Pastor Bob’s December Letter
Dear people of God:
Life is messy. A former custodian once volunteered to clean the apartment, but I said I liked to clean it myself; I found it therapeutic. Given the realities of human interaction, bodies that don’t always do what we want them to do, squabbling organizations, and all the other messes in life, I love to be able to impose a semblance of order on something: straighten and dust pictures, vacuum the carpets, clean the porcelain. I can’t make people behave, but I can make the kitchen floor shine.
People have sometimes thought of God as pure, pristine, above the human fray. I suppose there’s truth to that picture, as long as you don’t read the Bible. From the time God says to Adam and Eve, “You don’t want to eat from that tree; you won’t like the consequences,” God has been involved in the mess. Later this month we celebrate the most outrageous thing God chose to do about the human mess: become part of it.
“Jesus is God’s show-and-tell,” I quoted for you in a recent sermon. It’s an affront to our reasoned conclusions about God that the Word of Creation should sleep in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes. He learns how to read and write, to plane wood, to play games with his friends. He has a short, difficult career as a preacher and prophet and is convicted as a criminal against the State. It all begins to make sense when his life is restored and he becomes the source of life for the rest of us.
God doesn’t act as a well-behaved, austere Deity ought, but becomes part of the mess. God doesn’t make us behave, either, but if we permit it, God can make us shine.