December 14th, 2009
By Mark Schloneger, pastor at Springdale Mennonite Church, 2005 EMS graduate
Not too long ago, I spoke with a man in his late eighties who was reflecting on his life. He mentioned that God had helped him to overcome significant obstacles.
Curious, I asked him, “What were those obstacles?”
“Oh, you know,” he said.
I was confused. I said, “No, I don’t.”
He got quiet and just looked at me. Then, with a sigh, he pointed to his lip.
Of course. He had a cleft lip. He told me that his speech and appearance had caused him to be painfully shy, an extreme introvert growing up.
Shortly after our conversation, people gathered for this man’s funeral. I was struck by the stories that I heard. I talked to three people who mentioned how they came to know Christ either initially or in a deeper way through their encounter with this man at his auto repair shop.
An ordinary place for a tune-up became a sacred space. A man self-conscious of a cleft lip became an evangelist for the Lord. Temples of the living God.
At Mary’s greeting, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leapt for joy, and Mary sang of a renewed world. A world where the mighty fall low, and the lowly are lifted up. A world where rulers tumble from their golden thrones, and the hungry are filled. A world where God’s promises are kept. Where a poor peasant girl, given a great task to do, sings praise to the God who has empowered her to do it.
I think the retired mechanic knew that Mary’s song is best sung in parts. With lips that he once tried to hide, he joined the chorus with perfect pitch. He had learned that we do not need to do something fantastic, incredible, or extraordinary so that God will say “yes” to us. No, it is just that we have to be willing to say “yes” to Jesus in the midst of what we have, the ordinary, the mundane, and the everyday. It is through our “yes” that God transforms our humble places into sacred spaces, vessels for the divine to be born into our lives and world.
How is God asking you to sing the song of a renewed world?
O Lord, in the midst of our work, our play, our day-to-day routines, may the words of our mouths and the work of our hands magnify and rejoice in you. Amen.