That's My King

It's audio/video Monday, which sort of sounds like shop class on the first day of the school week when Mr. B was coming off a long weekend bender and didn't feel like teaching. I'm not so far removed from my wild and crazy days that I can't relate.

So how about checking out this is sermon by the late
S.M. Lockridge -- you can read about him here -- who gave a sermon some years ago in which he attempted to describe our Savior. (Sounds like he did a doggone good job.) It's another great video from the good folks over at Igniter Media, and I promise to look elsewhere for a video from another source next week.

Not only do I love the video itself, but it's even better because it reminds me of the types of sermons I used to hear when I was a kid, when preachers would kick off their shoes and stomp up and down the aisles proclaiming God's goodness.

Quick story, and I have a ton of these days from an idyllic childhood sitting in the second pew on the left, beside my granny, at the Bancroft Church of God Mission: one of my favorite old saints was a guy named John, who doubled as the church janitor -- in those days, you didn't have to call someone a custodian for the sake of political correctness.

I called him Big John because he was a pretty hefty dude to eight year-old eyes. He had these big ears and an even bigger smile, old tattoos on his forearms inked during his days in the Army ... and this was before barbed-wire tattoos were common on 18 year-old white kids from the suburbs, mind you. There was still significant social stigma attached to people inked up. His had turned green and faded over the years enough that you couldn't quite make out what they were supposed to be.

One Sunday -- and I'm not sure why; it doesn't matter -- John got caught up in the Spirit. He raised those tattooed arms in adulation of his God, stood from his pew with his head upturned so that tears flowed down his checks and onto his wrinkled neck. He didn't bother wiping them off; heck, he probably didn't even know they were there. He shouted his praises and walked around the sanctuary, up and down the aisles and, then, he walked through a side door and back toward the Sunday School classrooms. You could literally hear him shouting from back there, getting alternately quiet and loud as he walked around, unseen by anyone but God Himself, in the empty spaces surrounding the main auditorium.

When he finally came back around, he appeared at the door that led out to the choir loft -- he was still weeping, still shouting, still raising those tattooed arms -- before walking back down the steps by the pulpit and sitting down at his seat.

And you know the greatest thing? No one missed a beat. No one. The service rolled on, the choir still sung, people still stood and testified, all while Big John went about his business. It wasnt' that they were ignoring him -- no, Big John was given the freedom to worship His savior as he saw fit.

I can understand why public displays of emotion in adulation of Jesus might be off-putting or even uncomfortable to some people these days -- and maybe even threatening. It's not particulary dignified, at least in the way that a lot of people would define it, but it is beautiful and it is true and it is real. At least that's the way I remember services like that --and sermons like this -- and I do so very fondly.

Sadly, these days it's easy to dismiss acts of worship like the ones from my childhood, because they are characterized as those delivered with histronics by big-haired preachers or bigoted fundamentalists who'd rather shout at you about hell than hug you and tell you about heaven. You call that narrow minded?

Those with culturally acceptable tunnel vision who view southern-style Christianity without once looking beyond their pre-conceived notions and embrace that the very true story of Jesus should understand that the Gospel can come in a high-brow and very intelligently written diatribe or in the rhythmic cadence of a black preacher pouring out his heart -- or, in the weeping adulation of a simple man in love with his God.

So, in honor of both Shadrach Meshach Lockridge -- and my friend Big John, who spends his days now raising his arms in the literal presence of My King -- I ask you: do you know Him today?