I remember a very simple magic trick a friend of mine used to do back in college. We’d all be sitting at a table in the cafeteria and he’d ask for a quarter. He held up the quarter in his right hand and then, resting his left elbow on the table, he’d rub the quarter alternately on the table and then into his left forearm until it had “dissolved” into his arm and disappeared. Occasionally, he’d lift the quarter with his left hand to put it in his right hand and continue to rub it into his arm. A few moments after our inspection of his arm, he’d reveal the quarter under one of our coffee cups.
Admittedly, we all knew it was a simple act of misdirection and it took us a few times watching him till we realized he’d moved the quarter to the back of his neck on one of the occasions of switching the hand that continued to show us the quarter.
Of course, I knew that one sure give away would have been to simply check the date on the first quarter and compare with the one under the cup before my friend would pocket it. But I’d let it go at the novelty and enjoy his skill at misdirection.
In fact, I was always the (sometimes annoying) skeptical kid in the crowd at school, or birthday parties, or at Six Flags, who tried to get behind the magician’s curtain to see what was “back there”.
It took me years to appreciate the fact that the real magic isn’t in the disappearance of something, but in the sudden realization that what has disappeared was never really there and what has seemingly reappeared was always there to begin with.
The 2nd century Roman historian, Tacitus, cites a moment in history when Rome took control of Jerusalem in 63 BCE. He writes, “Pompeius Magnus was the first of our countrymen to subdue the Jews. Availing himself of the right of conquest, he entered the temple. He approached the “Holy of Holies” and pulled back the curtain to find that the space was untenanted — vacant of any god. It thus became widely known that the sanctuary was an empty place and the shrine had nothing to reveal.”
This Sunday we’ll conclude our series “why is THAT in the bible?” as we explore Paul’s famous words to the church at Corinth, I Corinthians chapter 13, “Now we see through a glass, dimly . . . now we know in part. But then we shall know even as we are known.” Is it all smoke and mirrors and misdirection? Life, politics — the church? Or is there something else going on here that even the “magician” at the front of the sanctuary — the politician on the podium, the teacher at the front of class (each and everyone of us) is missing most of the time?
I hope you can join us this Sunday as we explore this library of books we call the Bible in order to pull back the curtain and see what’s really there
Sunday, August 27, in eleven:eleven celebration
“neither here nor there”
rev. tom mcdermott
with brad thompson, guest singer avery vaughn and ukulelist, “aka ukeman”,
eleven:eleven revolution and the music
of 21 pilots, heather campbell, and carrie newcomer
See you Sunday!