something that we know will change our lives forever?

I think the shepherds and the Magi were probably more like you, my still-in-Advent friend — moving forward while wanting to wait. Called to follow but leaving room to observe. The Good News was that the Messiah was there when they arrived. The same will be true for you, too.

This is my prayer as this season of Epiphany begins: O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Monday, January 4, 2010

ROBERT : Evidently, I still am in Advent. . . .

Evidently, I still am in Advent.

At my house, I am known as the one who needs some time to process things before I know what I think about something.
If we are having an issue at my house, as the Oprah puts it, the modus operandi is this : You state your case, give Robert an hour or two, or a day or two, or a week or two to think it over — the time varies according to the intensity or depth or importance of the matter. He will get back to you as soon as he knows what he thinks. Even if the issue has been, shall we say, energetically discussed several times before, he will need some time to consider his position in this new case.
If you try and get him to go faster, you will only get frustrated. He came equipped with the bare minimum two forward gears — S is for Stroll, Z is for Zen. The R on the gearbox, not surprisingly, stands for Reflective.
Which is a major part of the reason I find myself frozen here this frozen morning in early January. Apt weather, I suppose.
It is the day before Twelfth Night, the night that will make this season a Christmas Past for all time, and usher in the coming season of the annual Epiphany of our Lord, if we can, in fact, learn to see Him in his various and sundry guises any better than we did last year.
I am still stuck, as one might expect, in the early Advent readings from Isaiah — Behold, I am about to do something new, can you not yet perceive it?
I am stuck here partly because I am always slow to know what I perceive, no matter how new or old the thing in front of me happens to be. Five or six weeks of consideration does not seem untoward in the face of such a question, if you ask me.
The other reason I am frozen here is that I am still trying to come to grips with the new things The One Who made us had in store for me last year about this time, the things I could not perceive then and still do not completely understand. I believe the One Who made us can be trusted but, as my best friend says, you are wise not to turn your back.
You guys go on ahead. I will try to catch up by Ash Wednesday. I love a celebration.