A little girl was having trouble falling asleep. Her mother read her a story. And then she read her another story. After that, she read her another story. “Now it’s time to go to sleep,” mother said. “But I want you to stay here,” the little girl replied. Mother said, “No, no more stories; it’s time to go to sleep.” To which the little girl replied, “I want Daddy.” Which means, I take it, “This isn’t working on Mom; let’s try Dad.” Well, Daddy was away at work in another state so there was no possibility that Daddy was going to read a story that night. The little girl tried a different tact, “I want you to stay right here, Mommy.” “I’ll just be right there in the other room.” “But I don’t want to be alone,” Little Girl cried. “But Jesus will be with you closer than I am. He’s always with you.” To this the little girl said, “But I want Jesus with skin on.”
Last week my daughter, Lyza, and her family from California came to visit us for six days. It was their first and only trip to see us so far. There were Lyza, and John (her husband), and Irina who is 10. Tolo is 8 years old and little Alexander who is a very, very terrible two years old. I can report I had plenty of practice at being Jesus with skin on.
I had to learn an entirely new language. “I ant uice and eese,” means “I want juice and cheese.” “I ant eesh,” means, “I want to put my shoes on.” Eesh, of course, means shoes. There are other times though when “I ant eesh,” just means “I want this.” “ulumbumfufur,” means “umbrella.” Close enough if you’re two.
I also had an opportunity to put my rusty but as it turned out trusty diaper-changing prowess into practice. And on that occasion it was No. 2. I don’t think there was a liquid ounce of No. 1. It was all No. 2.
On another occasion, Irina and Tolo decided to go out into our backyard and roll down the little grass hill we have back there in bare arms and bare legs. Tolo came out fine. Irinia, however, who is allergic to about 90 percent of the things on this planet, had welts over every square inch of her little arms and legs. Lyza, my daughter and Mama to Irina, spent three days giving our little girl medicine and grandpa, that’s me, spent three days worrying about my daughter and my granddaughter. Tolo, whose skin must be made of elastic iron, probably gave my grass an allergic reaction to himself.
It was absolutely wonderful to have the family come visit us. While they were here, I remembered some things that I had forgotten about. I already told you about learning baby talk, and changing number 2 diapers. But I was also made to recall how Moms and Dads spend about 90 percent of the time following the little ones all over the house or, at least, playing tag team to do so. That’s when the kid is awake. There is, however, a whole ritual devoted to putting that precious little one to bed.
And the rituals actually work—and technology helps. They have little rain sound makers that make it sound like there’s a gentle rain falling, drip, drip, drip. It came to be my turn to put Alexander to bed and so I read him a story from his story book. That didn’t work at all. All it did was make Alexander cry “I ant Papa.” So much for the bed time story. I had to find another way to be Jesus with skin on so I turned on the rain sound maker, turned off the light, and sat down in my comfy chair right next to Alex’s play pen. That did it. That was the trick. Alex rubbed his eyes for a few seconds, cried, and then went in a two step motion first down on his knees and then kerplop down he went on his side. All I could hear then was the gentle dropping of fake rain. I sat there in the dark for a few minutes when Alex rose up on his knees to see if I was still there. I was. So, down he went again. He just wanted Jesus with skin on.
On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit (which is the Holy Spirit of Christ) came down and entered into the disciples of Jesus and everyone of those disciples became a Jesus with skin on. And so down through the ages, each and every believer in Christ Jesus has also become a Jesus with skin on.
When your granddaughter calls you up asking for advice on life and you give her the best advice you have straight from your heart that is now 80 or 90 years old—you’re being Jesus with skin on. When you tell your grown daughter that it’s better to have the family in church because that will help them deal with all that life can throw at you: you are being Jesus with skin on. When you tell your young boy or girl to stop the tractor and go in for a nap because they are too tired at 3:30 in the morning: you’re being Jesus with skin on.
And when you sit by your aging mother’s or father’s bed side at end of life: you’re being Jesus with skin on.
Ever since that Pentecost day two thousand years ago, more and more people have asked the Holy Spirit into their lives to become a living Jesus in this world. Today, there are more than 2 billion confessing Christians. Over two billion Christians…and Christianity remains the fastest growing religion in the world today. You may be assured that the Holy Spirit of Pentecost is at work in the world today. The Holy Spirit of Christ indwelling us is Jesus with skin on.
Listen to the words of the Apostle Paul: 1 Cor 6:19: Do you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own? Again Paul asked the Corinthians’, (1 Cor 3:16) Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that God’s spirit dwells in you?
Indeed, each one of us is Jesus with skin on. Jesus doesn’t care what tribe or group or club or what the color of your skin is: he only cares for you to become another temple of his Holy Spirit and that you become a member of his body which is the church. It was Pentecost Sunday; the day when we celebrate the moment when Christ first began to fill the earth with his most Holy Spirit; the day when he began to make us all Jesus with skin on. Amen.
The writer is the pastor of St. Jacob’s Lutheran and Emmanuel Lutheran churches.