Comment from Ken:
So many times at night I think of what we might talk about on the next walk. Thinking that I know what I am going to say, we begin our walk, and my thoughts completely change. Little did I think I would tell you about Christopher today, but see where it leads us.
Scripture Luke 19: 1 – 9
1Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. 3And he sought to see who Jesus was but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. 4So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. 5And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. 7But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.”
8Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”
9And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
It is certainly a much nicer day to walk this Friday as the sun is shining, and it is not snowing like it was last Tuesday. The temperature is thirty-one and that makes it very pleasant for our walk. You look very happy this morning, and it is always nice to see a smile on your face. Aha, you are wearing green. My jacket is not green but if I undo a button or two, you can see that I am wearing a bright green shirt. My ancestor Richard Boyle came to this country on the Good Ship Polly in 1848 at the time of the potato famine. He was to marry Flora McSwain, a Scottish woman so the Boyle family heritage is Scottish and Irish.
I do not think I have introduced you to Christopher who came to reside with us at Christmas time. Christopher was given to me on my birthday as a present from Dale. He stands by our staircase, and he guards our home. I know he is a stuffed animal toy, but I have always retained the belief that if I want a stuffed animal in my life, no matter my age, what business is that of someone else. In all probability, you have some strange and odd qualities yourself. So what is – is!
When Christopher was purchased, he did not have a staff on which could be placed a shamrock. No, after he came to 271 Briar Hill Road, I looked at him and thought something was missing – he needed something in his left hand – I mean paw. So I took a dowel, drilled a hole in his stand and put a star on it for Christmas. As you can see on St. Patrick’s Day, he holds a shamrock, and he has on an Irish hat. I tried to find him a derby but could not find one. So, yes, you can count me among the strange and different.
Our Lord Jesus loved a great many weird and strange people. As a matter of fact, He reached out in love to so many who were unloved, who perhaps had been disfigured by disease and those that society considered outcasts. He allowed for people’s idiosyncrasies and took them under His wing and informed them that their Father, God, loved them. People with physical and emotional differences were embraced in the life of our Savior.
This pastor has never had good posture; he has always walked bent over. As a young boy, I remember hearing that a neighbor had said that I walked like I was carrying the world on my shoulders. When I attended a summer camp, I was called a ‘hunchback” and was told to stand up tall. On one bus ride to the camp, the counselor made fun of me and stopped when he saw that I began to cry. How I wanted to hide those tears.
And now guess what? At my last doctor’s appointment, they measured my height, me standing without my shoes and bare footed; to my horror, my height was five foot seven where it was once six feet one. It is difficult to look up at the ceiling, and difficult not to look down at my feet. But guess what, Jesus loves me! In spite of the fact that our body is the way it is, Jesus looks beyond our physical nature. And I pray that what He sees inside me is acceptable, and my wrong doings have been forgiven.
This is not a matter of self-pity – this is a matter of pure joy for regardless of the body we wear, Jesus loves us for the kind of person we seek to be.
Think of Zacchaeus up in that tree. Because he was too bent over or short to see our Savior pass by, he climbed a tree. And Jesus saw him and invited himself to Zacchaeus’s house. Jesus did not look at his physical stature; he did not think it odd that this man had climbed a tree to see him. Jesus looked to the inside of Zacchaeus and saw a worthy man for the kingdom of God.
It has always seemed so tragic to me to witness in Scripture the poor man who lived in the graveyard and who cried out day and night and hurt himself. How sad to have severe emotional problems. Jesus came upon that man who could not be bound and who cried day and night and injured himself with stones, and Jesus could not leave that man as he was. Jesus had great compassion for him. The difficult part of that story is that after Jesus had healed the man, the people of that land then feared Jesus and wished Him to leave their area.
If we look at Jesus with worldly standards, Jesus was an odd and strange man. He preached an unworldly gospel of love and of peace, not a gospel of hate and superiority. He turned away from worldly goods and talked of a kingdom where God’s loving will would be accomplished. Many feared him because His words could devastate and destroy their love of power and material possessions. Jesus was so unlike others that those who hated Him would seek to destroy Him – destroy by crucifixion the very one we have grown to love and believe is God’s Son.
God created us without anyone of us being perfect. We all have our flaws; we all have hurts we carry away from others who have not respected or loved us. We are all physically and emotionally different, and what is so beautiful is that Jesus loves us – loves you and me – and heals our hurts and shows us the way to peace and eternal love. Rather than be wounded by a cruel society, let us rejoice in a Savior who loves us – no matter our human flaws.
We did not talk about what I had planned to talk about today – I guess I can blame Christopher. Thanks for walking with me and putting up with my flaws, imperfections, and strange ways.
Dear God, we are all so different from each other. We are creatures of the earth with the desire of heaven inside ourselves. Forgive us our failure to always love one another and chastise us by the example of Your life that was so loving and good. By our looking upon Your life, may we change our ways and love and reach out to those who are different from ourselves. As they need a friend, so do we need a friend who walks beside us today and always – our friend Jesus Christ. Amen.
Until our next walk – “ May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.”