One thing I noticed that’s different about me on Good Friday this year, compared to last, is that my heart is filled with wonder regarding the conversion story of Andrew Klavan.
I’ve never met the man, Andrew – my brother in Christ. This past year, however, I had occasion to read his story, The Great Good Thing – subtitled, ‘A Secular Jew Comes To Faith In Christ’. It’s an amazing tale, on many different levels, perhaps the most striking of which is that this novelist and screenwriter experienced his conversion almost entirely through unauthorized channels.
His spiritual journey didn’t involve the testimony of a friend, the witness of a spouse or family member. It didn’t include formal instruction in the church – no clergy, in fact, until after his newborn faith in Christ was a done deal. Still somehow, God found a way to touch Andrew’s heart…to convince him of a Divine Presence at work in the world…and ultimately, to move him into communion with the Body of Christ.
How does such a thing happen?
Perhaps I shouldn’t be amazed, given the faith I profess in a God who chooses to dwell among us. A God who freely empties himself, accepting even death…death on a cross. In point of fact, God is routinely amazing. I just tend to be a bit slow on the uptake, I guess.
I was reminded of Andrew Klavan’s astonishing story today, as I prepared to take part in the church’s annual celebration of the Lord’s Passion. The liturgy includes a lengthy and beautiful series of Solemn Intercessions. We start off praying for ourselves (naturally)…and for those who are soon to be received into the Body of Christ. But then, the field-of-vision widens: We offer petitions for the unity of Christians…for the Jewish people…for those who do not believe in Christ…and then, right near the end, for those who do not believe in God.
It’s a beautiful sequence – and it’s nice to be able to put a face on one of the (answered) petitions this year. At the same time, I am moved to wonder: Were our prayers necessary for Andrew’s conversion? Were they effective? The more I meditate on these questions, the more I realize that it’s actually my heart that’s being changed by the repetition of these Solemn Intercessions each spring. It’s my eyes that are being opened – helping me to see a God who’s so much bigger than I can possibly imagine. God, constantly at work in the world…at work in the cosmos…chipping away at our divisions, at our hardness of heart.
God, dying – and rising – so that we might live.
How, indeed, does such a thing happen?
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.