Off and on I’ve been reading “A Generous Orthodoxy” by Brian McLaren. Understand that McLaren is not for the faint of heart and I do not recommend him wholeheartedly, but I like much about this book especially with regard to unity and the Church.

One of the things he talks about early on in his book is the tendency for evangelicals (full disclosure: though I don’t like labels, evangelical is the tradition I grew up in) to focus almost exclusively on Jesus’ birth and death, the incarnation and the cross, while some other traditions tend to focus much more on the Jesus in the middle.

And I’ve been thinking about the Jesus in the middle.

In the middle Jesus had compassion on the multitude.

In the middle Jesus healed the sick and the lame and the blind.

In the middle Jesus fed the crowd.

In the middle Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners.

In the middle Jesus walked and he taught and he prayed and he helped.

He laughed and he ate and he danced and he loved,

and he loved and he loved and he loved.

I praise God for the birth of Jesus, the Word became flesh, God stepped into time … a mystery unfathomable.

And I thank God for the cross: salvation, redemption, restoration … blessing beyond compare.

But for today, for life, and for joy, and for truth, and for peace, and for love, I try, and I try and I fail and I try, to pattern my life on the Jesus in the middle.

Because the beginning and the end seem a bit empty without the life in the middle, like a story with no plot, or a melon rind with no sweet fruit … hollow … don’t you think?