Wednesday, August 25, 2010

veils

Not so long ago, I went to my son's dealership for the unveiling of the new Jaguar. It was quite dramatic; the lights were dimmed, exciting music was beating to match the heartbeat of car afficianados, the turntable on which the car, veiled from our eyes, began to turn. Slowly, slowly the lighting over the car began to brighten and the satiny covering was slowly lifted. The music exploded, the lights came up to full brilliance and cheers erupted as the new car appeared. It was drama played out in the showroom.
And not so long ago, a lovely veiled bride, who is my daughter, walked down the aisle to be unveiled by her husband.
The veil represented the separation between them. She could not be fully known until she was unveiled. That moment when the groom lifts the veil and kisses his bride
is always the high point of the drama of any good wedding, and so it was that day.

Veils represent separation, secrets, hiding. The veil I want to contemplate is a bit different. It has a sinister quality to it, perhaps even ill-intent.
In Lewis' book Till We Have Faces the veil is an ever-present character. Orual covers herself, believing that the veil will give her the power which her ugliness seemed to keep at bay. She also feels the need to protect her people from her ugliness.
It is this protecting people from herself that I find interesting. God veiled Himself until Jesus was born. He hid Himself from Moses. Though Moses said that he saw God, what he saw was a manifestation of God in the burning bush and the backside of God as he was hidden on the mountainside: "'But,'He said, 'you cannot see My face, for no one may see Me and live.' Then the LORD said, 'There is a place near Me where you may stand on a rock. When My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove My hand and you will see My back; but My face must not be seen.'" Gen 33:22,23 Manoa, Gideon and Jacob declared that they, too, had seen God. Is there a contradiction if God says no one has seen His face but these men say they saw God!!
No! Have you ever heard anyone say, "I can see where this is going to lead us in the future."? Surely, this person is not clairvoyant!! What about "I see your father's face in your face." Or passing by a house that is designed by a student of the great architect, I have said, "I can see Frank Lloyd Wright in that." None of these is literally true. We see representations of the reality. But the reality is very clearly "seen" in the represemtation.
God "veiled" Himself in representation. But these are not the only examples of where He was veiled.
The Jerusalem temple, a replica of the wilderness tabernacle, had a curtain that was about 60 feet in height, 30 feet in width and four inches thick. Whether or not these are the same dimensions of the Tabernacle, the idea was one of separation, protection for man from a Holy God who could not look on evil and sinful man who could not look on Holy God. The priests, Holy of Holies and the Tabernacle itself, for that matter, were representations of God.
Am I saying that God was not present in the representation. I don't think so. I'm not going to be dogmatic here. I'll leave that to pastors and better students than I. I could go either way. Nevertheless, I see no contradiction in what God said and what these men said.
That was a rabbit trail.
Where does that leave us with Orual and God?
Orual unveiled herself. She was finally honest. She faced herself - pardon the pun. She was no longer a representation of herself as Ungit, her father (see other Till We Have Faces entries) but her real self - Orual. The unveiling - which was something the gods did TO her - led to salvation. (Interesting implications there for God's sovereignty in salvation.)
So too, did God's unveiling in Jesus lead to the final revelation of God's salvation plan. "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father." God's plan was unveiled on the cross. The Tabernacle and the Law were part of the veil of God which, while not thrown away or invalidated at Jesus's unveiling, nevertheless were subsumed in His unveiling. The curtain, torn from Heaven to earth was God's final act of unveiling; once forbidden to enter, we are now invited into the Holy of Holies and to gaze on Him.
Psyche showed Orual what living faith would look like. Psyche was radiant when Orual visited her across the river. Psyche lived an unveiled life. It looked very different from Orual's in nature and quality. It was an untortured, hopeful life where she was free to long for her true home and the true Lover of her soul.
Jesus, in His new body, shows us what we shall be. That veil too, was torn away for us and we get a glimpse of what will be ours. No longer protected from God, we get to fully participate in the life of His Son and to know God the Father. Jesus is our Elder Brother. We are family with Him.
Let's hear it for the intentional unveiling of ourselves!
"Face" yourself before God. See yourself as you are. Then, if you are in Jesus, see yourself as God sees you. See God. See your future, unveiled in the Risen Jesus.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

together again


The dynamic duo will be reunited this afternoon.
Lydia left for Ohio to spend 5 days with Rachael and Andrew. Well, mostly Rachael, if I am to be accurate!! Mornings at Starbucks with the crossword puzzle from the newspaper. Laughing and talking wherever they are. This will be wonderfully refreshing for both of them.
Thank you, Larry, for doing this for them.
Thank you, God, for letting me know them.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

it's like looking at my face in a mirror

In one more month, I will be leading another group of friends in a discussion of C.S. Lewis' powerful story "Till We Have Faces". I have said it before - aside from the Bible, it is my favorite story.
Orual is perhaps the most complex character crafted by an author. Her self deception, self transformation, self destruction are disturbing to read. I often feel like shouting at her!

The other day I was reading the part where she sees Psyche's new home, the mansion on the forbidden side of the mountain. She sees it, and denies she sees it. Right in front of her yet not there!!! It makes me want to slap the snot out of her. (My college roommate used to say that to me!!)
Then I remembered that Orual represents me in the story. God puts Himself in my path all day, every day. I don't/won't see Him!!
Lewis has slapped me.
I am snotless.

if it isn't one thing, it's the same thing

So if there isn't enough to keep one's mind occupied, now I have to worry about the pH of my body.
A new friend and I were talking about this. She tests herself every morning and maintains a healthy pH. I was sent home with a roll of pH paper and challenged to test myself.
I have work to do!! 'Nuf said.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

David needed a shepherd

The Lord is my Shepherd. So David wrote.

He would know what that meant. Being a shepherd himself he would know what it meant to call the Lord his Shepherd.

Sheep are needy creatures. They fall down and don't know how to get up. They charge each other and butt heads and deliver wounds in the head because their wool causes them to sort of stick rather than graze off each other. They foolishly follow each other - not always to good and safe places. If they wander off, they can't find their way back to the herd. No wonder the shepherd needed to help those who were cast down and couldn't get up; anoint heads with oil so the butting heads wouldn't cause injury but rather slide off each other; stay close to the sheep to keep wandering off to a minimum; leave the sheep to search for the one who got lost.

They are quite helpless creatures. David knew this.

So to compare himself to a sheep was quite profound. To call God his Shepherd was quite lovely. David once wrote, “Yet I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay.” We all need guidance. We all need direction. We all need help, in this life. It is a good thing to recognize one’s neediness, for this realization puts one in position to be guided, directed, and helped. Only the needy know they need a shepherd. Only those who realize their need for guidance can be guided.

Falling down, wounding myself and others, getting lost. Sounds like things I do. I, too, need this Shepherd. And He is mine!!!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

How Shall We Then Live?

Having to miss church this morning due to ongoing strep throat, I was listening to a sermon on the radio. The preacher was talking about "How Shall We Then Live" - spinning off of Francis Shaeffer's book of the same title. One of his points had to do with redemption. These are my musings from the sermon point.

I can't read or listen to someone who is articulate without thinking about the words being used. (There is a difference to me between words used and words said - I think words are often tools and not merely said but used.) And being a Latin teacher, I hear derivatives and think about root words.
Redemption.
It's root word is emo, emere, emi, emptus - to buy. With the prefix stuck on it - we understand redemo... to mean: to buy back; to recover. These are two of the dictionary definitions of the word redeem. So what!!
To buy back from what? Recover what?

Well, if redemption in the biblical sense has to do with the payment of the blood of Jesus which He made to God with for our salvation, forgiveness, ownership, putting us in sonship with God, then our redemption means we are made perfect in God's sight. He sees us as he sees Jesus.
Are we then back to the condition of Adam? Was he perfect?
I don't think so. Perfect is another Latin derivative. It comes from two words which together mean thoroughly done, thoroughly complete. Adam was not thoroughly done. He had to pass the test, resist temptation. He didn't; He was never perfect. He was created sinless but not perfect.
No.
We are better off than Adam was. If God sees us as He sees Jesus, we are perfect. We are not sinless but we are perfect. In Adam, we failed. But now that we are in Jesus, hidden in Him, we pass!! We pass the test because we are in Him! There is nothing left to be done to be in relationship with God. As Jesus is in relationship with God, we are in relationship with God. God bought us back from Adam's condition. We had once been - in Adam - sinless. That wasn't enough for God. He wanted for us the perfection of Chris. We tdo it - Adam couldn't do it. And so, through Christ's blood sacrifice, we were bought back to God, beyond sinless, all the way to perfect. Profound.
We are not sinless but we are perfect. We are redeemed.
The question then is: How shall we then live?