Today is my birthday and I spent the better part of it cutting out wood figures for a story that will be told to children this Sunday at church. It is the story of Levi, the tax collector. We also know him as Matthew.
Jesus calls Levi to follow and that is what he does. Later, Levi throws a party and a bunch of his friends are there to celebrate. Jesus is there, too. There is not a single person there at the party whom church-folks would call “holy” or “righteous.”
When some religious leaders object to Jesus hanging out with them, Jesus replies that it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. That is why he came: to be near regular, imperfect people.
As I carved and cut, sanded and leveled…the power of the story struck me in a new way. I identify with Levi. I, too, am far from perfect. I, too, am just a money-grubber. I, too, need saving.
And Jesus comes near. He comes so close, he moves my hand to flip the power switch on my scroll saw. I sense him next to me, smiling, as I carve several goblets, fit for partying. Sawdust confetti scatters through the air and he laughs with pleasure.
With company like this, what room is there for doubt? His friendship cast out the fear I was nursing. He knows how to heal because he knows what it is to be wounded.
I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.