Shane Hayes - Profile of Christ (900 Words)
Shane Hayes - Writer - Speaker
 
 
THE END OF UNBELIEF
 
A New Approach
to the Question of God
 
 
Part Five
 
PROFILE OF CHRIST
 
His life in 900 words
 
 
[Note:  This Profile appears below first in prose and then in a kind of free-verse form.  The text is the same in both, only the line arrangement differs.  My readers are about equally divided on which they prefer, so I present both here.    S. H.]
 
 
____________________
 
 
The Agnostic Path to God:
A Creed for Modern Skeptics
 
 
Part Five
 
 
PROFILE OF CHRIST
 
 
His life in 900 words
 
 
A bright inspiring image of Christ should be at the core of our spiritual life.  Reading the 260 chapters of the New Testament creates that image.  But at times it helps to see Jesus’ incomparable story whole, to view a quick replay of its most dramatic events.  Such an overview -- compressing thirty-three years into an intense five-minute reading -- is offered here.
 
 
            "Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward."  Job 5:7   
 
            God made his own incarnate experience illustrate that grim insight into the human condition.  We tend to think of Jesus' life as having two contrasting phases:  three decades of a placid "hidden life," followed by a tumultuous public ministry -- the unquiet years.  But were there, in fact, any quiet ones... before the cross, or after it?
 
I
 
            He was conceived in a way that so transcended the natural as to seem fantastic, apocryphal, to many -- then and now.  The news of his mother's pregnancy before marriage must have been jarring to her family, as it was to her fiancė.  His birth was ill-timed and comfortless.  When the king heard about it he issued his death warrant, and slaughtered scores of babies in an effort to dispatch him, while his parents fled the country to save his life. 
 
            They ventured home when the king had died, only to find that his genocidal son, who had executed thousands, ruled Judea in his place.  So they crept like fugitives to a Galilean village to escape the tyrant’s sword. Born to trouble. 
 
            When Jesus was twelve his parents traveled to a distant city, lost him on the way back, and commenced a frantic three-day search.  They found him not frolicking through streets in adolescent games or mischief, not panicked at being lost or left behind, but in the Temple striving, precociously, to illuminate the scriptures.  To pierce the veil of prophecies he felt ominously destined to fulfill.  He gently reproved them for not knowing where to find him.  Was he not his Father's son?
 
            After that there were eighteen years of which we know almost nothing, so we assume (but should we?) that they were serene and uneventful. 
 
II
 
            The next three years split history in half.  He performed prodigies of healing, spoke with more resounding effect than anyone before or since, and taught radical doctrines about human and divine love. 
 
            He made hundreds of powerful enemies and a dozen weak inconstant friends.  His fame crested, enemies seized him, and his friends vanished.  He was accused of crimes he didn't commit, brutalized by guards, found innocent despite perjured testimony, yet sentenced to capital punishment, and tortured to death with whips, thorns, and nails on a wooden rack. 
 
            They left his torn lifeless body hanging on the dark hill where they had killed him.  They couldn't even let his corpse rest in peace but gashed it open with a spear.  At dusk an admirer summoned the courage to bury him. 
 
            But even his loving Father didn’t leave him at rest for long.  On the third day, with a death-shattering sigh, he breathed life back into him, and he strode from the tomb radiant with inextinguishable light. One small light that foretold the end of darkness. 
 
III
 
            The bliss of heaven beckoned, but he stayed to finish the work he had left undone.  No rest for the weary.  Not even for the dead. 
 
            He consoled his grieving friends with evanescent visits, rallied their drooping spirits and fired their faith in a cemetery garden, on a country road, in an urban hideaway, on a mountain, and by the sea where they’d gone fishing to forget their woes.  After he spent forty days posthumously putting his affairs in order, his Father called him home.
 
            With his last steps on earth he led his friends to Bethany (a place where hehad called a man back from the grave) and left them his legacy: not land or jewels or money that would buy a leisured life, but a challenge, a daunting global mission, and a promise of power to carry it through. 
 
            The task was colossal, and would cost most of them their lives, as it had cost him his.  He said he'd be with them as a living Spirit, every hour of every day, somehow present even in his absence, sharing their toil, their pain, their joy, till time ends and eternity begins. 
 
IV
 
            Then he was lifted into heaven and sat down beside God.  His body healed, glorified, ascended.  Yet his heart still earthgripped and vulnerable.  His ears reverberant with voices -- pleading, anguished, despairing; faithfilled, doubting; desperate -- echoing prayers he himself had hurled Godward from riverbank and rocky plain, mountainside and olive garden, wilderness and skull-shaped hill, when he was mortal and in pain.  He sat down beside God. 
 
            For a while. 
 
            How deeply can he rest, even on heaven’s throne, when so few labor in his vineyard, and so great a harvest withers on the vine?  There’s work to be done in heaven, too.  He prepares a place there for everyone who opens when he knocks and follows where he leads; who believes what he lived and died to tell us, and bears the burden of love he bore.  Cross bearers
 
            When all the places are ready, and we've told the news to all creation -- those who listen and those who won't -- he'll return for love’s last labor, and bring each of his own to the place prepared, so that where he is -- in paradise -- we may be also. 
The only happy ending that never ends. 
 
           The sparks fly upward. 
 
Copyright © 2013 by Shane Hayes
______________
 
This is the version in free-verse.
 
 
PROFILE OF CHRIST
 
His life in 900 words
 
 
A bright inspiring image of Christ should be at the core of our spiritual life. Reading the 260 chapters of the New Testament creates that image. But at times it helps to see Jesus’ incomparable story whole, to view a quick replay of its most dramatic events. Such an overview -- compressing thirty-three years into an intense five-minute reading -- is offered here.
 
"Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward." Job 5:7
 
God made his own incarnate experience
illustrate that grim insight
into the human condition.
 
We tend to think of Jesus' life
as having two contrasting phases:
three decades of a placid "hidden life,"
followed by a tumultuous public ministry –
the unquiet years.
But were there, in fact,
any quiet ones...
before the cross, or after it?
 
I
 
He was conceived in a way
that so transcended the natural
as to seem fantastic, apocryphal,
to many -- then and now.
The news of his mother's
pregnancy before marriage
must have been jarring to her family,
as it was to her fiancė.
 
His birth was ill-timed and comfortless.
When the king heard about it
he issued his death warrant,
and slaughtered scores of babies
in an effort to dispatch him,
while his parents fled the country
to save his life.
 
They ventured home when the king had died,
only to find that his genocidal son,
who had executed thousands,
ruled Judea in his place.
So they crept like fugitives
to a Galilean village
to escape the tyrant’s sword.
Born to trouble.
 
When Jesus was twelve
his parents traveled to a distant city,
lost him on the way back,
and commenced a frantic three-day search.
They found him not frolicking through streets
in adolescent games or mischief,
not panicked at being lost or left behind,
but in the Temple striving, precociously,
to illuminate the scriptures.
To pierce the veil of prophecies
he felt ominously destined to fulfill.
He gently reproved them
for not knowing where to find him.
Was he not his Father's son?
 
After that there were eighteen years
of which we know almost nothing,
so we assume (but should we?)
that they were serene and uneventful.
 
II
 
The next three years split history in half.
He performed prodigies of healing,
spoke with more resounding effect
than anyone before or since,
and taught radical doctrines
about human and divine love.
 
He made hundreds of powerful enemies
and a dozen weak inconstant friends.
His fame crested, enemies seized him,
and his friends vanished.
He was accused of crimes he didn't commit,
brutalized by guards,
found innocent despite perjured testimony,
yet sentenced to capital punishment,
and tortured to death
with whips, thorns, and nails
on a wooden rack.
 
They left his torn lifeless body
hanging on the dark hill
where they had killed him.
They couldn't even let his corpse rest in peace
but gashed it open with a spear.
At dusk an admirer
summoned the courage to bury him.
 
But even his loving Father
didn’t leave him at peace for long.
After the Sabbath rest,
with a death-shattering sigh,
he breathed life back into him,
and he strode from the tomb
radiant with inextinguishable light.
One small light
 that foretold the end of darkness.
 
III
 
The bliss of heaven beckoned,
but he stayed to finish
the work he had left undone.
No rest for the weary. Not even for the dead.
 
He consoled his grieving friends
with evanescent visits,
rallied their drooping spirits
and fired their faith
in a cemetery garden, on a country road,
in an urban hideaway, on a mountain, and by the sea,
where they’d gone fishing to forget their woes.
After he spent forty days
posthumously putting his affairs in order,
his Father called him home.
 
With his last steps on earth
he led his friends to Bethany
(a place where he had called
 a man back from the grave)
and left them his legacy:
not land or jewels or money
that would buy a leisured life,
but a challenge, a daunting global mission,
and a promise of power to carry it through.
 
The task was colossal,
and would cost most of them their lives,
as it had cost him his.
He said he'd be with them as a living Spirit,
every hour of every day,
somehow present even in his absence,
sharing their toil, their pain, their joy,
till time ends and eternity begins.
 
IV
 
Then he was lifted into heaven
and sat down beside God.
His body healed, glorified, ascended.
Yet his heart still earthgripped and vulnerable.
His ears reverberant with voices –
pleading, anguished, despairing;
faithfilled, doubting; desperate –
echoing prayers he himself
had hurled Godward
from riverbank and rocky plain,
mountainside and olive garden,
wilderness and skull-shaped hill,
when he was mortal and in pain.
He sat down beside God.
 
For a while.
 
How deeply can he rest,
even on heaven’s throne,
when so few labor in his vineyard,
and so great a harvest withers on the vine?
There’s work to be done in heaven, too.
He prepares a place there
for everyone who opens when he knocks
and follows where he leads;
who believes what he lived and died to tell us,
and bears the burden of love he bore.
Cross bearers.
 
When all the places are ready,
and we've told the news to all creation –
those who listen and those who won't –
he'll return for love’s last labor,
and bring each of his own
to the place prepared,
so that where he is –
in paradise –
we may be also.
 
The only happy ending
that never ends.
 
The sparks fly upward.
 
Copyright © 2013 by Shane Hayes

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