With Skin...


“Thanks for the joy you’ve given me. You know I believe in your song!”

“Dear Terry Hershey,” I wrote late Sunday night, “we be needing that sermon on disappointment about now.” When Terry (who lives in Seattle) was with us last weekend, he joked about preaching his sermon on dealing with disappointment. Haha, we laughed. Well, we’re not laughing now. He was a great sport, even posing for a picture wearing Paul Nickoley’s Broncos AFC Championship hat. And with me in my orange sweater. Now I’m wearing egg on my face. He was great! I joked to Vikki that I wanted to go to another Terry Hershey workshop this past weekend and she sent me this link, so I can listen any time I want. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jau_7ww7TmA&list=PL381A9C4011EE3637

Or you can just go to TerryHershey.com and browse until you find something that catches your fancy. It’s full of uplifting and canny insights. You can get one sent to your inbox every Monday morning and to an iPhone app every single day. But I digress. This is not a commercial for Terry, though if you take it as one it will beat anything you saw on television Sunday night. Promise.

Back to the issue at hand. Disappointment. Oh, I’m over the Super Bowl. That is a blip. I’m talking about real stuff. Life. Relationships. Jobs. School. Disease. Contracts. Grades. Getting what we want. Getting what we think we need.

A very old woman named Anna had seen a lifetime of disappointment. She is one of the more unusual women we meet in the Bible. (Luke 2:36ff) She is 84 and a widow and has been waiting in the temple for at least sixty years, never leaving, it says, waiting for Jesus. She didn’t know, of course, that it was Jesus she was waiting for. But, turns out, it was. And she knew it the instant she saw him. A baby brought by his parents to the temple for the ritual blessing.

It had to be tedious, waiting. And people, especially kids, probably thought she was a nut. An eccentric, crazy old woman with frizzy white hair and wrinkles, a ratty shawl. Maybe she mumbled a little. I picture her darting around in the darkened corners, picky about the detritus people left behind. I wonder if the temple priests found her to be a nuisance. “More cool people would come here if they didn’t have to run into that weird old lady.” But she waited. Luke tells us she was a prophet. One on the look out. For God. I imagine she was getting achy and maybe crochety and impatient. Definitely disappointed.

But her eyes. And her heart. They were sharp. She knew Jesus the instant he came in the door.

God with skin, as one translation of Scripture puts it. God with us. She knew. Jesus was the One. The salvation God had brought to earth for all peoples. All peoples, light to us, even us outsiders to the history God had established with Israel. All peoples. Us.

Luke says she began praising God and speaking about the child to all who were looking for God’s promised Messiah.

Luke is a rather demure writer. “Began praising God,” he writes. Well, pardon my excitement and my proverbial French, but what I hear when I read that passage is commotion, “Holy *#! Would you look at this! Get over here, you slackers! Come look at this! It’s God!”

And I imagine she went on and on. Insert your own language here.

And this God-with-skin is with us still. In Spirit. In common elements like bread and grape juice. In the eyes of kindness. In the flourishing abundance of dancing children and waterfalls and mangos. In the wisdom we find from stories like Anna’s.

I am struck by the contrast between that feeling of disappointment and a woman like Anna going all bat-*# crazy when she sees Jesus. I think she really went nuts. I think she danced around like a kid and pulled at people’s sleeves and begged them to look, to see! I think they maybe felt like, “hey, lady, calm down a little.” But she didn’t.

So. This is the thing. I want to live like Anna. No, not the one cooped up for sixty years in a dark temple, waiting. I want to live like Anna after she met Jesus. I want to be ape-#* crazy excited about what Jesus is doing! In the world! Now! I want to see! I want to hear! I want to taste, to touch, to smell the ever-living-loving of God! Now. Here. At this table right now where I’m looking out over the gorgeous mountains of the Front Range smothered in fresh powder. In the faces of the people around me here at the Tattered Cover. In their stories. In the scone I am about to indulge. In the foam of the cappuccino I am slowly, succulently sipping. In the excitement of the women at The Gathering Place as they call out “Bingo!” this afternoon and get their gift card. In the creativity of our children. In the love delivered policy-style through Meals-On-Wheels and food stamps. As Lois patiently works with a child on Thursday at the Rev’s after-school program. On a garbage dump in Nicaragua.

This is the always and forever and always available antidote for disappointment.

I’ve never quite thought of the Divine as “the boys” but, as we sang in worship a week away, I want to live like this, “Give me the beat boys, and free my soul; I want to get lost in your rock and roll and drift away…”

“When my mind is free,” I want to live like this, like Anna, I hear her singing, moved by the melody of God’s grace and mercy, “the rhythm, rhyme and harmony” of forgiveness, hope, vision, joy. “A melody can move me, and when I’m feeling blue…” God’s love “can come through to soothe me. Thanks for the joy you’ve given me…You know I believe in your song.”

God be praised, Anna recognized Jesus as God’s song, sung for all of us, to be sung by all of us, in lives of hope and meaningful giving. I want to get lost in God’s ‘rock and roll’ – in Jesus. Lost in him, I tell you. Carried away! Free my soul!

“Take me, take me, let me fly…”          ~Jan Erickson Pearson

Drift Away, by Dobie Gray

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