Uncovering Jesus

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.

House sign

I really like religious accessories. I love going into religious stores of all sorts and looking at the stuff that goes along with various traditions. I’m also amazed by how much of this stuff is available online.

I was considering buying a mezuzah. While I’m not Jewish, I like the idea of a symbol that is a reminder of our shared commitment to serving God. I have found the prayers used for putting it up and all the specifics for how to do it.

So then I started to look around. The simplest place is online, and I discovered that Amazon has several mezuzah cases. Some are quite simple. Some are quite expensive. While looking I found one that specified it was a Messianic Jewish mezuzah. I kind of liked that idea. I don’t want to give the wrong impression to people, and this seemed like a happy medium.

But then I didn’t really like the symbol. There is a menorah, a Star of David, and a fish, all joined together. I liked that, but because the orientation the fish is upside down and at the bottom I wasn’t hot on it. For me, all the symbols have to be equal and can’t “read” as lesser or greater than.

So this was a drawback. Then I thought about the scroll on the inside. It is known as a “klaf” and it has to be done in a certain way and by a specially trained person to be kosher. I figured that even if I’m not Jewish, if I’m going to use a Jewish religious item I should do it correctly. I wondered how I was going to get a scroll. Turns out Amazon has those too. Who knew?

But then I started thinking a little bit more about this. The words will be sealed up inside this case. Even if they weren’t, I couldn’t read them, or at least not yet, because they are in Hebrew.

For the same reason that the Catholic mass is no longer done in Latin but is instead in the language of the land, I should get something in English, and have it visible. Hiding it away doesn’t make any sense for my purposes and actually goes against my philosophy.

So then I switched gears again. Then I started looking for a plaque that said what I wanted, and I could mount it at the door. The simplest thing is something that says “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (from Joshua 24:15) Yes, Amazon has those too, in a variety of fonts and finishes.

And then I stopped.

This is someone who has realized that you don’t need to have a priest to have Communion. It doesn’t have to be blessed by a specially trained or consecrated person. None of the disciples were ordained. None of them had a master’s degree from a seminary. I suspect that many of them were illiterate. Jesus came to take the power away from the authorities and gave it away freely to everybody. Jesus didn’t come to create an exclusive club. Jesus says to everybody “You’re in” and he throws open the doors to the party, much to the consternation of the powers that be.

Not only do you not need a priest to consecrate it, you don’t have to have any special supplies. You can celebrate it with the bread and wine you have on hand, or crackers and grape juice for that matter. It isn’t the symbol that matters. It is what it points to. If you realize this you’ve unlocked a door.

So I don’t need to buy a sign saying “As for my house, we will serve the Lord.” I could make my own.

Sometimes it takes me a while to come all the way around back to myself. Sometimes I get distracted by things. Sometimes the things become more important than what they represent.