The kids at camp were singing a song that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. It is called “Come As You Are” and you can watch the video above (sorry about the ads).
I truly love the lyrics:
So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are.
There’s hope for the hopeless
And all those who’ve strayed.
Come sit at the table,
Come taste the grace.
There’s rest for the weary
Rest that endures.
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t cure.
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t cure.
These words put me in mind of Romans 3:20-24
“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
What that song says is ABSOLUTELY true. No wanderer is too far from the love of God, but if, when those wanderers meet God’s people, we are cruel or unkind, our attitudes tell a different story. Instead of saying, “Come sit at the table, come taste the grace”, our attitudes can say, “this seat is taken.” The gospel requires us to be “come as you are” people. Through that Romans scripture, we are reminded that the wanderer, the broken, the hurt, and the shamed are all of us. And we can make room at the table.
You can order a digital download of the song here:
On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will cross the entire country, coast-to-coast, for the first time since 1918. I set out in writing this to find some great quote that would incorporate the concept of eclipse, and instead found quotes about filming the twilight series movie, “Eclipse”, about teenage vampires and werewolves.
The fact that expectations didn’t meet reality is also why an eclipse is disturbing. You look up expecting to see the sun and it is blotted out. And since the sun isn’t doing what it is expected to do, then you lose trust in the natural order of things. If the sun isn’t behaving, maybe the tide will up and decide to simply stop, or maybe the rains will dry up. We knew it was coming, but for most of human history, an eclipse just came. It was ominous and foreboding.
It is pretty foreboding in the scriptures, too. Eclipse is associated with the blotting out of all sources of earth’s light, the sun, the moon, and the stars. It is always attached to the end of days. But not to worry! The scripture says this about the heavenly city that awaits us: “And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb”. (Revelation 21:23)
See, even in the midst of the unexpected, the ominous, the earth-shaking, we know the ending written by a faithful God. Frederick Buechner said, “Resurrection means the worst thing is never the last thing.” And he goes on to say, “The worst isn't the last thing about the world. It's the next to the last thing. The last thing is the best. It's the power from on high that comes down into the world, that wells up from the rock-bottom worst of the world like a hidden spring. Can you believe it? The last, best thing is the laughing deep in the hearts of the saints, sometimes our hearts even. Yes. You are terribly loved and forgiven. Yes. You are healed. All is well.”
So bring it on, eclipse. Bring. It. On.
For more of Buechner's wonderful work, consider
“Don’t trust what you see, even salt looks like sugar.”
1 Samuel 16:7: But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’
Today I am at work without makeup, yet again. Sometimes I wear it, sometimes I don’t. I’m in tennis shoes because my feet are killing me from wearing sandals all day yesterday. My nails are chipped and are frankly driving me nuts, but I haven’t had any time to do anything about it.
I’m mostly comfortable being the slightly frumpy but loveable mom, wife, and minister. I accept it out of inevitability because I only have so much time and discipline and don’t feel like spending it on looking pulled together. In part, I also choose it because I like to surprise people. I have often been told that the clothes make the man. However, some people cling to this idea as if Jesus himself had said it. For whatever reason, because of my apathy towards appearance, people sometimes don’t expect too much from me. I have fun proving them wrong.
But even I can get bogged down in the wish for the bright shiny lives I see on television, movies, and social media. My friends on Facebook seem to have perfect children and live in perfect homes and have always just come from a workout class and are about to eat a lovely salad.
Today’s quote was a helpful for reminder for me. Even salt looks like sugar. Sweet lives may only be sweet in appearance. Samuel was reminded of that, too, as he searched for a new king for Israel. Yes, David was handsome, but he was also the youngest, and at the time probably smelled like sheep. He wouldn’t have been what the world expected, but God looked on the heart.
When we see another person, we must challenge ourselves to do the same. We can’t assume someone is sugar or salt just by how they look. And we can’t compare ourselves to others whose lives look so sweet in a few photos. We must strive for our hearts to be sweet to God.
Rev. Jana Quisenberry is the minister at Brightwood Christian Church. She's an ordained pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). A graduate of Transylvania University in Lexington, KY and Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, IN, She now resides in Mt. Lebanon with her husband, two children, and dog, Sookie. Pastor Jana loves the church, science fiction, and coffee.
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