“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.”
-- Psalm 126:1
My gospel is a handful of crumbs. It does not look like much. But it is more than enough. Some see the crumbs and move on. The plate seems distinctly un-regal; the illusion of this meager offering does not comport with the desires of their belly-god.
Some hear in the call to feast the words of the Lord provoking them, calling them in some way a dog (Matthew 15:26), and they scamper away yelping rather than leaning in, head bowed to be patted.
The gospel is fuller than it appears, more satisfying. A morsel of grace is vastly delicious, greater in taste and sustenance than the biggest buffet at the world’s shiniest banquet. The gospel is desert manna, a widow’s miracle-cake, Elvish lembas bread.
Trust this to be true.
We get to the end of the communion line at church or the plate finally reaches our point on the pew, and we take between our fat thumb and forefinger a tiny thread of spongey bread or a flesh-thin wafer or hollow pillow of cracker and we hear in our ears and hearts, “This is Christ’s body broken for you.”
“His blood is poured out for the forgiveness of sins.”
We hold in our calloused paw a thimble of juice.
Trust the principle. A little yeast, a little seed. The place of death is the place of life.
There is bigness in the littleness if we will have the eyes to see.
The cross seems foolish to those who are dying. But to those who are alive?
In the 2010 documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Werner Herzog investigates the incredible artwork in the Chauvet caverns of South France. In 1994, these cave paintings were discovered by geologists and it was a landmark discovery, rewriting much of what historians and anthropologists believed about ancient man. Dating back 20,000 years, the paintings are vivid and much more advanced than paleontologists would’ve expected. For instance, the ancient artists drew multiple legs on their animals to convey the impression of movement.
But the place is fragile. Very few are allowed into the cave to view the paintings. And the deeper one works into the cave, the more astounding the artwork becomes. You can see much of this work in the documentary, as Herzog and his tiny crew are given unprecedented access to the delicate and dark passageways. But in one particular scene, a scientist is explaining that up around a particular corner there lies the most beautiful, most exquisite artwork of all. Herzog asks to take the cameras back there to see, to show us. His guide explains that no, they are not allowed. We don’t get to see this artwork so tantalizingly promised, so wondrously described.
There is a metaphor there. We are in a cave of sorts. Maybe it is like the cave of Plato’s parable, where we see on the walls mere shadows of the fire of reality. Around the corner, we are told lies the great fire, a blazing beauty so wondrous it will fundamentally change everything we believe, everything we perceive, everything we are.
The most incredible thing you could ever see is around the corner, we’re told. But you can’t go there.
To practice followship of Jesus is to believe the descriptions. It is to believe that around the corner where we cannot yet go is the most wonderful thing we could ever imagine—in fact, it is beyond imagination, beyond what we can conceive of. Even the descriptions cannot do this revelation justice. We hear the rumors of this place, read the travelogues of those precious few who trembled as though dead having spent mere seconds in that sacred space, and though we do not see it, we believe.
By God’s grace, we believe.
We believe that just around the corner is the end to all our searching, the satisfaction of all our yearnings, the desire of all our longings. We are not there. Not yet. But just around the corner, brothers and sisters, is the wildest dream come true.
Jesus says that believing because you see is dime-a-dozen faith. The blessing comes to those who don’t see and yet believe (John 20:29).
And if you believe, you will see.
"For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known."
-- 1 Corinthians 13:12