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Enough For Us

Today’s reflection is a bit roundabout. It started from the Daily Lectionary and the Complete Jewish Bible translation of  1 Corinthians 5:1-8:  Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know the saying, “It takes only a little hametz to leaven a whole batch of dough?” Get rid of the old hametz, so that you can be a new batch of dough, because in reality you are unleavened. For our Pesach lamb, the Messiah, has been sacrificed. So let us celebrate the Seder not with leftover hametz, the hametz of wickedness and evil, but with the matzah of purity and truth.

I looked up hametz, Seder, and matzah so that I could be sure that I knew what the words meant. I got distracted while I was reading about Seder by a mention of a traditional Seder song, “Dayenu;”— which means literally “Enough to us.” It’s usually translated as “It would have been enough,” but I like “That’s enough for us.” I was struck by the intention behind the song, and I thought it would be useful to cast it into New Testament language. This idea led me to notice that the Dayenu list of God’s saving acts reads a little bit like a creed. From there I slid to my general dislike of post-Constantine creeds, stained as they are with absolutist dogma in support of the political pursuit of power. Then, slipping even farther; slope ever more slippery, I started a search for the very earliest Christian creeds and fetched up against an article that cited these:

1 Timothy 3:16
Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion:

He was manifested in the flesh,
Vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory.

Philippians 2:5-11
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
Did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
But made himself nothing,
Taking the very nature of a servant,
Being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
He humbled himself
And became obedient to death –
Even death on a cross.
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
And gave him the name that is above every name,
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
In heaven and on earth and under the earth,
And every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
To the glory of God the Father.

Irenaeus’ “Rule of Faith” (Late 2nd Century)
“…this faith: in one God, the Father Almighty, who made the heaven and the earth and the seas and all the things that are in them; And in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was made flesh for our salvation; And in the Holy Spirit, who made known through the prophets the plan of salvation, and the coming, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the bodily ascension into heaven of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and his future appearing from heaven in the glory of the Father to sum up all things and to raise anew all flesh of the whole human race…”

It was then that I realized I had come full circle to one of my favorite Bible passages— here it is in the Complete Jewish Bible translation:

Philippians 2:5-11 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Let your attitude toward one another be governed by your being in union with the Messiah Yeshua:

Though he was in the form of God,
he did not regard equality with God
something to be possessed by force.
On the contrary, he emptied himself,
in that he took the form of a slave
by becoming like human beings are.

And when he appeared as a human being,
he humbled himself still more
by becoming obedient even to death —
death on a stake as a criminal!
Therefore God raised him to the highest place
and gave him the name above every name;

10 that in honor of the name given Yeshua,
every knee will bow
in heaven, on earth and under the earth —
11 and every tongue will acknowledge[a] that Yeshua the Messiah is Adonai
to the glory of God the Father.

But here’s a very peculiar thing— when I tried to cast the creeds into a form of Dayenu for the Christian story, I realized it just wouldn’t work. The Christ Event is all one thing; one act; one unified Happening.

It makes no sense to say, “If Jesus was in the form of God, but did not reject equality with God and refuse to take it, that’s enough for us.” It just doesn’t work to say, “If he emptied himself; took the form of a slave and became like us, but did not humble himself even to death on a stake as a criminal, that’s enough for us.”

That insight— that the whole faith declaration, whether in Timothy or in Philippians, constitutes one seamless Occurrence, complete in itself— now that is something!

The sequence of the Incarnation, Passion and Resurrection isn’t a sequence at all! It can’t be broken down; parsed out; analyzed; separated into its constituent parts. It just doesn’t work that way. The Christ Event is fully contained within itself, transcending Time itself, and somehow this ineffable Unity contains Eternity. I wish I could explain it, but it isn’t something that can be explained. Its very nature resists analysis, because it is simply One Thing. One Thing that contains all things.

My mind just jumped to Julian’s “thing like a hazelnut,” and old Gandalf’s “he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.” Yes, I confess, in the Face of ineffable Truth, I retreat into nerdiness. Can’t help it, but even so, this seamless thing, this whole unquantifiable Unity, remains Real. Really Real.

So here is the only Christian Dayenu that makes any sense:

“You are what you are—that’s enough for us.”

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