Further to John Terpstra and his Skin Boat (see previous post)…
The book is about faith and church, about Christian things, so it might be assumed that the word Jesus would appear. But it doesn’t. Not so far, at least.
What Terpstra uses instead, where the name is required, is “the one who won us over.” Each time I read this, it’s a tiny surprise, to know who is meant and to recognize how this is true. And warm.
It fits the author’s story. The church of his growing-up was a solemn affair, hearing the Ten Commandments every Sunday, knowing guilt and the sentence of death, and yet, every Sunday too, “the congregation is… granted clemency.”
In reality, however, their sentence is only commuted until next week, when the same drama is repeated.
He had to attend, but he could not imagine, as a child, that he would ever “want to be here.”
But he heard the one who won him over replying to the religious leaders of his time about which law was most important.
He answered, Love G—d with all your heart, all your mind and all your strength, and your neighbour as yourself.
I thought: simple, straightforward; I can live with that.
It was the beginning of being won over.
It fits my story too, of a particular day, yesterday, May 6, in the year of our Lord etc. etc. I’ve been busy this week, and the things I’ve been busy with, including writing and deadlines and a denominational committee assignment about which I can’t say any more except that it involves assessing a complicated conflict, have intensity about them, and the progress through that intensity has for various reasons needed some extra journalling and prayer. Which is good — the religious drama unfolding as it does between need and mercy. But the sense of my day reamined busy and intense. And then, in the evening, as if all of that slipped away or was clarified all at once – simplified really – came the reminder (though I mean this more as assurance than thought) of the Person at the heart of things. The name by which I knew him was a little different than the one Terpstra uses above, but just as true and warm: the one who drew me.
And I was drawn close.
P.S. Further reading: a review of Skin Boat at ChristianWeek and an interview with John Terpstra at Image.