Evil and Jesus Came to Pride

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We pressed ourselves up against the metal railing as the jamboree poured down the street. Thousands of red and green and yellow feathers, batons flying through the air and Katy Perry blaring out the speakers. There were drag queens glazed in make-up, politicians waving from floats, gay and lesbian couples strolling, smiling with their kids cheering on their shoulders. It was a blue warm summer afternoon and the air was filled with bliss.

 

We had a banner draped across the fence that said we were sorry. We wore shirts that said we were sorry. We held signs that said God loves you. We apologized for the how the church has hurt them, hurt some in our group, hurt me.

 

Not ten feet behind us, in a ring of police protection, were other signs. Ten foot tall banners. They were plastered with scripture and phrases like “Penis Perverts” and “Anal Addicts” and “Labia Lickers”. There were roughly fifteen of them, three of whom had megaphones, and one of them with a step ladder and thick black glasses. They took their turns barking out:

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“SMOKE! HELL! SMOKE! You know what’s coming!!! God is going to burn you up! destroy you!”

 

“YOU ARE SICK! You sir, are a walking example of AIDS! YOU PERVERT! YOU ARE NOT NORMAL, YOU’RE A FREAK!”

 

“You hate GOD! You hate GOD! You hate GOD! You hate GOD”

 

“Shame on you! Shame on you! SHAME ON YOU!”

 

A lesbian couple approached the police perimeter, just below the man on the step ladder, yelling back at him. He smiled and sang.

 

“YOU ARE FILTHY WHORES! WHORES WHORES WHORES! But you know what? Even Jesus can save a little whore like you, REPENT YOU WHORES!”

 

Everybody knew these guys were jack-asses. They were hateful, crude, and yes, Evil. They were Westboro without the flag burning. As a group of gay veterans marched down the Parade, they screeched:

 

“YOU ARE NOT SOLDIERS! YOU ARE PERVERTS! YOU ARE NOT SOLDIERS! SHAME ON YOU!”

 

And even though you knew they weren’t really representing God, you felt dirty all over. Hours of hearing “SHAME ON YOU!” replays in your head and burns you with rage to the point where you start to think that breaking through the police to beat the snot out of them will be the only thing to bring you peace.

 

But then, there was this group of girls rollerblading down the street.

They had rainbow streamers in their hair and wore tasteful tank tops and gym shorts. One of them, this beautiful young woman was near the back. She was giggling happy, twirling in circles, gliding back and forth across the street- and I don’t know how to explain the expression on her face when she saw the protesters but it was like the air was sucked straight out of her.

 

She was trying to shake it off, looking hard at the ground, but the congested parade had to come to a halt and she had to just stand there. She had to stand before a mob shrieking out whore! and pervert! and Hell! Hell! Hell! She had to stand there, exposed, breathless, unable to get away.

 

Her eyes dropped to our sign and with a furrowed brow, she read it. She tilted her head- perplexed, and read it again and again and again and then looked up at us smiling at her. This wave of emotion flushed through her face and it was so rare. The kind where you can see the beating heart in the creases of her forehead and the sparkle of her eyes. She started nodding, weeping, choking out a proud smile.

 

And then she really hugged us.

Like the purest most desperate kind of hug.

 

She whispered thank you, thank you and then skated backwards, sizing up the sign and crying all over again. A friend tugged at her arm as the parade began moving again. But she stayed for just a few moments longer. God Loves You, God Loves You.

 

I had to step away. I fled past the protesters shrieking in my ears, down an emptier street where I could crash on a curb and cry. I didn’t have any clear thoughts, no prayers were said, it was just an erupting of emotions and a steadying of my breath, because maybe this is the closest I’ve ever been to Jesus.

 

Standing at that fence, holding that girl, in a gust of piercing barbs, love swept in and stole the stage. It was louder than their megaphones and their curses. It was faster and struck deeper than anything ever could. A love so beautiful that it stops us in our skates and draws tears from our eyes. That is gospel, my friends, that is God.

 

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Photo credit- Andrew Marin

 

And I know that these protesters don’t reflect many of the serious disagreements about sexuality within Christianity, but the bombastic slurs are the same I once leveled at myself. The same ones many of us did. The shame that overcame us like a fever and then, the surprise of Christ who came to call us good. Loved. Liked. Accepted. Created. Wept for. Rejoiced over. Loved. Loved. Loved. Loved. LOVED.

 

And at some point, it hit me that all this hugging and holding was for me too. I was placing my fingers over those hurt places, cleaning them with the reality that God is crazy over me. He delights in me. He made me. He holds me.

 

He died by lash, nail and suffocation, whispering the name of that girl in his final breaths. And she heard it. In the middle of it all, she heard it. It drew her in.

 

RR

Out of Hibernation

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I drove to the lake today because it is SPRING, at last. A part of me felt relieved when I got there. In my spiritual hibernation, when days were short and everything was cold, when I ran from the Living Lord, because everything felt cold, the possibility of a day at the lake seemed like a world away.

 

I drove to the lake and it was a sing song morning. The trees were growing green, the water was turning turquoise, the geese were zooming across the surface, splashing and honking out ugly hallelujahs.

 

I think, in this past season of sulking, winter wasn’t the only spell on my soul. For awhile now, I’ve been tuned into every twitch, every moment that makes me run from church, and I’ve grabbed onto them, held them close in defense of my desertion.

 

And there has been a lot of rickshaw religion, a lot of sermons and subculture summons that have left me feeling bloody and bruised and bitter. But, the problem is, their imperfections have been like dust in my eyes. They’ve been like a thick fog, a rising wall between God and I. And whether or not it’s my fault or theirs doesn’t matter anymore. The veil has sewn itself back together. God and I are not one.

 

This morning I read from Brennan Manning. He wrote about his meteoric rise to the pulpit, how he became intoxicated with applause and praise. How when it all fell apart, he needed to replace it with something, anything, so he uncorked the bottle and stayed drunk for a long time.

 

When he hit bottom, hard, he swallowed his ego and pride and one last sip, and then checked into Hazelden Rehab Facility.

 

As the alcoholic fog lifted, I knew there was only one place to go. I sank down into the center of my soul, grew still, and listened to the Rabbi’s heartbeat.

            What is the purpose of this disclosure? For anyone caught up in the oppression of thinking that God works only through saints, it offers a word of encouragement. For those who have fulfilled Jesus’ prophetic word to Peter, “Before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times,” it offers a word of liberation. For those trapped in cynicism, indifference, or despair, it offers a word of hope.

“Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). The way he related to Peter is the way He relates us. The recovery of passion starts with reappraising the value of the treasure, continues with letting the Great Rabbi hold us against His heart, and comes to fruition in a personal transformation of which we will not even be aware,” – Brennan Manning, The Rabbi’s Heartbeat

 

I folded up my book and looked back at the lake. Watched the birds catching their breath. Listened to the swishing and crackling of spring swimming and shooting back to life. I realized that seasons all fall under the same Sun and Sky and Moon. That how we feel, what we’re told and how we react doesn’t change a damn thing about Jesus. He is a rock, a stream of love that will never ever go dry.

 

And even if I can’t move much. Even if my prayer that morning lasted less than a minute. There is a comfort I can take that my fleeing didn’t change his affection towards me. That my momentary fire, dowsed as I drove back home, is the exact opposite of his yearning for me. That he is always there, close as my breath, stubbornly chasing me down in love.

 

I’m not ready to reclaim this faith yet because the dust, the fog, still hurts my eyes. But I’m getting there, with every slow visitation, He’s wooing me. And it may look different in a million ways than it did before, but that love, that most-important-thing-above-all, is gripped and rooted through and through in my heart.

 

Little by little, I am feeling it.

 

RR 

Picture This- A Painful Spiritual Practice for Good Friday

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When the incomprehensible, invisible, ghost like God feels far away from me. When to be faithful means to be oppressed. When I forget to pray for months on end.

 

I stop in my boots.

 I close my eyes.

And I paint an excruciating image in my mind.

 

I envision someone I love carrying that cross to Skull Hill. I hear their shrieks, the lashes, see the life draining from their eyes, the blood flooding over the earth and I watch, unable to do anything. I see my dad, my mom, my brothers, my sister, my best friends, and sometimes, my dog. To know that it was all my mistakes that drove nails into their wrists and feet. To know that they went their willingly. For me. 

 

I do this because it is easy to think I appreciate what Jesus did without feeling it in my bones. Two thousand years of separation is something. It is a wall. If I am perfectly honest, it is difficult for me, a visual thinker, to imagine my God suffocating.

 

I remember feeling so guilty for being the only one not weeping in the theater showing of the Passion of the Christ. I remember feeling heartless. I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t.

 

I think I didn’t because that was Jim Caveziel and I had seen a hundred other Jesuses dying in a thousand different ways. It rang false, even though for many, it is a powerful portrayal that turns the heart violent inside.

 

When I envision that day with someone I have touched and kissed and held, I fall completely apart. I lose it. I get angry. I get dark. I am broken apart like shattered glass. I don’t want to see any of that, but I have to. I do this in remembrance of Him. I do this in remembrance of the full and free and flaming love and affection and protection poured out on me. 

 

I think of my loved ones and to me, that’s a holy experience. Because that’s what God lived through. For hours. That was his love gasping for breath. That was his perfect child, the one that called out to Him, asking why oh why he had forsaken Him. The one who stayed silent until the sacrifice was satisfactory even though it broke him into a million pieces.

 

These souls have been Christ to me in so many ways. They have held me when I cried, led me out of depression, walked humbly and kindly as I journey out of the closet.

 

And they mean the world to me, just like Jesus does.

Just like Jesus does to God.

Just like I do to Jesus

 That is my spiritual practice for today.

 

What’s yours?

RR

Donkey King

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Sunday night, I heard the same story again, but it hit me differently. I’m not sure if it’s how the pastor told it or how I’ve changed since last Easter but, anyway, it’s about Jesus on Palm Sunday. I completely understand this post is belated.

 

But did it ever strike you that Jesus rode in on a donkey? That His great entrance into His final week was on a donkey? For most of you, I’m assuming it did. It has always intrigued me. I’ve always seen it as an an allusion to his mother’s precarious caravan to the Bethlehem. That same carrier to the cradle, now, to the grave. I’m not theologically astute, but that is how it has always read to me.

 

Yet, still, it stopped me in my boots. In a similar, but different way.

 

 

I wondered what the crowd saw this move as. A poverty protest toward the rich Romans? Merely a matter of poor planning? Did they even care?

 

The Jews saw Jesus as the Messiah that would liberate them from Rome. His arrival in Jerusalem was construed as a kick off to the revolution. The first event that would start their glorious reclamation of city and rights and dignity.

 

But… He came in on a donkey.

No… He came in on a colt of a donkey. A baby donkey.

So small that His feet dragged easily on the gravel below.

 

What?

 

When Kings conquered cities they charged through the front gates on giant steeds. Like Clydesdale size. It was a mark of pride to hover above others on such a powerful beast, it mattered greatly to royalty.

 

And then you have the most anticipated King of all time riding in for his big moment on a tiny little donkey. What kind of King does that?

 

The king that also washes crusty toes and caresses leper skin. The kind that doesn’t care what He looks like. The kind that thinks spectacles are for Salesmen not Saviors. The meek like. The this isn’t all about me king. The we’re in this together king. The king ready to lay down his life for crooks and liars despite what the world thinks. The king that eats with cheats and whores and children. The king that empties all of himself- all of his love, all of his grace, all of his energy, all of his strength, and all of his blood on behalf of a guilty world.

 


 

The king that says, “this donkey, that Hill, these people, those people, these nails, that whip, this strangling, this whole frothing world. This is worthy of my death.”


 

 

That’s the kind of King that makes me weak at the knees.

What say you?

RR

 

New Series: Jesus the Advocate

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Starting a new series. As many of you saw from my little outburst on this post, I am feeling far away from God, completely because I haven’t tried to come to him. Coming requires courage, that which I didn’t realize until recently. Perhaps the only reason I have clung to whatever thin thread I have to this faith is because of Jesus. The birth into poverty, love for the least, and death on a cross have compelled me to continue to search. So in that spirit, I have decided to embark on an ambitious journey to learn more about the different titles of Jesus. There are so many that I hadn’t heard of until recently and I am excited to see Him from so many different angles. More than anything, I want to do this series to keep me grounded, tethered to the Bible. Seeing what it will reveal to me, be it good or bad. Hope you enjoy!

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“Jesus feels for thee; Jesus consoles thee; Jesus will help thee…. In Jesus the weak are strong, and the defenceless safe; they could not be more strong if they were giants, or more safe if they were in heaven. Faith gives to men on earth the protection of the God of heaven. More they cannot need, and need not wish. The conies cannot build a castle, but they avail themselves of what is there already: I cannot make myself a refuge, but Jesus has provided it, His Father has given it, His Spirit has revealed it, and lo, again tonight I enter it, and am safe from every foe.” – Charles Spurgeon

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” – 1st John 2:1-2 NIV (Bold emphasis mine)

Strong’s Concordance

Advocate ~ paraklētos

– one who pleads another’s cause with one, an intercessor

– “Consoler” corresponds to the name “Menahem,” given by the Hebrews to the Messiah.

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Part of me couldn’t bear it. My folks had to withold my secret from their best friends in the whole wide world. Another part felt a nudge, divine you could say, although I wasn’t completely convinced it was, but anyhow, it was there. A lingering flicker of thought, small proof that the next step for me was to bring my next-door neighbors into our story.

 

Late one night, we invited them over to talk. Struggling to digest all this new information they, understandably, had a lot of very good questions. My folks and I had been at this for several months, and we may have spilled far too much for one conversation to hold. We may have overwhelmed them with theology and the changing Church and what books we were reading and where we were then to where we are now.

 

But in the middle of it, my mom said something that quickened my exhausted explaining heart. She reared her Mother Hen head and said,

 

“Look, truth is, none of us know what God’s intent is here, but no matter what, I am always going to be on the side of my son.”

 

Advocacy.

 

Despite the fact that whatever I decide to do with my life runs the risk of some sin or missing out on God’s plan, she would stubbornly stand in my corner. She would shoulder me up. She would do her best to be delighted in my joy and always be ready to clean up after my mistakes. Whatever ups and downs will come in whatever choice I choose for my life- she will be my advocate, simply because I’m her son.

 

On my side, even if I’m wrong.

 

~~~

 

This is what crossed my mind as I mulled over this title bestowed upon Jesus by John. Looking at the original Greek there are two key words that jump out at me “intercessor” and “consoler”. The idea that Jesus would carry me close to his chest so I wouldn’t have to carry it all alone, while also fighting against every assailant wishing to throw me to the wolves. He’s like a pillar and a preserver.

 

The more I read and reread this verse, the more I see Christ adoring us despite how screwed up we all are. Yes, we have of our log of sins, spoken and unspoken. Nothing can hide our laziness or jealousy or our need for more and more stuff. The best of us have hearts that give themselves to so many other people and places and things other than God. Often times, I don’t express much of an interest for His company.

 

But in the thick of it, he says, “yes, but I have taken care of all of that. I love you, you belong right here. Lay your head on my shoulder, be at peace, I am with you.”

 

He is with us if we enter into a same-sex relationship or journey into celibacy. He’s with us when we wander away for a few years, because he bets on our about-face into his arms. He is with us when the world is throwing daggers and the stack of bills are insurmountable and it takes everything in us just to get out of bed. He is ready to reach into all of our shit and coax us toward the first steps to renewal. He is with us even when we are not with him. Even when we’re wrong.

Calling us saints when we live in shame. Whistling our praise when we’re singing the blues. Telling us its okay when we loosen the screws on our too tight halos.

 

He has already paid our portion, with whips and nails and suffocation. He has already satisfied the must for justice. To this day, he pleads on behalf of you and I. It is said that he is still absorbing the wrath, kneeling before God like armor protecting us. Nails re-piercing, whips still lashing, until the final day comes. It is also said that he is simply kneeling there, begging for God to give us more time, to not squash us like little bugs quite yet.

 

I don’t know if I buy any of that (mind you, I am an amateur, not a theologian).

 

I have to believe that since God “so loved the world”, he sent his son to die on our behalf, that the mission was fulfilled in his death and resurrection, ultimately rendering us to a life lived under the free gift of grace. Maybe my earthly mind cannot comprehend this disagreement between God and Jesus. Maybe that’s not what’s happening.

 

But I do believe he is advocating for us in every day that we live in this world. Against all the evil spreading its long fingers into the hearts and minds of our assailants. I believe he wants the world, each one of us, to recognize Him in the Other. To see that we are good, because he is good. To love ourselves, because there are times when we beat ourselves down to the depths of “least of these”. Despite our meager minds and hearts, always changing from fire to ice, he throws us over his shoulder because he is Enough.

He is fighting for us. He is loving us. Neither is earned, but given anyway.

Jesus is our advocate.

RR

The Importance of Getting Angry

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I got really angry the other night. I was at a friends house and I made the mistake of openly questioning the Church’s traditional teaching on homosexuality. What happened next was a two hour severe tongue lashing, lasting well into the dead of night.

 

Questions concerning a variety of interpretations, cultural circumstances, varying translations, and the Church’s notorious failures in understanding scripture (flat earth, heliocentrism, manifest destiny, the genocide of native Americans, anti-semitism, the rights of women, slavery, interracial marriage and so so much more)- Anything, it seemed, was irrelevant. He said as much.

“Look, I love the sinner, but I HATE the sin. Same way I love adulterers and rapists and so on.”

 

“Gays just weird me out- I believe that to be, like, the Holy Spirit convicting me or something.”

 

“I haven’t had to deal with this much any way. All I know is what God says and anything different than that… well, is just not God.”

 

Needless to say, I didn’t kiss him goodnight.

I darted out into the frigid dark like Hell’s worst child.



 

When I was little I knew that anger was wrong. On my bedroom wall I taped up the verse “Be slow to get angry” and I looked at it every time I threw a mean tantrum. Most of the time, I needed those words. My fits were just growing pains on the way to adulthood. They were unbecoming of a Christian secure in his seat at the table.

The real trouble with anger, I learned, is letting it cook too long. Taking its hand as it leads us down to the dark cabin of bitterness.

But maybe, if just for a spell, it can be the splash of water our hearts desperately need. Maybe sometimes, we’re just not angry enough. Maybe growth isn’t possible until we scorch the earth.

 

And that’s exactly what I did.

 

I went into my room, kicked the Bible off my bed and scratched away at my journal. I thought through all the things I wish I would’ve said and made a script for the second round. I thought through all the ugliness in Christianity today and wondered how the gospel had become such a vapid desolate space. Toxic to the atypical. The cupboard inside of me where I stored all of the things that I thought made faith real was billowing out onto the floor. Evangelicalism, Sola Scriptura and Fundamentalism all breaking to bits on the ground.

 

Whatever faith remained inside was limping.

 

Until it wasn’t.

I picked up the Book and ran my fingers across its pages. So many long lost places of refuge, so much calm imparted. Flickering lights, marking moments when my life changed. And abruptly, I felt myself drift away.

It was like a swelling gale sending the air back to my lungs. A sweet smell from the days when my faith had muscle. Doing His part to clean me out. Turning over tables like He was back in the temple. Knocking and breaking to get to me. Stirring the fire and rhythm and fight back into my soul. Reassuring me that He is who He said He was and that I will forever and always be His boy. That’s it.

And before I knew it, my knees hit ground to a symphony of Song of Songs 2 and whispered promises of I’m not like them. Images emerge of Hagar at the desert spring, rediscovering the God that Sees Me. All of me, adoring me. This old love that never loses its freshness.

 

And it hit me then and there that this holy ground, my acre, my faith, was never supposed to be overrun with such waste in the first place. Their swarming theology and their snap judgments were never going to give me this kind of peace. This kind of freedom.

 

This space is for my wild and weary heart,

Where I separate the fraud from the Father.

And find so much relief in that discrepancy.

 



 

Anger attacks anything that wars against the world we know. Sometimes we are wrong and anger is just an obstacle in our journey to becoming better. But there are times when we’re not wrong and anger is our loyalty under duress. It is our instinctive resistance towards anything that twists what we know in our gut to be true. Whatever rips away at our redemption.

 

In two hours my tender loving Abba became a mean old drunk. And the shifting of the earth, the desecration of that relationship, plucked at every vein my body.

 

Until He emerged again with His heart beating to the same rhythms and aches as my own. One that calls out Come away, my love, my lovely one come! the winter has past, the rains are over and gone.

 

And the anger recedes as I am overcome by His adoration.

Just peace.

Just love.

Just warmth.

Simple and more than enough.

RR

 

Parents, School Board and Ash Wednesday

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The mother of perhaps the biggest pothead in his class approached me to talk about her son. It was a Parent-Teacher event where we conversed about college and broke the bread of Subway.  He wasn’t gonna make it tonight, she apologized… then a heavy sigh, and a shaking of her head, lowering her eyes to her feet.

 

“Truth be told, I don’t even know where he is.”

 

The conversation that continued was a story of resolute ruin. Through misty eyes and a lot of nervous fiddling, she explained that her husband walked out on them eight years ago. Her son was only in elementary school and was placed in a support group with six other students, all of whom were there because of dead parents.

 

At that ripe age when innocence is most vulnerable and perception is most dangerous, he watched as his dad rummaged through the house, packing up his things and walk out the front door without ever looking back. A year later, after being fired from her job, she filed for bankruptcy, sold the house and went on government assistance.

 

They’ve been living hand to mouth ever since.

 

“He’s a good kid.” She met my eyes and smiled.

 

“Its just, he has no one in his life to drive him. I can tell him he is smart and I can tell him he is good, but I am, after all, just his mother.”

I left at about a quarter to 7 because my friend, the one I spoke about in this post, was giving his life story before the School Board. Sneaking in, just a few minutes before his time to go, I took a seat a few rows behind a large round table of folks, a scene resembling a boardroom meeting. Old men and women in fancy suits radiating from the left and right sides of the all-powerful superintendent. My friend was there to advocate for a group that had a major impact on his success. And a teacher that started it all.

He told of the inspiration he felt when this man, also a racial minority, spoke of his rough starts in this world, telling him that it was possible to do more in your life than people expected you to. Later on, in what quickly turned into a sermon, he relayed little stories of how this man was there for him when he was at his worst. How he celebrated with him when he was at his best. The way he was always there for him, through thick and thin. He couldn’t imagine where he would be today had this guy not stepped into his most critical years.

And I’ll tell you what– the house wept buckets of tears. Quite a spectacle to see such humanity emerge from such stoic authority. Kind of took my breath away.

And it got me thinking.

Maybe Ash Wednesday is more about a call and a response.

 

A call from the mom that needs someone to speak hope into her son.

A call from a kid waiting for somebody to tell him it’s not his fault.

A call from an immigrant looking for his place, resisting those that would place him in a box.

A call from a beat up world, desperate for a fighter in their corner.

Spending forty days in the wilderness was a choice Christ made to step into our own sin and blunt it. As a man, fully human, he was subject to all the same thoughts and draws and whims that we feel on a daily basis, yet, he never faltered. He never gave in because he knew that our freedom hinged on his perseverance.

What if we lived our lives in complete awareness of others depending upon US? How would things change if we really understood the meaning of “loving your neighbor as yourself”? Would we be different if we realized that people met in passing may need US now more than ever? Do you think we’d be brave enough to take a 40-day walk with them, or even for them?

Heart check time,

RR

Four Visits from Christ BEFORE he was Born

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So as the season swings into the climax of Christmas, I find myself searching for the weirdest elements in the story cause I’m weird. I look for the stuff that’s not taught in Sunday Schools or sung by carolers. None of it is really critical, what I am writing is mostly speculative, but, alas, to those lovers of scriptural surprises, enjoy!

It wasn’t until a couple years ago, when I was so close to a sweet nap in the middle of my Christian theology class that my professor said something that got my attention. “Jesus came BEFORE he was baby. Well… he may have.” I think he saw I was close to snoozing, when I looked up he was looking directly at me, so I blinked at him a couple times to let him know “okay, I’m listening.”

Some of these stories are eerily similar to a Christmas flick with a surprise visit from Santa. Like the ones where the janitor, who no one has ever seen before, shows up in the nick of time to impart lifesaving wisdom and as the characters walk away scratching their heads, they take a look back only to find He. Has. VANISHED.

Of the many possible moments of Christ’s early appearances, four really intrigued me.

1.  Melchizedek

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After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and his allied kings, the king of Sodom came out to greet him in the Valley of Shaveh, the King’s Valley. Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine—he was priest of The High God—and blessed him:

 

Blessed be Abram by The High God,
Creator of Heaven and Earth.
And blessed be The High God,
who handed your enemies over to you.

 

Abram gave him a tenth of all the recovered plunder.

(Genesis 14:17-20, MSG)

 

The appearance of the Melchizedek is so peculiar because there is no other reference of him in the Old Testament stories (except in the Psalms). It was like he suddenly appeared out of thin air to Abram. Yet, even while there is no evidence of a historical relationship between these two, Abram gives him 10% of his loot, suggesting a previous understanding.

And He celebrates the Passover with bread and wine before there even was a Passover. (Reference to Jesus’ last supper?”

AND THEN this weird blip on the Old Testament screen makes a huge mark in the book of Hebrews.

“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.” (Hebrews 7:3)

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2. The Wrestler

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As an angry mob raced to his doorstep, Jacob sent his family across the river to safety and chose to wait the gang out. We are told in Genesis that he starts wrestling with a “man” until the break of day.

The upper hand falls to Jacob, as he is able to overtake the mysterious figure by morning.

The man said, “Let me go; it’s daybreak.”

Jacob said, “I’m not letting you go ’til you bless me.”

27 The man said, “What’s your name?”

He answered, “Jacob.”

28 The man said, “But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it’s Israel (God-Wrestler); you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through.”

(Genesis 32:26-28, MSG)

I could write a million more posts on the meaning of this story alone (I love this story). It is so familiar to how I feel 99% of the time about my own relationship with God.

 

Always wrestling.

~

3. Abraham’s visitors

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Remember when God laid a verbal smack down on Sarah with his, “yes you did; you laughed” in response to her lie? Well, that may have been Jesus.

Jesus:

56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”

58 “Very truly I tell you,”Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

(John 8:56-58, NIV, emphasis mine)

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4. Furnace Angel

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When the Angel came to rescue Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, he was called an interesting name.

“But look!” he said. “I see four men, walking around freely in the fire, completely unharmed! And the fourth man looks like a son of the gods!” (Daniel 3:25, MSG, emphasis mine)

Pastor Mark Driscoll believes without a doubt that this is Jesus… Not sure if I am beyond a doubt and I am equally unsure of how I feel about agreeing with Pastor Mark on anything, but it’s interesting to think about. Like a son of the Gods.

~ ~ ~

Important to note is that none of these appearances (if they were in fact Jesus) are the same thing as what happened when Christ was actually born. If these were examples of Him, they are what are called Christophanies, essentially nonhuman appearances. Or, as I like to think of them, teasers to the main event.

When Jesus was born, he was fully human.

Which makes his birth even more spectacular. He came to “dwell” amongst us. No longer was he intervening on our behalf by simply stopping by for quick fixes, only to dust off and head home. He put on skin and walked alongside the worst of us. He healed the sick, defended the vulnerable and died a criminal’s death.

The God who chose to stay with us.

RR