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This past summer I spent time at the CLAY conference and among the many things going on there heard the Band “Lost and Found” whom I have heard before, and fell in love once again with their word play, their humor and their faith. While sitting in my office this morning, with iTunes set on random play (which is a whole different blog post) one of their songs came on which always makes me pause, wonder and give thanks. The lyric, which moved me so much is this:

Beyond beyond above above
Your Spirit breathes and everything exists
Before before, without without
It brings us to our knees to think of this.

You are here. You are here.
We proclaim your name, you draw near.
Perfect love drives out fear.
We believe, we receive, you here.

Against against, between between
Reveal to us, oh God your Holy plan
Inside inside, beneath beneath
We are overwhelmed and understand:

You are here. You are here.
We proclaim your name, you draw near.
Perfect love drives out fear.
We believe, we receive, you here.
© 2009 Lost and Found/ Limb Records All Rights Reserved

One of the first things that happens in first year university is that the student has to grapple with language, and what language means and its power in our thought. This song says in simple ways profound things about how our language works and the mystery of Christ existing intimately within the community of believers, while at the very same time God is transcendent and simply beyond our capacity to understand or reach the depth or height of who God is. This profound paradox is so simply and beautifully exposed in the language of this song and I give thanks to God for George and Michael – the authors.
I said one day in front of a group of folks who were genuinely struggling with this point on language and the utter imminence and transcendence of God that it must be painful for God to use language; that the act of speaking in the limited medium of words must somehow be such a condescension that it exposes God’s deepest and most profound love for us. God really is a fool in love with these creatures who are so wanton and unworthy. So willing to throw that gift of love around so freely – and yet God kept coming to us in the Word of the Law, the Word of the Prophets and finally the Word made flesh: Jesus.
It is Epiphanytide. Speaking of paradoxes, we are celebrating the birth in time of the timeless Son of God. The Gentiles have come to worship a God they haven’t known and give gifts to the One who is gift-made-flesh. A baby born to a Virgin; paradox after paradox.

This One who loves us, who has called us by name is still here; in our midst, in our joy, in our sorrow and in our triumph. Revealed to us again and again through words. Beautiful, limiting, maddening words: Word made flesh.

About Fr. Bill Cliff

The Revd Canon William Cliff is Chaplain to Huron University College at Western University in London, Ontario. Fr. Bill has traveled across Canada teaching and preaching to young people (and old) the joy of Scripture interpretation and the astonishing grace and mercy of God. He has spoken at CLAY 2010 and 2012 and has served in the Diocese of Huron as a priest for 20 years. He also sings.... a lot.
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