Saturday, December 22, 2012

Forever is not, after all, a "fluid span in the face of God's sensitive response to every human tremor"

     "We could say that they have nothing to do with each other, this Jerusalem of rejecters and the other, the 'Jerusalem' that comes from far away (Gal 4:26), that descends from on high (Rev 21:2), unblemished, pure, glittering with a perfect light.  We could say that they have nothing to do with each other, except perhaps that each has known the Lord's love, one once but no longer, the other more recently and who knows for how long, since 'forever' seems to be a fluid span in the face of God's sensitive response to every human tremor.  But, having said this, we will have already given another answer, since the one love of God for Jerusalem is not a thing to be reset over and over, nor is it so easily foiled as to demand its own constant redirection.  If Jesus loved Jerusalem, this one, with its broken walls and rubbled towers, it is not so much other than the city that is built around the Twelve Apostles (Rev 21:14) as it is just these Twelve tribes (Rev 21:13), fallen and routed but now redeemed.
     "The disjunction between the Jerusalem over which Jesus weeps and the city of the Lamb is the same as the disjunction between Peter denying and Peter shepherding, between a thief on the cross and one in paradise, between sin and forgiveness.  Between the body dead and the body resurrected.  We shall say that the chasm between the two is real; we shall say, as well, that it is spanned somehow and overcome.
     "If this is so, then when Jesus weeps over Jerusalem, he weeps also over his apostles:  'They will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered' (Matt 26:31; Zech 13:7).  You will, each of you, leave me abandoned (John 16:32).  Yet it is on these apostles that the Church is founded (Eph 2:20), on those who fail, who are scattered, who abandon and denyand just for these does Jesus pray (Luke 22:3), and to them is new life given.  This is the Church because it is Jerusalem, the same Jerusalem of Zechariah 14, which is the same as Revelation 2 and 3, sifted, yes, tested and purified, yet the Church to whom a promise was given in the struggling entry of David and Joab into the stronghold of Zion.  See what love Jesus has for Jerusalem!  'I would have taken you under my wings, but you would not!'  Yet for all that, I have died for you, who 'did not know what you did' in this rejection (Luke 23:34); and I have turned shame into joy, rejection into a new calling, abandonment into redemption, a sinner consoled, loved, and given new fruit for the world's sake (Isa 54).  But who is this who is redeemed?  The one over whom Jesus wept.
     "And should we not weep over Jerusalem the Church?  And for just these same reasons?  And with just this end in view?  An ecclesiology of tears is at the heart of an ecclesiology of joy; without this order of truth and life, there is no Church at all (Ps 126). . . ."

     Ephraim Radner, A brutal unity:  the spiritual politics of the Christian Church (Waco, TX:  Baylor University Press, 2012), 167-168 ("Postscript:  Loving Jerusalem").

     As much as I love a densely packed footnote, the best parts of this wonderful (and wonderfully learned) book are the Postscripts.  Blessed indeed must be those who have had Radner for a preacher.  (But then, blessed indeed must be those who have had—but then rejected!Jesus, Moses, and the prophets, too!)

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