We are “discerning” after worship at Isaiah’s Table. After that we eat and I can go home. I am not a fan of “discerning”, but I am committed to four more weeks. Let me tell you about today’s discerning about Jesus.
Bob, our small group leader is “task oriented”. I am more “loosey-goosey”. The program calls for us to answer the question, “Who is Jesus? We are to come up with one collective statement that we can all agree on. I should like this. I like to talk about Jesus, but “one statement?” In this process we are supposed to learn how to disagree and resolve conflict. I am not going to argue with anyone about Jesus.
It is only when Bob reframed the question. “If Jesus was the program speaker, and you were to introduce him, what would you say?” That question interested me and got me thinking, but fortunately it was time to eat.
I woke up at 4 AM this morning and not going back to sleep, I thought about introducing Jesus. There was nothing wrong with the question about Jesus. He asked the disciples, “ Who do you say that I am?” (Matt. 16:15) Peter’s answer wouldn’t do in our discernment group because it is to “churchy” or theological, ordinary language only. Now, I am seeped and deep-dipped in theology, so I thought I would ask the Master, Jesus.
“How do you want to be introduced, Jesus? You are on the program and I am supposed to introduce you.”
That is what prayer is, “talking to Jesus”. Of course, Jesus didn’t show up at the foot of the bed and answer me. I had to “imagine” the conversation. That is legitimate because I believe his Spirit is in me.
Jesus: “No long introduction, pleeease? I, truly, truly, do not need an introduction. Everyone knows me, whether they know it or not. Just ask, pose the question. Just get the conversation going. My Spirit in them and in you will work it out. Make it one-on-one. Listen, don’t argue. Don’t try to “convert”. Be really interested in what they have to say. If they want to know what you think, tell them a little about the you and me connection. What do you think you would say about us?
Unfortunately, I fell back asleep and I didn’t get to answer.
I finally won the prize in a raffle. I won a new mountain bike, with helmet and chain. Carl, one of our regular table people, donated the bike for the raffle. Before Al left early, he gave me $5 to buy tickets for him and I added $5 of my own, seven tickets for him and seven for me. It was for a good cause. I didn’t expect to win.
But I really wanted to win. I have always wanted a smaller, up handle bar bike. The last time I rode my racing bike with the down bars, I almost fell. I decided that bike was not for me. It was too hard on my bent over back and neck.
I rode Carola’s 3-speed last summer a few times, but it was a three-speed ladies bike. I would be safer and look much cooler riding a mountain bike around the neighborhood. I could just picture me on my mountain bike and me with my new helmet.
Just before the drawing, Carola yelled out me. It was a wonder I heard her above the noise. “I better see what she wants. It seems important.“
She did have something important to tell me. “Jerry, if you win the bike you need to give it to Pearl. Her bike was stolen recently and she needs it to ride to classes at OCC.” (Pearl is one of our youngest elders, a worship leader and on presbyter’s Leadership Council.) Then came the drawing.
Bob called out, “The winner is…. ( drum roll and pause for dramatic effect) “Jerry!” I went up to claim my prize with Carola’s words ringing in my ears. The bike was mine. Then I made my acceptance speech, as follows.
“I have learned, moments ago, that someone here had her bike stolen recently. This young lady needs a bike to get to her classes at OCC. Carola told me, in no uncertain terms, that ‘If you win, you should give the bike to that person.’ I won but I believe the Lord is speaking to me through Carola.”
Then amid wild cheers and applause, Pearl come up and gave me a hug and the bike was hers.
I think it must have been the Lord. I didn’t give that bike away easily.
Bob told me that he drew out two tickets by mistake and they both had my name on them. I was meant to win as surely as I was meant to give away.
I subsequently learned that Maggie had been praying that I would not win. She was afraid I would ride it, fall, break my neck and die. Her prayer was answered. I wasn’t praying at all. Carola wants me to buy a lottery ticket.
The Reverend Jerry Shave is an honorably retired teaching elder of the PC(USA) and great friend of and cheerleader for Isaiah’s Table.