“What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us?
Just a stranger on the bus?
Trying to make his way home.” 1
One of my favorite Christmas songs isn’t really a Christmas holiday song at all. It’s a song called, “One of Us”. Composed in 1995 by Eric Bazilian and recorded by Joan Osborne, it was the theme song of the Emmy-nominated 2003 TV series, “Joan of Arcadia”. 2
The show is about a teenage girl named Joan who is visited by God disguised as everyday people. She is given assignments by God that eventually bring healing and grace into the lives of others.
The lyrics of the song pose a question:
“What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home” 1
I see this as a Christmas song because it reminds me of the Incarnation of God into our world as Jesus Christ, and that God is traveling alongside each of us as we journey through life.
God so loved the world that he came to live among us. He chose to ride the bus of life with us; to live, love, laugh, weep, suffer and die with us. God entered our time and space just to show us the way to get home.
That way is ‘love’. Jesus didn’t come to put burdens on our backs, or to appease an angry God. He didn’t come to give us a bunch of new rules and regulations. He came to teach us how to truly love and forgive.
When Jesus was asked what we had to do to have eternal life, he gave a simple answer: “Love God with your whole heart and soul, and love others – all others – the same way.” That’s what the Incarnation is all about. That’s what Christmas is all about. It’s not really about giving and getting presents. It’s about love and forgiveness.
When you and I were conceived, God put a little piece of Godself into each of us. That little piece of God is our immortal soul, it is our true self: -it is the presence of Christ within us. And life – life – is the journey of our soul back home to God. It is our bus ride to eternal life. But we don’t make that journey alone. God is always riding the bus with us. All that God asks in return is that we love and forgive each other as God loves and forgives us.
As we move through this final week of Advent, let’s ask ourselves how well we are doing with that. Are we kind and forgiving, or do we carry a grudge? Are we inclusive, non-judgmental and accepting, or do we distance ourselves from others because they are different or don’t measure up to our moral or political standards? Are the doors to our heart always open, or are there family members and friends whom we have shut out of our lives?
As each of us prepares to celebrate Christmas, the Incarnation of God into our world, let us reopen any doors to our heart that may have been shut; and let us reach out with love, forgiveness and kindness to all those who are riding with us on the bus of life.
1/ Eric Bazilian. “One of Us”. Recorded by Joan Osborne. Relish. Produced by Rick Chertoff. Mercury Records, March 1995.
2/ “Joan of Arcadia”. CBS Productions. Barbara Hall Productions. Sony Pictures. 2003 – 2005.
Readers of this blog might enjoy these books by Deacon Lex. Both are available on Amazon.com:
Just to Follow My Friend: Experiencing God’s Presence in Everyday Life
The Gospel of You, The Gospel of Me: Making Christ Present in Everyday Life
Synchronicity as the Work of the Holy Spirit: Jungian Insights for Spiritual Direction and Pastoral Ministry