No Need to Be Real About Jesus
Sun pours through the car window as I wait. Girls are in piano lessons, playing holiday duets. Christmas is coming and I'm bundled, oblivious to the stress of the season for just this snippet of time, here in the car, in the sun before tomorrow's predicted storm.
Oblivious because I'm immersed in, of all things, the gift I bought myself for Christmas. The Jewish Study Bible. Not light reading for the hectic holidays. But I'm intoxicated.
The person who wrote the introduction is talking about the preeminence of story in Genesis and other parts of Torah. Genesis is not, he reminds me, philosophical proof or confession of faith or theological tract but story. (Hey, Scot, this reminds me of Parakeet too!)
Story is messy. It gets told from different points of view, it seems inconsistent at times, it is not rigid but fluid. It has, as the writer notes a high tolerance for different versions of the same event. I chuckle to myself and think about calling this post Torah 'n Me, because I realize I drive my husband crazy by a similar ancient-Near-Eastern approach to reality (it looks like I'm thinking inconsistently, Dear, but I'm just the Torah type!)
I close my eyes and think about a quote I read in A Profound Weakness...
... images of the birth of Jesus tend to focus on symbolic, formulaic aspects of the event because realism isn't essential in promoting story. Realism puts an event in time and place but doesn't necessarily point to the 'subplot', to the invisible. p.52
On the night before Christmas, we too will put realism aside. We'll think on the sweetness of God not with treatises but by biting into challah bread dipped in honey. We'll raise our makeshift tent (sukkah) and participate in the story of God's people seeking respite (the way the Israelites found respite in God in the desert). Each person will have a chance to sit in the shadows of the tent, smell and taste that bread, which a child will hand them, saying...
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life, and you shall dwell in the house of the LORD your whole life long. Ps 23
And the one who receives the bread will say, Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God. (Ps 31:5)
Each of us will bring our secret and not-so-secret stories to the tent. Knowing me, I'll close my eyes, feel the moment like it is the warmth of the sun shining, regardless of storms. And I'll feel bundled, like a child listening to a story before good night. Before good night and, in this season, before Merry Christmas.
RAP: Ache of Advent by L.L. at High Calling Blogs
Poetry Friday: Oasis at Erica Hale's
Six Christmas Poems at GoodWordEditing
Christ Child watercolor by Salvador Dali. Photo by L.L. Barkat.