Saturday, November 28, 2009


By Rev. Clinton L. Barlow

In an art gallery in London, there hangs a famous painting that depicts the great encounter between Faust and the devil. The painting shows Faust and the devil seated at a chess board. The devil is leering at Faust, with a self-satisfied air about him, because he has just checkmated Faust's king and his knight.

Through the years, many people have stood before this painting. But one day, a famous chess master went to the art gallery in London to study the picture. He stared, he paced, he thought. Suddenly, the famous chess master saw something. And in the quiet and staid surroundings of the art gallery — and to the utter amazement of those standing around him, who were also looking at the picture — he shouted out, "It's a lie! It's a lie! The king and the knight both have another move!"

My good friend and colleague, the Rev. Kurt Traugott, recently shared this story with me. Reflecting on this story, Kurt had this to say: "It seems to me that, in a strange way, this is the meaning of the Incarnation and the blessing of Christmas. In Jesus Christ, God always has another move."

As we journey through this Advent season — recalling the stories of Mary, Joseph, shepherds, angels, Herod, and wise men — let us ponder how 2,009 years ago God made another move. It is a remarkable story in the face of many checkmates. But each time that it seems that the story will end in disaster and unfulfilled promise, God makes another move. A move that no one else saw — a move that no one thought possible.

Certainly in these dark economic times we are looking for a sign, we are looking for hope, we are looking for light in the darkness of the world — light in the darkness of our own life experience.

Reflecting on all of this, the author Kathleen Norris has written out of her own life experience: " ... even in terrible circumstances and calamities, in matters of life and death, if I sense that I am in the shadow of God, I find light, so much light that my vision improves dramatically.

"I know that holiness is near. And it is not rooted in majesty. It does not assert itself with raw power, but it waits in puzzlement. It hesitates. Coming from Galilee, as it were, from a place of little hope, it reveals the ordinary circumstances of my life to be full of mystery and gospel, which means 'good news.'"


The Rev. Clinton L. Barlow is interim pastor of the Millbury Baptist Church.

No comments: