|Bill and the giant inflatable
hammer I won by looking 38.
You know how I love Asheville, right? What's not to love, right? I went into detail here, so I won't mention those things again. We just got back from a super fast, super busy trip there. We ate at our favorite restaurants, went to the Mountain State Fair - which I highly recommend, by the way. I know the State Fair in Raleigh is a huge deal, and people love it, but if you want the whole fair experience without the hassle, I recommend the smaller, much more mellow, Mountain State Fair at the Ag Center just west of Asheville.
|Just ONE of the delicious
things you can eat at the fair.
It's got all the humongous vegetables, fascinating stinky animals, live music, carnies, con games with cheap prizes and deep fried deliciousness you could ever want. What you want get is a smelly crowd that ambles slowly and won't let you pass for nuthin'. The fair is not what this is about, but I will say this last thing: The age guesser pegged me at a whipper-snapping THIRTY-EIGHT! Well worth the $3 it cost to play. Plus we got a huge inflatable hammer that Bill mostly uses to bonk me in the butt.
Anyway, one of the things I love about Asheville is the church I used to go to when I lived there - Grace and Peace Presbyterian Church. It's a very relaxed, understated little PCA kirk with about, I don't know, 50 people there on any given Sunday? The music is basic hymns deliberately sung - nothing fancy. They go over a bit of the Westminster shorter catechism each Sunday, then the pastor, Jonathan Inman, a slightly scruffy guy about my age clad in hiking boots, hiking shorts and Neil Young t-shirt, saunters up to the front, perches himself nonchalantly on a stool and starts talking in a voice that I would describe as ... conversational...? His voice is soothingly low, almost as if he's ... pleading? That's not the right word, but I really can't think of what I mean to say. There's nothing oratory or preachy about it - a spectacular feat... for a preacher!
|Grace and Peace Presbyterian Church
meets in The Venue on Market Street
in downtown Asheville.
I'm not married to a particular denomination; I just love me some gospel. And I love a church with fantastic, sophisticatedly arranged and presented rockin' music, so I was looking for such a place when I moved to Asheville in 2000. I settled in at Grace and Peace, though, because I loved this fellow's sermons and style. His MO is to go through books of the Bible chapter by chapter with the congregation, which I love. Nothing gets left out, and you get to hear about all the parts the pastor might shy away from otherwise. (Is this the longest intro EVER?) Anyway, Jonathan normally reads out the chapter at hand then just sort of talks through it, his quiet discourse always winding around to ... Jesus.
|While doing an image search for
a photo of Jonathan Inman, I
discovered that the hilarious guy
from "Are You Being Served" is
called John Inman. I couldn't resist
using his pic instead!
Because everything in the Bible points to Jesus. Everything. Even the stuff that happened before he was born... and after he died. Whether you are perusing the historical records, the the genealogies, the songs, the advice, the erotic poetry, the laments and predictions of the prophets, the gospels, the letters... He's all over it.
This past weekend, Jonathan said that his wife had made the following comment regarding an earlier sermon: "My mind kind of started to wander before you got to the Jesus part." So this time, he decided to BEGIN his sermon on Proverbs 3 with what he called, "the Jesus part." Now, I never gave much thought to the structure of his sermons until he brought this up. But now that he mentions it... that's exactly the way I write a blog! I never thought about it before (except the other day when I gave you the actual outline), but that's mostly how they go, right? Story, music, movie or book, self-deprecating humor.... JESUS! See? Because everything begins and ends with Jesus.
One time I was making an eight-hour drive to visit my brother and his family in Chattanooga and to pass the time, I thought, "I'm going to make every song on this album, (Pete Townshend's White City: A Novel) about Jesus." It was surprisingly easy. As Pete Townshend frequently trades in the imagery of sin and redemption, I was able to pull out at least one line or reference that spoke to me of God's own Son... I was momentarily stumped by the jealous tirade that is Second Hand Love, until I remember that God describes Himself as "a jealous God." Piece of cake. Delicious cake.
|He's got the WHOLE world in His hands!|
So, you see, everything really IS about Jesus. Even if it's completely ungodly, it serves as a contrast or a gaping maw of need. In the Revelation of St. John, Jesus says: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." I'm pretty sure He's everything in between as well. Paul says, "For from him and through him and to him are all things." And, "In Him we live and move and have our being." Yep. That about sums it up.
|Remember when Horton
heard the Who?
So in my mind, every story, every song, every aspect of life is tied up in the One who made us, and the world around us... whether we realize it or not. Remember when Horton heard the Who? Those tiny people were on the speck, whether or not the kangaroo and other naysayers acknowledged it our not. If only God would make an audible "YOP!" so we could know He's around. Oh wait... He sent His own Son. That's a fairly noticeable "YOP!" I'm being preachy, aren't I? I'd rather be cool like Jonathan... all mellow and understated... But I guess I'm just a little more out-of-control than that...
|YAY! An excuse to
put in a photo of
Anyway, I'm sure that to some people this aspect of my world view is pretty irritating. I can only imagine some are thinking, "Here it comes... wait for it... AND there it is! She mentioned Jesus." My actual conversations don't go like this, in case you were wondering... maybe if we got close and spent a couple hundred hours engaged in deep fat-chewing. Or if you asked.
Then I'd gladly slide into a little God talk. In an informative, passionate, but hopefully humble and non-pushy way, of course.
I heard this morning on NPR about how Google has incorporated the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game into its search engine. You type in "bacon number" and the name of a movie actor and it will tell you how far away from Kevin Bacon they are. For instance, so that I could have an excuse to include a foxy photo of Russell Brand in my blog, I typed in "bacon number Russell Brand." I got these results: Russell Brand's Bacon number is 2: Russell Brand and Rose Byrne appeared in Get Him to the Greek. Rose Byrne and Kevin Bacon appeared in X-Men: First Class.
Since you're no doubt wondering where I'm going with this... In MY brain, EVERYTHING is appearing in a movie with Jesus. EVERYTHING is has a Jesus score of ONE... whether directly referring to Him, or recalling His grace.... or a deep need for it. For example, Headhunters: Headhunters is about a deeply insecure person. Insecure people need Jesus. Or, Bob Marley: "Bob Marley was a Rastafarian who may have converted to Christianity."
Graphically illustrated, if this were one of those silly flow charts people post on Facebook, it would all flow to Jesus. Look - I made one! My first! I often wonder at the time some people must have on their hands to make those detailed charts.
So... here's the outline of this post: Story about Asheville and reference to Jonathan Inman... JESUS! That one was easy.