Sunday, March 25, 2007

mystery and perception

I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
—Isaiah 43: 19

Well of course we don't perceive it. It's new.

I'm told that when the ships coming to the "New World" crested the horizon, the indigenous people of that world never saw them. Their shamans saw them, but even they did not know what they were.

We humans are so very much a species that understands through perception. And even though (intellectually) we know that perceptions are as slippery and dangerous as emotions, we still rely on them for most of our judgments and decision making. So when God says I'm doing something new... watch out. There is an expectation that we will recognize this new thing and come on board, but the reality is we will probably miss the point entirely.

God (incarnate as Jesus) was misunderstood by pretty much everybody: His mother, disciples, the church officials, the people he healed, the people he rebuked. Not many (if any) got the point. They perceived him through their own filters and so have we who come after.

In the most personal sense, Jesus has always been a big brother to me. That's big brother in the good sense, not in Orwell's. He is an advocate, example, someone to run to when life treats me roughly, to confide in when I have no clue what I'm doing or why. That is my personal perception of the man God became, but then, I am an only child... my big brother perceptions come from my imagination, not real life experience.

Others see Him as a mighty savior... Jesus Christ, the Superstar... faster than a speeding bullet, able to take down Satan with a single stroke. Others know him as the redeemer of all the chaos and confusion of the universe ( I like that image too) and still others see Him as the Great JUDGE.

Who he really is... is mystery still. A new thing. Our celebrant this morning spoke to the image of God, not only as creator and redeemer, but as liberator. Normally we think of liberation theology as a focus on justice for the poor and opressed, and it is definitely that.

But what if it is also a new thing for the affluent, the educated and the powerful? Liberation from this false perception that we know the answers, hold the keys to the kingdom, are living the lives God created us to live? I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

1 comment:

HeyJules said...

Great post, CJ. It freaks me out some times how much your posts coincide with thoughts from my pastor's weekly message. (And no, our church does not follow any preset litany of any kind...)