Wednesday, June 05, 2013

The Disciple

This past Sunday, a friend said I most resembled a disciple of all the people he knew. We were both in our worship-related vestments — I was wearing a floor-length white alb with cincture; he was wearing a verger's chimere. These vestments are intended to obscure our modern individual identities, and help all participants to experience kairos (timeless time, or "God time").

With that white alb and cincture representing the garb of the first and second century (C.E.), and my long face, long body, and thinning hair. I suppose I might have resembled a painting or icon of one of the disciples. Of course, I assume he meant I physically resembled a disciple.

He didn't compare me to any particular figure. After all, we know so few of the disciples' names. I could have been a nameless follower at a distance. I could have been one of the several outsiders (centurion or Samaritan) who sought out the Master.

I am, indeed, a follower at a distance — by about two thousand years. I am a bit more than a student. I strive to take on the discipline of the Master, to the best of my ability.

What is that discipline? The Master said: “You shall love God with your whole being, and love your neighbor as yourself.” I sometimes call this the “Law of Love” - a "Law" which is much more challenging than the hundred some-odd laws of Deuteronomy and Leviticus. Having a list of dos and don'ts is pretty clear-cut; an injunction to love is more challenging.

From this, and from the Master's actions, I draw some inferences. I don't think the Master had much patience for unthinking obedience to rules and regulations. Time after time, he valued compassion over social or religious norms and traditions. The Master never shirked from service, but was also intentional about caring for himself, especially by frequent respites for private prayer.

I don't claim to be a good student. Not only do I have bad days, I have frequent bad weeks and months. The point is not to make a list of my daily offenses (though that might be helpful); it's even less to list others' offenses. I strive to become more like the Master with each day.

I might look like a disciple of the first or second century. If so, my goal should be for my actions to be in harmony with that appearance. It's not enough to look like an disciple; I should live like one as well.

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