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‘Waiter, I’ll have what he’s having’


Preacher: Isaiah’s transformation is evidence that we too can claim God’s anointing

April 4, 2019

The spirit of the Lord is upon me, Isaiah confidently tells readers in the 61st chapter of the book that bears his name, because God has anointed the prophet to bring good news to the oppressed, release of prisoners and comfort to all who mourn.

The Rev. Alexandra Zareth, recently hired to work on leadership development for leaders of color in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) spoke Wednesday during the chapel service at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville. (Photo by Mike Ferguson)

Is this the same guy, wondered the Rev. Alexandra Zareth, who just a few chapters before had offered up unclean lips as an excuse and had timidly but hopefully voiced what would become the hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”?

“This is a different kind of person. What happened?” she said during a recent chapel service at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville. Then she quoted, with a different pronoun, the most famous line from the 1989 film “When Harry Met Sally”: “Waiter, I’ll have what he’s having.”

“What’s in his coffee?” she said. “I want that.”

A former hospital chaplain, Zareth recently joined the Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries staff, working on leadership development for leaders of color.

“I’ve seen brokenness, and I understand it,” she said of her hospital work, “and so I can claim this anointing, this drenching that covers you completely.

“I’ve heard ‘cancer’ and ‘you have’ in the same sentence. I’ve been there in moments I’ve been terrified,” she said. When she — and Isaiah before her — wonder, “Who’s with me,” God answers that not only are we not forgotten — we’re God’s focus.

God comes “not around you, but to you,” she said.

Maybe Presbyterians working to build a Matthew 25 church can take their cue from Christians in the Global South, where the church is growing fast in part because of adherents’ certainty that “when I was down and out, God came through,” Zareth said.

While we feel the need to take on deep societal problems we find vexing, “that’s a tall order — if you do it alone,” she said.

Our own healing “requires a safe space to heal our issues, and that safe ground is what God provides,” she said. Her invitation: “As we think about rebuilding what’s been devastated for generations, let’s start with ourselves.”

 Mike Ferguson, Editor, Presbyterian News Service

Today’s Focus:  God’s Anointing

Let us join in prayer for: 

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Scott O’Neill, PMA
Asha Ouseph, PMA

Let us pray:

Gracious God, please keep before us the vision of what it means to be disciples. Generations before us have followed your light. May we continue to show love and compassion to people whose voices have long been silenced. Amen.

Daily Readings