Historical Setting: 562 C.E. Gaul
Speaking with young George, we find these fallen stones are a fine place for me to begin our chat. “The bishop mentioned you had a interest in this place that was once a church and, like me, you are also a scribe. Maybe we can share gifts and find a common bond that will in one way or another serve God.”
“Yes, Brother Lazarus the bishop hoped I be able to turn you away from your heresy and in gratitude you be setting your effort to check my writings for flaws in tenses. So now I shall banish your heresy.”
“I grieve the loss of metaphor: ‘Word became flesh.’ Why must it be one or the other?” I wish to keep my heresy, but this child of Frankish nobility drills me, an ancient Jewish monotheist, on the nature of a three-in-one God. It’s the pointed ends of that infuriating triangle persistently prodding disagreement among Christians. Maybe it had a purpose once as a teaching tool to bring pagans, Romans and even these Franks, from notions of many deal-making gods into a new shape that is one God who rules with humanly unmanageable grace, in love with her whole Creation, not just the well-behaving Christians.
“So common-laborer Lazarus, I shall teach you the righteous ways of the One True Faith. Are you prepared to listen and heed?”
“I’m prepared for conversation to find our common ground. But if you only expect from me listening then we can both do that best in silence.”
“Silence won’t fix things. My duty is to turn you from your heresy. You need to be humbled from your mighty notions of a God who would walk this earth in tatters as a man in order to befriend the likes of you.”
Now the young gentry is standing and pacing as he continues to lecture me with his peculiar paradox. “You see, the God-head is a Mighty Emperor – Lord of all — Holy of holies — and not approachable by a mere un-ordained carpenter as yourself.” As he makes this grand proclamation he nearly gags himself lifting up a heavy cross on a chain around his neck. He comes uncomfortably close to me to put it exactly in front of my eyes.
What can I say? “I fear you would have me turn my prayers away from the warm and ever-present love of God to pray to a cold and jagged symbol of Roman persecution.”
“The cross. I see it as a symbol of suffering.”
“Ah, as well you should!”
“Then why would I pray to it?”
(Come again Tuesday, March 3 Chapter, “Reliquary”.)