Yesterday’s church service, on the Parable of Romeo Dallaire,was another one of those gatherings that just clicked. There was a strong sense of communal expectation, a genuine feeling of God’s presence, great music and a message that ended up being very much on vision. Lots of positive feedback from lots of people as well. Sometimes I wish I could bottle whatever it is that makes that happen, but hey, best to just accept the gift in it all.
Most numinous moment for me? After talking about several different ways that we might see God’s face through Romeo Dallaire’s – jumping from Romeo’s story to God’s and then back again – and nearing the conclusion of the message, I offered up a summary of Dallaire’s tragic experience in Rwanda. I noted that his, “advice was refused… his decisions questioned… his position mistreated… his anger deflected… his cries for justice ignored, and that, in the end, he was abandoned by the world. And then, without introduction (reading directly from my sermon notes) I said these words from Isaiah, “He was despised and rejected by others, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain… Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.””
As I was saying all of these words I recognized that a beautiful confusion was playing out. One couldn’t help but think “Jesus” when I summarized Dallaire’s terrible ordeal. And then, as I was reading Isaiah’s prophetic words about Jesus, one couldn’t help but think of Dallaire. I knew that, as I was saying these words, listeners must have been wondering, ‘Now who exactly is he referring to here?’ And in that moment of confusion, the mystery of it all seemed to come clear. Christ in and through Dallaire was speaking to Christ as foretold by Isaiah… even as the Spirit of Christ moved in an among us all in that gym. A bit of verbal parallelism, coupled with the juxtaposition of two suffering servants, led to a wonderful co-illumining moment. It felt just right. A moment of mystery opened the door to Mystery.