765 Take, O take me as I am, summon out what I should be. Set your seal upon my heart and live in me
Day 765 Wednesday, April 20, 2022
Take, O take me as I am, summon out what I should be. Set your seal upon my heart and live in me”
Take me as I am
a little Easter sermon for inside the Denver women's prison, PLUS an amazing song...
By Nadia Bolz-Weber
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked in fear, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”
In the late 2000s, it was still illegal in Denver to run a needle exchange for IV drug users.
One of my favorite moments during Holy Week at House for All Sinners and Saints in those days was when on Maundy Thursday we would sing a song that repeated these lines
“Take O take me as I am, summon out what I should be. Set your seal upon my heart and live in me." We sang this beautiful chant over and over.
But what made it so powerful was that we sang this while assembling bleach kits for the underground needle exchange. We sang take o take me as I am while putting cookers and condoms and bleach in sterile kits for outreach workers to give to IV drug users on the Denver streets.
Take O take me as I am indeed.
We took this action which says to active drug addicts “you are loved – as who you are right now” while we ourselves asked God to take us as WE are. But God indeed takes us as we are with or with our asking – we just ask in that song that we may believe it to be true.
(Here's the song from YouTube)
I mention this because there are two things that stand out for me about our gospel text for today - the post-resurrection visit that Jesus makes to his disciples.
#1 - God taking us as we are.
See, I suspect that the disciples, having denied, betrayed, and abandoned Jesus - were really wallowing in their shortcomings that evening of the resurrection. It wouldn’t be a stretch to think they were perhaps passing around blame and justifications for the death of Jesus – I can almost hear their conversation – one of them saying “clearly was all the fault of the demagogues who condemned Jesus, what could we do?” and another saying and “maybe if Judas hadn’t sold him out this wouldn’t have happened” someone else saying , “look, there just wasn’t enough room for us at the foot of the cross with all those women there”… on and on.
It’s kind of what we do when we know we’ve really blown it; we either tend to make our failures about someone else or we try to make everything about our failures – both of which are just different forms of narcissism.
The doors were locked that Easter night for fear of what might get in, but the biggest danger came from inside the room, not out. They locked themselves in with all their blame and despair and shame. And Jesus will have none of that. I mean, the guy came to proclaim release to the captives and freedom to the oppressed.
So it is here, sitting amidst fear and locked doors, amidst blame and justifications that the disciples encounter the risen Christ, he crashes their pity party and messes everything up in a way that only an incarnated crucified and resurrected God can.
Notice that the text doesn’t say “and when they had repented of what complete asses they had been; and when they had perfected their faith and the purity of their doctrine; and when they had finally became good people, THEN they were worthy of being visited by Jesus.”
No. He took them as they were. Full of fear and I suspect more than a little shame. Because it takes more than locked doors and low self-esteem to keep Jesus out. In fact, when we are at the point in life when our failings and shortcomings are so unfiltered…when we are at the point in life when we have blown it completely, when we are so undeniably aware our need for God’s grace – THAT is when Jesus comes to us and says “My Child, don’t be afraid of what I have already defeated.”
Because in the most uneven exchange in history Christ takes all our failings and exchanges them for his own blessedness. He says,
“You are mine now. And so is all that busted down junk in your life.”
He said to them: Peace be with you.
Receive the Holy Spirit and proclaim the forgiveness of sins.
Tell the story.
Tell the story.
#2: Isn’t it just like Jesus to go to some pretty heroic lengths just to remind us we are forgiven?