Friday, January 6, 2012
Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem, for your light has come! Darkness covers the earth and thick clouds obscure the sight of the people, and even then, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
1 John 5:7-10*
As to testimony that Jesus is the Christ, there are three that bear record in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one … (And finally), whoever believes in the Son of God has this testimony within himself.
Jesus said to Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” That would seem to be all of us, living so long after Jesus walked out his thirty-something years on earth.
So we rely on the “witness in earth:" the Spirit, the water and the blood. Several histories record Jesus’ birth and death. The Bible describes his baptism, and his words and deeds, making it abundantly clear that the Spirit of God surrounded Jesus.
But there is also the “testimony within.” I would bet that all of us want more of these “epiphanies.” Perhaps I awaken from a vivid dream with a clear picture of God’s presence. Or I’m overwhelmed with the desire to give deeply - physically or some other way - with a sudden disregard of any negative consequences for myself. Kinesthetic knowledge that I am not alone, nor ignored, nor judged, but only loved. Clarity of thought or will beyond my own strength. Peace that passes understanding. And sometimes, something even more.
Seven hundred years ago, Julian of Norwich wrote of a moment with Jesus.** The events of one day, what she called God’s “showings,” filled her spirit forever. She was overjoyed by the goodness of God and described it as the outer “skin” of everything God created. And speaking of the “testimony within” she wrote, “The goodness of God is the highest prayer.”
At best, these epiphanies come, and these epiphanies go. My most vivid experience of Jesus’ presence came on January 13, 1979, at a Christian Kogudus retreat. In a journal I kept at the time, I wrote on the evening of January 12, “I am feeling peaceful, really wanting to talk to Jesus.”
Then the next day: “Snow all night and snow all day – we are snowed in a mile into the woods. Big wind forecast. Took some beautiful walks in the woods.” But I remember more than I wrote - what I guess you’d call a visitation. There was a moment when I heard Jesus with me on my snowy walk, telling me gently and clearly, “You can believe, David, that I am God.”
I had not accepted those words about him, but it was a different thing to hear those words from him. Jesus has a way of quieting doubts. Just ask Thomas. A moment like this can last a lifetime.
When you show anything of yourself to us, Lord, open up our eyes and minds and let us feast. Let us take it in, let us savor it for all the days of our lives.
*Part of this passage (the Johannine “comma”) is usually not included. But perhaps it should be; see an article by Dr. Thomas Holland at: http://av1611.com/kjbp/faq/holland_1jo5_7.html
** Julian was the first female writer published in English. Chaucer wrote his Canterbury Tales in the 1380’s; she wrote Revelations of Divine Love in the 1390’s.