Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

This is the picture we used for reflection in EFM tonight. It's the first I ever saw of a set of artistic renditions known as Jesus Mafa--African-themed depictions of the life of Jesus. The link in the previous sentence will take you to a wonderful collection of these pictures. This particular one is of the resurrected Jesus sending the people out to their various forms of mission.

Now, I have to confess, when I first saw the red-robed figure, my gut impression was somone holding out his hands in confusion, as in "Hey, don't ask ME for directions, I'm not from around here, either! But after a while, we recognized that the red-robed figure was Jesus. As we started initially talking about the picture, what gnawed on me was that for a bunch of folks being told personally by Jesus to go out and "mission", they seemed to be a little confused as they start out on their journey, and not terribly sure of themselves. My expectation, I suppose, as a person who has to deal with Jesus in a little more indirect fashion, was that they should seem more "confident" and "directed" getting the straight skinny from him. A little part of me was thinking, "They ought to be a little more sure-looking about this--they've got Jesus right there, and they can ask for clarification for what he wants of them."

After all, it's a luxury I don't normally have, being that Jesus and the rest of us now have to work from a couple of different planes of existence.

One of the people in our group was paraphrasing Jesus, saying something along the lines of, "He's saying stuff like 'Thomas, you go to India'." Well, that got me to thinking. What if, two years later, Thomas says, "India? I thought you wanted me to go to INDIANA. So here I am in Indiana. NOW what do I do?"

Would Thomas had starting packing for India that very day if he discovered the mistake? Or remain in Indiana as he found that he was needed in that place at that moment? It's hard to say, isn't it?

It made me realize that we can "misinterpret Jesus" even if he were standing in front of you and speaking to you directly. It dawned on me that we could even REALLY, REALLY misinterpret, but could still wind up, in the end, coming out perfectly okay with ourselves, the world, and our brothers and sisters. Tha'ts a very confusing and circular concept. You think you understand what your prayer life is telling you. Turns out it is not really what you were being told. You follow what you THINK you were being told. You end up in "the wrong place at the wrong time." Yet you do the best you can with what you've got to work with, right where you are, and other peoples lives are positively touched and changed, as well as your own. In the end, you lived your life in that period in a way that honored Christ.

What a concept! We could get it "all wrong", and still end up "doin' it right."

So in that sense, maybe it's okay that the people look a little confused in the picture as they go off on their mission. Maybe back in Jesus' time, it could have been just as confusing to "do what Jesus asks of you" as it is now. Oddly enough, there is a certain amount of comfort in that--that people 2000 years ago might have been just as bewildered and confused and baffled as I am when I am discerning "God's will" in my life.

It got me to thinking about the importance of having people in our lives who are also seeking God's will in their lives just as earnestly. We are all on different journeys but stopping at the well to "compare notes" is important. I have thought about times where, to really understand an event, or a happening, it took four or five people, all traveling in the same direction, to really REALLY piece things together--to share stories, to borrow from each others' perspectives, to hear messages for you in THEIR stories from different places on the journey.

It's also why church is important. It's an even bigger collection of people on a journey. Maybe not as intimate an experience as a small group or a prayer partner, but just as important. As with all get-togethers, a shared meal becomes important, and simply "the gathering itself" adds to the power of the Eucharist.

So, in the end, we go off on those confusing "missions" of ours. We probably don't exactly get it right. But, somehow, bits and pieces of what's good about God's reign still happen. Amazing, isn't it?


I LOVE the picture. Thought provoking essay.

I had a great time after class looking at several of the pictures on The Jesus Mafa website. I was struck at how when you artistically make Jesus someone other than "Anglo-Saxon slightly prissy Jesus with the too clean robe" how Jesus becomes more real and human, and well...more like us.

I find that a very comforting thought... that it all comes out in the end, and it's all right.

Thanks for posting this.



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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