There I was, about to meet the judge whose court room session would be opened up by a word of prayer, and I was wearing the infamous Ramones band shirt.
Who was going to pray over the session? I was. Thats right, history was about to be made.
As the judge approached me, I could watch his eyes look me up and down. He didn’t know that I was asked to fill in for my lead pastor. What the people sitting in the court room didn’t know was that I was going to pray because of my shirt, as awkward looks came my way, a sense of excitement came over me as I felt like I wasn’t part of the routine. What I was reminded of, was that there is no higher authority than that of Jesus, and all authority is commanded to be in submission to his. The mission of Christ truly was and is that of global subversion of all other authority until it bends the knee to his. What did I feel in that room? Fear. The expectation is that we will bow our heads during the prayer, but when we pledge allegiance to America, and then Texas, we all participate verbally. How ironic that in some churches if you participate in a normal worship service, mild participation is present. If you play the star spangled banner, a revival just might break out…brother. We should love our nation, but where are the dreamers and the ones who refuse to live the next 70 years in utter boredom? I digress…
When I was 15 years old I auditioned for a punk rock band. I was accepted and spent the next three years of my life spending every weekend learning how to sing and play rhythm guitar with a band. Those were some of the most rewarding and formative years of my life. Of course, they were hard but the result was I learned to stand for my convictions and to value community, as well as late nights of hard work and video games.
What I have come to realize is that Jesus is like a punk rocker. He rarely sides with the most powerful and perhaps understands most the marginalized amongst us and the hurting. The broken and the starving. The feeble and the misrepresented.
One of the most intense truths in the Bible is that God, who owns everything you can imagine, including the billions of stars and galaxies outside of the known universe, chose to become a poor carpenter. His own parents had to present pigeons for the birth of God, not a lamb, because the sacrifice of pigeons was a provision of the law in case you were too poor to afford a lamb. The Creator became poor and united himself with the most vulnerable. It is as if to say that even the wealthiest in our midst are vulnerable, looking for shelter in the wind. But God comes to all men and says, “Come to me, because on the cross I broke off all of your illusions. Come to me, because I have completely come to you.”
Think about it…God, in the form of man, chooses to be born poor and to a woman who would be misunderstood for the rest of her life because she was having a child that didn’t belong to Joseph. Jesus would spend his entire life with the label of “bastard” in his hometown. But He would not allow that to label Him. Jesus would come and confound the most religious system, as well as the most militant system of his day to bring us peace.
I think we all need a little bit of healthy subversion in our lives. And that is exactly what the start of advent is doing this year: encouraging us to stop what we are doing and develop expectation for the coming of God to earth. It gives us the opportunity to sit and ask God, “Am I listening to the purpose you are seeking to create in me?” Don’t get up and simply put on the existential coat and tie in the morning. Throw on a jean jacket of the imagination and meditate on a different day ahead.
for further reading: Isaiah 1:1-9 and Luke 20:1-8
for prayer: pray the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6 and ask the Lord to speak to you about how He sees you