The following is a morning devotional from Skye Jethani from this week:
The Advent of Jesus Christ is what sets Christianity apart from other religions. We affirm that Christ is indeed Immanuel—God with us—and that in him the fulness of God was pleased to dwell. He is the image of the invisible God and with Jesus, an entirely different way of relating to God has been revealed to us.
J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings, often employed a narrative device in his stories he called eucatastrophe. A catastrophe is an unexpected evil, but Tolkien added the Greek prefix eu- meaning “good” to express the unexpected appearing of goodness. He defined it as “the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings you to tears.” It has this effect on us “because it is a sudden glimpse of Truth” in which we “feel a sudden relief as if a major limb out of joint had suddenly snapped back.”
To use Tolkien’s language, the coming of Jesus Christ was a eucatastrophe. While his arrival had been orchestrated for thousands of years, even for those expecting Jesus the nature of his appearing and his message were a surprise. He was the light that gave us a sudden glimpse of truth. Our humanly devised ways of relating to God rooted in fear and control were revealed to be out of joint, but in Christ things suddenly snap into place—and the result is joy.
I think that’s a very good way to understand the incarnation. But, as I reflected on the devotional, I realized it was a great way to think about our presence in our communities. Our Churches, our missional communities should be “the sudden happy turn” in the story of our communities. I’m not sure if it will bring folks to tears, but it would be great if our churches and MCs were “glimpses of truth” that brings joy with our “incarnation,” our “moving into the neighborhood,” our making Christ known.
How can you be a EUCATASTROPHE today?