Noah was astonished. He went ballistic, waving his hands in the air. He ranted off a litany of reasons why he was not an evil person, nor were his "works" evil, "For Christ sake!," including his now best friend Basil, which he referred to as his own personal pet saint. The amount of time he spent researching religious stuff consumed his every spare moment. His miraculous encounter with Jesus, "speaks volumes!" Besides, there is the note from his dead mother, and his latest promotion as religion editor, which had taken place two days ago.
“What does all that tell you?” Noah asked Angela.
“That you’re very busy,” she said.
(Seventh in a series on the return of Jesus Christ)
Angela, Noah’s wife, sat on the sofa with her legs tucked under, sipping a cup of herbal tea. She frowned, and asked Noah to sit with her. She had just come home from Church, and explained to Noah that though everything had changed since Jesus came back she felt more and more worried about what people truly believed.
“It’s quite difficult, now, to ignore him,” she explained. “I mean, there are angels now at church, singing from the actual rafters. They’ve taken out a lot of the pews in order to get more people inside, and the tabernacle sits off to the left, wide open. Jesus shows up at every service. He's there, appearing at every gathering space all over the world. You've been reporting on it. It’s impossible to just sit back, and run over shopping notes, and even go through a prayer list with all this going on. Some of the old folks and their rosaries aren’t there anymore. I miss them. Others aren't coming because they find the services too long.”
“Really?” Noah asked. He sat in his favorite chair, opposite the living room window with his own personal terrific view of Pikes Peak. He turned away from the view. “They took out the pews?” None of the other news was “new” to him.
Noah hadn’t been to church at his parish in months. His every waking moment was filled with research on some subject regarding Jesus, and he’d lately been visiting and interviewing Christian churches all over the state, attending services anytime he heard about them. Jesus was always there. On Sunday's he told Angela, “I’m serviced out.”
His focus lately had been to investigate the impact of Jesus on the churches. Not only was Jesus at every Christian gathering, he was also showing up at weird Christian offshoots, and meeting with all kinds of faiths. Noah updated his readers on how broad Jesus’ arms would reach. Who belonged to the followers family, as it were, and who did not.
Jesus arrived with the saints some time between Valentine’s Day and Washington’s Birthday. The actual day was hard to pin down, and the significance of Jesus’ timing didn’t seem to fit into the expected Jewish holy days, or any other religious holy days. Even after all that, though, he and Angela still spent time together every day, just the two of them. They penned “V-Dub” as their definition of Jesus’ return day. Valentines and Washington put together. They’d owned a Volkswagen in their early married days.
“You seem to be so in tune with everything since V-Dub,” Noah said. “What’s with the pensive hang-dogged demeanor?” She had never really been a great fan of change, so maybe she thought things had flipped too quickly. “They didn’t throw out the tabernacle. It’s still there.”
Noah knew about the open tabernacles, because he’d seen it in every church he’d visited, except for the fundamentalists and the Evangelicals, and even they were quite overcome by it’s significance. Noah had written about it. Jesus no longer required a physical reminder, a portal to heaven as a holy space, Noah had called it, in the form of a tabernacle. His holy presence in the host still took place in the breaking of bread, but the bread always matched the consumers. Nothing was ever left over.
Noah hadn't quite figured that out.
He’d called Father Tom when he heard about the change. “Tabernacle refers, largely, to a temporary dwelling. There’s nothing temporary about Jesus' physical presence now,” the priest had told him. “Our universe is being subsumed into heaven, I think,” he added. “The sacraments as a physical sign of heaven seem to be falling away, because he is here. The Kingdom is physically here, transforming everyting! It’s so exciting, Noah.”
Noah thought Father Tom’s excitement could only be taken in small doses.
“That’s not it, Noah,” Angela said.
He’d been teasing Angela about her excitement. Angela had this habit of clapping her hands when she got worked up, which she had been doing constantly of late. She cupped her tea in her hands now, her head lowered. No clapping. He was going to make a comment about the clapping, but Angela began speaking.
She uncharacteristically cited from memory, an ability she has not had until recently, the following scripture from John, Chapter 3:
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.
And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
She looked at Noah with sadness.
“You’re worried that your works are evil?” Noah asked.
“No, Noah.” She looked at him concerned. Her eyes were locked on his.
He lowered his head, but didn't lose eye contact. “You’re worried about me?”
She nodded. Noah was astonished. He went ballistic, waving his hands in the air. He ranted off a litany of reasons why he was not an evil person, nor were his "works" evil, "For Christ sakes!," including his now best friend Basil, which he referred to as his own personal pet saint. The amount of time he spent researching religious stuff consumed his every spare moment. His miraculous encounter with Jesus, "speaks volumes!" Besides, there is the note from his dead mother, and his latest promotion as religion editor, which had taken place two days ago.
“What does all that tell you?” he finished, up on his feet, hands on his hips, bouncing a bit, kind of a like a boxer who has popped up from the mat after being clocked by a roundhouse right.
“That you’re very busy,” she said. She wasn’t smiling, and Noah didn’t like that. He’d been overly defensive, and she usually smiled when he was.
“So,” he said, still posturing from his haymaker recovery stance. “What are you saying?” Quickly, though, he held out a finger to stop her from responding. “How did you rattle off that scripture so easily? When the hell did you learn to do that?”
“That’s part of what I’m talking about,” Angela said.
“Part of what? You have the bible in your brain, and I don’t? Is that what you’re talking about?”
“No, … but yes. And, I know more than scripture, now. I know all kinds of things I didn’t know before.”
“That’s not very helpful,” he said folding his arms. “You’re a very smart person, Angela. Though I’ll admit it’s strange you can suddenly spout verses, but this stuff probably has been sitting up there in that beautifully complex and judgmental brain of yours, and V-Dub happens, then you …”
Angela calmly put her tea cup down, got up and walked up to him. She put her pointer finger lightly on his chest, not the whole hand, just that one finger. That meant for him to be quiet and pay attention.
“God has a purpose for you, and you are quite capable of writing all about what’s been happening since V-Dub.” She stopped for a second, staring, and waited for Noah to come up to speed. He did the calculation in his head. She did not think that his actual job, that "work," was necessarily evil. That’s good, he thought.
“So,” he said, calming down a bit.
“So, dear husband, don’t let your thinking get in the way of the light.”
Noah cocked his head. He frowned, because he couldn’t make sense of what she was saying. She pushed her finger into his chest again.
"It's not about you. You still think -- exceptionally well I might add -- that you have to figure all this out on your own. You're missing the important part. The light."
Noah raised in arms in a defensive posture. "What?"
“God has always been charting our steps,” she said. “He’s been there with us all along. Always has been. With our children, and our grandchildren. And now he’s right here, visibly standing with us and communicating with us as church, through all of us — it’s the freaking explosion of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ and the Father, you knucklehead — and you’re not aware of it.”
“I’m aware of it!” Noah shouted, almost sure that he was.
“Ok, then,” she said, stepping back and folding her arms. “Why did the Father give us Jesus Christ?” Noah looked off to his left, evaluating whether this was a trick question. “It’s easy, Noah, but you aren’t listening, are you?”
“This isn’t fair, Angela,” Noah said.
“No it’s not,” she said. “I’ve never had to be blunt with you before, but the days are new. It’s always been a critical thing to live in the Spirit, but now it’s life or death. You are so close, Noah.” She stopped suddenly, looked around the living room, and began straightening things up. She grabbed the coffee cups and went into the kitchen.
“That’s it?” Noah shouted over to her.
“Yes,” she said.
“Did Jesus tell you to back off!” he yelled from the living room.
“Actually, Noah,” Angela said, turning to him, walking back from the kitchen. She nodded her head, and finally smiled at him. “Yes, he did. Just now. He told me that I had said enough.”
“Well, then,” Noah said back to her, pointing for emphasis. “You tell him thanks, from me.”
Angela laughed, pleasantly, which was very unnerving.
“Maybe you should just tell him yourself, Noah.”