Friday, December 28, 2012

"the unspeakable gift..."

"Wonderful, merciful savior,
precious redeemer and friend --
Who would have thought that a lamb could
rescue the hearts of men..."

I realized today that I am not ready to return to "business as usual." I love this season. I love the focus on the nativity. On the life story of Jesus of Nazareth.

I was watching this  beautiful video of Selah's "Wonderful, Merciful Savior," and remembered how meaningful it was for me to discover Mary Baker Eddy's own love for Jesus. I've written about that night, briefly, in the post, "One December Night in 1910."

Since then I've seen how deeply she loved Jesus. Not just the Christ he embodied, but the man who was willing to be "the highest representative" of that office.

Sitting next to her bed that December night, looking up at the portrait of Jesus which hung on the opposite wall, in her direct line of sight from where she slept -- and faced her darkest moments -- I realized how important his example was for her...and is for me.

It is not just his divinity that inspires, but its coincident humanity. The bold boy, the eager student, the hard-working carpenter, the tired passenger, the patient teacher -- the tempted, the angry, the forsaken, the forgiving, the merciful -- the willing man of God, the playful son of Mary.

When I think of those "unspeakable gifts," we are asked to give thanks for, it is his humanity that chokes me up. Those are the "gifts" that leave me speechless. 

I think it's why I love this little film clip (with it's subtitles) that underscores Selah's, "Wonderful, Merciful." It reminds me that this was a boy, a woman's son, a father's apprentice, someone's friend. He was part of a community.

When I was in high school I served and participated actively on the teen board for my local Adventure Unlimited Chapter. I loved it so much. But because we only met for activities once a month and held board meetings even less frequently, and I often missed the camaraderie of those gatherings.

Fortunately, our rural high school had an active non-denominational youth group that met weekly to plan and host activities that were wholesome and fun. I loved this too, since most of my high school friends were active in this group.  And as much as I enjoyed bowling, or ice skating, it was the conversations that kept me coming back.

There was one in particular conversation that I will never forget. It was with a guy I'd watched from a distance for a long time. He was peaceful in a way that wasn't lonely. He seemed to be just as happy hacking around with his friends in the hallway at school, as he was sitting alone in the library staring out the window at a migrating community of geese.

I wanted what he had.

One night, after a dance at our town community center, he'd taken a break from the pick up basketball game in the gym to come sit outside and get some fresh air. I was there to find relief from the room-jarring noise level. 

 He sat down on the bench next to me, and didn't say anything for a while. So I didn't either. We knew one another well enough to say "hi" in the halls and to participate in group discussions about faith and politics, but we'd never spoken one-on-one.

After a few moments he asked me, "Have you received Jesus as your Lord and Savior?"

I thought this was a pretty bold, and personal, question to start a conversation with. And I was caught off guard enough to answer it without self-editing. I said, "No, we don't do that in my church."

"Hmmm," he said, "you might want to do that some day." Then he turned to me, gave me a hug, said he would pray for me, and got up and went back to his basketball game. And although we became better friends through the rest of high school, we never talked about that conversation again.

And for as long as I knew him, I never felt my faith was questioned, wondered about, or judged. But his question never left me.

After high school, and the sudden passing of my dad, I explored many philosophies, religions, and beliefs systems before coming back to my childhood faith. But I was never led to formally "accept Jesus" as my personal savior and "be saved." I wasn't opposed to it. It just hadn't been part of my faith journey.

But that night, after sitting next to Mary Baker Eddy's bed and seeing Jesus' portrait on the wall not 15 feet from where she faced her darkest moments, I knew I wanted -- and needed -- to feel a sense of "relationship" with Jesus, as much as I felt with "the Christ." Both became important to me.

In her, Miscellaneous Writings 1883 - 1896, Eddy suggests that:

"It is most fitting that Christian Scientists
memorize the nativity of Jesus."

As I've studied her writings, I've also learned how deeply she felt about Jesus -- someone she identified as "the greatest man who trod the globe."

I love him too. More than words can say. He is the man who has had the most profound influence on my life. He is the man I want most to emulate in my all ways. He is the teacher I have learned the most from.  He is the model of true humanhood for me.

I think my high school friend knew that I needed to have this kind of relationship with Jesus. 

 Knowing all that Jesus was able to navigate with deep spiritual grace and poise, I can see why my friend was so unconditionally peaceful.

We learn most, from those we love most. 

with every hope...


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