the letters

It seems to me these letters offer us a wealth of christological material. They each present a Christ who is someone somewhat different for each community addressed yet at the same time One.

Christ:

  • holds the stars of the seven lampstands in his hand. The spirits that animate the churches are under his authority.
  • is the Alpha and the Omega; the One dead now made alive. He is the first fruits of our own resurrection. The empty tomb is affirmed.
  • a sharp two-edged sword comes from his mouth; he is the God who speaks (difficult) truths to us and we hear.
  • has eyes of flame and feet of bronze. He sees what we do even in the dark. The things he sees are revealed by an inner light from within.
  • holds the key of David, what he opens cannot be shut and what he shuts cannot be opened. He has authority in the palace. He grants access to the King.
  • is the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the First of God’s creation. Christ is the Cosmic Christ. Christ Pantokrator as the Greek say.

Is this what Christ is for me? There was a time when I could witness Christ speaking things to me and I hear. The Voice seems less clear now and I seek it in other places than before. The empty tomb is not at the heart of my spirituality.

This Cosmic Christ is also, in these letters, one who warns, who promises, who enters into communion with us. Perhaps I’m passing through dry straw times. But this doesn’t really speak to my experiences either.

This doesn’t feel like a cuddly me and Jesus kinda spirituality behind these writings. This doesn’t feel like the mysticism of quiet contemplation, or of waiting worship. I’d wager the early Friends knew this Jesus. This is the Jesus Rudolph Otto witnesses to in the Idea of the Holy. A Jesus disappearing form Christian culture. One that draws us to him, and scares the heck out of us at the same time. It is a mysticism of storms in the mountains, earthquakes and whirlwinds not still small voices or gentle breezes.

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3 responses

  1. Well, I’d guess that this was written before the tomb story. (People had seen Jesus, communicated, knew he wasn’t “a ghost” but maybe weren’t so concerned yet with how to prove that to someone else.)Early Friends, like others in their crazy times, were sure that Revelation was about what was happening. Our times are even crazier–Can we deny this?–but only the craziest of us expect to read tomorrow’s headlines here. What I hope is that it will help us better understand the significance of our present craziness.The Cosmic Christ… and “dryness.” I get back my best effort to explain The State of the Society to myself and others; the editor doesn’t see the point. So I put it out on my site; only one Friend comments. (We disagree on some details but that’s a good thing!) I get ideas for my programming project but before I can get much done I have to go to painting class but can’t get started because “Dingo” shows up next to me, muttering the whole time about whether he can get an astronaut to sign the picture he’s working on… All this ends with me weeping at 3:00 after too much caffine, a fall on a one inch ornamental dip in the sidewalk (Beware of Re-Envelopment District anti-personnel decorations!), Dingo starting to talk like a normal (and quite likeable) human being, worries about Anne & our friends & her daughter and regrets on how I treated my first love…Love is not yours to throw away. Fear it, scorn it, befoul thyself with pretense– Be thou heedless and heartnumb, a dull, stiff, unbearable fool– It will follow thee. Forget it each morning; store it in dust; in dreams you will call it through every empty bedroom in Los Angeles. Analyze, deny it, curse it to a mouthful of last week’s coffee and thou art still loved, still will love.

  2. A Jesus disappearing form Christian culture. One that draws us to him, and scares the heck out of us at the same time.That’s what I’m seeing in these readings, and I guess it creeps me out 🙂

  3. The word is “awe”.It hit me once. I was caught outside and a low lying thundercloud rolled overhead and it was absoluteley beautiful and frightening at the same time. And I am utterly convinced that all thsi boring eternal praise stuff with the multieyed seraphim is an attempt to capture that something.

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