Prelude (composed after the main material below)
This is post #1200 on this blog, which has been up and running for more than six years.
There have been periods of “fasting” from writing for almost a month or so. Other times, I wrote nearly every day. I’m pretty sure that I spend too much time tending this site, in the grand scheme of my little life. On the other hand, I feel spiritually and emotionally energized by thinking and writing about significant matters, so I hardly think it would be a good idea for me to stop just yet. So, onward. . . . If you only have time to read a little, read the actual meditation (Part B).
I had noticed I was approaching #1200 a couple weeks ago. Then, without thinking about the number anymore, I finished up 3-4 posts, including this one, and scheduled them all to be published on future dates.
Thinking back a year and a half . . . as a bibliophile (not a numerologist), this is a significant number — more so than #1000, which I had specifically orchestrated in April 2013 to end up in that position, and I’d also noticed #777. It’s kinda cool that this one ended up being #1200 without any specific, advance thought about the milestone.
Why is it appropriate that this one is #1200? Because it combines some of my areas of great interest and effort: 1) rhetorical and exegetical studies in ancient scripture and 2) worship, teaching, and leadership among Christians. I suppose it’s appropriate, too, that I publish this one early on a Sunday morning. If you’re a) feeling rushed and b) are responsible for some aspect of worship leadership this morning, please skip to the middle of this post — the actual meditation — and feel free to use it somehow.
Sometimes I type in essay titles that simply describe or summarize the content. Sometimes the titles foreshadow a line or thought or wording to come later in the essay. Sometimes, the slugs or titles are designed to attract interest because they’re different. This title is mostly the last type, although I suppose it attains to the other motivations, too.
I was about to offer a wager that no other blog this month — or this year, for that matter — would have this title. I decided to Google it, and got five results: three bits about some Mormon malarkey, and two more interesting documents related to chiasm and secular poetry. Basically, I think I’ve proven my point, not finding any blogs with this title and only five marginally related results, so the bet is off.
Aside: if you don’t use quotation marks (guaranteeing that the results will be exact replications) around the expression, you get 381,000 results, and it’s worth noting that chiasms appear in Psalms and other meditative literature.
All the above was just so much prefatory hot air. Here is the actual chiastic meditation:
My Lord, You lived so that You could ultimately die.
Now, You ask us to believe
in Your awful, wonderful cross –
that astounding, yet terrible instrument
that we accept as necessary and grace-filled …
so we can die in order to live eternally with the Lord of all.
– bc, from communion meditation for Sheridan church, 11/9/14
The “chiasm”² is so named because it may be diagrammed in thε shapε of the Greek letter Χ (chi). You may be able to imagine this X superimposed over the green words above. That X would almost “connect the dots” of the related concepts, in this case, although it doesn’t always work out that visually neatly.
In this form, the references tie together from the outside, moving inward:
“Lord of all” is related to “My Lord.”
“Live” and “die” relate to one another.
“Believe” is tied to “accept,” so this use of “believe” might be seen more as mental assent than trust of the heart.
In the center — and the center of a chiasm constitutes the emphasis — are paradoxical descriptors of the cross. Even this post, taken as a whole, might be seen chiastically: 1) the prelude and postlude are material about the material — its “whys”¹ or motivations, and thoughts about its uses/functions; 2) the explanatory words in Parts A and C are somewhat related; and 3) the center, Part B, is the emphasis.
Why¹ would I bother to compose a communion meditation in chiastic form? For two reasons, in no particular order:
- Because it helps me to structure the thoughts and meditate in my own spirit, and I need all the help I can get.
- Because I think forms that use repetition (and quite possibly the chiasm/inclusio/”sandwich structure” is the granddaddy of ’em all) are more likely to result in meaningful retention in the human soul.
Please, feel free to use the meditation above in your own communion time. These words are not protected by copyright law! Rearrange, change, add to them at will, for Kingdom purposes.
¹ Sometimes, form can be a little messy in a biblical chiasm. It doesn’t seem as though biblical authors were always interested in perfect form; rather, primarily, they seem to have been impelled to communicate persuasively, using any rhetorical aids they had at their disposal. In my essay above, the form isn’t perfect, either: there’s a brown Why in the prelude, and a brown “why” in Part C, and a brown why in the postlude, which is probably the only place the word “why” should appear if the form were “perfect.” Like I said, the form can be messy sometimes.
² An interesting site that displays some biblical chiasms may be found here.