Shuck and Jive

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Elusive Jesus: A Sermon

No text for Sunday's sermon. It was "off the cuff." I will tell what I did as it was kind of fun.

I put the congregation to work.

The ushers handed out pencils. During the sermon I asked them to write a paragraph about the personality of Jesus. What kind of person was he? I played some music while they wrote about Jesus.

Then I asked them (and it only really works if they don't know this is coming) to circle three things they wrote about Jesus that described themselves (or who they would like to be). Then I asked them to tell the person next to them about the Jesus they found and the characteristics that describe them.

It was well-received and far more eye-opening than if I had merely told them how our ideas about Jesus reflect our attitudes. Tell me your Jesus and you will find yourself.

I offered some closing thoughts about how Jesus is a spiritual icon and can be a "lure" inviting us to discover our deepest or best selves.

This is the real value of Jesus and why his story continues to be retold.

I hope folks will tell me about the Jesus they found.

I learned this exercise from Walter Wink when he and his partner, June Keener-Wink led a workshop at Kirkridge. He was working on his book The Human Being: Jesus and the Enigma of the Son of Man. A good read by the way.


  1. That book is on my shelf waiting for me to finish my thesis.

    Waiting, waiting, waiting. :)

  2. I really enjoyed this exercise; it sure woke us all up! Anyone planning on napping thru the sermon was in for it. :)

    I wrote something about Jesus being brave, thinking of the courage it takes to speak the truth and against injustice in the face of popular opinion, something along those lines. A vague thought on my part really. I also referenced him as a teacher and a healer and said simply he was a good man; again a bit vague and perhaps over-simplistic. I guess I was trying to summon an image of a strong compassionate person who cared about his fellow humanity and was willing to take a stand on what he thought was right. I talked with three other fellows beside me. I really got a kick out of what they put. One gentleman’s last line was that Jesus was a peasant with an attitude, or something close to that. I found it interesting that everyone else had something about Jesus being in touch with or tapped into a universal truth. Why didn’t I think of that too.

    I talked with someone else who said that someone in his impromptu group determined that if Jesus were alive today he would go by Hank and John Prine would be a disciple.

    I suggest we do this sort of thing again sometime on index cards and turn them in a separate offering plate. Then we could collate and organize the responses and see what we have. Perhaps the responses could be reprinted in full online at some point.

  3. Good luck on the thesis, David.

    Hey Bob,

    Glad you like that. Good idea about following with this somehow. I don't think I have preached about John Prine before. It might be time. : )