Wednesday, November 15, 2017

night cometh

I bought the materials for this very personal clock a few weeks ago, following through on something I've wanted to do for some time now.

Last night, it was time. With screwdrivers, glue, cardstock, and patience, I put it all together, mounted the phrase, and got the thing on the wall. Only afterward did I realize this was on the day my friend Randy Thomas died.

To the unsuspecting eye, it looks like a standard "the end is near," which is odd enough to have on a clock. (One friend, unnamed here, thought it was something from "Game of Thrones.") But it's really a reference to something Jesus of Nazareth said, and it matters when and how.

On encountering a blind man, He said, "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work." Then He went to the great lengths of spitting on the ground to make clay (spit-clay!), put it on the man's eyes, then have the man go wash it off, upon which the man was healed. Just a couple of pages before, Jesus had healed a kid who wasn't even there — wasn't even in the same town — by snapping a finger. Why on earth do it this way?

Subsequent events show why: the religious leaders were scandalized, and criticized Jesus for "working on the Sabbath."

It is unavoidable to conclude that Jesus went out of His way to do this deed in just the manner that would vex the rule-followers who couldn't see past their rules. Even if you don't believe this happened in real life, you have to admit it's a powerful, subversive message for any religious text to be sending.

Fitting tribute, then, to a guy who spent so much of his life doing the right thing no matter whether it ran crossways with the rules of man. And he did it because, folks, there's only so much time. I'm glad this clock — squarely part of a long Baptist tradition — will always be a prosopikon for me tied to this friend, now asleep, his work done.


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