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Careful Now, Let’s Not Wake the Baby

February 7, 2013

O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water. Jeremiah 17.13

Have you ever been sitting in a parish pew and heard the snores of the man beside you? I have not, but I have had moments where I turned to look at the person a few spaces down, noticed that his eyes were closed, and realized that he was napping. I know the feeling – sort of. As a child growing up in an Orthodox Presbyterian Church, sitting in the very front pew because my mum was the organist, with sermons too long and too boring for my young ears, I would enter into a dream-like state, and remain in this until I would hear the words: Let us pray. I don’t know how I managed it, but I was right on cue. As soon as the pastor said these words, my head would bow, and I would suddenly hear again, at least what the man in the pulpit was saying, and not where my imagination had been playing.

A few years ago I was in Jerome, Arizona for a little exploration. Once a ghost town, the shopping area in this small town now consists of a smattering of shops and a few eateries. While there, I climbed my way to an eclectic shop on the side of a hill, entered it, and began carefully looking for items that I might use in my iconography. At that time, I was interested in antique pieces with spiritual symbolism. As I was studying the articles there, the owner of the shop said to me: You play quietly in your mind. For a moment, I was taken back to those days in the pew, where I would sit so still one might think I had been turned to stone by the White Witch from Narnia.

You play quietly in your mind. Even at age fifty-four, I like the sound of this. It is the illumined stage of coming into thought, or idea. It is the playing in the rich, fertile fields of imagination, where discovery is partner, and the light of expression begins to take hold. So, it’s no surprise then to say I believe that one must have an imagination in order to more fully understand God’s Word. In looking at the verse I posted on Jeremiah, the part that calls for keener, more vivid artistry of spiritual understanding, is the part where it says:  those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water. I can see this in grand sweeping brushstrokes and portent voluminous color.

Before I go into creative understanding on this, allow me to share another passage. In John 7. 53 – 8.11, we have Jesus writing in the earth.

Then each of them went home, while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground.When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, sir.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.’ (Some translations, the woman says sir; others: Lord)

What is written? This is the most obvious and valuable question. Many thoughts on this have entertained the minds of scholars and theologians. What could Jesus have written that would cause the men to leave, beginning with the elders. Also, Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground (a 2 in 1), straightened up and spoke (a 2 in 1)), once again bent down and wrote on the ground (a 2 in 1)).  The men left, one by one. And then, the rest. This sequence is much like watching a film. Play it out in your mind. It has spiritual significance, and it is surely prophetic. Now, let’s move back to the words in Jeremiah, and view the land as man and the woman as water: a body of land and a body of water. I thought this the other day while reading Revelation 10. 2 He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. 

What might be a meaningful writing that would expel the judges judging both woman and the Christ? What came to me this morning were these three words: You are She.

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You can sail in a ship by yourself,
Take a nap or a nip by yourself.
You can get into debt on your own.
There are lots of things that you can do alone.
(But it)Takes two to tango … etc.
It Takes Two to Tango  (Al Hoffman and Dick Manning, 1952 lyrics)
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