Sunday, December 18, 2016

2016.12.18 Along the Way: Christ-Spotting

I'm really quite fond of the God of Jesus. Jesus was a remarkable spiritual guru in his day, one so gifted as to be deemed as divine as he was human. Jesus's God dares to be vulnerable and glorious at once. That's my kind of divinity. 

Along the way of life I practice christ-spotting. I watch for glimmers of divinity in humanity all the time. I call it the christ option. One does not have to be a Christian to be a christ.

Of late I've been sleuthing a persistent cough, consulting many doctors, getting some answers and unearthing more questions. My cough is temporarily better, thanks to steroidal medication, yet I'm still in Nancy Drew mode, following clues—driven by hope and my own sweet refusal to settle.

Along the way of christ-spotting I have had many experiences and learned many things. On occasion I meet this Christ by accident. One such occasion was in a doctor's office where I waited, and waited and waited some more. I waited in the waiting room, and I waited in the exam room. So much waiting was odd, because the normal pace at this medical center is swift and efficient. Finally, this old doctor ambled in and asked me what was wrong. He never touched the computer, never smiled, and never used the stethoscope. He was slow, very slow—old, very old (probably about my age:) I secretly thought he had the relational skills of a newt—some kind of fill-in doctor, worse than a substitute teacher, and old-fashioned like the stereotype of the country doc who made house calls.  His manner unsettled me so I talked very fast to articulate the case for my cough. Then he left. I waited. When he returned he told me he'd read my whole record. Really? Then he smiled—a smile deep and wide as the Jordan River of song. It drew me into his sphere and I listened— rapt— while he rambled on about bacterial spectra and other esoterica before he listened to my struggling lungs.

This old doc declared that we were going to do a preemptive strike. I envisioned war and bombs. He meant pneunomia. He gave me a diagnosis of bronchitis, a prescription—and something more. He gave me hope. I had gone back in time. I had stumbled into an experience so counter-cultural it lifted my soul and gave me hope enough to stay in pursuit of whatever might lie beyond preemptive strikes.

Along the way I learned how to wait impatiently, and that to be human is to be vulnerable—not sinful, just vulnerable like the god of Jesus. I found myself wishing that God had done a preemptive strike somehow to prevent the crucifixion—of Jesus, yes, but of anyone. 

After Jesus died it took a LONG time for his followers to discern resurrection, over fifty years before they wrote it into gospel form. Along the way they spent time in the waiting room—wondering, talking among themselves, grieving mightily, asking questions, and living on glimmerings—christ-spottings full of irrational, indefensible, and potent hope.

We do the same as we follow along the way. We are never quite sure, for certain sure. Strength and hope come in small doses. Some leave us wonderstruck; some leave us bewildered. An Advent hymn by Michael Hudson, Episcopal priest and rector of Christ Church, Cullowhee, North Carolina, says it best.

We wait for Christ, our Advent Light,
a brightness like the sun;
we find a rabbi with a lamp
and ask, "Is this the one?"

We wait for Christ, the Lord of Hosts,
a thousand battles won;
we find a stubborn man of peace
and ask, "Is this the One?"

We wait for Christ, our Advocate,
for justice swiftly done;
we find a friend of the oppressed
and ask, "Is this the One?"

We wait for Christ, the King of kings,
a nations' favored son;
we find instead a servant-sage
and ask, "Is this the One?"

And so he comes, again he comes,
and faith is yet begun
as open hearts are drawn to Christ,
the Unexpected One. 

     from Songs for the Cycle. Fresh Hymn Texts. © 2004, Church Publishing