I am thankful for the season of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany bringing the profound largess of Love close to my whole being. Gradually I am awakening to the reality that God is not a separate being aloof and impersonal, but, as scripture says of God’s word, “close, even in your mouth and in your heart” (Deuteronomy 30:14 ).
Jesus demonstrated as an elder brother, the first born in this awakening (Romans 8:28-29), that God stays closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).
As an object lesson of our oneness with God, Jesus planted in history the image of eating his body and drinking his blood, affirming the physical body that he and we share (John 6:53-58; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:15-20; Matthew 26:26-29; John 13:1-17:26). He taught that what we saw him do, we will do also, and even greater (John 14:12). In countless words and deeds Jesus in his time and culture reiterated that what he was we are also, each in our individual configuration of race and culture, the offspring of God (John 14:18-20; John 17:13-23).
God is indeed dwelling, not only among us, but in us. Yet the common misconception is that God “finally came” in Jesus, the “only” Son of God. This implies that God was aloof until Jesus was born and left again when Jesus left the earth, only to bestow the Holy Spirit to “qualified” individuals. This is how the powerful have analyzed and institutionalized our perception and it has caused much hierarchy, power mongering and abuse.
But Grace has somehow accompanied our errors. We are still growing and learning beyond boundaries. Our experience is teaching us that God is not contained by our analysis and institutions. Love is much more than has been imagined or allowed. Verbal explanations fall short, but each of us can know God in our inner persons.
It is taking a long time for humanity to let go of ancient misconceptions about separateness. We approach the thought of unity so cautiously that persons can still get crucified in various ways if they act upon the magnanimity and closeness of God as Jesus did.
We thought You were away,
Unreachable except by travail,
Blood letting ritual,
Groveling and self abasement.
When Jesus spoke and acted
We thought You had finally come.
He listened, responded lovingly,
Saw our faces from before the travail.
He kept calling for us to wake up,
To get up and go with him,
Changing from the womb of earth
To uncovered lights radiating
Like he was uncovering before us,
Demonstrating to his siblings
How to create and to awaken
Each other from unknowing slumber.
We thought You came in flesh
And dwelt among us
Only to leave and be remembered
In given words and rituals,
Bowing, obeying, following rules,
Dressing up the old ways,
Instead of eating and drinking You,
Knowing You are in our flesh.
We will arise and cast off the shell,
As You called at Lazarus’ tomb,
Make breakfast on the beach
Where we launch out, growing.
You have always been here
In the travailing elements
Exploding beyond measure,
Birthing us as Your dwelling.
Mark R. Turner
November 18, 2021