Thinking about Jesus...

Years and years ago, the aged spouse of a former clergy person in the church I was then serving said to me, "You are clearly a JESUS person - while I am a God person."  This was said in a snide and somewhat judgmental way.  Now, my  less than generous inclination was to smack her - and shout, "You're damn right I am a Jesus person, you abstract, elitist sot!  We're not Unitarians CONSIDERING Christ, but members of the United CHURCH of Christ.!" - but discretion is the better part of valor.  So, I simply replied, "Yes, my friend, I am a disciple of Jesus and I am very grateful to say that out loud and in public."  And after the shock left her face, I added, "And if you ever want to talk about WHY I follow Jesus - rather than some abstract notion of a deity - or move towards Buddhism - I would be happy to tell you.  But only if you really want to know, ok?"  (She chose never to go any deeper.)
In my tradition, to be openly upbeat about following Jesus is often considered weird - or reactionary.  Oh well... I have come to know God most profoundly through the life and word of Jesus in scripture.  What's more, my prayer-life - and spiritual renewal and health - is saturated in real encounters with Christ.  Like St. Paul I often say, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ...and am most proud to proclaim this extraordinary Message of God's powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him... God's way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: "The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives." (Romans 1: 16-17)

So over the next few days I am going to try to articulate some of my on-going thoughts and questions about Jesus and atonement - after all this IS the season, yes? - and I will be eager for your insights, questions and reactions. Let me start by simply sharing a list of hymns and songs that REALLY matter to me as part of my theological confession.  (And when I say REALLY matter, I mean they not only bring me into a deep mystical reunion with Jesus, but also express part of my understanding and experience - and to me they are united - with Christ.)

Traditional hymns would include:
+ I Have Decided to Follow Jesus
+ Amazing Grace
+ Precious Lord
+ What a Friend We Have in Jesus
+ Softly and Tenderly
+ It Is Well With My Soul
+ God of Grace and God of Glory
+ Lift High the Cross
+ Of the Father's Love Begotten
+ A Mighty Fortress
+ Our God, Our Help in Ages Past
+ Beautiful Savior
+ Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee
+ All Creatures of Our God and King

Contemporary Christian tunes/hymns would include:
+ Bring Many Names
+ The Servant Song
+ Come Into God's Presence
+ Neighbors
+ Alleluia, He Is Coming
+ Christ Be Our Light
+ Jesus, Lamb of God
+ Gather Us In
+ My Lord, He Is a'comin' Soon
+ We Are Marching in the Light of God
+ Come and Bless the Lord
+ Jesus Is Our King
+ Be Still
+ Healer of My Soul

Non-traditional contemporary songs include:
+ Vertigo
+ Beautiful Day
+ Jesus Is Just Alright with Me
+ A Thousand Beautiful Things
+ When Love Comes to Town
+ 40
+ Oh Happy Day
+ The entire score of "Godspell"
+ War/No More Trouble
+ Love and Peace or Else
+ Grace
+ You Gotta Serve Somebody
+ Graceland
+ In the Presence of the Lord
+ Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
+ Bridge Over Trouble Water
+ El Condor Pasa
+ Love Me Like a Rock
+ Somebody to Love
+ He Was a Friend of Mine
+ Oh Happy Day

A number of people in my congregation have been reading the "Jesus Diaries" this Lent. So, for what remains of the season, I'm going to do some exploring of what I know and experience of God's grace through Jesus as Christ.


Black Pete said…
Speaking as a small-u unitarian, I would have been just as appalled as you at that lady's remark. What arrogance!
RJ said…
It was incredible, Peter: so condescending - a tone that would be called bigotted if altered to fit a Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist context. Something like, "you plebian low life, can't you see the BIG picture?" What a funny and odd world we live in exploring religion and faith and spirit, yes?

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