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You Had One Job Musing

Have you ever seen any of those email or social media posts titled "You Had One Job"?

"You Had One Job" has become an almost iconic expression used to call attention to perceived obvious blunders made by individuals on the job.

In researching this phrase, it seems to have come out of the 2001 version of the movie Ocean’s Eleven. The film which is about a group of thieves planning a robbery includes the line - "You had one job." It is said by one of the main characters Basher Tarr (played by Don Cheadle), who is scolding his team for missing a step that singlehandedly leads to the failure of an otherwise well-planned vault heist.

These “You had one job” pictures or stories usually bring a smile since most of them are simple errors and usually cause no harm or real injury. They are things like putting the fresh corn in front of the sign in the grocery store that says fresh watermelon. Or putting door handles on the wrong side of doors. Putting the midfield logo on the 40 yard line. Or literally writing “Just Put Happy Birthday” on the top of the cake.

I think my favorite is the one where the asphalt painters misspell school as “scohol” in big yellow letters to let motorists know where the school zone began.

Lutheran Bishop Stephen Bouman tells his own “you had one job moment” that actually led to a more profound truth than was initially intended.

On a trip to the Holy Land he was standing behind an altar inside a small crypt chapel of the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. Tradition says that this is the very place where Mary heard that she was going to have a baby. Bishop Bouman saw some Latin words carved into the altar, Verbum camo factum est, “The Word was made flesh.” But then he noticed that there was one other little word in Latin. That word: h–i–c. Hic. “Here.” Verbum camo hic factum est. “The Word was made flesh here.”

The guide on the trip said the inscriber made a mistake. That whoever authorized that inscription meant to say “Here the Word was made Flesh” referring to that specific location in side the crypt chapel. But with the location of hic in the middle of the phrase, the Latin Grammar rules made it say “The Word was made Flesh Here” referring not to that very specific place but to our world – earth.

This grammar error accidently proclaimed a great truth. It spoke directly of the incarnation. Incarnation is one of those theological terms that means God became flesh here on earth, for all of us. John proclaims it in the early verses of his Gospel when he talks about the word being made flesh.

The Incarnation means that we can speak of the “hicness” of God, the nearness of God. Incarnation means that God walks with us on earth, and that if we are part of the family of God, we are members of the kingdom not just in heaven but anywhere, including right here on earth.

Because of the incarnation we are able to see glimpses of Jesus in our everyday life. Joan Osborne had a hit 1990’s classic song entitled What if God was One of Us?

In discussing the song and the doctrine of the incarnation, Presbyterian pastor and writer Rev. Rebecca Gresham-Kesner pens the following:

This song explores a deeper question within all of us, where can we see the embodied God in the here and now. Jesus has been gone for 2000 years and we want to see something that reflects the essence of God at work in this world. I suspect Ms. Osborne was on to something — it is possible to see God in the face of a stranger. While we are not God, we hold within us the breath of God, the Holy Spirit. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this world. Our very faith is embodied in the bodies we believe were created with intention by God. While much of what we believe happens in our head space and in existential conundrums we work out throughout our lives, it is with our bodies that we live our faith. It is in the physical work of feeding people, in the labor of loving the people of God, in the many ways we respond to faith and serve humanity that our faith is embodied beyond words or thoughts.

If we pay attention, we’ll find little reminders of the incarnation everywhere we look. Indeed, we can see the face of God in a stranger on the bus. In the church volunteer who never quits. In kindhearted people paying it forward in the drive-thru line. In the friends that come alongside us when our lives fall apart. In the person who picks up litter. In the family that adopts kittens. In the face of a kid who splits their dessert with a hungry friend. We see this embodiment of faith in our beloved communities where we care for one another. Where we take seriously the call to live in community that desires the best interest of everyone over the individual. We welcome each other into the fold, we journey together toward our home, reunited with the divine and along the way we serve our communities leaving the world a little better than we found it.

May we seek to be and to see the incarnation in the world. Perhaps that really is the one job we have.

Alleluia Amen.


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