Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pastor's Perspective - Undignified

Last Wednesday night my family and I had a very enjoyable holiday rendezvous with a dear Christian sister of ours – Nicky Peterson. Earlier this year Nicky moved to South San Francisco to help a brand new church gain traction in the city. For years she has been a treasured part of our lives and ministry, so the opportunity to connect with her in the city, have dinner together and see some Christmas lights was too irresistible to pass up. So, feeling very urban, we Kiefers bundled up and took BART into the heart of San Francisco.

After dinner we all walked to Union Square to explore the decorated department store windows. As we were walking on the bustling sidewalk in front of the multi-story Macy’s store, loud shouting erupted. The huddled movement of people, of which we were a part, stopped abruptly. In the middle of the cluster were two middle-aged parents, screaming for their daughter. They were impeccably dressed – suit & tie, fancy holiday dress, neatly groomed. They were clearly people of tremendous means based on appearance. Somehow in the chaotic trajectories of busy shoppers, they had lost track of their little girl.

I don’t think I will ever forget the sound of their screaming as they called her name into the frigid night. It was a sound I’ve heard only a few times in my life. It was haunting; a loud undeniable sonic mixture of fear, helplessness and love. Immediately I felt nauseous. What we were observing could best be described as primal. Though neatly tailored for a special holiday night out, the parents ran up and down the sidewalk piercing the atmosphere with their cries, hoping somehow their little girl could hear them. Their eyes darted wildly from one another and then to others – frantically recruiting any help they could muster. I immediately began backtracking down the sidewalk, looking for a female child in a ‘red hat’, but to no avail. Suddenly a child I never met or even knew existed meant something to me. As a fellow parent, my heart had connected empathetically. Some helped in the search, others stood frozen. Within a few minutes, that seemed like an eternity, a pretty little girl with a stylish cherry red hat was being reunited with her parents. “We found her!” was immediately followed by an eruption of applause from huddled strangers. As we continued walking, my wife Michelle and I both felt sick physically and squeezed emotionally. Did that just happen? What if that was one of our kids? Did you hear their screams?

We made some wonderful memories that night, but that episode has really stuck with me, reminding me of a few important things.

First, love is willing to get undignified. Money, attire and image meant absolutely nothing to those parents in that moment when they discovered their little girl was lost.

Friends, Jesus Christ died the most agonizing death know by the people of His day. He was willing to get undignified because He loves us, and He knew without His substituting death, we would remain forever lost.

Second, celebration is the natural reaction to something treasured being found. In an unanticipated snapshot of pure beauty, those relieved parents hugged their child joyfully and unashamedly. There was no condemning or scolding the child, just pure elation, as onlookers applauded wildly on a San Francisco sidewalk.

Jesus told us through the parables of the one lost sheep, the one lost coin, and the one lost son, that when just one soul is found by turning toward Him all of Heaven celebrates! No condemnation. No scolding. Just pure elation!

Friends, two thousand years ago on a Roman cross, Jesus got undignified - just for you.


Because you were lost.

Without Him, you are lost.

Turn to Him today.

Be reunited.

Start a party!


Marc said...

Hi Steve, i chanced upon your blog a year or so ago and have been following your entries faithfully ever since.
just want to tell you i really enjoyed all your thoughtful reflections and commentaries. (You see God even in mundane every day activities!)
Thank God for you... Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed Christmas ( a wee belated ) and a fruitful year ahead
Marc (Singapore)

Steve said...

Thank you so much Marc for your kind and encouraging remarks! As you identified accurately, I love seeing God's fingerprints in the mundane and 'unexpecteds'. I greatly appreciate you tracking along with this blog. Hope to meet you some day! Have a blessed 2012!

Clint Ceralde said...

Where's the "Like" button? Thanks for sharing Pastor Steve!