Jesus in Paradox

      “Sinners call Him a Samaritan and demon-possessed. Yet He, the true Samaritan, saves sinners who “came down from Jerusalem and fell among thieves”. The demons confess Him, as He expels them, drowning legions of unclean spirits into the sea, seeing the Prince of demons fall like lighting. They cast stones at Him, yet He isn’t taken. He prays, yet hears prayer. He weeps tears, yet makes tears cease. As Man, He asks where Lazarus was laid; as God, He raises Lazarus. He is sold, very cheaply too, for a mere thirty bits of silver; yet He buys the world’s freedom, at boundless cost, for the price was His blood. As a sheep, He is lead to the slaughter; yet he Himself is Israel’s Shepherd, and now the Shepherd of the whole earth too. As a Lamb He is dumb; yet He is the Word, preached by the voice of one crying in the wilderness. He is bruised and wounded, yet He heals every illness and infirmity. He is lifted up, pierced with nails to the tree; yet by that Tree of Life, He brings us back to Paradise. Behold, He saves even the thief crucified with Him, draping the world in darkness as He dies!

“They give Him vinegar mingled with gall to drink. To whom do they give it? He who turned water into wine! He is the destroyer of death’s bitter taste, for He is sweetness itself and the soul’s full desire. He lays down His life, yet He has the power to take it up again. The temple’s veil is rent asunder, for the mystic portals of heaven are opened. The rocks are ripped asunder, and the dead rise up. He dies, yet gives life, and by His death He destroys death. He is buried, but bursts forth again!”

~Saint Gregory the Theologian

*Third Theological Oration Against the Arians, ch 20 as printed in “Daily Readings: The Early Church Fathers” by Nick Needham

The Apostles Creed

I belive in God the Father, Almighty,

Maker of heaven and earth;

And in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord;

Who was conceived of the virgin Mary;

Suffered under Pontius Pilate,

Was crucified, dead, and buried;

He descended into hell.

The third day He arose again from the dead;

He ascended into heaven;

And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;

From thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost;

The holy catholic* church; the communion of saints;

The forgiveness of sins;

The resurrection of the body;

And the life everlasting. Amen.

 

*universal church

The Never Ending Story

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When you come to the end of a novel, a story, or a television series that you have been invested in for a significant amount of time, there is suddenly a feeling that floods your heart but It’s actually not just one feeling,  There is no more to come: Frodo has sailed off to the grey havens and left Samwise to write the next chapter, David Tennant had to go, we now know how Ted met their mother, and the last battle has been fought in Narnia.

There is a complexity to contrary and contrasting emotions such as completion and resolution mixing with sorrow and emptiness, but one of the truest paradoxes of life is how sorrow and joy often walk through the fields of life hand in hand. But there is a beautiful story that never ends, and not the one on the  DVD rack you still see for $5 at the retail store, but the one the angels are reading now.

No good story has no resolution. Let me rephrase. Every good story has resolution, so the idea of a story that does not end seems overwhelming and unsatisfying. The overwhelming part I will grant you, but this story is anything but unsatisfying and it did have a resolution, a completion, a finis. Yet, the story goes on. Again with the paradoxes, but let me quote to you from Augustine’s Confessions:

“Let them praiseThee, the super-celestial people, Thine angels, who have no need to gaze up at this firmament, or by reading to know of Thy Word. For they always behold Thy face, and there read without any syllables in time what willeth Thy eternal will; they read, they choose, they love. They are ever reading; and that never passes away which they read…they read the very unchangeableness of Thy counsel…their book is never closed, nor their scroll folded up.

Oh for the story to never end! If you could only but have the emotions of completion and resolution without the emptiness of no more! That is the story of Christ. That is the story of redemption. That is is the story of God eternal. The Alpha and Omega? That is to ask, the Alpha to Omega? Yes. The infinite to infinite? Yes. The resolution came at the cross but not the end. The completion came at the cross: “It is finished loud He cried” ! Yet the story does not end. “Heaven and Earth will pass away, but My word will not”.

There will be a day for all those in Christ when we get to read the “book that never closes,” the “scroll that never folds up,” the story that never ends, yet satisfies in a way no other story ever could. But we will read this story in a way no story has ever been read by mortal man. We will read by being in the presence of the author, who is the story. We will read, for eternity, by experiencing the presence of the enveloping Holy Spirit, the loving Savior, and the Most High God.