The Feast Day of Sts. James and Philip
“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
In my training as a lay preacher, I heard the story of how a minister had inscribed this sentence on a plaque in the pulpit, where he and all others offering a sermon would see it each week as they stood to deliver their message. I was impressed by this story, and I always remember it as I prepare to preach. If what I have to say does not reveal Jesus in some way, it’s most likely not worth saying. Not from the pulpit anyway.
Lately I’ve come to think of any activity in which any of us participate as being an opportunity to show forth Jesus. At our best we are walking, breathing icons, windows to the kingdom of heaven. At our centers we stand in the presence of God all the time, but our ego-needs and -issues get in the way of perceiving that. Practicing our vocation isn’t so much signing up for some ministry or job; it’s the day-to-day, moment-by-moment whisper from that clear inner place where God-with-us, Immanuel, dwells.
I believe it’s possible to get so clear – to dwell so completely in the presence of God – that we radiate the light of the kingdom of heaven all the time. Then we are beacons shining Jesus, the incarnate God, into every corner of the world. But I am not like that. The thoughts and feelings that run through my mind and heart on a regular basis generally don’t bring me anywhere near that center in me where I am always loved, always in relationship with the Holy.
Even so, I have my moments. I may not pulse with the light of the kingdom, but I at least ooze a little Jesus once in awhile. It’s easier for me to see this when I am engaged in a ministry with other people, in worship, study, or in some caring volunteer task like feeding those who are homeless. But I can also sometimes point to my prayer life, and to writing icons or writing essays that speak truly.
Then there are the less remarkable instances. For any of us, what are the little times of Jesus-oozing? When I show my grand-kids my dresser-top altar or teach them to pray at night when they are anxious, I know that’s one. When I give up my place in the grocery store line to a harried mother, or gamely limp through a couple of phrases from my Jr. High Spanish to help a bewildered Elder figure out how to get somewhere, I’m pretty sure that’s oozing Jesus. How about when I am applauding the neighborhood kid who is riding a bike for the first time? Or how about when I enjoy the pelicans on a local lake early in the morning when their wingtips, inches above the water, seem to embrace their perfect mirrored images?
Yes, I imagine oozing Jesus like snail slime as I inch my way through the world. Who will touch and be informed by the sticky trail as it spools out behind me? I will most likely never know. All I can do as I crawl through the moments is be true to the deepest yearning I myself have. I also wish to see Jesus.
Laurie Gudim is a religious iconographer and liturgical artist, a writer and lay preacher living in Fort Collins, CO. See her work online at Everyday Mysteries.