Hank, Skin and Jesus

Last Sunday night, a friend and I went to a worship service in Austin. I went expecting people in their 30's sitting around a classroom in a church singing with a couple of guitars. What we found was three people sitting on the floor in the wing of a sanctuary. One guy was sitting on a pew strumming the guitar (at least I got that right). They were sitting around a canvas with magazines scattered about the floor. Not church magazines. Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Addition type of magazines. Magazines that I had never touched with my hands; most I had never seen in person. We were to use these magazines to fill in a mosaic picture of Jesus. One with halos and rays of light coming from Him as worshipers adored Him. We were to actually touch the magazines, open them, cut them up in tiny little pieces and then glue them on.

So, we did.

I started with Jesus' left hand. I used one picture: some lady in a skimpy little dress with lots and lots of skin. I cut from her thighs slivers of pieces to create a welcoming opened hand. The hand of Jesus. I didn't like it. It made me uncomfortable and I didn't know what to do with the feeling.

We sat in quietness and cut and glued and thought to ourselves.

But the room wasn't silent. Hank was there. Stinking of age, homelessness and years of alcohol, Hank was there. He had some things to say, though most of it we couldn't follow. He missed his son. He missed his parents. His dad had not been good to him. He saw war and he was haunted by all the anger he had known.

None of us knew what to do with Hank either.

Finally the guys got Hank to go to sleep on the bench outside and we started picking up the scraps of paper. The project was too big to finish in one night.

It was an awkward night - just too weird to process.

Today I was out walking. A little dog joined me and I leaned down to read its tags. Hank. His name is Hank.

I started thinking about Hank, the alcoholic-crazy-homeless man in Austin. I remembered holding Hank's drawing. He had asked for paper and a marker. So, they gave him a little brown marker. With his spit and that marker, Hank drew a picture of Jesus. Sweat, blood, sadness, hope, thorns, and eyes that looked into your soul. I should go buy some charcoal and paper and go give them to Hank... could I find him? Probably not...

I can't stop thinking about him. I can't stop thinking about that picture I cut up. I can't stop thinking about Jesus' hands.

I keep looking at my hand. My skin is soft and clean and well manicured. It's not been perfect, but has lived most of it's life in good work, purity and love. Not like that lady's skin. Hers might look perfect, but here she is - selling her skin to the world. How much money did she get for that one pose?

Oh, Lord - thank you for saving me from that! Thank you for keeping me from living that life. Thank you that I'm not her. That I'm not Hank.

And I wonder who God is most disappointed in? The woman who sells her body? The man who's mind is gone? Or the self-righteous woman who judges them and keeps her distance. Oh, Lord... forgive me.

I think I need to do another mosaic. This time I'm going to take a picture of me. I'm going to cut out my own skin to make Jesus' hands. How dare I forget that Jesus died for me. How dare I forget that I needed His death - that I need His blood. How dare that I forget that what separates me from the woman in the picture and Hank sleeping on the bench is not my righteousness but Christ's.

And maybe I need to go buy some charcoal and paper and find a man walking around Austin. Hank wears a big blue hat with yellow stars on it. Lord, keep him safe and bless him.


Tara said…
April you always amaze me how you share your heart and put the focus back on God. Thanks for sharing.

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