The flow of the love of Jesus is the atomic signature of the Christ. An atomic signature is a unique array of electromagnetic waves or signals that every atom emits and absorbs that allows persons with the right equipment to identify anything on an elemental level. The body of Christ, in all its diversity is known by love. I do not mean only love given or received in the name of Christ, but love. The love of the Jew, the Greek, the Muslim, the agnostic, the addict, the sex worker, the evangelical, or the Pope is the signature of the living Christ, incarnate in us, come again.
Jesus was sitting on a stone, his head ached from the glare of the sun and the dust of the dry Judean countryside. The Pharisees were finally done questioning him. Andrew laid a hand on his shoulder. Andrew always noticed when his head had begun to ache.
“Master, rest here. I’ll go get you a drink.”
“Make it a strong one.” Jesus shook his head and rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m tired of fighting.”
“I know you are.” Andrew walked away calling to one of the others to fetch him a wineskin.
It had been a terrible day. The dust coated his hands and feet and hair and voice. The sun and the questions pried into every crevice. He was simply spent. He felt like a grape pressed flat and left in the sun. He sagged against the rock and ran his fingers through his hair. The Pharisees wanted to know if a man could divorce his wife. They wanted to know how far their obligation went. He pinched the bridge of his nose. Yes, he sighed, the law says you can divorce your wife and leave her defenseless, but should you? These women, these children, who would speak for them?
Jesus noticed a woman approaching. She was also tired. Her clothes were wrinkled and smudged from the accumulated tugs of her brood of children. There were four of them. All small. One had a thumb stuck in her mouth. The mother pushed the tallest toward Jesus, determined to reach this teacher that everyone had been whispering about. A teacher who had women speaking for him. The child stumbled exactly two steps forward then froze, staring at the dirt.
“Come here, friend.” Jesus said, patting the rock next to him.
He met the mother’s eyes. He saw the miles she had walked from her home. He saw the weight of the youngest child in her arms. He saw the strength of this woman.
She had come, knowing she would have to walk back to her home, exhausted, to meet her equally exhausted husband. He would be hungry and she would have to revive the fire and mix the flour with the oil she had pressed the few olives from their scraggly olive tree. She also knew she would smile as she told him of this moment.
“May I hold the baby for you?” Jesus stretched his arms up. The baby’s eyes widened and she turned her head in fear. Jesus noticed a braid of purple thread around her wrist. “What’s your name, little one?” The baby held herself stiffly away for a moment, then, sensing her mother was not going away, relaxed.
“Her name is Deborah,” the woman said shaking out her arms. “Please, Rabbi, we have come a long way. Will you bless my children?”
He could see Andrew hurrying back with concern plastered all over his face. Jesus lifted a hand to wave him off. There was time. There would always be time for children.
Yes, precious is the flow of this love.
Yes, but what about sin. What about evil. What about suffering.
I have been there. I know that suffering is real.
I don’t know why there is injustice or pain or sorrow or hurt or anger or aggression.
I don’t know.
I do not say that the Christ is love from a place of perfection. I claim that Jesus, the Christ, has made me whole despite my brokenness. Yes, there is evil in the world. Yes, people, even people who claim the be followers of Jesus, project the anti-Christ into the world. I admit my part in this. I have been narrow. I have been envious. I have not loved my neighbor. I have refused to hear the cry of the needy. I have refused to hope.
This is slightly adapted from Andrea Lingle’s upcoming book, Into the Abundant Deep: A Credulous Journey of Faith, due to be released spring of 2018.
Invitation to Missional Mindfulness:
Throughout Advent, the Invitation to Missional Mindfulness will be taken from the Advent Incarnate Incarnational Group Guide:
In what ways did you experience or observe God’s presence over
the last week?
In what ways did you feel distant from God this past week?
How would you like to grow in your relationship with God this next