It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that my beliefs and opinions regarding the nature of Jesus and the purposes of his life and teachings have changed over the years. As a matter of fact, a few folks have expressed genuine concern that in my journey I have somehow “lost” Jesus. I respect those viewpoints, too—and I disagree with them. While I’m open to the positive and challenging teachings of many faiths, I’m a big fan of the human Jesus and his teachings—although he and those teachings admittedly work my nerves at times. In fact, I’m such a fan of Jesus that I even have a Jesus collection!
I guess I should clarify that last statement by saying I have a Jesus statue collection.
Actually, this collection wasn’t intentional. I received my first Jesus statue when I was in Georgia. A friend of mine with whom I used to work in Houston learned I was preparing to become an ordained minister. So she sent me a hand-painted ceramic Jesus—white, light brown hair, full vestments, visible bleeding heart surrounded with a crown of thorns—the works. Although I’m not a fan of these particular images of Jesus, this statue was her way of seeing Jesus; and since she made it herself, it meant—and still means—a great deal to me. So “White Ceramic Jesus” has traveled with me from Atlanta to Corpus Christi to Brookfield, and now resides in my church office in Virginia.
Then one Christmas in Brookfield, a congregant presented me with a PINK, flocked Jesus bank with a funny note attached regarding how Jesus “saves.” I love “Pink Flocked Jesus” so much he now resides next to “White Ceramic Jesus.” Both statues have been great conversation pieces throughout the years, too.
The following Christmas Richard and I opened our Christmas presents late Christmas evening. There was a package I had brought home from church with just my name on it and no indication as to the giver. I opened the package to find a SILVER GLITTER Jesus bank—and another humorous note about Jesus’ fashion sense. So if you drop by my office one day, don’t be surprised if you see my trinity of Jesus statues.
“OK,’ some of you may be thinking, ‘are you just TRYING to get struck by lightning?” Not at all. You see, for me, these three very different statues of Jesus remind me that there are different aspects to Jesus, and it is important for us to hold those aspects in creative tension. Please allow me to explain.
“White Ceramic Jesus” reminds me that there is a very serious side to Jesus. Let’s face it; it wasn’t easy being Jesus—preaching peace, equitable distribution of wealth and challenging the oppressive status quo (religious and societal)–even when it meant rejection and crucifixion. “White Ceramic Jesus” reminds me that we who call ourselves followers of Jesus are called to continue his work—and that being a follower of Jesus will sometimes involve a certain amount of rejection, change and challenge.
“Pink Flocked Jesus” and “Silver Glitter Jesus” bring smiles to my face as I remember that the life of Jesus was also full of colorful people and included parties and celebrations. I believe Jesus fully lived and loved life. “Pink Flocked and Silver Glitter Jesus” remind me that we who call ourselves followers of Jesus are also called to live, laugh, and love fully.
So, as we move through the “white ceramic,” “pink flocked,” and “silver glitter” times of our lives, may we also rest in the assurance that God is both with and within us in each of those times, just as God was with and within Jesus–and Buddha, and Mohammed and, well, you get the point.
May we learn to live, laugh, and love fully.
Blessings on your journeys!