Monday, April 13, 2009

God Walks with a Limp

God walks with a limp.

Did you know that?

How do I know that? Well, first, I know as you know that God doesn’t have legs and feet and shoes and socks as you or I have. But when God walks among us it is with feet that once, long ago, were wounded on the day that Jesus gave his life to make us free.

And you know what we call that day. Yes, Good Friday. The day that God got his limp. How good is that? Good because on that Friday Jesus completed his great gift, giving his whole life, not just his wonderful words and his spectacular miracles, but his whole life, body, mind, and spirit, because it took that exact gift to fit like a key in a lock, springing open human nature in the freedom and dignity and purpose of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

And when that day was over, when the great gift had been made, no one but God knew what had truly happened. Everyone who saw what passed on that Friday believed that Jesus’s gift was lost. Jesus’s mother and brothers and sisters and disciples and friends all ran to their homes, afraid and sad. But in those same dark hours God was refusing to let death steal the gift.

Friday sundown, then midnight, Saturday sunrise, then mid-day, Saturday sundown, right to the edge of Sunday it looked as if death had been the pirate that stole the gift of Jesus. But at some moment within a moment, a nanosecond like at the very first big bang setting life in motion, that massive stone across the cave-tomb of Jesus rolled away to release the life-gift of the Christ who was so full of God that death could not keep him.

But oh yes, from that moment these legs limped and these hands, that had been bound and nailed to the cross, had a tremor.

The great gift of Jesus is with us forever—I am with you always, to the close of time—but, while we prefer to picture this God-with-us as perfect in power and almighty buff in strength, God walks with a limp and reaches out to us with a tremble.

These telltale signs are forever part of God’s nature unlocked for us, shown to us, in the gift of Jesus. They’re how we’re trained to recognize a life that truly loves. And how we learn to look for the holy.

And they teach us how and where to look for God. Not so much up in the sky above us in might and majesty. Down to earth where we walk, showing us God the ground of our being, teaching us reverence for life and care for the earth. Even down kneeling before us to wash our sore and sweaty feet as Jesus does for his disciples, his signature ministry causing us to feel what love can do when we get close to God who is close to us.

How close to us is God?

Story-teller and theologian Madeleine L’Engle imagines her answer:

“In my mind’s ear I can hear God saying to God, ‘Can I do it? Do I love them that much? Can I leave my galaxies, my solar systems, can I leave the hydrogen clouds and the birthing of stars and the journeyings of comets, can I leave all that I have made, give it all up, and become a tiny, unknowing seed in the belly of a young girl? Do I love them that much? Do I have to do that in order to show them what it is to be human?’”

We are here today celebrating Easter because God’s answer to God’s own question was Yes. God so loves the whole world as to become that tiny seed that became Jesus and so God fully enters our life and is the gift, the way, the truth, and the life that frees human nature for God’s kind of life, eternal life, and for the kind of love that is more than generous-- a love that has caused God to walk with a limp, and to embrace us with just the trace of a tremble.

(The quotation above is from Madeleine L'Engle's "Penguins and Golden Calves".)