Bread – Center

November 20, 2013


Readings for Wednesday, November 20, 2013, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: *; Rev. 21:9-21; Matt. 17:22-27; Psalms 101,119:121-144

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On yesterday’s news, there was a picture of a tropical storm, a massive thing in a white pinwheel organized around the center. For some reason this morning, amongst the turmoil of ordinary life, I remembered this quote from the poet Yeats: “Turning and turning in the widening gyre the falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold…”

If the center does not hold together, the storm falls apart. If the center does not hold together, the world falls apart. As we spin farther and farther away from the center, the center’s grip on us is lessened and, after a while, we cannot hear or feel it and we spin off into the blackness of space, of nothing.

Interestingly enough, this quote from Yeats is from his poem called “The Second Coming” and that is what our reading from Revelation is about today.

In Revelation today, we have the image of Christ’s Bride, the saints comprising the church, coming down into the form of New Jerusalem. The image, regardless of whether it is taken literally or symbolically, is one of absolute glory, literally “heaven on earth.” There is no temple in this New Jerusalem because there is no need. Christ (God) resides corner to corner and His glory abounds beyond human imagination or understanding.

What we see in the coming of the New Jerusalem is the consummation of a process begun by God in creation. The bookends of Scripture are Genesis (creation) and Revelation (re-creation). In the middle, in the center, is Jesus Christ and the cross.

History pivots around this center, this Jesus. Good world order pivots around this center, this Jesus.

The question is, do I? Do you? Is Jesus Christ and His work for us on the cross the center of our lives, or have we turned and turned in widening arcs away from Him so that we no longer hear His voice clearly?

Do we feel like the world is spinning apart? Do we feel like our lives are spinning out of control? Maybe it is because the “centre does not hold.”

But we know that this is wrong, because God is God and He is unchangeable. Jesus Christ, the center of life, history, love, past, present, and future, does not fail to hold. What then fails? It is the falcon who flies off and cannot hear the falconer, his master, calling. And it is us who move away from the center, finding our own place in life, making our own idols, building worldly success on our works. The center appears not to hold because we are flown far from it, but it is there, even when we can no longer feel it, pulling us toward itself, reminding us that triumphant life exists closer to Him rather than farther from Him.

Do you want to feel the strength of the center, the pull of the center, the power of the center? Do you want to feel the warmth of the sun? Turn your face toward it. Instead of looking away, look toward.

And be grateful that, just like the falcon cannot escape the bounds of gravity, no matter how far away it flies, Jesus still holds us in His grasp. The center holds. God’s plan is and will be accomplished. And Yeats is wrong.

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© 2013 GBF

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