“Lucky bums!” That’s how theologian Karl Barth described the poor in spirit who inherit God’s kingdom. Ever since someone mentioned that in our contemplative group, we have the urge to call each other “lucky bums.” It reminds us that we are blessed because of our weaknesses, not in spite of them.
It’s hard to resist our culture’s compulsion to distance ourselves from our shortcomings or treat them as temporary problems we must overcome or fix.* Most of us spend our lives trying to correct our inadequacies and assume this practice pleases God. We envision the model Christian as one who goes “from strength to strength.” Communion liturgies praise the Lamb who heals the weakness of our soul, and we presume our frailties are abhorrent to God. But they are not.
“Our weaknesses endear us to God,” says Rob Des Cotes of Imago Dei Communities. The Good Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to find the one that has gone astray and joyfully, lovingly carries her back to the fold. The Father runs to embrace the smelly, shameful prodigal and welcomes him home.
One evening I led our contemplative group in a meditation on Jesus’s radical teaching. I wondered how to integrate what we had just learned about our blessed condition with the sacrament of communion. A thought came.
“We often come to the Lord’s table offering up our dark side to God. We are ashamed of it and want him to take it away along with our sins,” I said. “God will indeed dispose of our sins, but he doesn’t take away the parts of ourselves we don’t like. He wants us to love our whole selves as much as he does.”
That night we received the body of our Lord, broken for us. As we did we also received the One who loves and heals our brokenness.
And He received us!
Jesus loved to eat with tax collectors and “sinners.” Here he was doing it again. Aren’t we a bunch of lucky bums!
Credits and Acknowledgements:
“Laughter” by award-winning photographer David Naman. Used with permission. “Laughter” will be published this year in Treasure Art Magazine Yearbook 2014, Volume II’
The Laughing Statues are in Vancouver by English Bay at Morton Park.
Scripture references: Matthew 5:3; Psalm 84:7; Luke 15.
Celtic Communion Liturgy adapted by Imago Dei from Celtic Daily Prayer.
*Rob Des Cotes in “Meditation on Matthew 5:3” at Belonging to Life Retreat Nov 16, 2013.
Rob Des Cotes is director of Imago Dei Communities, an ecumenical network of Christian faith communities based in Vancouver, British Columbia.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2014
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