We too are an alloy

I never thought much about alloys till last week when a friend waxed eloquent about them.  An alloy is a mixture of metals. Pure gold is too soft on its own and so is hardened by the addition of copper or zinc. The word ‘alloy’ (in French ‘alliage’) means bonding, from which comes alliance, which in English is used politically - but in French is used for marriage. You might say what has this got to do with anything?

Well, the idea of something pure being weak and something bonded being strong is interesting, it seems to me! It is as though bonding is built into the material world just as it is in our human, social, world.  We say we need one another, and ‘no man is an island’.  An island can survive on its own. A person cannot.  But it is also true that gold is useless on its own. It is so soft it will soon wear out.

I was thinking about this idea of bonding in connection with Easter.  Jesus appears to his disciples after they have had a hard night out on the lake and caught nothing. ‘Try starboard’, he says as if they had not been trying it all night.  They do.  And then there is this huge catch.  What are we to make of it? We had a similar story in Luke chapter 5 but that time it ended with Peter saying, ‘Leave me!’ This time he jumps into the sea and makes for the shore where Jesus is waiting.  He can’t get there quick enough. He now wants this ‘bonding’.  He cannot do anything without it.

God came to ‘dwell among us’ not just as an immigrant for he took our flesh and became as we are so that we might become as he is. The alliance made with Abraham was renewed and deepened in the desert and with the later prophets we have the words, ‘I will place my law within you, writing it on your heart’. Finally, with the coming of Jesus, he actually became one of us.

I once had a friend who told me he was going to write a book entitled, ‘God is Mixed Up.’ He was a thoughtful man and struggled with questions he couldn’t answer and felt, tongue in cheek, perhaps God couldn’t either!  But in another sense God is mixed up.  He is mixed up with us.  He has bonded himself to us so closely that it is like a vine and its branches.  The fruit of the vine is in its branches.  He is like the leaven in the flour.  Without it nothing happens.

But getting mixed up with us has got God into deep trouble.  He is so bonded with us that he has carried our burdens and taken the consequences of the evil within us.  He came through the whole dreadful, awful, ordeal and appeared, as it were, on the other side.  And where he is now is where he wants us also to be (John 17:24). The early Christians had some idea what this all meant and ‘they stood there dumfounded’ (Luke 24:41).  But they knew now they were part of something much bigger than themselves.  They were not alone.  They were ‘alloyed’ to God through Jesus who ‘was so human he was divine’.

28 April 2019  Easter Sunday 2 C

Acts 5:12-16   Revelation 1: 9 …19   John 20: 19-31

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