What would it look like for you and I to sit down together? I see it so clearly. I see us talking deep into the night with cups of tea going cold in our hands; no matter, we're already on our 3rds and 4ths anyway, and we can just heat up more water. I'd be sitting in that armchair. You know, the one that's so comfy and so old that you have no choice but to sink in and enjoy as it envelopes you all night.
You'd be stretched out on the couch with your legs up, crossed, as you lean back against the arm. We'd be chatting about it all. The conversation would come with ease and we'd never stop running out of things to say because we're fascinated and the work we were doing here was vital. And we loved it.
I'd say something and your eyes would go wide and you'd lift your hand in exclamation. But just before you blurted out your enthusiastic agreement as my words found their mark in your heart, you'd bite your tongue and cover your mouth with your hand so you wouldn't interrupt. I'd see this and my eyes would light with joy as I tried not to laugh; you're being cute. Once I was done you'd let loose, and then add your own to the conversation. I'd be humbled and amazed at the revelation you've been walking into. There would be no judgement here or fear of push-back because this is how we are, even though we just met.
We are doing what the rabbis do--wondering together at the mystery. I wouldn't be pretending I had all of the answers nor convinced that I even needed to. You wouldn't be thinking of a rebuttal because this wasn't a debate. We came here together and entered this. Entered in. We know Jesus is here amongst us. That love and truth are for us and that the mystery of Gods heart was hidden here for us to find.
In the back of my mind i'd wonder why I was not afraid. Was it because I was celebrated? Was it because I felt safe with you? And at the same time you'd be asking yourself why you felt so comfortable with me. You'd wonder at how you were so easily sharing things on your mind and heart you'd wondered about for ages, but never felt settled enough to say aloud. But here you are, revealing yourself to me and i'd be loving every second of it.
The vulnerability shown between us is a gift and instead of running in fear we grabbed on and let it take us deeper. And as we did this, as we shared and received, added to and gently challenged, a miracle happened. Jesus was in the room with us and that good heart of his became clearer all the more. For what we were doing here was holy work. It was his work and it was exactly what he had called us to.
This is exactly what i've hoped for. Longed for. For us to gather and to see each other. To truly take a good look at who we really are and call that person to life. To celebrate and welcome and create a home in our hearts and houses for each other. A home in us to rest in. To be known and served and wanted and cherished and held. Each of us are Beloved, made in the incredible image of an astounding Yahweh. It always amazes me that we could so easily think to sum up a human made in the image of a God. Are we really that arrogant? You, Beloved, are a mystery that I am honored to seek out and pursue. I'm learning to love you as i'm learning you. And then we bother to get angry. If we don't understand then we have a tendency to fear and when we fear, we judge. When we judge, we act in our judgement and it hurts. It always hurts. It destroys. It isolates and oppresses. It hinders and rejects and pretty much does the exact opposite of everything Jesus did and wanted us to do.
The Spirit of the Living Love is working in each of our lives. Granted, some of us are aware of this and some of us are not but I think that when we break it down...we're all kind of at the same place. In need of that Spirit to reveal itself more and more to us and help us give in, embrace, and say yes. To help us walk in honoring that Living God who calls us to life and to love. We are all just learning to say yes. To me this is the gospel. This is coming to know this Jesus that I love.
That's how it was for me, back at the beginning. I didn't pursue Jesus or go looking for him. I was 4 and He let me see Him. In the middle of a horrible situation in a Phoenix city foster home in the 90s full of hate and abuse, Jesus stood in the room and loved me. He listened and laughed and asked questions and sang with me. He delighted at the stories i'd tell him about all the adventures my stuffed animals would go on, and I wondered at the things He'd tell me. He was the most incredible person i'd ever met. He came from a Kingdom and his dad was the King who loved his son.
He would talk about his Bride and when he did, his eyes would light up. This guy was so full of love. His heart held secrets of pure gold that he was happy to reveal. But they were deep things, amazing things, and I had a feeling that even as he showed me I would still not really ever 'get it'. They were too big! And oh how He loved me. He spoke and hinted that he knew who I was and even who i'd grow up to be. He saw me and he couldn't be more proud. I looked at him and he saw me and I was loved.
When I was adopted not too long after that my family told me His name. I had the chance to say 'yes' to stepping into this relationship with him and walking with Him always. He wanted me. I wanted Him back. He was already the best person I knew and when I came home with my family they told me more of what he had done for them too. I knew I needed Him, needed the one who had always been with me. So I said yes. I wanted to love Him back.
Thats how easy it was. It wasn't this complicated religious step-bound formula. It didn't have to be. He is good. He was there. I wanted Him back and needed Him. I said yes back. It's really like a proposal. He pursued, loved, honored, showed himself, and asked. I said yes and engaged Him back. And ever since we've been walking this out together. He shows me Him. I give Him me. We still talk. I'm a lot more sassy than I was then lol. And He gets snarky with me too. He's told me to get the stick out of my ass once or twice haha. I needed it:) We're building this relationship and have been walking it out since I was a kid. Sometimes I have a harder time acknowledging or honoring him. But he's really good at wooing this heart of mine. He knows how to hold my hand.
I have many questions for him these days. In this beautiful walk with this one my heart loves, i've had to go back to the things I thought I once knew and understood, and find His heart in them again. Deeper truth is what I want. I don't just want to know the God that everyone talks about. I want to know him for myself, the parts of him that no one is talking about yet.Those secrets he's so constantly pulling me in to know and ask and seek out...the ones that are his joy to reveal to me? Yeah, I want to know! And as I've been finding them I've been changing. Sometimes I really wonder who the heck he's making me to be and what the heck he's doing because some days I don't even recognize myself. But I like it. Kinda lol. It's been unnerving at times. i've had to ask questions with seemingly obvious answers to the rest of my community. I've been staring at things that once seemed settled and realizing that there's way more to the story; there has to be.
What keeps coming up for me is that passage in Luke 24 right after Jesus died and rose again. Here's The Message translation of it.
The Road to Emmaus
13-16 That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who he was.
17-18 He asked, “What’s this you’re discussing so intently as you walk along?”
They just stood there, long-faced, like they had lost their best friend. Then one of them, his name was Cleopas, said, “Are you the only one in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard what’s happened during the last few days?”
19-24 He said, “What has happened?”
They said, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man of God, a prophet, dynamic in work and word, blessed by both God and all the people. Then our high priests and leaders betrayed him, got him sentenced to death, and crucified him. And we had our hopes up that he was the One, the One about to deliver Israel. And it is now the third day since it happened. But now some of our women have completely confused us. Early this morning they were at the tomb and couldn’t find his body. They came back with the story that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. Some of our friends went off to the tomb to check and found it empty just as the women said, but they didn’t see Jesus.”
25-27 Then he said to them, “So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?” Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him.
28-31 They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: “Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.” So he went in with them. And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared.
32 Back and forth they talked. “Didn’t we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?”
What stands out to me is that Jesus came to them but they still couldn't see Him. It wasn't until they sat down at the Table together and broke bread that they recognized him. And as soon as they did He disappeared on them! It's like he said, 'juuuuust as you think you've seen Me, there's more for you to go after'. They had all the information but they didn't get it. They even had witnesses of others and still they didn't see. But as they came together, allowed Him to open up their understanding, and wondered together, He came to them and showed them His heart. They saw Him.
I want to read His words and see Him. I want to hear the stories of others witnessing of Him and find Him in it too. But I definitely want to sit down with you in living rooms sipping tea late into the night and watch as He shows us Himself. I definitely want to be at the Table with you eating and He breaks bread before us, blesses it, and then we see Him together.
We need each other Beloved. Our good God is infinitely knowable and constantly inviting us, wooing us deeper into the mystery. Its gonna take all of us, in our differences and similarities to get a better picture. Can we lay down the fear and arrogance? Can we come here together to wonder at the mystery and find Him? Can we bless each other in kindness and hospitality as we do? This is what community is. This is what family, the true kind, does.The Living God, the Living Love is waiting for us to come and see. But he's not just waiting. He's putting us together to walk next to each other. To add, to push in, to share, and to celebrate. We are in this, you and I... together. You're vital. I am too. Beloved. He is here. He is good. He is for us. May we see Him here together.