Thursday, October 07, 2010

Jesus? Is that you? ~ You've Been Framed.

(Thoughts for Sunday's Contemplative Service)

Mark 6:1-4 (The Message)

Jesus left there and returned to his hometown. His disciples came along. On the Sabbath, he gave a lecture in the meeting place. He made a real hit, impressing everyone. "We had no idea he was this good!" they said. "How did he get so wise all of a sudden, get such ability?"

But in the next breath they were cutting him down: "He's just a carpenter—Mary's boy. We've known him since he was a kid. We know his brothers, James, Justus, Jude, and Simon, and his sisters. Who does he think he is?" They tripped over what little they knew about him and fell, sprawling. And they never got any further.

Jesus told them, "A prophet has little honor in his hometown, among his relatives, on the streets he played in as a child."

I think anyone who has gone 'home' after a significant period away has had an experience like this. I remember when I went back to live in my home town after many years of living away including 6 1/2 years in Texas. I had transformed into a different person, but because the people in my home had not witnessed that change it came as quite a surprise, and I found myself feeling uncomfortable in the place where I should have felt the most 'at home'.

Jesus was not recognized by the people who should have known him best. They saw with wonder that he had changed. How did he get so wise all of a sudden, get such ability? But all they could see were some of the external defining characteristics. Family. Occupation.

Aren't you the Carpenter? Who are you to put on airs? We know your family, your brothers and sisters are right here. They are good people. You had the same upbringing, what makes you so different, so special? We know the facts about who you are Jesus, we know what you are really like.

From the vantage point of history it's easy for me to be amazed that Jesus' hometown of Nazareth missed seeing what I think is obvious, but am I really that different?

I have my own framework of who Jesus is and how He works in my life. When something happens that falls out of my framework then it can't possibly be Jesus because 'Jesus wouldn't do that!' Most of the time my frame is invisible to me. We group ourselves with people who's frames resemble ours and spend our time maintaining the frame and defending ourselves against anything that would seek to put the slightest dent in it...

...until life happens and the frame that functioned so well has to be dismantled and rebuilt anew.

For me, the most recent frame shaking event was walking through the death of both my parents. It caused me to re-evaluate what I thought I knew about God, The World, Salvation, and Myself. The new frame I constructed from the rubble of the old one is more delicate and expansive, it lets more light shine through, it's not as oppressive. This is all good, but I need to be aware that it is still a frame, and so when life causes me to question it, I mustn't cling to it too tightly.

If I live by the mantra, 'Jesus worked that way, Jesus is working that way, Jesus will always work that way' I am in danger of missing Him when he does something different.

That's why I need Community. I cannot see my own blind spots, I don't perceive them as blind spots at all until someone else demonstrates them to me by walking into them and disappearing. I cannot see how my frame is obscuring Jesus from me until someone else in my community sees Him in a place that I cannot see.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

You have heard these things; look at them all. Will you not admit them? "From now on I will tell you of new things, of hidden things unknown to you.

Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.

If all I keep is my old frame, then all I will sing are old songs.

Wander through the frame of your life, explore its depths, marvel at its beauty, and be willing to dismantle it.


Craig Morton said...

Good word Peter. Postmodernists discuss the "absolute future" as something that can only be discovered when we are unsure where we are going. This requires a certain degree of a "future present," or a plan to embark on the "absolute future," but must be open to an event that is unforeseen.

Katy said...

Great post. It’s that delicate balance of forming an image of God in our minds that we can relate to on some sort of level while at the same not defining God by that image... if that makes since. Like you said we all work from a frame, but we have to be read for that frame to change, to expand and move.