Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.
In honor of the circus elephant shot in a drive-by in Mississippi, William Stringfellow on the circus as an image of the eschatological realm.
“The circus is among the few coherent images of the eschatological realm to which people still have ready access and … the circus thereby affords some elementary insights into the idea of society as a consummate event.
This principality, this art, this veritable liturgy, this common enterprise of multifarious creatures called the circus enacts a hope, in an immediate and historic sense, and simultaneously embodies an ecumenical foresight of radical and wondrous splendour, encompassing, as it does both empirically and symbolically, the scope and diversity of creation.
I suppose some … may deem the association of the circus and the Kingdom scandalous or facetious or bizarre, and scoff quickly at the thought that the circus is relevant to the ethics of society…. To [these people] I only respond that the connection seems to me to be at once suggested when one recalls that biblical people, like circus folk, live typically as sojourners, interrupting time, with few possessions, and in tents, in this world. The church would likely be more faithful if the church were similarly nomadic.”
An excerpt from Buechner’s, “The Secret in the Dark”
I believe that although the two disciples did not recognize Jesus on the road to Emmaus, Jesus recognized them, that he saw them as if they were the only two people in the world.
And I believe that the reason why the resurrection is more than just an extraordinary event that took place some two thousand years ago and then was over and done with is that, even as I speak these words and you listen to them, he also sees each of us like that. In this dark world where you and I see so little because of our unrecognizing eyes, he, whose eye is on the sparrow, sees each one of us as the child in red.
And I believe that because he sees us, not even in the darkness of death are we lost to him or lost to each other.
I believe that whether we recognize him or not, or believe in him or not, or even know his name, again and again he comes and walks a little way with us along whatever road we’re following.
And I believe that through something that happens to us, or something we see, or somebody we know - who can ever guess how or when or where? - he offers us, the way he did at Emmaus, the bread of life, offers us a new hope, a new vision of light that not even the dark world can overcome.
“Sabbath, in the first instance, is not about worship. It is about work stoppage. It is about withdrawal from the anxiety system of Pharaoh, the refusal to let one’s life be defined by production and consumption and the endless pursuit of private well-being.”
~Walter Brueggeman from Journey to the Common Good
Hear more of Brueggemann in our show The Prophetic Imagination of Walter Brueggemann
Photo by Werner Kunz / Flickr, cc by-nc-sa 2.0
The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because [God] loves us.