It’s one of the most iconic phrases in American television. “(NAME HERE), COME ON DOWN!”
What happens next?
As you may know, The Price is Right camera then pans cattywampus over the studio audience to find the named individual. They are usually locate-able because they’re super-excitedly jumping up out of their seat. They continue jumping non-stop, screaming, hugging whomever they pass as they journey down the aisle until they land at the lip of the stage.
Sometimes they’re even body-surfed!
They then embark on an odyssey of guessing prices of a variety of household items – dog food, flat screen tv’s, macaroni and cheese, trips to Croatia – that sort of thing. Winning any item makes contestants who have come on down jump, scream, hug, and contort their bodies even more. Winning a car can turn these contestants into veritable area rugs. They are prone to transforming to a nearly liquid state if their cost-guessing wins them the Grand Showcase.
People coming on down on The Price is Right are pretty much always morphed into big balls of uninhibited, over-the-top enthusiasm and joy.
And we, the viewing audience, enjoy watching all this coming on down because it’s greatly amusing. What fools some people will make of themselves! And over nothing but a bunch of new stuff?! Ridiculous!!
The Comic Lens would like to suggest this is how God is oft depicted in our Bible.
That’s right – God is a wildly uninhibited jumping, hooping, hollering and hugging deity coming on down! He might even appreciate even being body-surfed if there were strapping college-aged beings who could lift and pass Him!
What in the world would make us say that??
Well, for one thing, in the Bible, God is constantly descending to earth to be with His people. Whether it’s to learn what’s up with Adam and Eve, or it’s to confer with Moses and accompany the Hebrews on their exodus through the wilderness, or it’s to wrestle all night with Jacob so the latter can win his new name of Israel, or it’s to incarnate as Jesus, or – as we hear in this this week’s lectionary epistle reading from Revelation 21 – it’s to come on down to live on earth with His people forever and ever at the End Time.
This last (and climactic) instance of coming down is perhaps especially surprising – shocking even – because we’ve been led to believe the Bible teaches God destroys the world completely at the End Time and all the righteous go up to live with God forever and ever behind Pearly Gates.
After all is said and done, we assume the Earth proves disposable and, finally, is disposed.
The end of the Book of Revelation is all about God coming down to be one with Creation. The text does qualify that it’s a newly created world God descends into – a “new heaven and new earth” -- but it’s “created world” nonetheless.
And for ancient hearers, this is an unspeakably wacky and undignified thing for a deity to do. God might as well be tackily bounding and bouncing down the studio aisle in the hopes of receiving brand new radar ranges and handbags.
In ancient thought, the “created world” was considered far inferior to the spiritual one. In fact, there were wide swaths of the Christian community that refused to believe Jesus was connected to the God of the Old Testament. That OT God was responsible for and only capable of bringing forth just a lot of junky stuff – the natural world, our bodies, that sort of thing. The whole point of existence on this lowly plane was to be granted escape from “down here” in order to ascend to the glorious “up there.”
How then could the Revelation at the end of the Bible suggest God would want to indulge in the stuff of “down here”? And for all of eternity? This is way more puzzling than even the embarrassing behavior of Price is Right contestants!
Maybe the Bible wants once again to remind its readers that God actually cherishes the stuff of creation. God crazily cherishes it. Even though it is messy, smelly, sometimes difficult and embarrassing to deal with. This is the world God wants to live in more than any other. So should we. Even if we relegate a lot of it to the value of bedspreads and Brill-o Pads.
We’re to love this world with lots of laughter, enthusiasm and over-the-top joy! After all, as I’ve said numerous times, one of the characteristics of comedy is its prevalence of “low characters.” And here we have the climactic example of a God who can’t wait to go low, even lower! “Humor” and “humus” are most definitely related. It’s the earthy stuff of life that God most wants to relate to us through. And over and over again and in all sorts of zany ways.
Maybe it’s hard to believe, but that’s what our Bible says!
God is coming on down…when the time is right!!! (After all the cattywampus stuff in Revelation 1-20….)