Call to Worship from July 28, 2019
Written by Christine Bailey
Yesterday I woke up, and as I sometimes do on a Saturday, I started scrolling through Facebook. I soon came across a Christian advertisement showing a beautiful young Christian couple in a beautiful home sharing about their shared goals of becoming more Godly and family oriented. Oh, jealousy. I shouldn’t have even watched the whole thing. This picture I saw, this idea, it didn’t take long to assess and deduce my life doesn’t even match half of what this picture communicates to me…and of course my continued observation only served to prove my point. For me it was like the Christian version of browsing fashion magazines and allowing the allure of cultural ideals, social media and movies set unrealistic expectations of beauty and body until our actual intended intrinsic individual beauty is all but rendered invisible to our very own eyes. A toxic combination of twisted hope and lies that steal the realization of the beauty that we already possess.
This picture of this beautiful got-it-together Christian family. Close enough to what I think my life should look like or maybe more honestly what I wished it looked like, to make me say #lifegoals. And at the same time far enough away from my reality to taunt me. And if that’s what my life should look like, even halfway look like – I have utterly failed.
I walked past a pile of laundry on the floor, past the half wilted plants I had forgotten to water, past the dirty dishes left from yesterday or maybe even the days before – each a reminder of my failings that reflected other larger failings. A reminder of what I’m not and what I am. Wondering if somehow I had abandoned God’s plan along the way, or did God abandon me? I had officially spiraled into a funk. Do I think the intention of the Facebook post was to set some unrealistic standard? – not at all, but it’s certainly what I perceived at that moment. The ideas played in my head, altering the original intent of the post to be uplifting into jealousy, envy and disappointment. That image – it was my kryptonite.
It’s Swiss Days in Berne this weekend. I had walked uptown and to meet my parents and young nephew and niece. We got some fair food and sat ourselves down under band tent. A folksy/yodeling band was playing. Because that’s Swissy. Soon after we sat down, the band leader introduced the next song. He said, “I wrote this next song when my wife and I were going through a rough time in our marriage as people often do.” I couldn’t understand the lyrics to the song, which was probably best, because it may have ruined the moment for me. But that vulnerable comment – that life hasn’t always been perfect – was the perfect antidote to my funk. It reminded me that Jesus said, I have come for the sick, not the healthy. It was Jesus who also said, the Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
The actual verse in Mark 2:15-17 reads:
While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law, who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.“
Sinners, the sick, the poor, the prisoners, the blind, the oppressed, the lost, the downcast, the imperfect…me…these are who Jesus came for.
Between my seasonal allergies and realizing that God was choosing to meet with me during my miserable little pity party about a life unattained, under the band tent, at the town festival, during a song that was probably very unchristian, I had to get out a tissue to wipe my eyes. I wondered if my mom thought there was something wrong, but she didn’t say anything. I was realizing at that moment, that Jesus was actually waiting for me at intersection of imperfect and broken and not on the corner of beautiful home and perfect life. And God brought me back to my reality and not my false expectations of what my life should look like….or what I want my life to look like. And later reminded of the beautiful family I do have. My 4 year nephew that wanted to hang out with me. My 1 and ½ year old niece whom my sister-in-law told me yesterday afternoon looks at my picture every day and says my name. What a beautiful life I do have – that I was completely blind to just an hour or so ago.
So, as I let go and continue to let go of what I wish my life looked like and see that Jesus is waiting for me in my messy reality and not in the place I think or wish I was, but where I actually am right now, I’m glad I saw that Facebook video that start all of this. It’s a moment, a memento in time – that I know, that God waits for me at the intersection of his grace and my weird and messy reality, and not in my expectations of my reality.
Like he said – he came for the mess. He hangs out with mess. The Pharisees wondered why he would hang out with the sinners…just like earlier that morning I wondered why God would want to meet with me because I was such a disaster. I realized later, that I had completely lost my mind and forgotten who God really is – the God who we see in the Bible makes a big big deal about meeting people in their reality, in their mess, in their trouble – trouble they may have created or trouble inflicted by some else – not in the place of our unrealistic expectations or or where we think we should be.
And after all, only God is good.