Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Jesus in the City

Last Saturday I spent the morning wandering around the city, while Younger Daughter was at a science workshop.
The workshop took place on the campus of a Catholic high school.  In back of the beautiful and rather Hogwartish main building, there is a statue of Jesus.

Jesus, football field, and construction cranes.
You can tell it is him because of that special hairdo and bathrobey garment.  In good Catholic fashion, Jesus has a sacred heart. This sacred heart imagery is a bit alarming to Presbyterians, who don’t often wear their hearts on their sleeves.  Everything decently and in good order, folks.  But this Jesus wears his heart on the outside, exposed to everything. 

And yet, isn't that where it should be?  On his chest, right in the center. Out there to directly see and absorb the sadness and joy, heartache and exuberance, pain and contentment of us all.

This Jesus statue has his hands raised.  This would traditionally be a gesture of peace and good will.  This troubled world needs some peace and good will, and soon. 

That heart!  Out there!
Thanks be to God for that.
But these days, I think Jesus might be saying with those raised hands, “Would you all just calm down and listen?! Sit down, everybody, and see if you could start actually listening to each other.  You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight.  When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves.”   
Crappy photo of the Holy Spirit Byzantine
 Catholic Church, taken with my phone
I walked around town a bit more, and saw another image of Jesus.  This is the Holy Spirit Byzantine Catholic Church.  

A better image I stole from the internet
There’s an awful lot going on in these images.  Lots of shiny gold, planets, water, trees, mountains, a lot of dudes (in those bathrobes, again) – 12 prophets and 12 disciples – a huge amount of birds, and no women.  I didn’t spend any time contemplating this Jesus.  (I didn’t notice until now the depiction of God the Father actually as an old guy with a beard in a blue robe!  That’s just so 16th Century!) 

I guess I’m glad this Jesus is in the city, too, because it’s the Jesus of the shiny, beautiful world that could be (although for Chrissakes could we add some women, please?).  There is peace and order here, perhaps some exhortation and pointed discussion, and joyful bright colors and sunbeams.  A new heaven and a new earth.  This Jesus could be saying, “Soon I will wipe every tear from your eyes. There will be no more death —tears gone, crying gone, pain gone. I’m making everything new.”

My encounters with Jesus prompted me to pray for peace, whatever that means.  You may say that puts my heart in the right place. But I ask myself, what I have done lately for peace, other than pray for it?  Yes, I’ve donated some money to various groups that I hope and pray will be effective at bringing some peace and justice where there is none.   Yes I will vote in the election.  Yes, I try to be pleasant to my elderly relatives. I feel otherwise helpless to do anything, being rather removed from the middle of the fray.

(Note: my musings on what Jesus might be saying include passages from The Message, Matthew 5 and Revelation 21.)

( Also, please excuse the terrible photos.  It was a poor day for photos and I didn't have my camera, just my phone.)


Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

I love this. ALL OF IT. Thank you, Carolyn.
From one Presby to another, yes! Decently and in good order, plus women. :)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Your commentary is spot on, though the observations about the depictions of Jesus makes me chuckle. I go to a church with only crosses, NO Jesus anywhere. Why? He's in heaven, not on the cross, he conquered death. So many different perspectives and ways to think about it, but yes, he was 100% love and peace and comfort. I do like the thought of the "calm down" hand gestures;)

Patience_Crabstick said...

I liked this thoughtful post. I wish a lot of people would take this to heart.