_Thinking About Jesus … at Communion_
Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 18, 2005.
First Congregational United Church of Christ, Open and Affirming,
Santa Rosa, California. The Rev. Robert F. Cramer, Eucharistic Minister.
__From _The Gospel of the Other Twin_ by Bob Cramer, Chapter 18.__
When Jesus told me so concisely, so poetically, what his mission among us had been about, I celebrated. It was as I’d thought.
I am a faithful Jew, and we know that loved ones live on in the memory of all who had known and loved them. So hearing him speak was no surprise, except, maybe … why visit me?
I’m so glad he did.
My surprise? It’s because the good news of the realm of God … the gospel as I remember Jesus teaching it in word and deed … indeed must be told to future generations.
The gospel, the good news we heard, and experienced, as we lived with Jesus, is not about Jesus, or Jesus Christ, as people are beginning to worship him as a pathway to a distant God.
The gospel never was about him. The good news, about living as if this were God’s world, a world called good by its Creator, is about … us. About enfleshing God’s own goodness, as in Jesus.
__Yes: What I have been writing, Jesus himself truly confirmed.__
I have heard it said, sometimes with seeming authority, that Jesus was adopted by Joseph, his stepfather. Jesus never spoke of that, as I’ve written before. Why didn’t I ask him about that when he spoke to me about his gospel? I guess I didn’t say a thing; maybe another time. I accept Joseph as his father.
As for his adoption, I’ve always thought – without actually _thinking,_ I guess – that Jesus somehow had been adopted _by God._ I think Jesus figured we all had human fathers, but it could take us into a deeper realm were we to knew God as Abba, as he did.
I love the idea of seeing people as God in human form. Would anyone ever think that any human contains all of God? Not even the whole of humanity could. But God in us – _Immanuel_ – yes.
There are days when I think about rebirth. It takes very little reflection to realize that the spirit of God is born in us a day at a time. Every now is new. I take that to be the meaning of Jesus.
–When we lived with Jesus, none of us understood that, I think. I guess it takes living, and reflecting, and welcoming the spirit each day as Jesus evidently did, and as we mature, for the impact of the newness of now to register.
We don’t have many rabbis here around Damascus, where we moved some time after Jesus died. The few we have are divided over the meaning of Jesus’ life and mission. Was he as I have pictured him, a man so full of God’s spirit, or essence, that he felt he just had to minister to the poorest of the poor, those who are rejected by everyone, the worriers sick unto death – people like that – by assuring them of God’s everlasting love for them?
Or was he, rather than being filled with the essence of God, in fact that very essence, that very being whom we always had believed we never could encounter? Was he, then, truly Messiah?
I have held him close to my heart as Messiah in a way that does not depend upon his actually being God. A message from God, to us, is how I experienced him, and still experience Jesus.
Some say his mother, Mary, must have known he was destined to save those who believe he was divine; they also say her heart broke as she saw him die the ugliest, the cruelest, the lowliest of deaths.
It may have heavenly meaning that Jesus came from nowhere and died a nobody – as people reckon such things – but that somehow he managed to convey to those he called “the least of us” a measure of confidence, of excitement, of hope about not only some vague future, but about _now:_ about _us_ now. About the God we dared not call by name being resident within and all around us; about growing into a future as an extension of now, getting better all the time, at least to those who catch the vision.
To say he came from Nazareth and died at Golgotha hardly even begins to tell the story that could be told. David, the great king, also came from nowhere – not just Bethlehem but from living in the field with his father’s animals. Not literally, of course, but in an even more important way … might Jesus be seen like that?
I would love to sing songs and read stories about that. Who will write them, I wonder? Who will keep them alive … keep Jesus alive? As long as I live, I will keep him alive in my heart. And so that you might want to do that, too, I tell you these things.