You Are Somebody

Jesus said, “On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” (John 14:20)  Jesus in you!  AMAZING!  Here is a story told by Thomas Long about how two children came to know “Jesus in you!” You are somebody!

The late Howard Thurman, who was dean of the chapel at Boston University, the first African American professor at that institution, and a mentor and counselor to the leaders of the civil rights movement, attributed much of his own sense of dignity and vocation to his grandmother, a former slave, who repeated to her young grandson a message she had heard in worship.  Over and over she told him, “You are somebody!”  She was bearing witness to her grandson of a truth she heard in church.

Once when traveling through the South in the 1950’s, Thurman and his family stopped to rest for a few moments at a park along the highway.  His daughters immediately spotted a swing set on a playground in the park and pulled their father toward it to swing.  They couldn’t read the sign that warned that this playground was for “white only by state law.”  Sadly, but patiently, Thurman told his little girls that they could not play there and explained why.  This was their first real encounter with the cruelty of racism, and they instantly burst into tears.  So, much as his grandmother had done when he was a child, Thurman gathered his children into a warm embrace and said to them, “Listen, you little girls are somebody.  In fact, you are so important and so valuable to God and so powerful that it takes the governor, the lieutenant governor, and the whole state police force to keep you little girls off those swings!”

This week’s gospel reading from John 14 promises that the Holy Spirit “will be in you.”  This is the presence of God – in us, the presence of Jesus – in us, by the presence of the Holy Spirit – in us.  YOU ARE SOMEBODY!

(Testimony: Talking Ourselves into Being Christian, T. G. Long, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004, p. 64)

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