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Christ Incognito

Christ Incognito

Friday, February 7, 2014 – Week of 4 Epiphany, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 69:1-23(24-30)31-38 (morning) // 73 (evening)

Genesis 24:1-27

Hebrews 12:3-11

John 7:1-13

A recent episode of “This American Life” included a segment that posed the following question to a series of people: Would you rather have the power of flight, or the power of invisibility? One respondent theorized that people choose the power of flight because they want to sound “all mythic and heroic,” but she thought that if people were really honest with themselves, they would choose invisibility.

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus indeed chooses to be nearly-invisible. He chooses to do some undetected eavesdropping rather than make a public display of heroism. He travels to Judea to attend the festival of Booths in secret, rather than openly—both to protect his own life and to hear what others are saying about him.

Jesus’ brothers, on the other hand, have been pressuring him to act boldly. They want his disciples to see his works. They tell him that if he wants to be widely known, he has to stop doing things in secret. They appeal to him, “show yourself to the world.” Be a superhero. Choose the power of flight, of dramatic and unmistakable intervention.

By choosing to go incognito, Jesus refuses to act from an inflated sense of heroism. Rather, he is in touch with his own fears of death, and with the things that people dare not say in public. There is a time and a place for Jesus to reveal himself and proclaim his kingdom, but at this precise moment in his life, he says, “My time has not yet come.”

Today, perhaps we can imagine Jesus’ presence in our midst as one who travels incognito, as one who chooses the superpower of invisibility over the ability to fly. This Jesus knows what it is like to wait, to bide our time. He knows what it is like to fear, and he wants to get to know our private and honest selves.

Perhaps this Jesus is slipping into the back pew of our churches. Perhaps this Jesus is pulling up his scarf as he boards the bus. Perhaps this Jesus is sitting alone in the coffee shop with his nose in a book. If so, what does he overhear? What does he want to know? What could we say to him or say around him without pestering him to come out of his shell? Today, let’s pray to know the power of Jesus’ presence, however it makes itself felt.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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