Be weird.
Be rude.
Stay alive.

This is the oft repeated mantra of one Ashley Flowers, the host of the acclaimed podcast series Crime Junkies.

Each week on her show, Ashley explores a different criminal case –  some recent, some decades old; some solved, some unsolved – and over the course of 45 minutes or so she lays out for listeners all of the case’s grisly details.

We’re talking murders. We’re talking missing persons. We’re talking serial killers. That sorta stuff. The show is as fascinating as it is unsettling.

In any case, Ashley came up with this mantra after years of doing research for her podcast, and before that years of volunteering for a nonprofit tipline that would receive anonymous tips from the public to aid in police investigations.

What she came to realize was that in a good chunk of these cases, had a witness or the victim themselves simply caused a scene when they first felt that something was off about a particular person or about a particular situation, they might very well still be alive.

For example, if you’re at a bar, and some creep is giving you the heebie jeebies because he’s staring at you and following you around –Don’t just ignore him. And definitely don’t try to sneak out to your car alone to get away!

No, trust that gut feeling, ignore whatever social pressure that you feel to appear calm, and cool, and collected, to seem dignified and proper and without shame or embarrassment,  stand up on a table, point your finger at that sucker and yell:

“Hey everybody this creep is following me around and freaking me out!”

Be weird.
Be rude.
Stay alive. 

That is some sage life advice right there.

Oddly enough, in this passage from the 11th chapter of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus offers us strikingly similar advice!

He presents this metaphorical situation. He says, “Imagine that you have a neighbor. And imagine that, one night at midnight you go knocking on that neighbor’s door to borrow some food because some of your friends have shown up out of the blue and you have nothing for them to nosh on”.

“That neighbor of yours,” says Jesus, “ain’t gonna open their door for you! If they have any common sense at all they’ll shout out their window: ‘Sorry buddy. Ma door is already locked! Ma kids are already tucked in! Take a hike!'”

“No,” says Jesus, “that neighbor that you are so rudely waking up in the MIDDLE of the night will not give you what you desire simply out of sense of friendship.”

But, if you ignore whatever social pressure that you feel to appear calm, and cool, and collected, to seem dignified and proper and without shame or embarrassment, KEEP ON KNOCKING, that poor, pestered neighbor will eventually give you as much food as you want  just to get you go away.”

“As it is with that pestered neighbor so too it is with God.”

Be weird. Be rude. And go to God in prayer.

Luke 11:1-13 (New Living Translation)

Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

Jesus said, “This is how you should pray:

“Father, may your name be kept holy.
    May your Kingdom come soon.
Give us each day the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
    as we forgive those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation.”

Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him,‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.

“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

“You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

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But if we take a step back here, 

we ALSO see 

that Jesus’ advice has a much wider application

than just for how we pray. 

Because if Jesus is inviting us 

– in our pursuit of good things–

– good for us, good for the world –

to be shameless towards GOD

the Creator and Sovereign of the Universe!

how much more

how much more

should we feel invited

to be utterly shameless towards other PEOPLE

as we pursue what is good.

As my favorite preacher, 

a guy named Timmy Keller,

is fond of saying,

So long as you have the king’s favor

who cares what the peasants think.  

And THIS

this is just soo soo important 

for us to really take to heart,

to really believe

to really live into

Now more than ever.

Because if the past year has taught us anything

it is that

the rich and the powerful in this world

feel no social pressure AT ALL

to do what is dignified and proper

to do what is right or good

and without a modicum of shame or embarrassment

they will seek their personal gain 

at the expense of… everyone else. 

Remember back

at the very outset of this pandemic.

When our elected officials, our senators

both Democrat and Republican

received a security briefing about the looming health crisis

and rather than using that information 

to sound alarm bells and potentially save lives

they instead used that information

to rearrange their stock portfolios 

and make tens of millions of dollars for themselves,

while publicly downplaying the seriousness the virus.

Remember that?

Then, as the pandemic raged on,

and 8 million Americans fell BELOW the poverty line

and tens of millions of Americans gell BEHIND 

in their rent and mortgage payments 

and now face eviction whenever the moratorium expires. 

At that very same time

Jeff Bezos added $50 billion dollars 

to his already vast fortune.

Which would be impressive 

it would be a very impressive thing indeed 

IF IF

Amazon wasn’t didn’t rank near the top of the list 

of employers in the US

whose workers need both Food Stamps and Medicaid 

just to survive. 

Meaning, that Mr. Bezos 

pocketed $50 billion dollars this past year,

not just because you couldn’t resist

hitting that Buy Now button every 30 seconds 

but because through our tax dollars  

you and I are paying so that his employees 

can have food to eat and access to healthcare

while HE pays them only starvation wages. 

[PAUSE]

The rich and the powerful are utterly shameless 

in the pursuit of personal gain,

at the expense of you and me and everyone else.

If nothing else, the pandemic has taught us this.

CONCLUSION

And I admit

it’s an intimidating thing to 

face up to the abject greed and corruption 

of those who pull the levers of power

and those who sit upon endless piles of money.

So now, more than ever,

we need to remember and be emboldened 

by the shamelessness 

of our forebears in faith.

We need to remember the shamelessness of Mary 

who accepted God’s calling on life

and became an unwed teenage mother

at a time when that sort of thing

could get you stoned to death.

Despite the mockery and derision and ostracism

that no doubt came her way

she held her head high.

And it is because of the shamelessness of Mary 

that Jesus Christ was born into the world

We need to remember the shamelessness of the Apostle Paul

who carried the gospel 

throughout the ancient world 

establishing churches everywhere he went.

Despite being beaten and thrown in jail and almost drowned

Paul held his head high.

And it is because of the shamelessness of Paul

that Christianity was transformed 

from an obscure sect 

of another backwater middle eastern religion

into a faith that today claims as adherents 

half of the world’s population.

We need to remember the shamelessness 

of the Pilgrims and Puritans

who, to be fair, 

were very much into shame in some ways,

but they were shameLESS in their pursuit of God’s truth.

In the face great of religious persecution in England, 

they held their heads high.

And it is because of the shamelessness of the Pilgrim and Puritans

that the Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded 

and religious freedom became a bedrock principle

of our great nation. 

And we need to remember the shamelessness 

of American heroes like John Lewis.

who challenged the dehumanizing laws of segregation

by sitting in at lunch counters in Nashville

with other melanated children of God 

Despite the threat of arrest and of violence and of death

Lewis held his head high.

And it is because of the shamelessness of Lewis 

and others like him

that our nation began its long struggle toward racial equality

a struggle still carried on today by other shameless activists

like our own Crystal Chandler

who will be leading a discussion TONIGHT

on the movie Hidden Figures.

Details available in the chat box. 

Friends, the rich and powerful

have always always always been shameless in their pursuit

of personal gain at the expense of everyone else.

But what moves the needle in the other direction

is, and always has been,

 the shamelessness of God’s people

working in the name love.

So friends,

Be weird.

Be rude. 

Stay alive.

Friends,

Be weird.

Be rude.

Go to God in prayer.

Friends

Be weird.

Be rude.

And change our world for better.

Would the

weird, rude, and shameless people

say, AMEN?