Being Saved, by Barbara Esch Shisler


Being Saved

An old man
crouches in a November rain
calling a little dog.

From the dark cage in a puppy mill
to the universe of a fenced yard,
she runs wild, drenched and trembling,
desperate for what she doesn’t know.

His sciatica aches.
He chases, pleads, swears, plots.
He stays with her through
the cold afternoon,

until help comes and she is caught,
carried, wrapped, warmed,
held fast—

Barbara Esch Shisler, author of the Kingsview & Co post “Imagining God’s Imagination,” is a retired Mennonite pastor and spiritual director, active in her Perkasie Mennonite congregation. Her life as wife, mother, and grandmother is filled with friends, gardening, dogs, movies, books and much more. Reading and writing poetry have been a lifelong joy and learning. She is author of the collection of poems Momentary Stay (Cascadia/DreamSeeker Books, 2015) from which “Being Saved” is drawn by permission.

Editor’s note: As Pope Francis electrifies many with his vision of mercy and compassion for all humans and creatures and earth itself, I see Barbara Shisler’s “Being Saved” as naming honestly the chasing, pleading, swearing it can take—even as she opens our hearts to the tenderness of being carried home by God and each other the Pope is inviting.

Imagining God’s Imagination, by Barbara Esch Shisler

KCGuestPost-BarbaraShislerI begin with my own small imagination. I have a blank piece of paper, a pen, and an idea for a poem. I write, cross out, rewrite, edit, and throw it in a folder. I get it out again, read, reread, rewrite, put it in the computer. Eventually I may have created a poem.

But of course, I have created nothing. I already had language, a vocabulary, images, experiences, memories, stories, dreams, and more, to work with. What I did was assemble a poem. God created a universe from nothing.

So who is this incomprehensible Creator God?

Here again, imagination is what we have to look through, a different window than hard facts. The Bible is rich with images of God, each describing some aspect of God. We all have our favorites. When I try to imagine Creator God imagining the cosmos into existence, this is what I come up with:

A force field of energy so enormous and powerful and beyond description, Huge . . . throbbing with pure love and joy and growing, swelling, ballooning, until the energy becomes so volatile it explodes with a whopping Big Bang, and flies into tiny bits of divinity that set off the process of creating a universe saturated with God’s life.

Now, it’s billions of years later and a fabulous universe exists, and a teeny pea of a planet with human animals are somehow miraculously worthy of God’s embodiment in the flesh. . . . Wow.

How can our little minds absorb this? It takes more than mind. It takes body, soul, spirit. Thank God we have five senses to try to take in the evidence of what God imagined into being:

Color astonishing enough to make us cry: name the sunset, rainbow, fall maples, fresh snow on spruce, cardinals, daffodils, monarchs. Name the sounds: music, wind, waves, frog and bird and locust. Name tastes of ripe tomato, sun-warmed peach, mint and basil. Name smells, name the touch of rain, grass, fresh-turned soil, the fur of a kitten, the cheek of a newborn baby. The universe is a marathon of feasts to glut our senses. We might well be saying “Wow” all the time.

When God’s creative energy let loose during the Big Bang it found its way into our human DNA and set off an innate longing to imagine and assemble new things, whether it’s art or machines, medicine or philosophies. The most beguiling and thrilling thing about this for me is that it all came about because of love.

Gregory Boyle, a Franciscan priest who works with gangs in Los Angeles writes in Tattoos on the Heart about God’s gladness and delight in human beings. Boyle’s ability to see God’s pleasure in tough, mean, dirty, drug-addicted gang members, to believe in their preciousness just as they are. This takes some imagination on my part. I get stuck in how God must see the ugliness, cruelty, suffering and sin in our world. How are we then creatures of beauty and goodness? Proverbs 8 says that God’s wisdom rejoices in the inhabited world, delights in the human race. Is God grieving or delighting?

Richard Rohr says that spiritual maturity means being able to hold two opposites as true at the same time. God suffers and God delights. I need to grow into a better balance of God’s joy and gladness even when I get stuck in God’s disappointment and sorrow with all that has gone wrong in creation. (Actually, I’m hoping to fall overboard someday into an ocean of God’s joy and gladness)

Brian Swimme is a specialist in mathematical cosmology, author of a book called The Universe is a Green Dragon. Here’s what he says about allurement and the universe:

Love begins as allurement. Think of the entire cosmos, 100 billion galaxies rushing through space. The dynamics of the universe is the attraction each galaxy has for every other galaxy. Each part of the universe is attracted to every other part. The result is the creation of community. Love is the word that points to this alluring activity in the cosmos.

Swimme acknowledges in his book his indebtedness to science, art, and religion but especially to the Mysterious Source of these realities.

Two poets of the 1700 and 1800s give me words to describe the holy mystery of creation.

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a Heaven in a wild flower—
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an Hour.
—William Blake

Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here root and all in my hand.
Little flower—but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.”
—Lord Alfred Tennyson

 Mysterious, profound, extravagant words . . . but what it all comes down to is one simple word we all know: Love.

A song we used to sing says, “It’s about love, love, love. Everybody sing and shout ‘cause that’s what it’s all about. It’s about love.”

Barbara Esch Shisler is a retired Mennonite pastor and spiritual director, active in her Perkasie Mennonite congregation. Her life as wife, mother, and grandmother is filled with friends, gardening, dogs, movies, books and much more. Reading and writing poetry have been a lifelong joy and learning. She is author of the collection of poems Momentary Stay (Cascadia/DreamSeeker Books, 2015).

Through the Broken Glass

MAK-withFather-PostRevWhen this summer my denomination faced chaotic developments I was preparing to navigate as seminary dean, the idea came to change my Facebook profile photo. I wanted a reminder that though each generation faces the high calling of discerning how we live the Jesus Way in changing contexts, the wisdom of those who preceded us deserves honor.

A photo of me and my father drew me into a story with unexpected twists and turns and transformations:

A s touched on in “Present at the Big Bang,” I was taken to Cuba as a baby. I remember sitting in my crib listening to my parents talk in the kitchen about their missionary activities. I was so young I can’t confirm the memory’s reliability, yet what lingers is this thought: You are all alone in this crib, and you are going to need to take care of yourself.

At minimum what the memory points to is true: along with siblings and many other children of missionaries and church leaders, I wondered where I fit in my parents’ priorities versus God and their callings.

They did love their children. And I’m grateful that in later years, when my wife Joan and I sought their counsel at several traumatic junctures, they wrapped us in tender wisdom.

Still that image of boy in crib lingered as I turned to the photo. It’s probably 1957, the year I turned three. We’re in an office my father built. He’s conferring with a Cuban acquaintance.


That was what I remembered of the photo. Then I moved it from my seminary office shelf to my desk to snap a picture with my phone. And the story deepened as details leaped out and surprises unfolded.

First, like never before it occurred to me the photo must have been taken soon after my father Aaron lost his father to depression in 1956. As I wondered if I could glimpse the grief, I saw memories of aloneness in a new light.

My parents had to navigate a new culture. Emerging from plain-dressing 1950s Mennonites, they had to discern in Cuban context faithful expressions of the gospel, such as through the tie my dad back then wore only in Cuba. In April 1957, I watched bodies of Castro’s rebels being dragged down our street. Rebels stopped my father’s jeep at gunpoint as he drove my mom and just-born brother Robbie home.

Throw into all this losing a parent to suicide—then considered such a mortal sin that cause of death was shrouded in secrecy and shame, bodies sometimes disallowed burial in the congregational cemetery. Suddenly my dad looked less a distant father and more a hero who had managed against all odds to care for me.

A memory surged of his inviting me to paint the wooden siding of that office as high up as I could reach. I remembered with fresh appreciation the sheer joy of brushing on the gray paint and learning, in that magical way, to be my father’s son.

I shared glimpses of this on Facebook while updating my profile picture. To my surprise, love rushed across the years from Cuba to Miami and up the Internet to culminate in a Facebook comment shared in Spanish by an older woman. She was who had sometimes played in our sandbox with me while her mother babysat my siblings.

Right there on Facebook she poured out her love for me, my parents, other missionaries. These aren’t simple matters, it seems, these questions of how parents should prioritize and love their children. Because the very activities that had sometimes shifted my parents’ focus from their children had generated this love now flowing as if from beyond the grave to offer back to that boy the embrace of parents who have been dead almost five years.

But there was more. Also commenting was Barbara Shisler, wise, eloquent pastor and poet. Barbara said, “Love your little hand so safely on his leg.” My response: “Thanks, Barbara. A gift of taking a photo of the photo for Facebook was that I don’t recall ever realizing that detail was there before. It tugs at my heart.”

Tug it has. For almost 60 years that photo has been floating around, yet not until June did I truly see where that hand was. Mystery remains. Why am I there while my father works? Is this a great privilege? Am I taking any opportunity I can to connect? Still as I gaze through Barbara’s eyes at that hand on my father’s leg, I feel safe.

Just this yet. The photo had migrated to my seminary office when Joan framed it as a gift. But one day my knocking it to the floor shattered the glass. When I took a phone picture of the photo I picked the shards off—then piled them back. I couldn’t quite let go of the broken glass as symbol of boyhood’s broken parts.

Then before a seminary convocation presentation at which I planned to mention the photo,  a seminary colleague and convocation planner came in to discuss convocation. I turned to show him the photo lying under broken glass. But it was straight up, glass gone. One of my EMU custodian colleagues must have cleaned and straightened it. Whoever it was helped me recognize it was time to see past the shards to the photo and life beyond. I’m grateful.

Michael A. King is dean, Eastern Mennonite Seminary and vice-president, Eastern Mennonite University; blogger and editor, Kingsview & Co; and publisher, Cascadia Publishing House LLC. This post has roots in a June 2015 Facebook post and an August 2015 EMU faculty and staff conference storytelling session.

Hope as Church Unravels? Part 6: Present at the Big Bang

MHKC2015postMy granddaughter has been holding me spellbound as she alerts me that even the faintest gusts of love or laughter, of dismissal or devaluation, have amazing power to form or deform. She teaches me that even as so much unravels, any of us open to it are participating in the miracle of becoming ourselves as persons made in the image of God.

Here then, drawing on this week’s Eastern Mennonite Seminary convocation presentation, is the sixth and final post in the six-part series introduced in “Hope as Church Unravels? Part 1, The Unraveling” on a.) ways the church, denominations, concepts and patterns of ministry, theological training are unraveling and b.) how we might work at weaving and reweaving. Here I want to ask how, in deep and primal ways, our lives in community with each other form us, weave and reweave us, individually and jointly, as the selves God invites us to be.

Present at the Big Bang

On November 6, 2013, I dreamed of an impish little girl. I’d been gathering trash in a leaf bag. I knew it wasn’t sanitary, but I thought it wouldn’t kill her when we both seemed drawn to putting her in the bag, closing it around her shoulders, and playfully carrying her around. Although she couldn’t talk yet, in the dream I sensed her interests and thought Well, her parents won’t be too excited but probably won’t catch us. We had a high old time. As I pondered the clues—aging me, baby too little to talk, parents to be outwitted, so much giggling to be done—this, I concluded, was my granddaughter.

I reported the dream to my daughter, who was celebrating that an ultrasound had allowed her to see the heartbeat even of her blueberry-sized embryo, whom she too thought was a girl. My daughter welcomed any more dreams and commented that “This one was magical, even if you were putting my daughter in an unsanitary situation.”

Seven months later the blueberry was born. I had carried her mischievous magic in my heart with both a smile and a sense of kinship with gospel writer Luke’s report (2:19) that after Jesus’ birth, mother Mary pondered these things in her heart. As my granddaughter seemed, eerily and wonderfully, precisely the girl I had already met, I was reminded also of Jeremiah. The Lord says of him (1:5), “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, / and before you were born I consecrated you. . . .”

My grandparental gaze had already been trained by my first grandchild, about whom I had also had a primal dream: Grandson and Grandpa crossing a sand dune above a mystic ocean. I had learned that one grandparenting gift is to cherish grandchildren from above the action.

I dearly loved my own baby daughters. I’ll never forget when the mischievous mother of my mischievous granddaughter played the song “Baby Beluga” 50 times while supposed to be asleep before cheerfully reporting, “I done with nap now, Daddy.” But amid many treasured memories, when I try to remember details I often see a crazed blur of daughters and parents trying to figure out how to get enough sleep or milk or fun but not the too-much fun of keys in outlets or cars dodged in a street crossed at the wrong time.

For a grandparent, the blur slows, like reliving a marvelous baseball play in slow motion. As I’ve experienced this with a granddaughter I felt bonded with from blueberry on, watching her grow has seemed like gazing, spellbound, as God hovers over what is formless and void before with a Big Bang calling forth light and sky and ocean and all living beings.

What I’m awed to glimpse, and it’s awe before the holy, is a person in the very act of being formed, formed through relationships with others, self, and ultimately God. As we laugh and tease each other and read books and put paper bags over our heads and laugh some more, minute by minute I learn her rhythms and loves and dislikes and longings and she mine.

So when I enter the room I know to expect large eyes waiting to see who it is. Then the “It’s Grandpa!” smile appears. Grandpa goes bonkers. A shy head leans into her mom’s shoulder. Patience required. At what she deems just the right moment her arms stretch out to melt my heart.

Theories about what’s happening here are valuable. The stories told, often in their conflicting ways, by Freud, Jung, Mead, Mandell, Piaget, Erickson, Bowen, Bowlby, and more have influenced my grandparent’s gaze. What generates my deepest awe, however, is that sense of observing a human emerge in real time.

Seeing just how powerful even tiny grandparent/grandchild interactions can be also underscores that things will go wrong. Sometimes it’s just an accident, the fingertip graze of a baby’s eye that turns giggles into outraged sobs. Other times the delicate dance of human formation is profoundly violated.

Watching the intricacies shaping my granddaughter second by second, I think of what I know of my own infancy. The story of my missionary parents taking me at three months on a ship from Miami to Havana and my being the only one not throwing up on heaving decks. The photo of my mother hanging laundry on the roof of the first Cuban house we lived in, where she said I cried almost constantly. Sitting in my crib while in the kitchen, on the other side of the thin wooden wall, my parents wrestled with their missionary work—and thinking, though I can’t be sure such an early memory is reliable, You are all alone in this crib; you’ll need to take care of yourself.

Or go back a generation. In her final weeks, my mom, even with a mind strokes and Parkinsons had frayed, still ached to make sense of her relationship with her own mom. She showed me written fragments she had labored over in which she wrestled with loving a mother who, emotionally distant, had largely had another woman raise her.

In his last days, my dad sought to heal wounds going back to those Cuba days. When I was two, his depressed father checked himself out of treatment and ended his life. A photo in my seminary office shows me and my dad in his Cuba office soon after his dad’s death. Am I imagining that his face looks haunted? What’s going on in him? In me?

One day I accidentally brushed the photo to the floor. The frame’s glass shattered. The shards spoke to me of how easily during becoming ourselves we fall and break.

They hint at the Genesis 3 account of Adam and Eve evicted from their primeval garden, their return barred by an angel’s flaming sword. We aren’t shaped only within a flow of innocent love, laughter, play. We’re also born into shattered glass going back to the dawn of time.

Even a dream of mischievous girl holds dangers. How in seeking what I dreamed do I deform as well as form? When am I twisting her into my rather than God’s image? How did my imperfect love for my own daughters help shape both their best and broken selves even as how my parents loved me, in turn shaped by how their parents loved them, both tore and treasured the person I was to become?

We all face such questions, whether grandparents, grandchildren, parents, the children each of us once were, or participants in this seminary community or any formational setting. Here we learn to minister and be ministered to. We invite each other into sacred spaces. This includes not least the core of who we are, how we became who we are, who we’re yet to become. This can mean going down, down, down into the layers of our selves and stories, our laughters and joys, our traumas and tears.

It also means gazing out—out across the large social, environmental, climatological, and global forces shaping our most intimate beings. To see, for example, how sensitive a grandchild is to a minute shift in gaze or voice is to grasp that the merest external breeze can twist our formation.. Even the slightest gusts of violence actual or threatened, of abuse, of racism, of marginalization by poverty, sickness, low-status occupations, having our identity viewed as abomination, can distort your and my ability to embrace that great gift—being formed in the very image of God.

In seminary, university, church, or other communities informed by faith understandings, we’re invited to wrestle with how to understand, confront, and transform the forces that twist us. We’re called to root ourselves in that amazing inaugural dream of Jesus. Grasping matters at levels more profound than we ever will, he launched his ministry with a vision of what it would take to re-form his followers, to gather their shards of glass back into panes through which the holy could shine into their very cores. As Jesus put it in Luke 4:18-19,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Here we are—in shards. Here we also are—able to exchange with each other something like a grandparent’s gaze through which to see and treasure in midstream that Big Bang of creation—our becoming the persons we’re meant to be.

This is why some of the most amazing moments in seminary life are the stories seniors tell in graduates’ brunch of arriving lost and departing found. This is why one of the most awe-inspiring things any of us can do is to participate in the miracle of becoming ourselves.

Though not speaking here officially on behalf of EMS, Michael A. King is dean, Eastern Mennonite Seminary; blogger and editor, Kingsview & Co; and publisher, Cascadia Publishing House LLC. This post has roots in a September 1, 2015, EMS convocation presentation.

Hope as Church Unravels? Part 5, Recognizing Jesus When Phone Booths Vanish

KCMainBlogPostThumb200x200x72While I was pondering that riveting story of disciples of Jesus telling a stranger whom they don’t recognize as Jesus how troubled they are by his death, I ran across a blog post on whether seminaries are training students to repair phone booths.

The unrecognized Jesus and the danger that we may not recognize ways church practices are unraveling because they are like phone booths in an era of cell phones came together for me as sources for further reflection: Might fresh ability to recognize Jesus also connect with renewed vision for moving beyond phone booths?

Here then, drawing on a seminary convocation presentation, is part 5 of the six-part series introduced in “Hope as Church Unravels? Part 1, The Unraveling” on a.) ways the church, denominations, concepts and patterns of ministry, theological training are unraveling and b.) how we might work at weaving and reweaving.

Recognizing Jesus When Phone Booths Vanish

Followers of one who inspired love and loyalty trudge to Emmaus, “faces downcast.” They’re bewildered, even “foolish,” as a stranger who joins them puts it (Luke 24:13-32 NIV).

Two ingredients of their story catch my attention.

One is their difficulty recognizing Jesus. He is the stranger, the person they’re discussing. Jesus was their hope. But he’s dead. Oh, some who investigated rumors of angels saying he was alive found an empty tomb. But they didn’t see Jesus. So on the followers walk, discussing with Jesus the absence of Jesus.

While reflecting on their situation, I saw a PBS video posted by Tony Jones under the title “Seminaries: Training People to Repair Phone Booths.” Because I’m old, I remember booths. If you managed to find coins for the call, you’d scrunch behind glass doors until so many were vandalized you had to shout outside over traffic.

Are seminaries repairing phone booths? Partly yes, as some denominational and congregational structures crumble like booths did once cell phones arrived. Cell-phone-like changes are buffeting most denominations. Sexuality is just one area of change but often a straw that breaks a structure’s back.

In times like these, what does it mean to do more than teach phone booth repairs? Here I see a link with the Emmaus disciples: We too often fail to recognize Jesus when phone booths crumble. As we confront denominational, congregational, higher education, or theological arrangements too constricting for God’s wild and wonderful work among us, we’ll sometimes not recognize this risen Jesus, believed dead, even as he joins us.

I’d apply this to our standpoints regarding those issues of the day which become divisive precisely because we reach different conclusions regarding the path forward. We convince ourselves Jesus is in our understandings. I suspect that’s true; almost by definition if a matter requires discernment this is because how to proceed has become a larger matter than any of us alone can fully grasp. Hence our particular understanding may well represent aspects of Jesus others need and vice-versa. If so, this calls for polities, theologies, biblical interpretations humble enough and gentle enough to allow us to be partly right and wrong. That means being ready to welcome even—maybe especially—those we consider wrong.

Now through proposing peacemaking hospitality even for antagonistic stances, I’m offering my own fallible testimony to seeing Jesus. Maybe a better alternative would be to advocate for the one and only right theology of this or that. But might some either/or approaches be phone booths? Might we more easily recognize Jesus by confessing that when most sure we see Jesus we might be wrong? And when we have no idea Jesus walks with us this may be exactly what he’s doing?

I hope for us at Eastern Mennonite University and Eastern Mennonite Seminary and beyond to minimize imposing favorite views of Jesus and maximize opening ourselves to the Jesus we have yet fully to meet. I don’t know the precise policies or curricula this calls us toward. But we can together ask which are phone booths and which will help us live with cell phones until their day passes too.

Truly it can be hard to recognize Jesus. Who knows what fresh arrangements we’d dream toward if we believed that.

But there is that second Emmaus ingredient catching attention. Jesus is there. Those Emmaus travelers may think they’re living a horror movie or at best a foreign film so strange they’ll never grasp its meaning. Yet what’s actually unfolding is wonderful, though it seems to take forever. Emmaus is hours away; this is not just seconds of chit-chat. They walk and walk, until finally they’ve trudged into “the day . . . almost over,” as they tell the stranger they wish to join them for supper when he seems set to go on.

He accepts. And “he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened. . . .” Now they get it: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Their story’s first ingredient undoes us. It reminds us we know so much less than we think. But its second ingredient rebuilds. Theirs is not a tale to breed cynicism, to encourage doubt in the divine. We face our difficulties recognizing Jesus to see that Jesus is in fact among us. We accept our need for something from Beyond (which in the Emmaus story even prevents recognition of Jesus until the right moment) to open our eyes.

So we need higher education, congregational, denominational, cultural arrangements that nurture hearts burning. In an article on “Deep Trends Affecting Christian Institutions,” Gregory Jones, (EMS 2015 commencement speaker), and Nathan Jones highlight seven trends shaping how we work at this: the digital revolution; a multinodal world (in which we navigate countless cultural, ethnic, religious diversities out there and in here); reconfiguring denominations and emerging forms of congregating; questioning institutions; economic stress on Christian institutions; shifting vocations of laypeople; and the lure of cities.

I’d add such global challenges as ongoing oppression and injustice; rising inequality; structures from which emerge police of one race shooting people of another race; the yearning to cleanse the world of views we hate even to the point of genocide; and countless canaries in the mine signaling environmental upheavals. For example, Google “Lake Mead Nevada water level” to see photos of the bathtub ring warning cities and farming valleys that drought and Colorado River overuse could wither lifestyles.

Our learning, congregational, and denominational communities need to be in the thick of exploring how we experience hearts burning amid such trends and challenges. This is particularly the case since I see these times, chaotic as they are, as resembling the period of the Reformation or the first century when the gospel exploded across the worlds of its day in fresh forms.

We glimpse examples in a news report by Laura Amstutz on the 2014 EMS graduates and their commencement. Laura tells of final-year student capstones:

The topics ranged from “Jesus Deconstructor: Lord of Parable, God of Madness, King of Graffiti” by Brittany Conley, who is now leading a small church plant . . . to “The Medical Model and Its Creation of Unnecessary Suffering: Pastoral Responses for Chaplaincy and Beyond” by Melanie Lewis, a chaplain. . . .

I myself noted that precisely as one capstone highlighted deconstruction gifts, others reclaimed worship practices that form us as Christians when cultural trends unglue us.

Laura observes that

In these projects students have already begun the work that Elizabeth Soto Albrecht, the seminary commencement speaker, encouraged. . . .

“You are asking how to be church differently,” Soto Albrecht said. . . . Sometimes the church becomes a holy bubble that no one can touch. Sometimes we need to burst that bubble.” . . .

“We are not individuals doing our own thing. . . . The church is in the middle of major changes. Lift up your prophetic voices, but always stay within the church, because once you are outside you can’t change it. Be the change you wish to see.”

 We have worked in EMU and EMS settings to provide holy space for those with sharply divergent views to study, teach, learn together.  This can seem problematic when we find ourselves at times united in affirming Jesus yet, as one seasoned church leader puts it,  thinking that at the very center of Jesus’ way and words is welcome—or alternatively that at the very center is purity. We don’t know how to reconcile opposing convictions of which stories Jesus meets us in.

Yet maybe it’s exactly in looking for Jesus within what challenges our understandings that we find him. Because those first disciples didn’t know how to reconcile what they thought had happened to Jesus with what did, they couldn’t identify him. Yet finally they recognized a Jesus bigger than their preconceptions. Maybe we can too, in relation to any of our confusions as phone booths vanish.

On we walk with Jesus, telling him how profoundly his absence bewilders us. Until, at last, our hearts within us burn.

Though not speaking here officially on behalf of EMS, Michael A. King is dean, Eastern Mennonite Seminary; blogger and editor, Kingsview & Co; and publisher, Cascadia Publishing House LLC. This post has roots in an August 2014 EMS convocation presentation.