What I’m doing is stripping down everything I’ve been told about Jesus and everything I’ve seen about what church is. It is like I’ve gotten a painting of Jesus that is 2000 years old. The original is underneath many layers. It has been covered in jewels and gold along with dirt and grime. People have added to it what they think needed to be there. They’ve added so much that they can’t even see Jesus anymore.
I’m doing this by reading the Gospels, the words of Jesus. I’m inviting the Holy Spirit in, to help me understand the real meaning behind the words on the page. I’m studying Jewish prayers and rituals to understand the meaning behind the parables. I’m trying to live like Jesus, while at the same time living like someone who has been healed by Jesus. I’m trying to see everyone I meet as if they are Jesus in disguise, just like how the disciples encountered him after he resurrected. I’m trying to remember that Peter not only walked on water, but raised someone from the dead. I’m trying to remember that if he can do that, so can all of us who call upon Jesus as our Lord.
Mostly, I’m creating a sanctuary for Jesus within my heart and within my life. Instead of affixing a mezuzah to the doorpost of my home, I’m affixing it to myself, as a reminder every day, every moment, that God is real, God is alive, and God loves me. I’m inscribing God’s words in my heart through prayer and study every day.
Am I succeeding? Sometimes. Not always. Sometimes I’m so angry and frustrated and upset that I want to yell at everyone and then lock myself in my house. Sometimes all I want to do is give up. And then I remember that even this is part of the journey. I remember that God loves me even when I feel unlovable. And then I remember that it was Jesus that brought that message to me. Then I remember that I need to share that love, that forgiveness with others.
What would make me happy about church? If Jesus showed up, in us, every time. What would make me happy about church would be if we stopped talking about “When Jesus comes again” and we start being real about how Jesus is here, already, right now, with us – as us. We are Christ’s body in this earth. We are how God’s love is made visible.
We are each Mary, who carries the Light of God within her and gives birth to it. We give birth to Jesus every day through our actions of love and compassion and service.
All we have to do is say “Here I am” when God calls us and let God work through us, and with us. We don’t have to be special – God has already made us special. We are each different because that is the way we need to be. We need to stop comparing ourselves to each other, as better or worse. Denominations and different faith traditions need to do the same. We are each different because that is what is needed. We are one in Spirit, and that Spirit will knit us together and create us into One Body that will, that is already, making a difference in the world.
We have to focus on the good, otherwise the bad wins. We have to focus on the goal, or we will be lost on the path.