Luke 7: 35-47
Attention and Gratitude
There is a song in the musical “Celebrate Life” that has a woman sing about Jesus. It paints a picture of the woman and her state of mind in today’s story in Luke. It is called:”He quietly turned to me.” Cynthia Clawson sings:”there was nowhere else to turn and nowhere else to go, my body knew all the pain, a body could know. When I quietly turned to you, I quietly turned to you, help of the helpless, hope of the hopeless, I turned to you. There was no where else to turn and no one else could hear my cries full of anguish, my cries full of fear, Then I quietly turned to you, I quietly turned to you, hope of the hopeless, I turned to you.” Then she describes Jesus:”I saw you standing there, I saw the beauty from you beaming, I saw the peace, the joy, the perfect love that could be. I saw you standing there. I thought I was surely dreaming.” Next she goes on and describes her new state of mind after having been transformed. “Your love love let me live again, your love set me free, help the helpless, friend of the friendless. ! quietly turned to you and you turned to me. “ (Celebrate Life Ragan Courtney and Buryl Red).
The song depicts a transformative moment in the life of a woman who could not face life, but because of Jesus’ declaration of forgiveness is made whole again. She finds release and the experience is so profound, that she performs an act that costs her a fortune and that requires self-humiliation. In a land of dust without asphalt or carpets, toilets or garbage collection, feet get pretty dirty and Jesus’ feet would have not been an exception. She anoints his feet. An act of great service and humility as there were no comfortable shoes in those days and feet were extremely sore from hour long walks. Jesus clearly appreciates such things.
Friends, unless we go through life with some deep heavy guilt that tortures us, and some of us do, we perhaps don’t spend much time wishing for forgiveness. This is a narcissistic age. We do not give out apologies easily. We actually think lots of people should apologize to us. So does this text have anything to say to us then? It may be hard to identify with the deep sense remorse this woman feels. Well first, let us remember that we are all only one thoughtless act of stupidity away from lifelong remorse. But beyond this, we can relate to this woman’s sense of despair and hopelessness. We know what it is like not to see a way out of a difficult situation. We know what it is like to feel caught. Sure not as much as others perhaps, not like the people on the news, but we are all keenly aware of the human predicament.
In addition I think there is another layer at which this woman experiences the power of Jesus’ presence. He really sees her. Friends, maybe that is what really matters. That he really sees her. You see, so much of our lives we are seen for what people want us to be, or how people stereotype us, or how people can use us (and this where harassment comes in), or how we are on the outside. People don’t really see us, we think. There are so many filters they use to view us.
I think often when people feel under siege for whatever reason, and many people do these days, they think that the only people that get them are the members of their own tribe, like their race or ethnic group. That can feel really good, but it is also very dangerous. It creates an us vs. them mentality. What this church is all about right now is a statement of faith that we can “get” each other even though our race and ethnic group are different as long as we are here not to serve ourselves but serve God and others.
Friends, it is really important for us go understand that God really sees us, not just that God forgives us when we are truly sorry for something, but really notices us and gets us. We being seen for who and what we are and loved all the same. Friends, Are you aware that God sees you? Do you see God turning toward you. Can you turn to God? And can you really see your neighbors and truly turn to them. May God give us wisdom.