The woman around the corner

By Greg Jones

When Moses went up the holy mountain to speak with God it changed him. Numbers says that Moses spoke to God “mouth to mouth,” that “he beheld the form of the Lord.” Yes, when Moses spoke to God, and God to Moses, “mouth to mouth,” you better believe it changed him.

Moses saw the light and he was changed. If you saw a burning bush, a pillar of fire, and the glorious countenance of God on high, you’d be different too. But Moses, in his enlightenment, in his illumination, came back not proud, but humble. In the enlightenment of what he witnessed, he came back not haughty, but veiled in humility. After all, he didn’t want the people to idolize him, to put him on a pedestal, to build a tabernacle around him.

For Moses knew that Moses was not God, but an enlightened witness for God – to a fragile people, still in national infancy, weak and wounded by four centuries of oppression, violence and abuse. No, Moses didn’t want to be worshipped by hungry souls, ready perhaps to miss the point. He just wanted to be faithful. And he was.

When Jesus went up the mountain and God’s glory in Him was revealed, He wouldn’t allow the witnesses to miss the point. Yes, He was revealed to Peter, James and John as God’s own expression, and they too beheld the form of God as Jesus. But then He led them down; to do what He came for; not to be trumpeted in Glory, but to serve. Not to be boothed up, but to go forth: to heal, to save, to love the children of this mortal coil who suffer still under sin and death.

Moses was changed by his encounter with God and, eventually, so were Peter, James and John. All were enlightened; for real, not for pride, as servant-witnesses to the Light of God: who wills all to be healed, loved and cherished.

Have you suffered? Do you still? From oppression? Violence? Bondage to fear and death and grief and worry? Do you know God’s precious love for you?

Last week, I drove up to Washington D.C. in the midst of its great snow. (Not many left North Carolina for D.C. last week!) But, I drove straight up 95, right across Memorial Bridge, up the gorgeously snow heavy Rock Creek Parkway, and after a stop at Booeymonger’s for a bagel, I made my way to Chevy Chase, to the funeral of the woman who first showed me the precious love of God.

Fran Dabrowski was a neighbor. My dad lived next door to her when he was a kid in Chevy Chase in the 1950s, and in 1970, when I was a year old, my folks took me around the corner to Fran’s house, where I fit right in. She had eight kids — and in addition to helping to take care of me, she sheltered so many fragile persons in that old house on Leland Street.

When my parents divorced, I went to Fran’s nearly every day for a few hours of care and play. I basically lived in her house from age 1 to age 9, when she began a teaching career at Georgetown Day School, where she was also much beloved.

My first Christian experience was as a toddler in the Chevy Chase Methodist Church Cherub Choir, which she led. I learned about church, about hymns, about robes and weekly service to God. The first sentence of the message of God I ever learned, Fran taught me:

“All things bright and beautiful,

all creatures great and small,

all things wise and wonderful,

the Lord God made them all.”

This humble, hardworking, woman (with eight kids of her own and a household filled with refugees from scattered lives) convinced me that God loved me and all creatures – great and small. I was small when this enlightened witness to Christ showed me the powerful love of Jesus, and I’ve felt great ever since. Not in pride. Not in glory. But in being included by a Gracious Lord who sent someone like Fran to find me.

Are you feeling small? We all do. And we all are. But I’m convinced God loves us, and we can grow in His love, by following His Son. If you know this, if you’ve seen the light in the face of some enlightened witness to Christ, then share it, with all the small, who need to see it too.

The Rev. Samuel Gregory Jones (‘Greg’) is rector of St. Michael’s in Raleigh, N.C., a trustee of General Seminary and the bass player in indie-rock band The Balsa Gliders — whose fourth studio release is available on iTunes. He blogs at Anglican Centrist.

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