One of the most moving moments to me in the movie "The Passion of the Christ" is when Peter denies Christ and the film captures that split second when the eyes of Jesus and Peter meet. It happens as Peter is mouthing the denial...and the Lord looks right at him. It's brutal. Last night I had something similar happen at our evening service. Someone before the service made a comment to someone about not doing something "retarded", it was a harmless statement that I heard and joked about how we wouldn't want to do anything labeled "retarded"...I was cleaning up before service and was more mumbling to myself than anything. I said it...as I reflect now...about 3 times.
Then after the service started a man came in that I have never seen before in the neighborhood. He came up to me...looks me in the eye and says hello and then: "I AM RETARDED". It's one of those moments as you are caught eye to eye and you know you are busted. God's got your number...you pulled the shortest straw. He explained to me how he had been to over 100 churches in Spokane and nobody talks to him. He shared how just because he is retarded that doens't mean he isn't going to heaven. He showed me his camera and explained how he likes to take pictures. He asked me if I thought retarded people were going to go to heaven. I felt like a shmuck. He said he was going to have to go catch his bus, asked for a bible and smiled a thousand times...shook my hand a bunch...talked to people during the service and expressed his enjoyment of the songs.
I gave him a cd of worship and he about had a melt down of joy. I felt it was an offering of penance in case this man was really Jesus or an angel sent to fill our sanctuary with the holy incense of BO, mess up our neatly structured flow with the whip of awkwardness, rebuke the pastor with a smile and leave in a whirlwind of divine visitation...all with a poloroid in his hand...I am sure to show me the picture of my "look" someday, when I meet Jesus.
Later someone made a comment after the service about needing to get some fans in the room because of the smell on Sundays...I agreed.
But now I wonder...if that isn't the smell of Jesus.