Tuesday, November 30

Morning: Psalm 5, 6; Evening: Psalm 10, 11
Isa. 1:21-31; 1 Thess. 2:1-12; Luke 20:9-18

It is difficult to live in two places at once. I know; this place is our home, and this coming Sunday we are leaving for our other home–Seattle. Here, we have our house; our friends and community, school, places that have become familiar and dear. We have friends that have stepped in and become like family: taking our children in the night when we have the flu; letting us stay with them when our water pipe bursts, or other disasters that assail us. But there… there we have family. We have grandparents and siblings and cousins, our parents. We have no physical space of belonging anymore, but a relational web that wraps around us like a thick comfy sweater each time we return.

As we try and discern the details of Thomas’ vocation, and I wrestle with these questions of belonging, I have become increasingly convinced that this feeling of living in two places at once is a distinctly Christian feeling. And while I am anxious in many ways for it to pass, I am trying to live with the tensions of this moment.

How did Jesus feel, growing up with Mary and Joseph, knowing in such real and inarticulate ways that he didn’t fully belong?  When did he know that he was Other from them?  Did his understanding of his deity grow with his stature?  We know he had some sense of being more at home in the temple than in Nazareth.  How did Mary feel when he explained with child-like plainness: Didn’t you know I was in my father’s house? Did the remark sting? Was she proud of his understanding? Was she just a bit frightened with how to move forward?

House. Home. Belonging. Even as a child Jesus had a sense enough of who he was to stay behind in a place that felt like home to him. How did he live for thirty-three years with the knowledge that he was a wayfaring stranger?

And then another question that puzzles me, possibly even more difficult: when Jesus returned to the father, was he changed by his time on earth? Forty days fasting in the wilderness. Weeping at Lazarus’ death. Raising Lazarus from the dead. Knowing Lazarus was going to die again. It must have been dizzying to be God of the universe inside a human frame, to contemplate human suffering not only from our fragile perspective but simultaneously from God’s. What memory did Jesus have of Godhood while he was on earth? Was his experience of the Father then different after his time on earth?

When Jesus returns to Heaven, is it exactly as he remembered–or has Heaven changed a bit for him because of his experience on earth? Jesus returns to the Father fully God and fully human. Is his experience of Godness forever changed because of his experience of humanness?

Waiting. Longing. Caught between two worlds. We live in this place now where we are caught up in the beauty and frailty of what it means to be human–to have friendships, to love, to suffer. Jesus, when he became man, did all these things. Did he also then feel our same fear of death? Even as he knew what glory lay beyond the grave, even as he lived every day with the knowledge of where his life was heading–he spent a night weeping tears of blood begging his Father to exempt him from the hours ahead. Was it the physical suffering he wanted to skip? The spiritual agony of bearing the sins of the world? Was his humanness afraid of dying… even though he knew death was a gateway to the Father? Or was he afraid of those moments when he cried out to his Father and there would be silence echoing in return?

This Advent I have more questions than answers. And again, I am trying to live in this place without wanting something more. I am trying to imagine Jesus, fully God and fully man, living with people he loves and knowing fully that he is to die. I am trying to imagine Mary, cupping every tiny moment with her newborn in her hand and savoring it, knowing (and understanding?) that this nursing baby is God. And man. I am trying to live with the reality that our deepest longings will be met in Jesus… but not until we are with Jesus. And this Advent season, I find this reality both comforting and frightening.

-Amy Kortus

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Filed under Discipleship, Gospels and Acts, Prayer

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