Originally posted July 5, 2012, at The Altar Ego. Republished with permission of the author.
In June, I preached on Mark’s story of Jesus healing two women — one who had suffered from hemorrhages for 12 years, and a 12-year-old girl who had died. I called it “The Christ with the Dragon Tattoo.”
It’s not just because of my absolute and wholehearted jump down the rabbit hole that is Stieg Larsson’s insanely popular Millenium trilogy. It’s also because I firmly believe that not only would Jesus have resolutely spent time with those social outcasts that today sport dragon tattoos (among other things) — I think Jesus, walking around today, would have a dragon tattoo of his own.
It’s a brutal truth I think we need to continue confronting in the church today: Those whom we know (and profess) to be the ones Jesus paid the most attention to would hardly be welcome in the very space in which we declare to worship that Jesus.
It’s no secret — we judge others based on their own dragon tattoos. We look at others and automatically figure them out because they have pierced eyebrows, visible defects, weird hair.
We all do it.
Earlier this month we celebrated our country’s birthday. Take a look again at the Statue of Liberty. Forget that it’s a gift to us from the people of France (which we often do), and even that a broken chain lies at her feet in New York Harbor (which I didn’t even realize until I looked it up on Wikipedia) — just look at her inscribed words, the sonnet written by Emma Lazarus: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free — the wretched refuse of your teeming shore ” says the statue.
What wretched refuse do we even allow in our churches today? Do we ourselves come to the church as tired and poor — or as holier-than-thou and mighty?
It’s worth noting that in her poem Lazarus gives the Statue of Liberty a different name: “Mother of Exiles.” All those people who entered this country through that harbor, past that statue, clutching on to everything they owned, wretched and homeless, smelly and outcast, full of dragon tattoos that elicited stares from every passer-by — they remind the United States that we claim this exiled mother.
And when we enter our churches, we worship another outcast-in-exile: a convicted felon who spent his time with the wretched refuse of the world, not hesitating for a second to remind them of how beautiful their dragon tattoos were.
Find a link to Jason Chesnut’s blog The Altar Ego at Lutheran Blogs.