A Come to Jesus MomentPosted: May 18, 2014
A Come to Jesus Moment
SLIDE 3: COME TO JESUS MOMENT
Usually when we talk about a “come to Jesus moment,” we are referring to a dramatic confrontation sort of like Jesus confronting Paul on the Road to Damascus. Sometimes we need God to pick us up by the scruff of the neck and give us a good shake. But the New Testament scriptures are also full of other kinds of come to Jesus moments: the Risen Christ inviting Thomas to place his finger in the nail holes in his hands, Jesus informing Peter, that he would deny Jesus three times on the night of his arrest, Jesus reaching out and healing the leper, or the blind man, or the woman with the hemorrhage (your faith has made you whole), Jesus asking Nicodemas, if he could be born again, or the tender moment when the Risen Christ called out Mary’s name, and she recognized him. These were all come to Jesus moments.
SLIDE 4: SEE LIFE IN A NEW WAY
Today I would like to suggest that many of us, if we reflect for a while, we will remember, “come to Jesus moments,” we have experienced – times when we saw life in a new way – God moments. When the diagnosis was cancer, or when we woke up one morning and realized we had been healed. When we finally found a job, or when the factory closed. When our child said, they loved us in spite of all of our questionable parenting, or when we met someone whose need touched our heart. Sometimes life can pick us up and give us a good shake or even a gentle nudge.
SLIDE 5: CHRIST OFTEN TRAVELS IN DISGUISE
And if you are having trouble recalling a time when Jesus may have appeared to you, remember Christ often travels in disguise like when he appeared to two disciples on the Road to Emmaus and they did not recognize him until the breaking of the bread. Jesus may appear to us in the guise of a stranger, a single mother trying to feed her children, a mentally ill veteran in a homeless camp, an abused child struggling to stay awake in school, a lonely elderly pensioner abandoned by her family. These are only some of the disguises Christ uses to confront us.
SLIDE 6: St. Francis and the Leper
St. Francis of Assisi was a compassionate minister to the poor, but he was deathly afraid of leprosy, and he avoided making contact with people who showed symptoms of the disease. One day as he was walking between towns he noticed a poor leper sitting and begging beside the road. He wanted to pass by on the other side, but mustering up his courage he went up to the leper gave the man the few coins he was carrying, overcame his fear and gave the man a hug. As St. Francis started again on his way he turned to say goodbye, and the leper was gone. Francis realized the man had been Jesus in disguise. He had experienced a come to Jesus moment.
SLIDE 7: HELP ME! HELP ME!
When I was a Junior in college I had a similar experience. I was walking along the lower end of Madison Ave. in New York City. It was still early in the evening by New York standards, November and starting to get cold. I was approached by a man staggering toward me imploring, “Help me. Help me.” I didn’t know what to do and the man reached out and took my hands and then started to collapse on the side walk. I helped him to lay down and promised I would try to get him some help.
SLIDE 8: A WORLD BEFORE CELL PHONES
Some younger people might be surprised but this was a world before cell phones and I saw a pay phone across the street. This was even a world before 911, so I dialed the operator and gave her the location and asked for an ambulance. Going back across the street I knelt beside the man, held his hand and assured him help was coming.
SLIDE 9: CYCLE OF DRUNKS ON THE BOWERY
This poor drunk thanked me over and over again. Before an ambulance arrived a police car pulled up and two uniformed officers got out and came over and started talking to the man. They were familiar with the life cycle of drunks on the bowery and ascertained that he was a merchant seaman who had gone through all his money and would go to Bellevue Hospital, where he would dry out and then ship out on another cargo vessel. While at sea the crew would keep him away from alcohol. When he arrived in port again with a big wad of cash he would go through the bowery handing out five dollar bills to all his friends on skid row. The policemen were understanding and compassionate.
SLIDE 10: YOUNG COP FROM OMAHA
The ambulance arrived. The drunk was taken off to the hospital and I visited with the police officers for a while longer and discovered that one of them was from Omaha. What was the chance of a kid from Omaha meeting a New York City cop who had only left Omaha five years before? You can explain it away as a coincidence but I don’t think so.
SLIDE 11: BEYOND THE DISGUISES CHRIST IS PRESENT
As the police car pulled away I realized this had been a come to Jesus moment. The old wino, the young cop from Omaha, had taught me to look beyond the disguises to see the people and in appreciating their humanity to see the Christ who was present.
I suspect in her visits to the homeless camps Alix has experienced some come to Jesus moments. By the way anyone who would like to give Alix some bottled water to take to the homeless camps can leave it here at church and she will gratefully pick it up and share it. Many times Sue Duthie has encountered Jesus in her work with Foodline, and I think Scott Ford has found Jesus hanging out at Habitat.
SLIDE 12: WE NEED TO CHANGE
Another kind of “Come to Jesus Moment” is when we realize with startling insight we need to change. God reveals some truth about our lives, often unpleasant, that motivates us to make changes. The marriage isn’t going to get better by saying: “Oh, well what can you do.” Our car with the engine light on isn’t going to heal itself. The forty pounds I need to lose won’t come off by sitting on the sofa. Change is difficult whether it is diet, exercise, beginning to meditate or pray, starting an educational program, a treatment program, changing habits and attitudes, it is all hard. Even finally making the resolution to visit the doctor or a counselor requires effort to overcome our inertia.
SLIDE 13: YOU KNOW HOW YOU ARE LIKE GOD?
I have had sort of a come to Jesus moment this spring. For years my family has complained about my snoring. My children claim they can hear me down the hall, when they are trying to sleep. I didn’t think too much about it. And then I had to start getting up in the night to go to the bathroom, and again I didn’t think too much about it after all I am getting older. Of course I really knew I was getting older when Robert, my grandson was visiting and he said, “Poppie you know how you are like God?”
I started to imagine the superlatives he might use in comparing his grandfather to God.
Then Robert said, “You’re both real old.”
SLIDE 14: MOTIVATED ENOUGH TO DO SOMETHING
About a year and a half ago Bill Tucker, who is not as old as I am, started walking with me in the mornings, and he has sleep apnea. He described his symptoms, and how much he was helped by the breathing mask at night, and I began to wonder, if maybe I have sleep apnea. But then inertia took over. Oh that seems like too much of a bother. Maybe sometime I will look into it. My getting up at night became more frequent and sometimes I would wake up tired. And then my last visit to the doctor my blood pressure was up. That got my attention, got me motivated enough to call and make an appointment. I’m surprised how long it takes to get the sleep study done, but now I am actually looking forward to the prospect of getting a good night’s sleep rather than putting it off or resisting doing anything.
SLIDE 15: HEY IT’S TIME FOR A CHANGE!
What motivation do we need to change? Do we have to wait for a life threatening illness, divorce papers, a runaway kid, a pink slip? Are we waiting for Jesus to walk through the door in robe and sandals and say, “Hey it’s time for a change!”
SLIDE 16: GOD’S TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT QUESTIONAIRE
Now I realize some people may feel like God has not paid sufficient attention to their needs, and if you will just take the time to turn in your bulletin and fill out your “God’s Total Quality Management Questionnaire,” God will seek to better serve you – or not.
GOD’S TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT QUESTIONNAIRE
God would like to thank you for your belief and patronage. In order to better serve your needs, He asks that you take a few moments to answer the following questions. Please keep in mind that your responses will be kept completely confidential, and that you need not disclose your name or address unless you prefer a direct response to comments or suggestions.
1. How did you find out about God?
__Newspaper __Other Book __Television __Divine Inspiration __Word of mouth __Near Death Experience __Bible __Torah __Other
2. Are you currently using any other source of inspiration in addition to God? Please check all that apply.
__Tarot __Lottery __Horoscope __Television __Fortune cookies __Ann Landers __Self-help books __Sex __Biorythms __Alcohol or drugs __Insurance policies __Mantras __None __Other: _____________________
3. God employs a limited degree of Divine Intervention to preserve the balanced level of felt presence and blind faith. Which would you prefer (circle one)?
a. More Divine Intervention
b. Less Divine Intervention
c. Current level of Divine Intervention is just right
d. Don’t know
4. God also attempts to maintain a balanced level of disasters and miracles. Please rate on a scale of 1-5 the divine handling of the following (1=unsatisfactory, 5=excellent):
a. Disasters (flood, famine, earthquake, war) 1 2 3 4 5
b. Miracles (rescues, spontaneous remission of disease, sports upsets) 1 2 3 4 5
5. Do you have any additional comments or suggestions for improving the quality of God’s services? (Attach an additional sheet if necessary):
SLIDE 17: BECOME THE CHANGE WE WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD
The truth is according to Mahatma Gandhi, we must become the change we wish to see in the world. That is the miracle of incarnation. If we are waiting for God to change, or the world to change, or our neighbor to change, our children to change, or our partner to change, we’re probably in for a long wait. But if we open our eyes and ears, listen carefully with our hearts we will find our come to Jesus moment and the courage we need to change.