A few weeks ago, I found myself in conversation with a member of my parish who volunteers as a tour guide at National Cathedral. She told me that she had been giving a tour to a group of eighth graders from the Midwest, and when they came to the area behind the altar, she began explaining the symbols in the massive statue of Christ enthroned (pictured above). One of the kids asked, “Why does that man have his hand raised?” She replied, “That’s Jesus.” The kid replied, “Who’s Jesus?”
We are living in a new world, a world in which we cannot take it for granted that our neighbors have even heard of Christianity. I am more accustomed to thinking that people have heard of it, whether or not they agree with it, but there are people in our culture who have never been told even the most basic facts about it. (There was this man named Jesus…)
And that gives us both an opportunity and an imperative: the opportunity to be the first to tell someone else about the great love that God has shown us in Christ, and the imperative to think about how we would do that. And so I ask, Who is Jesus to you? How would you explain him? Would you speak about the love of God? About the healing he did or the stories he told or about a way you’ve encountered him in your own life? What would you say, in two minutes or less?
The Sunday after I spoke with my parishioner, I was sitting in the pews, listening to the sermon, when I realized that I could not see an image of Jesus. The one behind the altar was blocked by a pillar. The stained glass I could see showed me St. John the Beloved, Saint David, St. Alban, King David, St. Columba….but no Jesus. I sat there, wondering, trying to find some representation of the man who is central to my beliefs and my life, and failing. Finally, my eyes fell upon the men and women in the choir, and I realized that I’d been looking for a static image — a painting, a work of art — when all around me there were living images, every face of every person made in the image of God.
God made them, and in God’s image. How can we help to show them how marvelous they are?