Monday, May 24, 2010

The Violet Burning sends an unshaved pastor to the mall to convert his epistemology

Suddenly, I heard the audible voice of God...
more specifically of Jesus Christ....
call out over the sound system of Fresno Fashion Fair Mall.

It was a stunning experience.

His loving, aching, pleading tone instantly confirmed that it was indeed Him.
The ancient Bat Kol showing up at a modern mall!

And it was also clear that the message was intended as a wake-up call to those walking the mall:

  • "Look at the stars, look how they shine for you!"
  • "You know I love you so!"

And most potently and powerfully:

  • "For you, I bleed myself dry."

It was incredibly touching, and strongly self-authenticating as the voice of the Jesus who

flung stars into space, loves us relentlessly, and bled himself dry on the cross

... that all within earshot might be saved.

The only catch is every walker seemed oblivious.

Only the lone listener on the bench seemed to even hear it.
I am unworthy.

At this point, as I reveal that the voice of God came through the voice of a singer whose song just happened to be playing throughout the mall, some respond, "Oh, it wasn't that supernatural after all. All that happened was a song with spiritual lyrics played."

But I still maintain it was naturally supernatural.
Even though the fact that the song was not (gasp!) by an officially Christian group.

The voice that Jesus borrowed for those moments was that of Chris Martin and Coldplay.
One can debate what the classically Coldplay song "Yellow" is "really about"..
..but that is irrelevant to the fact that
Jesus borrowed or hijacked it.

I am all about that.

As I moved from pondering the potentially negative epistemological implications of a Reformation hermeneutic (yes, that is seriously what I was thinking about) into something far more practical:

praying for the shiny ( yellow?) Shekinah presence of Jesus the to envelop the mallfolk...

...a smiling man walked right up to my bench and sat down..just two inches past our culture's comfort zone. He had never read E.T. Hall on proxemics.

He was either full of s&*# or full of shekinah.

"Hey, how are you?" he ventured.

I contemplated answering with a version of one of these (:...

  • "Uh, I am pouring myself out in prayer for everyone in the mall to know the love of Jesus. Do you mind leaving me alone?
  • Uh, I am pouring myself out in prayer for everyone in the mall to know the love of Jesus. Do you know Jesus?
  • "Actually, I am trying to read a book, so excuse me..."
I answered none of the least aloud.
I offered a more neutral, but at least invitational, "Good, how about you?"

The reason I was sitting on a bench on my day off was all prayer's fault anyway.
It was just an impression while praying for, and thus with The Violet Burning (meaning,while listening to The Violet Burning...specifically, "Oceana,"... as fellow
fans will want to know), that I really was supposed to go there; that there may well be someone I was called to meet or run into there.

So I grabbed the obligatory in case I was wrong, and God didn't show up, I would still get something done (:
...and made my pilgrimage.

I grabbed Fashion Fair St Arbuck's (watch this interview I did with RevKev Foster if you want to know about the Starbucks anointing) and sat, well aware that I was sitting on a bench I may well have sat in thirty odd years ago, when I was a kid, and the mall was new.
Wow, who would God send to me: a childhood friend?

It felt time-warpish.
Even though I still felt sheepish about any potential divine encounters.
(And as a couple of Victoria's Secret models/employees eyed my bench as a potential pl;ace to take a break, I wondered if this would be Uncle Ernie at Uncle Harry's all over again).

Unshaven (maybe why the models decided against my bench, huh?), wearing my Violet Burning T-shirt (Ever since the day I bought it, 0nce in awhile, I meet a fellow fan, or get to tell someone about the band when I wear it) some old clothes, and a few whiskers after a few busy days of teaching, and some old clothes, I probably didn't look like who I was: a pastor and Bible teacher, who had brought a book (this one here; the one which got me going on epistemological implications of a Reformation hermeneutic)
along to prep for a class I would soon be teaching...

So when the man spoke next, I knew it was time to send the right non-verbal message:

I shut the book in awe.

"I know Pastor Bruce Hood of Feed My Sheep Ministries."

"Really? I know Bruce, I love that guy and I love the ministry.

Well, anyone who knows Pastor Bruce knows Jesus (: I didn't have to waste any time asking if this guy did.
Instead I was honored to hear some of his story, how he came to faith, and came to be involved with Feed My Sheep.

He was at the mall trying to gently (without getting kicked out) sell charity raffle tickets for the ministry...but more importantly, see who God would lead him to.

That would include me, the unworthy unshaved one... I guess I was an answer to Brian's prayer, too.

Brian was a delightful man who has been clean and sober for several months thanks to Jesus, Bruce and the ministry. As we talked, I followed my usual protocol (which drives Keltic Ken Adams nuts) of not mentioning I was a pastor or Bible teacher.

So I asked if he knew Ken (as I knew that Ken from the church I pastor was heavily involved, through his subversive radio station, with Feed My Sheep.

He smiled and said he did.

"Cool, Ken goes to the same church I do."
(Note, not "I am Ken's pastor.")

Brian nodded to my book, and asked about it.

"Oh, I am studying for a church history class."
(Note, not "I am prepping for a class that I am teaching.")

I am sure he assumed I was a "lay" church attender, and a student at some kind of college.

And indeed I am.

I love how Len Sweet, when introducing former students of his, says something like, "This is Ted, we studied together in the nineties."
(Not, "I was Ted's professor in seminary."

I was thrilled to be able to pray for, and with, Brian...right there, smack in the middle of what my friend (half-jokingly) calls the "666 Mall."

I mentioned that he might tell Bruce hi for me if he remembered.

If he does, Bruce will say, "Oh, you met Pastor Dave...he also teaches Bible and ministry at a couple colleges."
And Brian will find out my secret.

A secret that was irrelevant to the fact that he and I are brothers, and I have a lot to learn from him.

It was Monday, the traditional pastor's day off
(Ever seen a pastor on Monday?)
And even though I am not mush of a traditional pastor, I still keep that tradition.

And I was pleased to be able to pray for someone on a day when I am not "paid to do so" (:

And anyway, had I told him that I was a pastor, he might not have believed me, I was dressed way too down-home to look like one (:

He never asked me about The Violet Burning.
But it was The Violet Burning ...and Coldplay I might add, that God used to connect us.

Thanks to all three..
...and as a bonus, I learned something about the epistemological implications of a Reformation hermeneutic after all.

I heard the Voice.

Thanks above all To Jesus, who bled himself dry for us, that we might hear and heed his voice,
wherever and however it shows up.

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