A Pocketful of Mumbles - 2006
|A Pocketful of Mumbles
Editor's Note: Jeff Jacobson
is one of my top 5 new voices in 2006. You can see what Jeff's all about by clicking here.
His blog is here
. If you haven't read his book (ALL profits go to his mission in life) buy it and read it. The guy is for real.
I am just a poor boy, though my story's seldom told;
I have squandered my resistance for a pocketful of mumbles, such are promises.
All lies and jest; still a man hears what he wants to hear,
And disregards the rest.
When I left my home and my family, I was no more than a boy;
In the company of strangers, in the quiet of the railway station, Runnin' scared, laying low;
Seeking out the poorer quarters, where the ragged people go,
Looking for the places only they would know.
Li la li...
(The Boxer - Simon and Garfunkel)
Let me start off by saying that I’m a big fan of Simon and Garfunkel. Something about their music has always been incredibly soothing to me, so their CDs were usually nearby—especially on long road trips. Because of this, I’ve hidden away some fond mini-van memories of my four children, each of whom eventually became fans in their own right. Their favorite song was The Boxer. When it would come on, they would wave their hands in unison, just like they were at a concert—tiny arms swaying with the most beautiful motion and accord during the “li la li’s.”
OK, sure, I modeled it for them initially, but pretty soon afterward it became second nature to them. I’d look in the rear view mirror and there they’d be, strapped in their car seats with fingertips in the air, moving silently in rhythm as the orchestration reached its crescendo.
Now, the lyrics to The Boxer, while compelling, are in my opinion mostly sad, so I’d often get choked up at the climactic end when there was a whole gaggle of li la li’s. Eight arms would be in the air, attached to little people with faces that smiled in sweet unison. It was an incredible picture—a point of inspiration—where everything was in harmony (if only for a moment) and it would overwhelm me as I fought back tears. Music had calmed the beasts of childhood, with all of its infantile disagreements and squabbles over minutia and imaginary lines.
I struggle to even describe it adequately, without sounding too cheesy.
But that very struggle, cheesy or not, got me to thinking about something else. Who we are as Christians begs for something similar. Perhaps something that would collectively inspire a sustained moment where, despite sad lyrics, our arms could sway, childlike, in beautiful accord—cajoling this present Bride into unison beyond the customs of our own design.
I don’t mean to get cynical here, but could it be that something or maybe even a certain Someone would motivate and thrust us above the fray of society’s usual expectations? Could it possibly be that this Jesus we’ve previously claimed to follow might redefine Christianity as we know it?
If so, then this could get dicey. And dangerous. Actually envisioning a group of people whom the gravest of skeptics associate with Jesus alone? Even if that was attainable, could we ever truly hope to undo preconceived notions? What about the perceptions of pious pulpits and the people who fill them? Yes, even those good intentioned souls who have represented us as they’ve stepped gingerly onto pedestals; those pedestals that slowly evolved, mysteriously, into wholly righteous platforms.
Is the damage irreparably done?
Calling ourselves Christians in this day and age is a daunting concept. Over time, it seems we’ve squandered our resistance for a pocketful of mumbles, believing this notion that even though Jesus delivered a simple, non-judgmental message of love and forgiveness, even though he walked with the poor and the marginalized of ancient days—well, for contemporary, moral and exclusive Christians such as us, he came merely to punch our ticket for Heaven.
Such are promises.
All lies and jest, it’s not so hard to see how a man could hear what he wants to hear and disregard the rest.
And so, I just have to ask the question: Why would any Christian who claims to follow Jesus not model and lead others to do what he did on a regular basis? If I’m not mistaken, he was known for laying low and for seeking out the poorer quarters, where the ragged people go. He could usually be found looking for the places only they would know.
This was a man who traveled dusty roads with sandaled feet, choosing not to walk lightly upon pampered, favored floors, but to press flesh to earth with its grit and grunge, to conquer pre-conceived notions of a pristine existence.
And so, our charge is much the same. We must learn, in fact we must train ourselves as Christians to accept with grace our mission to redefine who we are. We must communicate that we’re not just about what’s happening on the inside of a church building where we typically gather. We must stop hiding behind agendas and platforms. Who we are is out there, where congregating brothers and sisters find incarnation at the street level.
If it helps you, then imagine it so.
Imagine not a long train on the Bride’s dress, laid nicely and quite perfectly on the scarlet runway by prim and proper bridesmaids who purse their lips and shush away latecomers as they shut the door. Envision instead an outdoor wedding and the billowing of a gown that swells and fills with a welcoming breeze; where the Bride has one arm strapped around the Groom's waist, and with the other, she throws the lacey veil and her bouquet to the wind, beckoning all to her arms—all to a celebration!
If we truly begin to get this, then we can model it for others. Pretty soon, it’ll become second nature to all of us as we move to the rhythm of what this Bride—made up of Christians—was always supposed to look like.
And if you look at it that way, it really is about us.
To be sure, the lyrics of life are sad at times but there’s a place where the music of missional living can calm the beasts of infantile disagreements. It is a place where followers of Jesus choose to get beyond squabbles over minutia and imaginary lines; it is right there where the orchestration of saints reaches a crescendo and swaying arms strive in unison to love and serve a dying world.
That, my friends is the kind of Christian I want to be.
Li la li, La La La Li Li Li...
|So I Go Now|
One of my top 5 for 2006.