Advent Theme: Mystery
In my class on parables, we memorized this poem by Emily Dickinson:
Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —
The Reverend Dr. Fred Borsch (may he rest in peace and rise in power) impressed upon us the reality that parables are God’s truth told at a slant, in a disguise, because the flat-out truth of grace, the expanse of the kin-dom, and our absence of control in the situation would break people, including the one who was charged with bringing the message of good news. I don’t want to say we “can’t handle the truth”, but…
I distinctly recall not knowing how to respond to a man who told me that God fully intends for us to comprehend all of the scriptures and to have complete understanding in this life, if we study hard enough and prove faithful and diligent. That may be so, but I don’t think I have that kind of works righteousness in me. In fact, I know I don’t.
In chapter 10, John the Revelator is confronted with the reality that some of God’s words, works, and intentions are going to remain a mystery. They are not to be revealed. John, like Ezekiel and others, ingests the words of God and finds them sweet, even if they are not fully digestible.
The truth told slant about God is that the Divine is mysterious. I know that 2 + 2 is 4. I can see it. I can make it happen. I do not take it on faith. God’s grace, providence, and wisdom- I do take on faith. I have seen signs and wonders that support the continuation in faith, like following a river that bends just beyond my sight. What I have beside me and behind me gives me enough guidance to keep moving forward toward what I cannot see and do not know. And I trust, without seeing, that God does know.
Potential Takeaway: In the middle of the chaos of apocalypse, when all hell has broken loose because heaven is no longer holding it back, God does know.
Holy Divine Mystery, You are the source and ground of my being. My heart is restless until it finds its home in Your everlasting peace. In times of mystery, strengthen my faith so that I may move forward in courage and trust in You. Amen.