In Jesus Christ Superstar, while everyone else is asking Jesus, “What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s happenin’!” Mary Magdalene says, “Let me try to cool down your face a bit.” And that almost brought me to tears one recent morning. She is trying to please God, and everyone else is making demands. “Mary! Mmm! That is good!” Jesus says to Mary. And I could hear that pronouncement “good” like it was said about creation on the seventh day: perfect, righteous, complete and full.
“Mmm!” God said, “That is good! That is very good!”
Joel Osteen noted that God gave God’s-Self a compliment on the seventh day. (Amazing how watching one of his sermons, and that stuck with me. Maybe it’s because I was laughing so hard when he said, “We can learn something from God.” And I thought, “Yes! We sure can! And I can’t wait to hear what you think it is!”) His next point was that we could give ourselves a compliment now and again, which I found to be a hilarious and audacious exegesis (interpretation). Instead, I think that we might do ourselves a favor by giving God a “compliment” every now and again. Like at the sunrise or with a cup of coffee: “Mmm! God, that is good! That is VERY good!” That’s what Sabbath is all about. Satisfaction. Arrival. Enough.
Back to JC Superstar: Jesus then says to everyone else, “While you prattle through your supper. Where? And when? And who? And how? She alone has tried to give me what I need. Right here. And now.” That’s “heaven” in the here-now. What does God need from me? (And even asking that is audacious. It’s more like, what does God want from me?) From me-here-now? How about a little praise and thanksgiving? How about a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T (fear)? How about “doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God”?
Jesus continues, “I could give you facts and figures. Even give you plans and forecasts. Even tell you where I’m going. But if you knew the path we’re riding, you’d understand it less than I.” And this made me think of the prayers I offer: the prayers wanting to know God’s plan for me and where I will wind up. But those prayers are demands for things I can’t understand. I’m asking questions that don’t have easy answers, and I’m not even patient enough to listen.
Instead, my prayer should be a cool washcloth. I could use it on my face or the feet of my brothers and sisters.