In New Jersey, one of the most fun things for children to do
(at least in my era before the advent of gameboy and dvd) was to write “WASH
ME” on particular dirty cars and trucks. This was always done with
one’s fingers on the very dirt that covered said vehicles. This was
certainly harmless pursuit on a hot sunny day (except that you wound up with
a very dirty hand).
I never quite understood the importance of the message I wrote on cars
and trucks until I became a boy scout and went camping. Here was a
chance to burn fires for three days, run in the woods, and stay up all night
laughing and telling stories.
When I would return on Sunday afternoons from these forays into the wilderness
my mother would not let me get past the lower hall without a wedding garment—I
had to remove all my clothes which were smoked to the consistency of nova
scotia lox (and were about as fragrant) and wrap in the towel and go STRAIGHT
to the upstairs bathroom to soak in the tub to remove the remnants of Camp
Lewis. Then I went STRAIGHT to bed so I would be able to get up for
school the next day. I never objected.
The readings today talk about preparation but more importantly about the
change that preparation brings. God takes the chosen people from the
midst of other nations not because of who they are but because they are
willing to come! God chooses them in the first place because they
are willing to accept God’s law and to become a holy people (they DID NOT
start out that way nor was the change instantaneous—there were lots of golden
calves along the way).
The master chooses wedding guests who turn down the invitation
so the master chooses more. One guest is not able to transform himself
into a guest by wearing the proper clothes. Out he goes into the darkness
– a place I would have been relegated too had I not removed the layer of
Boy Scout Camp from my body on my return to the Bucko household!
The changes proposed in the readings are simple: sprinkle with water, say
yes, change into different clothes!
The readings are not talking today about being perfect and thereby chosen
but about transforming into God’s image, as we are now, and being welcomed
into God’s kingdom. The perfecting is simply in the accepting of change
A new heart begins with a change of clothes, a quick shower, a yes to a
party invitation. This is the beginning of deeper changes, a new heart,
a new people, a new relationship with God and with the people around us.
Change is not always easy. I rather enjoyed the Lord of the Flies
look – that smoky brown patina acquired from three days worth of campfires.
But in the transforming bath I did feel new again and ready to rejoin the
family having repented of my feral ways!
The readings ask us to begin again our transformations into God’s people,
be it with a visit to Church (you don’t have to move into it), a change
of clothes, a change of attitude, an apology to a loved one, a bath, a baptism,
or even a good night’s sleep.
It is in the transformation that we come closer to God, a God who calls
us as we are and calls us for who we are, and a God who invites us to small
and gentle transformations promising to continue the operation!