It was a challenge: write a sermon you would actually like to hear.
I dislike being preached at in any format. Nevertheless, the topic stayed with me.
Finally a text popped up – parts of Acts 10:38 in the King James translation: (“…Jesus of Nazareth…went about doing good.”)
‘There,’ I told myself. ‘I’d like to hear something about the simple fact that He ‘went.’ ’
This person named Jesus didn’t cower inside, worrying about street violence.
He went outside.
Not jogging to get the going out over with quickly.(Although admittedly it isn’t easy to jog in sandals).
Not wearing headphones to block the cries of the street.
Not so absorbed in his email that He might be trampled by a runaway camel.
Not with fancy sunglasses to set Himself apart from the poor.
He knew where the poor lived. They lived all around Him.
When He went out, the gospels say, He walked, as though He had all the world’s time, seeing everything with the eyes of a little child, the way they stop often to look around, pat dogs and cats, talk to every pair of feet coming towards them down the sidewalk.
Those feet mostly belonged to the poor, walking slowly, bodies sick and sometimes minds too. Not an insignificant percentage of them were dying or even dead.
Jesus took an enormous amount of time listening to them, making them well, raising them from the dead. He knew all their names and the names of their fathers and mothers and their children and even their dogs.
“None of these are people who can help your career,” his followers posted on the Facebook site they’d set up for Him. ‘Let’s get on with what you came to do.”
“He needs better networking,” another tweeted. “All this listening won’t produce a decent soundbite for marketing Him as a highly-successful person.”
However the poor posted many, ‘Likes,’ with great enthusiasm. The formerly dead were particularly complimentary.
One time Jesus looked up in a tree and saw a felon. “Come on down,” Jesus called in a voice that centuries later, Bob Barker would fail to copy on TV. “Lunch is on you.”
“No, no, “His followers warned. “Someone might post a picture of You on Facebook, lunching together.”
Jesus was a great trial to His followers. They often complained about Him, texting one another on their smart phones.
“When He teaches, it’s always way out in the country where you can’t get a good signal. Really impacts the buzz and it doesn’t do His media profile any favours, either,” one of them groused.
But then maybe that was just as well since He referenced things like sparrows, mustard seeds, lilies of the field and lost sheep. Nothing at all useful to a dynamic mover and shaker looking to clean up in the stock market.
Another time He prepared a picnic lunch for a huge crowd without referencing any nutritional labeling or allergenic contents, let alone noting saturated and trans fats.
The poor just kept coming. “Maybe they’re part of a flash mob,” a follower tweeted. “They do dress alike.”
“Yeah, in rags,” another replied. “But with so many of them blind or on crutches or stretchers, the PR possibilities of a YouTube dance video are pretty well out.”
Finally they hit the big city where the real action was rumoured to be going on. “This is more like it,” His followers tweeted. He agreed to stop going about on foot like His precious poor and ride a donkey. “Now the right people will start paying attention,” one of His followers enthused.
But Jesus talked to the Big Names in the religion biz just like anyone else, quoting scripture as though He’d written it Himself but it was mostly the ‘woe unto you,’ parts about hypocrites and white collar crime.
Then He rearranged the furniture in their major place of worship and suggested they seek alternate career paths.
So it didn’t take long before He was arrested for impersonating royalty and having no fixed address. His followers went off to hold proactive strategy workshops.
But when they came back, Jesus was dead. Though He was less dead than anyone else who had ever died before or since.
His follower, John, in the last verse of his gospel, wrote: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.”
This is one of them.