Christmas Presence

December 12th - pretty much's a little of what my ear hath heard and my eye hath seen...I hope it makes some sense.

The ears have heard this quite a bit during these Advent days - rescue me, Jesus or Jesus, come to our rescue - or some variation on that theme.  It's fair, it's one of the core facets of the waiting. The eyes have seen words from the pen of one Robert Farrar Capon and his book The Romance of the Word.  I bet you think I've been reading my own book during this season but I'm kinda tired of myself.  Capon has long captivated me with his renegade priest thoughts and especially so as they pertain to the incarnation.

When we speak those words - rescue me, Jesus or Jesus, come to our rescue - I wonder what we're hoping in terms of rescue?  My gut tells me we usually think about that word in a mechanistic manner, i.e., if our car stalls in the snowbank then Jesus a)magically starts the engine after seven tries or b)compels mr. goodwrench to take a drive right by the snowbank we're stalled in and mr. gw has just the tools to help us.  Is that fair?  Well, those are exactly the kind of rescue thoughts that were rolling around in the heads, hearts, minds, and souls of the people who walked in great darkness a long time ago in that galaxy far, far away known as bibleland.  We keep wanting the good Lord to show up in our name and for some cockeyed reason he insists in showing up in his.

*Capon: "Might not Incarnation be his response not to the incidental irregularity of sin but to the unhelpable presence of badness in creation?...Perhaps in a world where...victimization is the reverse of the coin of being, he help consists in his continuous presence in all victims...He doesn't start your stalled car for you; he comes and dies with you in the snowbank.  You can object that he should have made a world in which cars don't stall; but you can't complain he doesn't stick by his customers."  

Capon's soup can get a little thick sometimes, so try this.  Let's say Reggie's wife died a year ago and over the last twelve months I've been intentional about checking on him and today he would say "I couldn't have made it without John's help" maybe even "John came to my rescue" - what is Reggie saying?  Is he talking about how I helped him with some checkbook balancing or watching his dog while he did some clear-my-head traveling...well, maybe so. But probably-more-than-likely-if-I-had-to-bet, Reggie is talking about my presence in his life over the last twelve months.  It's not so much what I did, as I was there.

*Capon: "Answers to prayers for help are a problem only when you look on God as a divine vending machine programmed to dispense Cokes, Camels, lost keys, and freedom from gall-bladder trouble to anyone who has the right coins...given the kind of free world he has chosen to make - he will do the best he can by you.  It isn't that he has a principle about not starting cars - or about starting them.  What he has a principle about it you...he chief concern is to be himself for you...And since he is God, that is no small item."

Yes, Cokes and Camels date Capon slightly, but his words ring on. I was praying the other day Jesus, rescue me when the mechanic told me it would cost $4k to fix my transmission.  God's answer to my prayer is Emmanuel - God with us - the baby born on that blessed night so long ago and his grownup hands that still bear the scars undying presence to this day and beyond.  If $4k shows up in my mailbox this afternoon, then g-r-e-a-t!  I'll do my best whiteboy dance steps.  But that's not what all this Advent/Christmas stuff is about.  It's about his answer to my pretty-much-always-the-same-rescue-me-Jesus-prayers: I AM.

Scandalous, huh?


1 comment:

  1. I wonder if this is a middle America type of thing--using God as a vending machine. I have heard from friends of mine who are in the missions fields in Asia that people (new believers) there are so expectant for miracles and for God to be who He says he is, that visible miracles (e.g. healing) occur quite often. They have nothing to live for, so they live for God. We have all our stuff to keep us company. I wonder if that's why we want God to help it stay in working condition.