Come And See - 03/02/2018

With countless Christmas pageants under my belt I’ve never even seen one with a flesh and blood baby Jesus until this last Christmas when two month old Khalessi, daughter of Jennifer who is one of Grace’s Sunday School teachers, starred in ours. Pageant rehearsal was the same two Advil, garland-halo-Frisbee tournament it’s always been till towards the end at Khalessi’s arrival.

When the kids saw her the mood in the room switched from hilarity to curiosity and adoration. It was just the way the first nativity must have been with the first Jesus. The kids were fascinated with her tiny fingers and her dreamy eyes that were not yet developed enough to take anything in except the shapes of them; but you could see she was attentively listening to their hushed voices and their loudly whispered “Awwwww”s as they came to the crèche, where Jennifer laid her, to ask if they could see. As we cooed at Khalessi all of us were thinking about how once, God was a baby and he looked just like this.

For the last three weeks I’ve asked you to pray for Khalessi who was critically injured and has been in ICU. Surrounded by her family in the hospital, I baptized her two weeks ago. Last Friday during Bible study at the VIP Diner Jennifer sent me a text: “Please PRAY NOW”. Everyone at the table dropped their forks and Bibles, grabbed each other’s hands and probably freaked out half the patrons with how we begged God for Khalessi’s life. To no avail. Khalessi was pronounced brain dead that same morning.

Yesterday, Jennifer came to my office to ask if I would offer last rites for her daughter tomorrow when they take her off life support. To spare another family the agony of losing a child Khalessi’s organs will be harvested, she will be cremated and Grace will hold a service for her on Sunday right after worship.

Jennifer shed no tears as we planned. I think I know why. She is a mother filled with that same super natural power some parents have when they lift a crashed car to get to their kids. She’s laser focused on doing the next right thing for Khalessi. Also, there are some human experiences that are terrible enough to make tears a luxury.

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

Jesus wept. (John 11:32-35)

This passage is from the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. On a normal day it’s one of my favorites in the Gospels because of its rich detail and the climax when Jesus shouts at a dead man, almost as if his death is an offense more than a tragedy, to come out of his tomb. And Lazarus comes out.

But on days like today the text is like salt on an open wound. If Lazarus why not Khalessi? If Lazarus, why not your friend? If Lazarus, why not the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School kids? I imagine Martha, Mary’s more forthright sister, pounding on Jesus’s chest and asking these questions, but to no avail. The only damned answer that matters isn’t in John’s Gospel anywhere.

Instead, Jesus just asks Mary where she laid her brother. Mary says “Come and see” and when Jesus gets to the tomb he weeps.

Imagine Jesus asking Jennifer where Khalessi is, Jennifer saying “Come and see” and bringing Jesus to the pediatric ICU at Beth Israel Hospital. Imagine Jesus weeping. Imagine Jesus sitting next to Khalessi’s Dad, overcome with despair and crying with him. Imagine Jesus asking where misery impales us and crying our tears when we don’t have that luxury ourselves.

The only other time the phrase “Come and see” is used in John’s Gospel is at the very beginning by Jesus himself. Andrew and his friends ask Jesus where he is staying and Jesus says, “Come and see”. (John 1:39) The word “staying” means much more than where you’ve left your toothbrush in John’s Gospel. It means the place where we will not to perish, the place where we remain one. Jesus uses it to describe how after his own agony he will stay in us, we will stay in him and all of us will stay in God.

Jesus, come and see Khalessi. Stay with her. Stay with Jennifer and her father, Raul. Stay with us through all of the pain in the world, till at the other end of death you call us out of our graves to stay with you forever, for your love’s sake. Amen.

Your sister in Christ, Rev. Laurie Jean Wurm

Jennifer has not been able to work for the last month and is facing significant medical and other expenses. If you would like to help her with them you can make a donation here: Jennifer gave me permission to share this paypal site and this information publicly.

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Grace Church Van Vorst  | 39 Erie Street  |  Jersey City, NJ 07302  |  Phone: 201-659-2211  |