Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jesus Sings the Blues with Micah

The Bible is full of some wild stuff
An oppressed people seeking liberation
Needing on-going direction
Who is sent to the scene?
A naked, bellowing prophet
And that was just the beginning
Micah, though clothed, brought new thunder
A God-inspired, God-intoxicated prophet of divine proportion
A “Michael Moore” with but more grit and edge and truth and controversy
Even Dude Lebowski would be afraid to go “Bowling for Columbine”
But not Micah
When God’s people needed to hear a word of challenge, this dude abides
Growing weary of the complaints of his own people, this dude abides
Wrestling up enough courage to speak some truth to power, this dude abides
Knowing that a better and peaceful and just would is possible, this dude abides
Wind and lighting and thunder and love is then spoken
Keep your offerings, to yourself
I don’t want to smell the stench of your burnt offerings
And the wind blows
I don’t want to clean up the goupy-gunk of special oils
And the lighting strikes
I don’t want to hear of any ridiculous, pious sacrifices
And the thunder rolls
Keep it all to yourself, thank you very much
And, by the way, God told me to tell you that
And, by the way, amen
Wind, lighting, and thunder
But where’s the love?
That’s the question.
That’s the point.
Where is the love?
It’s gone missing in the community
Or at least it’s gotten a bit lost
All the people’s offerings,
All the people’s oils,
And all the people’s sacrifices can’t put God’s people back together again
Only love can do that
Love is the question
Love is the answer
And yes, it’s God’s final answer
That sounds nice and sweet and all
It’s certainly a nice sentiment, especially for the doe-eyed optimists
But haven’t the liberals and hippies and utopian societies tried all that
Shared food, shared money, shared everything
It never works
But here it is again
Like that annoying fly that won’t leave you alone on a beautiful summer night
God’s call to love is like that
Insistent. Persistent. Resilient. And even brilliant.
Brilliant because of the simplicity of the plan.
So simple that the profundity gets glossed over
Glossed over by all those who have fallen madly in love with the status quo
That is, until a decidedly non-glossy dude comes along
He offers a mission statement for all those interested in fostering love
Do justice.
Love kindness.
And walk humbly with God.
I mean, can you imagine the shock, when Jesus read those words?!
What happened?
Everywhere he looks its poor people
Skinny people eating garbage
Hard-working people paid less than a slave
Rural people treated like Lepers
And Lepers treated like the manure under your sandal
And let’s not even talk about the gays and the women
Yet the rich people – the people you only heard about – had extravagance
Pax Romana. Peace of Rome.
Peace of mind, but only for the emperor and his cronies.
The promise of a better world build by Rome was always a lie
Power and the status quo had a stunningly successful marriage in Rome
They did injustice, loved harshness, and walked boldly as if they were gods.
What happened to Micah’s mission statement?
What happened to God’s message?
What happened to God’s people?
Disillusionment. Depression. Disgust. And maybe even a little disdain.
The clouds began to circle once again
Tornadic activity was in the forecast
People all around Jesus were sighing and crying and yelling and dyeing
Jesus wept
But he had to pull it together
People looked to him for guidance
He couldn’t look defeated
This was no time for tears from a leader
Nor was it time for platitudes
What to do?
What to say?
The people where gathering
Expectation was building
Intensity became a living, breathing being
The crowd stood silent
It was time to speak
Jesus harnessed his inner Micah
He prayed for all the grit and edginess of a prophet inebriated by God
The grit and edginess came
But so did healthy doses of grace and love
His heart pounded harder and harder
This was either a heart-attack or moment of divine inspiration
Choosing the later, Jesus opened his mouth
It was a rough and raspy voice
Like that of a 93-year-old blues singer from Alabama
The kind who smokes a pack a cigars a day
And who has gone through 9 layoffs, 5 divorces, and 3 foreclosures.
And, of course, has a history of slavery, segregation, and ongoing racism
He’s gonna sing his sorrow until he squeezes out hope through that growly voice
And that is exactly what Jesus did as he opened his mouth
A lovingly raspy blues song welled up
And then it spilled out upon the gathered crowd's awaiting ears
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Jesus looked around
The crowd was dancing
Swaying to the beat of a cosmic blues singer
Thank God
This blues song did what blues songs are meant to do
They say life is hard but we’re gonna dance anyway
There ain’t nobody who can steal away a people's love and hope
So the crowd danced throughout the night
It was an act of defiance
And an act of resilience
The shuffle of their dancing feet was proof of miracles

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