Great Encounters

Life Notes—October 22, 2009 

“He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature.  So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him; because he was going to pass that way.”  Luke 19:3-4                                   

When I was in college I worked at a nursery in Topeka that was located near the Governor’s mansion.  President Gerald Ford was visiting Topeka one day and was scheduled to see the Governor.  We anticipated the motorcade would travel along Interstate 70, some 500 yards distant from the fence many of us stood along, hoping for a glimpse.  We heard the sirens long before we saw the vehicles, but the motorcade we saw was not traveling on the Interstate, but along the street barely10 yards from our fence!  It was an impressive sight and, although I was never really certain which vehicle (if any) actually held the President, I was pleased to have been so close.

What does my story have to do with Zacchaeus?  Maybe very little, but I remember the excitement of having the opportunity to catch a glimpse of someone well-known not everyone gets to see up close.  I remember strategically wondering which spot along that fence would provide the best view.  Zacchaeus, being ‘vertically challenged,’ climbed a sycamore tree for his view.  And not only did he see Jesus, Jesus saw him.  Jesus called to him, told him he would be dining in his home that day and the encounter transformed a petty, selfish thief into a faithful servant. 

How do we react when we encounter greatness?  Don’t get me wrong.  I do not equate Gerald Ford, the man, with greatness, nor the President with the Lord.  But an encounter with the President of the United States?  That is an awe-inspiring encounter, regardless of the person filling the office.  How would I have responded if the President had stopped his motorcade, rolled down his window and said, “Greg! I am coming to your apartment for dinner tonight!”  I would’ve felt unworthy.  My apartment was small and dirty, the furnishings sparse, my cooking skills unworthy of entertaining a President.  But I would’ve done my best to clean up my act and make myself worthy of the company.  Exactly as Zacchaeus did.  We cannot know why God chooses us to love and accept, but we can respond with gratitude for being chosen—exactly as Zacchaeus did. 

Tom will continue his sermon series on the book Enough, by Rev. Adam Hamilton.  This week’s sermon title is, “Defined by Generosity.”  The scripture reading is Luke 19:1-10.  Life Worship begins at 10:45 in Brady Hall.  Traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary.  Contemporary worship begins at 9:30 at the west campus. 

Come home to worship this Sunday!  You won’t even need to climb a tree for a view…

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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