Can’t remember whether I first read Jesus’ words to Laodicea (Rev 3:20) before or after sensing the dark mood of Edgar Allen Poe’s famous, “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.“
’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—Only this and nothing more.”’
In an apparent descent into madness, the narrator describes the sorrow of lost love.
Interrupted by what he thinks is “nothing more” than an unwelcome visitor— he finds himself tormented by the taunts of a demon-raven who, in the narrator’s apparent loss of a loved Lenore, will only admit to being “nevermore.”
If you’ve been following the conversation of the last couple of posts, you know we’ve been weighing the merits of a “knock-knock joke” that explains how our “good news” can be heard.
In the last one, we alluded to a quote from the book of Revelation that pictures Jesus knocking outside the door of a church. (Revelation 3:14-22). Now we come to Poe’s “nodding, nearly napping” wonder of who it is tapping and rapping at his door— followed by repeated thoughts of “nothing more” and then “nevermore”.
I remember being in a foreign hotel, awakened in the middle of the night by a disturbance in the hall, followed by a pounding at the door. Was afraid to unlock and open. Thought thugs wanted in—until I recognized the urgent voice of a friend and opened the door to find the hallway full of smoke.
So, how can we help those who misunderstand our story of One knocking at the door of a burning building— as if the good news is “nothing more” than a bothersome visitor or salesman to ignore?
Seems to me that the answer won’t be found in what sounds like the tortured logic of a loving God who came to save us from his own angry threats.
If we don’t see the human fear and rage in those who wanted to get rid of Jesus, we lose sight of what it means to be loved by one who can and has borne our anger — only to return again and again, tapping, rapping, knocking, pounding— with a request to show us what we are missing and doing to ourselves and one another.
If we don’t hear all that precedes and follows Jesus—Revelation as much as Genesis— in light of a Divine intent that misunderstood words don’t explain, we’re left, for the moment, with a notion of “nothing more” than a bothersome visitor, raven, or door to door salesman… as we slip into the illusion and madness of being loved— nevermore.