A Love So Fierce It Cancelled School
“I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple.” – Isaiah 6:1
Each spring bears would come rumbling through our neighborhood to forage through the trash. One April morning when I was in high school the telephone rang. It was still dark outside. It was the police on the line. “Don’t leave your house. Don’t go to work. Don’t go to school. There is a bear cub in your neighbor’s tree. The mother is nearby. Step outside and she’ll come running.”
What does God look like? God looks like a love so fierce it cancels school. A love so intense it stops bankers from heading to the bank, stops lawyers from going to court, keeps builders off the job-site and the wait staff from the restaurant. The whole neighborhood froze, stopped at dawn; we could do nothing but wonder at a mother who redefined the day with her devotion.
In 1962, theologian Gabriel Vahanian bemoaned the fact that contemporary Christians let modernity define God for us. Assuming God must exist within the limits of the possible, “what remains of [God] in the . . . imagination of those who wait for him is a caricature of his tamed majesty.” Content with a half-measure, we’ve foreclosed upon the prospect of intense splendor or unsettling wonder.
Do you want to know if you’ve actually encountered God? You need some criterion, an example of what life looks like when Christ steps in, a picture of what happens when the glory of the Lord intrudes upon the everyday. That mother bear is mine. What’s yours?
O God, give us eyes to see your majesty. Amen.
Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ in Chicago. He is the host of “Preachers on Preaching,” a weekly podcast sponsored by The Christian Century.