In the reading from The Gospel According to Luke appointed for yesterday, the Third Sunday of Easter in our church (the services were glorious, by the way, you should come to ours, go to yours or look around for a faith community that works for you) Jesus appears to his disciples as a stranger. When they recognize him he instantly vanishes. The story is called “The Road to Emmaus” and for reasons I won’t get into here while the tale can be read as one that points to an end, and as I tried to argue in a sermon yesterday, it’s actually a about a new beginning; a new way of seeing what’s actually going on in the world.
The film adaptation of the Off-Broadway musical Godspell imagines a coming to faith in a similar way as Cleopas and his companion do on their way to Emmaus in Luke’s Gospel. At the beginning of the film and in the midst of their occupation with “making it” in the world that they imagine for themselves (or as they deal with the one they are living in) future disciples are compelled by glimpses of a personal calling that come and go instantly in flashes of sight and recognition. The ‘one that calls’ in Godspell is John the Baptist, not Jesus, but the revelations (resulting in the journey of faith) are also fleeting: They come and go, perhaps, because “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face (1 Corinthians 12).” Interestingly (to put it mildly), the Greek word commonly translated as “dimly” in The First Letter to the Corinthians is inegma. In English the Greek word inegma, of course, is enigma. “For now we see in a mirror, only a riddle, but then we will see face to face.”
If you are reading this and find it to be slightly compelling, check out Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, by Edwin Abbott Abbott. Abbott (1808-1882) was an English Schoolmaster and theologian and while on one dimension Flatland is a critique of Victorian culture on another it’s an enduring and compelling examination of a multi-dimensional world. What kind of world do you live in? Is it one, two, or three dimensional? And how about the world of your faith, how dimensional is that?
I’m going to close today’s Cup with a little testimony. I am so very glad that I have given a large part of my life to the dimensions of faith – to the Glory of a God “whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Ephesians 3.20.” My journey of faith has been going on for more than twenty-five years and even though I feel as if I’m still stuck in the now and not the then of Paul’s admonition in 1 Corinthians, without striving to make sense of the riddle in my dim mirror, and amidst the struggles of being human and walking with the burden of witnessing the pain and suffering all around me it seems that a life lived without a faith is, ironically, a life lived in the world of my own make-believe. That a life lived without faith is a spiral staircase leading to selfishness and despair; a flatland, a wasteland. And worse, fatal.
Invite faith as a new dimension in your life… and Happy Monday,
I love the book, “Flatland!” I’m in!