Birthdays and Rainbows
I have made you; you are my servant; Israel, I will not forget you. – Isaiah 44:21
A man with lots of tattoos walked on to the A train at 42nd street. He was carrying a large Carvel ice cream birthday cake. It was not yet dripping but you could tell it was going to. He had a great smile on his face. He had a handful of plastic spoons.
The car wasn’t that crowded. Maybe 20 of us. He invited us to celebrate his birthday with him and gave us all a spoon. A few people declined. Most jumped in. He was so glad to be born. God was glad he was born. God had not forgotten him. Plus, he helped me with my perennial philosophical problem about a personal God for my personal person. Clearly, every now and then I get invited to be God’s proxy.
I want my intimates to remember my birthday. I’m not sure I want God to remember my birthday. God has so much else to do, as I see it. Rainbows. Dawn. Dusk. Thunderstorms. Feeding me and my kids and my friends and the kids and friends of people I don’t know and never will. Accuse me of being one of those Christians who believes God wound the clock and did so with miracles embedded and then stepped away. Think of me as a believer in evolution.
Simultaneously, I don’t really know what God is giving up for this Lenten season, but I know it is not me. That’s why it was so great to be delivered from these big kinds of thoughts for a small one on the subway.
Deliver us, O God, from philosophical problems we cannot solve and send us some sweet ones we can really enjoy. Amen.
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her most recent book is I Heart Francis: Letters to the Pope from an Unlikely Admirer.