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Thursday, April 04, 2013

Obscurity, inefficiency, and space for hope

All week I've been thinking about the Good Friday sermon from our main sending church, Grace OPC.  We are very blessed to have this congregation partnering with us, more than partnering, making the last two decades possible.  But that's another story.  Seven years ago we were called home early from this service to say goodbye to my Dad, who had whispered "go home" and slipped out of consciousness shortly after, until he finally died in a thunderstorm at midnight Easter night.  This is the first time we've been back for Easter, appropriate timing for my mom's last hurrah at her home.  Luke was able to skip class on Thursday and take an overnight train to DC where we picked him up at dawn, so miraculously we were all together for a sweetly meaningful passover meal.  Then my sister and family drove up from NC so by Friday we were 13 in the house, and off to church together Friday night.

Pastor Clifford preached on the Road to Emmaus, the two men who were anxiously discussing the political events of the weekend as they walked.  He reminded us that Jesus came in obscurity, veiled, slowly and patiently engaging these two minor disciples.  He did not make his presence clear.  He did not take the most efficient route to recognition.  He asked questions and brought them incrementally to understanding.  He had to peel away their hopes for a quick victory to open them up to a bigger vision, a bigger hope.  

And so it continues, today.  Jesus' presence is rarely clear.  There are many more seasons of a slow slogging walk with ambiguity.  Perhaps because Jesus and Bundibugyo were so tied together for me, the last couple years feel this way.  The kingdom comes inefficiently, led by one who chose to make his first resurrection appearances to a crying woman and two men who missed the whole point and were distant from leadership.  And the clearing away of false hopes can feel painful, as the messianic vision was redefined.  Certainly I have a concrete sense of this over the last two weeks, throwing out and selling, purging to make space for a new sense of home.  I remember a definition (?Flannery O'Connor?) of home:  the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.  We've landed at 118 Lake Drive fleeing war, sick and weary, or just in between worlds, without other options, and we've always found ourselves taken in to warm beds and abundant food and laundry and convenient access to the airport and patient storage of years of accumulated this and that.  Now that is being cleared away, making space, we have to trust, for something better.

The Jesus of Resurrection appears in the shadows of a dying day, on dirt road, on foot, to a small audience.  Pastor Clifford reminded us that the disciples had to learn the connection between failure and redemption.  

Which is uncomfortable, and yet a comfort.  

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