Captivated by Christ – Part 2

 footprints     We have clues to the spirit, his spirit in the life left behind. In the traces, the footpath, that he marked in his earthly life and upon his return. Down the road to Emmaus, beside the lake, in the garden, in an upper room that could not bar the entrance of his spirit upon them. Tongues of fire. To set them aflame with a task that would lead many of them to an end like his. But with the full realization that theirs would not be an end, but merely an entrance to the life he showed them comes to those who find him and follow him, across the landscape of their lives, in the horizon of being just ahead that draws us, beyond ordinary things to do extraordinary things, but mostly that all too ordinary task of telling his story, telling him, telling Jesus, whom they now knew to be the Christ, because he came back. Because he did not leave them, because liberation was not from kings and oppressors, but the liberation of the heart that dwells in peace and seeks peace, prosperity and abundance for all, even ones enemies. Risky business this.
He continues in the symbols used to carry on his Spirit – in the story, his words and in the imagination of those who would remember the changes that he brought to their lives. We find him where our souls and psyches from which rise the timeless images of humankind. When we become the mangers in which he was laid at his birth, he is the becoming thing in us. He is born in the world and in us. This becoming thing is the Christ-Self within us – that which can become itself in God.
The poet Rilke says the advent of the coming thing in us is always just ahead, not behind. Rilke was a poet and a mystic. His sensibility of some deeper reality that he tries to convey appears in his poetry and his writing. Like Paul he shows us another way of seeing, another way of seeing reality. Yet very much the way of the natural world. It is the leadings, the promptings of his Spirit, and the gospel of our lives where Jesus the Christ becomes the author, a principle actor, agent, and the stories conclusion.
Albert Schweitzer said at the conclusion of his search for the real (i.e. the historical Jesus).
He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lakeside. He came to those who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same words: ‘Follow me’ and sets us to the task which He has to fulfill for our time. He commands. And to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal Himself in the toils, the conflicts, the suffering which they shall pass through in His fellowship, and as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience who He is.

All the writing, quotes, artwork and photography are the work of the author unless otherwise stated. Scripture readings are from the Jerusalem Bible.
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He comes to us as one unknown…

Paul had more than one revelation of the risen Christ. Whatever those experiences were I get the sense that he gropes and grapples for words to convey what those experiences were. They seem to be experiences that are beyond words. But they are mostly likely the locus of his passion for preaching the risen Christ. He continually prays that we too might enter into the mystery and the revelation, the reality of Christ. Yet, too, as with all mystical experiences, they are first and foremost for the receiver. For reason that only he or she knows. They are impetus. And they are not bound by words.

Paul’s prayer for us in Ephesians, where he prays that our hidden self grown strong and the love of Christ which is beyond all knowing, seem enigmatic, a reality shrouded in mystery. Hidden for us to uncover. Treasure buried in a Self that we are meant to discover.

In the next two letters, Philippians and Colossians, Paul also used similar language:

…now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. Co 3:3

He speaks of the infinite treasure that is Christ. Why the mystery? Why hidden?

In the past few decades, which began with Albert Schweitzer, there has arisen what is called the search or quest for the historical Jesus. It’s not a search so much for what Paul calls the reality of Christ, but to go back to the historical documents and try to uncover the real (historical) Jesus. This is not a search into the mystery or the reality of the Christ of faith.

Perhaps its our all-to-human tendency to set things in stone. To nail down that which refuses to be nailed down. Our tendency to codify, dogmatize and decree what is living, organic, supple and transmutable. The human person and the human spirit in the never-ending process of becoming. Becoming oneself. Becoming God’s. The journey to an identity that is the journey of transformation. From one way of being to another. From a half life to the fullness of life.

Seek and you shall find. It seems to be human nature to be on a discovery mission. To search the mystery. It is the seeking that seems to be part and parcel of the human experience, the way in which we are to go about finding not only ourselves, but the sacred reality that impinges upon our awareness as it both beckons and eludes us. In Philippians Paul likens this process of discovery as a race. Paul too wants to know Christ. To know the power of his resurrection. He says he has not gotten there yet. He is still running, trying to capture the prize for which Christ Jesus captured him. In this same context he says we are called to be ‘perfect’  (to be whole and achieve well being in Christ). Then in this passage he advises to keep going on the road…

Like Israel and Jesus before us, the realization of our identities and the simultaneous revelation of God come to us on the road, on the journey of life. We are meant to search out so that we can make these realizations our own. I suspect that  in that way, what is hard won, or ferretted out in life, are those things that stay with us.

 A living process of searching out our own depths and dimensions, how we are meant to achieve and realize the hidden self, yet always sense the mystery just ahead, over the next horizon, the beckoning beyond of something illusive, the Someone who wants to be known, not in formulas or definitions, but in the lived experience of relationship. Known more in the biblical sense (i.e. intimacy) as an encounter with  the sacred Other who is invitation. Our search is our practice and march toward eternity. Toward becoming fully human. A knowing not of the head but of the heart.

At the end of his search for the ‘real Jesus’ Schweitzer had this to say:

He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of hold, by the lakeside. He came to those (persons) who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same words: ‘Follow me’ and sets us to the task which He has to fulfill for our time. He commands. And to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal Himself in the toils, the conflicts, the suffering which they shall pass through in His fellowship, and as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience who He is.