Dear Church family,
Wednesdays are my day to lead chapel with the Hobson preschoolers. Yesterday we jumped around to a silly song about rain, did our sign language Lord’s Prayer, I taught the Bible lesson (which was on the coming of the Holy Spirit), and we ended on our favorite: the train song (“this train is bound for glory, this train [choo! choo!].” As the classes were leaving, one of the 5-year old boys called me over. When I came close he said, “Jesus was in here today.” I was surprised and I said, “What did Jesus look like? What was he doing?” The boy pointed to the organ and said, “He was playing music.”
It turns out “Jesus” was Tim Hess, the organist at St. John’s Episcopal church and friend to our congregation. He was practicing for a funeral he was helping with later that day. Of course, I had to share with Tim the news of his upgrade. He demurred and couldn’t believe anyone—even a small child—would mistake him for Jesus. Most of us would feel the same way. “There’s no way you could confuse me with Jesus!” we might quip.
But, the thing is, people do. And not just young people. When we hang around a church, people assume we are Jesus: or, at the very least, they assume we are a lot like him. And if it turns out we are not, they are heartbroken.
A popular book from the past few years is called They Love Jesus But Hate the Church. It describes this heartbreak that so many feel when they have participated in a Christian congregation only to find out the people there do not seem concerned about the same things Jesus is concerned with. When they encounter weakness and wickedness in the Church, they leave. They still love Jesus but they don’t want anything more to do with his congregations. Of course we well know that we cannot be perfect. It does not seem fair that we should be held to such a standard and hold such responsibility. We are humans, not angels, and we fall short over and over again. But this is a responsibility we have been given. People need Jesus and we are to make every effort to “be” Jesus to them. At the very least we must recognize that this is a responsibility we carry if we call ourselves Christian.
To be successful in our efforts, it is not up to us to be amazing but it is up to us to be humble enough to allow the Holy Spirit to work through us. And what a gift we receive in return. Imagine if someone came to our church family and announced to their friends: “Jesus was in there today.”
May his love and grace overpower you this day so that you will be more than you are; so that you may also be him.