Where I find the face of Jesus

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Recently, I have started trying to connect with Jesus. Not the historical person and not the Christ I was taught about in Sunday school, but the concept of Jesus. I know that is a terribly abstract word to use, but it’s how I have to start.

So, I sit in meditation posture – it is always good to set quietly with a straight spine – and I ask about Jesus. What is this energy? What is Christ energy?

The images that come immediately are from my childhood, famous paintings: Jesus kneeling in prayer in Gethsemane, the light of our heavenly father illuminating his beautific face.

I think: this will not do. Jesus was a Jew from a desert. I know he died young, but he worked hard, fought the religious leadership, fought the government, surely he lost a lot of sleep and had wrinkles though he died young.

I try again. I get the picture offered me as a child. Jesus in pure white robes, arms stretched wide, welcoming the little children to come unto him. Again, this did not work for me then and it is not part of my life now. That Jesus was in a foreign country. The church did not tell me how Jesus was part of my life in America in the 1960s.

I heard Jesus’ message outside the church, in the peace movement and the civil rights marches. Jesus never advocated for “just war,” he never rationalized that the killing of soldiers and bystanders was justified by the dream of installing democracy. Jesus never said people could be separate but equal. He never said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, the white ones to my left knee, the black ones to my right knee.”

That’s when the face of Jesus came to me: Martin Luther King, Jr., specifically, a film clip I once saw of Dr. King. It was taken a few days before he was shot to death. He was talking to a companion, his face was in profile. He was exhausted, discouraged, disillusioned. He despaired, but he wasn’t giving up. He had seen wickedness and ignorance and hatred and remained committed to seeking justice through nonviolence.

That is the face of Jesus. A face weary but not giving up.

There are many faces of Jesus, of course. My brother-in-law has a drawing of Jesus laughing. It is a lovely, cheery face that speaks to my in-law, a man who ministered to grade school children as a teacher for thirty years. Maybe my brother-in-law is the face of Jesus. My sister, as well. She sure gets tired and discouraged learning that some of her second graders get themselves to school without any adult’s assistance. Many of her little students come from homes in which the adults live out the confusion of drugs and alcohol. My sister strives to make her students know they are important and loved.

Reva Rasmussen, Deacon

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