My husband just returned from NAPTE, the leading global television industry conference held this year in Miami, at the famous Fontainebleau hotel in the heart of South Beach, where he went to distribute a feature film for his company about the Holocaust. He called me from the conference a few times to share some funny stories.
First, he got a chuckle out of the show promoters from China who caught on to the American way, running around the conference room floor yelling, “Happy Hour at 4:00, Happy Hour at 4:00 at our booth”! Then came an entourage from Beverly Hills throwing thousands of dollar bills in the air as they paved a double-dealing way through the crowd. A a short, edgy Asian woman in traditional Chinese dress led the way, followed by four scantily dressed, big breasted show girls, a tall, handsome African American man, a slick guy that looked like a rock promoter, and a shorter Italian man — my husband wasn’t sure if he was the producer, or from the mafia, or both – wearing a fedora hat and three piece suit with a handkerchief peaking from his chest pocket.
Catching my husband’s eye, the handsome African American stopped to talk. As they chatted, my husband turned the conversation toward God, his most preferred topic of conversation. Yet, overhearing such a pious conversation amidst the profane backdrop, the Asian woman lured the young man away, snakes slithering out of her pupils. The young man still captivated, clung to my husband, “Man, I need to talk to you more”, he said, as he was dragged away handing my husband his card.
I thought about Jesus and the a group of his unlikely followers in the Gospel of Mark from The Message translation:
“Later Jesus and his disciples were at home having supper with a collection of disreputable guests. Unlikely as it seems, more than a few of them had become followers. The religion scholars and Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company and lit into his disciples: “What kind of example is this, acting cozy with the riffraff?”
Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit.”
I thought about the convention as a microcosm of the world, too often a carnival of promotion, spinning with greed, glamour, hype and hope toward a reckless road of wrong pursuits. I thought about how as God lovers, we go out into the thick of the world in our suits and ties, heals and pearls, or with babies on our hips, as lamp holders on a dusty hill lighting the way through the narrow gate for those with ears to hear and eyes to see. Sometimes we simply plant a seed of love in empty hearts, or speak a simple, subversive truth, a sweet kernel of Godly wisdom that pops hope in the ache of a yearning soul.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you. – Ephesians 5:1
Some, sitting in limousines with cash-thick wallets and sipping champagne with schemes and big dreams, need us – real bad.
Just like maybe, at one time, we needed that lamp holder, who, shepherded by grace, entered into our lives, shining God’s light on our dark-spotted souls, leading us toward a radically new life.
And so each of us enter the narrow gate into the beloved kingdom of God, a new and promised land of love, peace, and freedom from such desperate pursuits. This kingdom is casting central, filled with an unlikely cast of characters from Beverly Hills, to China, to the streets of New York, both the good fellas, and the bad, we’re all there — for Jesus came for the lost.
Later during the week at the conference, at 7a.m. My husband heads down to the poolside, surrounded by the big buck cabanas purchased by the TV studio honchos, for morning coffee and some fruit. T.J Jakes, one of the leading megachurch pastors in the United States, catches my husband’s eye – my husband often mistaken for Dustin Hoffman, Sean Penn, or an older version of Matthew McConaughey. T.J. calls out to my husband, ‘Hey, I know you, I know you’. The TV executive bystanders joke — “it’s because he looks like a movie star”. “No, No”, Mr. Jakes says, “it’s not that, I know you.”
We reflect later. I tell my husband, “It’s the lamp he recognized”, the light, God’s great spotlight that shined through the darkness at NAPTE.
In the same way, let your light shine before others. – Matthew 5:16
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