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24 Questions for Advent: Eighteen

And then I said to Him, “Will you not come to my house?”

And He said, “Am I not already in your house?”

- Kahlil Gibran, Jesus the Son of Man The above quote came from a fictional dialogue in between Mary Magdalene and Jesus, and it illustrates (at least to me) the difference in the perception of things between God and ourselves. We can often feel that God is not present to us, or not involved in what we are going through, until we discover how truly intimate He is to us. Depending on our state of mind, that fact can either be comforting or unnerving. Or both.

One of my favorite movies is Inherit the Wind (1960). It depicts a fictionalized account of the Scopes Monkey Trial that occurred in 1925 over a Tennessee law which forbade the instruction of evolutionary theory in schools. The final scene of the movie featured the defense attorney Colonel Drummond (played by Spencer Tracy) and the cynical newspaper reporter Hornbeck (Gene Kelly), talking about the sudden death of the Bible-thumping prosecutor Matthew Brady:

Drummond: A giant once lived in that body, but Matt Brady got lost because he looked for God too high up and too far away. Hornbeck: Why, you hypocrite. You fraud. The atheist who believes in God. Aah, you're just as religious as he was. Drummond: Everything is grist for your mill, isn't it? Well, go ahead, grind it up...My God, don't you understand the meaning of what happened here today? Hornbeck: What happened here today has no meaning. Drummond: You have no meaning. You're like a ghost pointing an empty sleeve and smirking at everything that people feel or want or struggle for. I pity you. Hornbeck: You pity me? Drummond: Isn't there anything...What touches you? What warms you?

“Looking for God too high up and too far away”...don’t we do that sometimes? Divorce what is “spiritual” from our daily experience? Isn’t God truly in what touches us, what warms us?

There are things I should remember But I have forgotten how I'm all tied up with no time Trying do too much And the thoughts that I've avoided Are the ones I need right now Like a warm wind and love's hand And I just wanna be touched And I just wanna be real And I just wanna get well And I just wanna be healed And I just wanna be warm

Mark Heard, I Just Wanna Get Warm

There is value in setting apart sanctuaries and sacred spaces, not because God is more present there, but because we need to be reminded that God is right here, with us. Immanuel. Be touched. Be warm.

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