Within a few weeks of throwing my lot in with Jesus, I pledged a sorority. It was a collision of worlds. I was an ignorant freshman, a fledgling Christian and a freshly-minted sorority girl.
I look around at my new sorority sisters. Hmm, we all look the same. Young, white, well-dressed women, from good-enough families, aspiring to great things. It’s not as snobby as it sounds—more like, “intentionally monolithic.”
Simultaneously, I become immersed in Christian groups. Wow. This was the widest mix of people on the planet! What powerful force, I wondered, could draw together the drop-out and the scholar, the penniless and the preppy? I was in awe. I got the message pretty quick: Jesus could shape in people’s hearts a love for that which was not like them. I was hooked. It was an utterly different kind of beauty that drew me. I have come to think of it as the beauty of the gospel.
Last Saturday, my wonderful Virginia cousin gave me the gift of touring homes in Richmond’s “old Victorian” section, all decorated for Christmas. For three hours, I walk through homes with period antiques and crown moldings, gables and front porches, all decked out for Christmas, each house fit for a cover of Southern Living.
A familiar mirage begins to take shape in my head. I feel myself sucked into an old vision of “The Good Life.” Though I’ve known plenty of people in homes like these and know better than most that the lives inside don’t often match the decor (I am a counselor)….still, I can be fooled.
The next morning finds me in my regular church service back home, and once again, I experience that wonderful collision of worlds. It makes my head spin in a needed way.
Here I sit, once again, among the people of God. We are quite the crew. Where else could you find, in the same setting, the Duke professor, a child crawling in the aisle and a woman wearing an elf hat? Preaching and music and sacrament come together in a deeply-cleansing whole. This beautiful gospel of a beautiful God with nail prints in his hand. I am converted all over again. This Christmas, once more, I trade the mirage for the Real.
Perhaps something like this collision is happening for you this Christmas. Perhaps in some way, two different visions of beauty—of reality itself— are colliding.
My hope is that the beauty around us will draw us all to the true Source.
Nails, spears shall pierce Him through.
The cross be borne for me—for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The babe, the Son of Mary.
(A longer version of this post was originally published here.)