One of the first songs I learned in church was “Zacchaeus Was a Wee Little Man.” I liked singing the song as a child. I like the word “wee.” I liked the idea of climbing a sycamore tree. I liked looking out for Jesus. I liked the thought of Jesus coming to my house for dinner. I liked all the motions that went along with it. But there is one part of the song I never liked, and I still don’t. When we sang “Zacchaeus, you come down” we pointed our fingers up to him and we gave a stern look. And as a child, I knew what that finger meant.
God doesn’t need us to be perfect. What God wants isn’t an impressive resume or an outward show. What God wants is to meet you exactly as you are. Even when you have sinned. Even when you are carrying something heavy. Even when it is hard to look up. Even when all you can do is beat your chest and say, “God, have mercy on me.” Even then, God wants to welcome you. Even then, God will be by your side. God just wants you to come openly and honestly. Grace will do the rest. Grace is that strong.
Christ is telling us this day: Your voice matters. You are not alone. You don’t have to be famous or powerful. You can be a young girl from Pakistan. You can be a single woman from first century Palestine. You can be a 21st century resident of Toano, Virginia. You simply have to use what God has given you, sharing your voice, speaking for truth, and trusting that the true judge of justice and love is not finished with this world yet.
“Jesus never ruled like he was expected to rule. He didn’t do it through a sword or an army, a whip or chains. He did it by welcoming the outcast, eating with the sinner, healing the untouchable, and washing his disciple’s feet. He did it by being a servant of love and mercy. And he calls us to do the same.”