East Never Meets West

Only about fifty percent of my mind followed the reading of Psalm 103 by my wife Debbie’s brother-in-law, Ron. We were at the memorial service for her mom, Mrs. George S. Blanchard on October 6 in Fairfax County, VA. The other fifty percent occupied me with my impending reading from John 11, just minutes away.

Well, fifty not quite. At verse twelve, my cerebral cortex, such as it is, must have perked up subliminally. It hit me after the official reading:

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

Wow! Aren’t we glad God hasn’t removed our transgressions only as far as the north is from the south? Just think – the distance from the North Pole to the South Pole is about 12,500 miles as the crow flies. After that it’s up north again. But at the equator, north and south touch. Why, I could violate my conscience in Boulder, Colorado and discover the divine rap sheet in Buenos Aires. What a dismal prospect!

On the other hand, our travels confirm that east never meets west. The distance is infinite. International dateline? A construct of man, like the equator, that’s all. If you go by that, then a flight that leaves the U.S. for Australia on Saturday would prove that Sunday never existed, because you arrive in Sydney on Monday, dog-tired after fast-forwarding into the new week.

It is heartening that our sins don’t follow us into eternity. That’s particularly true now, at our remembrance of Mom, Beth, Betsy, Poppy, the loving and committed matriarch of the Blanchard clan. As Corrie ten Boom used to say,

“God has cast our sins into the depth of the sea and put up a sign, ‘No fishing allowed.’”

Birth and death are two sides of the same coin. At the Christmas season we celebrate the heads-side of the coin – the most impacting birth in human history: Christ’s physical and thus temporal transition from an invisible, perfect, parallel universe to this besmirched planet – a mere speck in the physical and thus temporal cosmos. The Divinity clothed Himself in humanity; the Creator transformed Himself into a creature; the Eternal became temporal there in the abode of farm animals and, like them, hardly noticed by the myopic elites in their comfy 1st Century digs.

Christmas and Good Friday embody two uniquely historic sides of that coin. And after thirty-three years of tolerating our distant ancestors, the perfect God-man shouldered our transgressions – for you and me, there on that tree. Christ paid our debt to give us hope for the eternity of which our time, and time in general, is but an infinitesimal interval.

East will never meet west except in our political summits – the diplomatic machinations of talking heads designed to keep us from blowing ourselves into the hereafter. Ronny, Gorbi, and Maggie are going and gone. So is the Berlin wall, a piece of it on our fireplace mantel still testifying to its past fleeting reality. History is on our side only insofar as it can teach us to number our days that we may seek wisdom more than things for our brief moment in time.

Islamic terrorism is a menace, MAD still a threat, détente a dream. Peace makes for great rhetoric. But its realization is found only in the heart committed to the God-man, that first, genuine Extra-Terrestrial, Hollywood notwithstanding.

“From heav’n You came, helpless babe, entered our world, Your glory veiled; not to be served but to serve; and give Your life that we might live.”
(Graham Kendrick)

Contributing author: Eb Roell

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