In 1975 the show “A Chorus Line” opened on Broadway. I was 12 years old (feel free to do the math or just come to Pastor Cheri’s 50th Birthday Party this week). My sister who was a college student, a theater major, saw the show and bought me the cassette tape of the music as a gift. I played that little cassette tape until I wore it out. I loved the music. I was not the only one. It was the longest running show on Broadway until some little show about “cats” came along and beat it. The show was revived on Broadway in 2006 and came to Toledo a couple of weeks ago. I took my 13 year old daughter to see it and we both loved it.
The show is the story of hopeful dancers, some young, some are getting older, who are auditioning to be in the chorus line for a Broadway show. After the first cut 17 dancers remain, and the entire show consists of the director Zach auditioning these 17 for 8 spots in the chorus line, four men & four women. But this is no ordinary audition.
Besides having them sing and dance. He wants to hear their stories. He wants to be sure that they will be able to work together as a unit and so he wants to get to know them. And so we hear their stories, their hopes and dreams. As you can imagine, they all just want to dance. How many people go to New York from small towns across America, hoping for that big break, and never even make it to the chorus line. Some of the dancers are getting a little old for the chorus line and they are wondering what they are going to do with the rest of their lives—open a dance studio perhaps?
We begin to hear their gut wrenching stories of why they started to dance: because their homes lives were awful and the only time they got dad’s attention was when he took her to the ballet. Everything was beautiful at the ballet. Mom and dad were not fighting at the ballet. The shouting of Mom & Dad was not there at the dance studio.
There is one character who had a chance to be a star. She was once pulled out of the chorus line to be the star, but she could not make it, so now she is just begging the director to put her in the chorus so she can dance. She is just desperate for any job so she can dance.
There is this song, “One” is the name of the song. It is about the star in the show they are going to put on. Because, let’s be real. No one really wants to be in the chorus line. We all want to be THE ONE, don’t we?
One singular sensation, every little step she takes
One thrilling combination, every move that she makes
One smile and suddenly nobody else will do
You know you'll never be lonely with you-know-who
One moment in her presence and you can forget the rest
One moment in her presence and you can forget the rest
she's the one
Don’t you want to be the One? In the finale of the show they sing about this one. Of course, none of them get to be the one because they are in the Chorus.
There can only be one “one” in the show. The rest are the chorus. But we want to be the “one” don’t we?
I mean, sure, some of us are shy, and we don’t want to be the center of attention, but don’t we all want to be the best at something? Don’t you think we all want to be the best at some little thing in the world? Like the best at playing “words with friends” or the best at fixing cars, the fastest runner on the team, or the one who cooks the most amazing dinner for your friends?
I believe that just about all of us are on search to find someone who will tell us we are the one. Or we are on a search for a way to prove we are the best. We are trying to prove we are the best at work. Or we are trying to achieve some goal so we can finally feel like we are the one at something.
The only problem is, we can never find the perfect person who will tell us we are “the one” because there are no perfect people. And when we try to be the best one at work, or achieve some goal like run a marathon, or win a contest, it is never going to be enough. Did you hear about the guys who won the lottery and celebrated by buying drugs. They did something and blew up their house. It did not work out so well for them. The truth is, there is always another contest, and always another job promotion, or another degree to earn. It never ends. Even if we get to be the one for a short time, it will not last.
There is, however, a way to prevent ourselves from getting caught up in this never ending treadmill of trying to be in the “one” in a world where we can never really be the “one.”
You see, to God, you are always the one. You are each, already the one that God created you to be. Let me say that again, you are already the one that God created you to be. When we are born, God has already said “yes” to us.
We don’t have to earn God’s love, or God’s approval. God has already stamped us with a big “yes” from the day we were born. Our parents may have claimed that yes for us in our baptism. We claim it again in when we make our profession of faith, when we say “yes” back to God.
Listen again to the Second Letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth (II Corinthians 1:17-22 from The Message paraphrase for those who are following along on web).
20-22 Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In Jesus, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting God’s Yes within us. By God’s Spirit God has stamped us with God’s eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what God is destined to complete.
God sent us Jesus to show us God’s “yes.” God affirms us and puts God’s “yes” inside us. You see, somewhere, deep inside, in the place that is untarnished by the world, we know that we are beloved children of our Maker. That “yes” is deep inside us. I talked last week about reclaiming the words of grace that are that are our mother tongue as people of God. “Yes” is another one of these important words.
In the book that some of us are reading during Lent, the writer, Paul Nixon, uses the image of an election. If we were running for election, God’s vote is the only one that really counts and God always votes “YES.” This is what Paul writes:
“God’s YES vote is not a mandate for us to go now and live any way we please. Rather, God’s YES vote is a mandate to live as God pleases, regardless of popular opinion, even regardless of church opinion. God’s YES vote is a mandate to live knowing that our potential in life is far beyond what we may have believed. God’s YES vote is a mandate to feel worthy of blessing even when we know that we have blown it, even when we know that we have messed up and failed. I am worthy of blessing, not because of how well I have lived, but because God has cast a vote for me, and declared that I am a winner.” (Mother Tongue: Immersing Yourself in the Language of Grace by Paul Nixon, copyrighted material.)
God has already declared you the winner.
God says “yes” to us: “You are the “one” I created you to be. So go be the best ‘you’ that you can be. You don’t have to work so hard competing with the rest of the world. Just be you.” God says: “I love you. It does not matter what anyone else thinks of you. Just be the person that I made you to be.”
The most important thing we can do in our life as followers of Jesus is to accept God’s YES for us. When we accept this yes, life is so much better. I don’t mean to say that we will not encounter sorrow or conflict. What I mean to say, is that whatever life throws us, we have the grace and strength to face it, because we know that we belong to God and we have God “yes” vote. There is so much freedom in knowing that we have God’s “yes.” There is so much freedom in knowing we have been picked by God and are God’s YES vote.
I want to leave you with an affirmation of God’s yes. There is a children’s song that I think you probably all know. Let’s sing it as a reminder that we are all children at heart and that the words are true for us at every age in our lives.
Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me
Little ones to him belong
They are weak but he is strong
Yes Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me, Yes Jesus loves me
The bible tells me so.
Do you need a community that reminds you of God’s YES for you? If not, and if you’re near the corner of Conant Street and The Anthony Wayne Trail, come check us out. We’re here Sundays at 10:30 AM in the back theater at the Maumee Indoor Theater and out in the world the rest of the week. Come join us as Dig Deep, Reach Wide, and Change the World by Following Jesus’ example.