Tuesday, September 22, 2015

God is Weird and that Changes Everything

I’m writer. I do a lot of research and some I do on the Internet. In researching for this series of sermons on the Beatitudes I got a pop up add for this T-shirt I bought. Which reads, “Blessed are the weird people, the writers, the artists, the dreamers, the outsiders, for they force us to see the world differently.”

Twelve years ago, as part of my training to become a priest, I worked as a hospital chaplain. I worked nights and weekends. One night, sometime after mid-night, I received a page from the psychiatric ward. Actually, because I worked nights, I spent most of my time between ER, ICU, and the psychiatric ward. When I arrived at the front desk to the unit, the nurse told me the room number. She also asked me not turn on the lights in the room. She said the lights really upset the patient.

I taped on the door. There was no answer. I eased into the room without opening the door very wide. I taped on the inside of the door. “Hello. I’m the chaplain. My name is Gil.” A voice from the dark said, “Sit down.”

I slid down the wall and sat on the floor. The only light in the room was from the smoke alarm in the center of the ceiling. I had hoped my eyes would eventually adjust to the darkness. “Is there something you would like to talk about?” I asked. I sat in silence for quiet a long time.

Then the person sitting somewhere in the room said, “God is weird.”

I said, “Yeah, I know.” We sat in silence. And that changes everything.

I’ve thought about that exchange so much my head hurts. God is weird and that changes everything.

I was created in the image of God. I was created to be a unique and authentic person. That means no one is like me. Therefore, I am weird. You were created in the image of God. You were created to be a unique and authentic person. That means no one is like you. Therefore, you are weird. God created us in God’s image. No one is like God, but everyone is like God. That’s weird. That changes everything.

My sister is mentally and physically handicapped. She’s the most spiritual person I know. That’s weird. That changes everything.

My grandson is three and half years old. He was outside with my wife a few months ago. He and my wife were sitting on lawn chair swing for two people. He was lying on the seat with his head in Cathy’s lap. She asked him if he wanted a snack. “No, Gaga. I just want to lay here and look up at God’s beautiful world.” That’s weird. That changes everything.

Did you know that ravens can talk? I met one in Ireland who talked to me. That’s weird. That changes everything.

You have atoms in you that are13 million years old? That’s weird. That changes everything.

We’re breathing the same molecules of air that the dinosaurs, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus breathed. That’s weird. That changes everything.

There was a recent discovery in a cave in southern Africa. Fifteen remains of a human-like creature, part ape/part man. Scientist believe because of the way the remains were placed in the cave that those people, who lived 3 million years ago, were capable of ritual behavior. That’s weird. That changes everything.

The Book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew bible was written over 2,500 years ago. The book is about Ezekiel’s vision of a chariot coming down out of the sky. The chariot held four creatures, each with four faces, one a human, one a lion, one an ox, one an eagle. Some scholar’s think Ezekiel might have been mentally ill or at least taking some psychedelic drugs. That’s weird. That changes everything.

Owen Barfield (one of the Inklings) said that words have souls—those words carry the consciousness of the ancients from the past into the future. The writer of the Gospel of John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and Word was God.” Someone told me that in the Spanish translation of this verse it reads, “In the beginning was the Verb and the Verb was with God, and the Verb was God.” That’s weird. That changes everything.

Jesus told people to love God. Jesus told his followers to love each other. Religious people said he was a heretic. Political people said he was dangerous. So, they killed him. That’s weird. That changes everything.

Matthew Bellamy, lead singer for the band Muse wrote, “Love is our resistance.” That sounds like Jesus. That’s weird. That changes everything.

Jesus said, “Follow me.” He never said worship me. That’s weird. That changes everything.

If you want to follow Jesus, then you’ll have to love God with same intensity Jesus loved God. And you’ll have to love other people with the intensity that Jesus loves us. When you do that, people will think you’re weird. And that will change everything.


David said...

Hi Gil - This is a weird and wonderful post. Thanks you.
David Rynick

Gil Stafford said...

David, several years ago you encouraged me through a coaching session to follow my dream of writing. Thank you so much. Now writing is a regular part of my spiritual practice and vocation.