by Laura Herzog
The Second Tuesday of Lent
[James De Koven, Priest, 1879]
Jeremiah 2:1-13 Psalms 61, 62, 68 Romans 1:16-25 John 4: 43-54
Growing up, one of our favorite Sunday school songs was “God is a Surprise.” The irreverent lyrics describe the Lord working in mysterious ways and through unlikely heroes, from Moses’ burning bush to Peter and the “straggly little band” of disciples. The chorus is:
Well, surprise, surprise, God is a surprise,
Right before your eyes.
It’s baffling to the wise.
Surprise, surprise God is a surprise,
Open up your eyes and see.
My husband, John, and I went with other St. John’s pilgrims to the Holy Land in October. As we made our way through the hustle and bustle of Jerusalem’s Old City, we passed a shop called Alabama: Heart of Dixie. (According to a Birmingham News article, the owner lived in Alabama for 10 years and felt homesick when he returned to Jerusalem. When given the family business to run, he named it Heart of Dixie to keep Alabama on his mind.)
Needless to say, we were surprised by this nod to Southern culture. It was particularly meaningful because my late brother, Trey, was a huge Bama fan. I expected to be reminded of Trey in the Holy Land. (As C. S. Lewis wrote of his late wife in A Grief Observed, “Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.”) But I did not expect it to be relevant to Alabama!
This reminds me that we can see God’s hand in surprising places and people. We must only open up our eyes and see.