Once a week, the volunteers would take a small group of people with developmental disabilities to the mall. One young man (we will call him Bill) from the group would always purchase the biggest cup of coffee he could find to bring back home with him. During one of the field trips to the mall, Bill purchased the biggest cup of coffee to take home. But as they were getting ready to leave, they noticed it was pouring rain.
One of the volunteers ran through the rain with his hood pulled up over his head while dodging water puddles in the parking lot. The van pulled up right next to the curb as the group lined up under the awning just outside the door.
The volunteers would help each person to the bus through the pouring rain. It was finally Bill’s turn. Holding tightly to his large cup of coffee, the volunteer took him by the arm and began walking towards the bus. They were about halfway to the bus when Bill’s hands became slippery, and he dropped his cup of coffee on the ground. Bill melted in tears to his knees and then sat down in the coffee and pouring rain, putting his hands over his face in defeat.
The volunteer, instead of forcing Bill to his feet, sat down next to him, in the coffee, in the pouring rain. The volunteer put his arm around Bill, and they just cried together.
I have often heard people try to explain why Jesus suffered like he did or why he allowed himself to be tempted in the wilderness. “Jesus needed to experience our suffering, pain, and temptation to better understand us.” Or “Jesus suffered and was tempted so we can know He suffered like us.”
But I wonder if there wasn’t a different reason, a more beautiful reason.
There are many half-told stories in the Bible, well, stories we don’t fully tell. Like:
- Noah – After the rainbow, he was found drunk and his naked body uncovered.
- Abraham – After God saved him from sacrificing Issac, you never see Abraham and Isaac mentioned together and Sara, Abraham’s wife dies in another city than where Abraham was living.
- David – Called a man after God’s own heart, ends life with a divided and dysfunctional family.
The list can go on of the men who became trainwrecks towards the end of their lives. Why? Is it possible they knew loneliness, despair, temptation, and even death without the work of Jesus?
Jesus didn’t need to be baptized, tempted, suffer pain, loneliness, despair or even death. But what if he chose this in order to change it for us? What if He experienced all this suffering and death so we could experience it differently?
Chris Green, in his book “Being Transfigured,” wrote:
“…nothing happens to God; God happens to all things. So what are we to make the claim that Jesus, as God, suffered?
Here’s the staggering wonder: What Jesus experienced did not change him but was changed by him. He healed whatever he assumed – and there is nothing he has not assumed. He suffers, but as JEnson says, he does not suffer the fact that he suffers. Nothing happens to him but waht the Father wants to happen differently for us.”
Earlier, Chris Green wrote, “Whatever he underwent, he changed for us.”
I don’t know what to make of the end of many of these stories (Noah, Lot, Abraham, David, Solomon, etc.), but I wonder if what they suffered is different than what we suffer today because of what Jesus changed for us.
- Jesus chose to experience loneliness, so he is present in our loneliness.
- Jesus chose to experience abandonment, so he is closer to us than a brother.
- Jesus chose to experience the loss of a loved one so that he could hold us when we weep.
- Jesus chose to experience temptation so he could provide us a way out.
- Jesus chose to experience fear so that he could give us courage.
- Jesus chose to experience death so that he could hold us when we are dying.
- Jesus chose to experience death so that we could be resurrected.
This is the depths of Jesus’ love. He has plunged. the depths of. our sorrows, sufferings, wounds, and pains. No matter how deep we go, not only has he already been there, he is there now, waiting for us. His presence changes everything. He is there waiting to sit in our spilled coffee in the pouring rain and hold us with his healing hug.
4 thoughts on “Sitting In Spilled Coffee in the Rain”
Wow. Good stuff Phil.
I have re-thought the Eucharist over the last few years. As good god fearing low church Protestants we have turned the Lord’ Table into a gatekeeper activity onto The calvery hill path. We are so bad at cooperate church worship that we have made it a personal reflection we do in a crowd.
What if Jesus wasn’t asking us to remember the coming crucifixion, but, because of his impending death, to remember the incarnation. What if we use the Eucharist to remember that the Devine stepped into humanity, not with the purpose to die but to live with us.
That is an interesting thought. I agree Eucharist seems to be a “gatekeeper” activity, but I don’t think that was the intention of Jesus. I like your thought on remembering the divine stepping into humanity. I would suggest a both/and…to remember the incarnation and what it means, as well as to remember his death (body broken for you, blood poured out for you).