There are only five weeks in between Epiphany and Lent this year. For us pastor-types, this feels like we're running through the stories in the Bible. If Jesus were a toddler when the Magi met him, then it's almost like he grew one year each day from now until Ash Wednesday.
Our church sponsors a preschool. One of my favorite moments each year is when we switch gears from teaching about the Christmas story to teaching about Jesus' teaching and healing ministry. Inevitably, one of the preschool students always asks, "how did he grow up so fast?!" I shrug and say, "we're pretending."
We were joking about how fast this season of ordinary time is between Epiphany and Lent when one of my friends said, "someone should do a blog each day for each year of Jesus' life between now and Ash Wednesday." What a great idea!
Of course there are almost three decades of "quiet years." This is what has been called "the white fire" of the scriptural texts.
"An old Jewish commentary speaks of the Bible as having been composed in black and white fire. The black fire is seen in the form of the printed or handwritten words on the page or scroll. The white fire is found in the spaces between and around the black.
I learned this technique of interpretation in a series of Bibliodrama classes. A group of us gathered and "played" around with scripture together, using our imagination to experience more of the text than what the written words had to say.
And speaking of written words, we don't have too many written words about Jesus' childhood or young adulthood. There are many 'infancy gospels" that didn't make the final cut for the canon of scripture. Check out these.
By using some of these infancy gospels and engaging with the white fire, many have written really wonderful works of fiction about Jesus' life. Here are some of my favorites:
Because an important part of my theological education comes from an imaginative New Testament scholar, Virginia Wiles, let me also give you a link to her website. She has recently published for purchase a series of "playdates with scripture." These easy, fun exercises help you to use your own imagination with scripture. Enjoy!
And one more thing... if you think I'm crazy or that playing with scripture is irreverent or sinful. If you believe we need to be serious only in our interpretation, check out this article I found the other day about "Why children need Biblical Melodrama."