The Urban Dictionary defines Jesus Freak as:
n. Someone who displays an unusual or embarrasing amount of enthusiasm for Jesus.
I hope this is the way that others view me. I am not embarrassed by my love for and faith in Jesus. I would add that even though I talk a lot about Jesus, for me it is always in the context of the Triune, Father, Son and Spirit.
I know the moment I fell in love with Jesus. Funny how our memories work, I remember the moment but I am not sure how old I was. My best guess is I was four or five-years old. I was attending Mass at Holy Family Church in Seattle (White Center). I loved the church of my youth in that whenever I was there I felt the awe of the Creator. Maybe it was the architecture and design of the church or maybe it was the Spirit of God that captured my heart but all I know is this: When I would look at the cross above the altar and saw Jesus on it, I somehow knew in a non-cognitive knowing that He did that for me.
This is not the best photo but it is the only one I could find online.
You see my reality was this. There were many, many violent episodes in my home while growing up. I won’t go into the nitty-gritty details in this post but suffice to say there was abuse in all forms running rampant in our house. When I would go to Mass I would feel safe. I went to 12-years of Catholic School. I spent a lot of time in Mass. I made my first communion while in 2nd grade, was confirmed in 8th-grade and spent four years at Kennedy High School where my favorite classes were religion classes. I wrestled with what I was learning in my religion classes. I was fascinated by the gospel accounts of the life of Christ. I was intrigued by the Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys. They included riots, beatings, shipwrecks, preaching, conversions, miracles and complete devotion to the good news that the God of the Universe crossed the cosmic divide to come to earth as a vulnerable and defenseless baby in the person of Jesus.
Jesus’ s life was one of loving the outcast, the sinner, the other. He crossed racial divides when he loved the Samaritans and the Gentiles. He treated women with scandalous respect and dignity within the Greco-Roman culture that oozed of patriarchy and misogyny. He touched the ‘untouchables’ in the lepers, the woman with the issue of blood and so many others that were exiled from community. He touched them, he loved them and he rescued them from their lives in exile. He surely brought heaven to earth when he demonstrated power over sickness, disease, nature and the demonic! He practiced life in the Kingdom of God when he turned water into wine, fed the crowds miraculously multiplying food and by cleansing the Temple of the money changers that turned His house into a ‘den of thieves’ and on and on. He turned the religious world of his time upside down! And, it got him killed. By his birth, life and death, Jesus used His power, the power beyond any weapon of mass destruction humans can engineer through death on a cross to conquer evil with love. And that is not the end of the Story.
But as it was foretold by the Hebrew prophets and by Jesus himself death did not hold him, because the same beyond-nuclear power that was demonstrated in his death took hold of death and raised him out of the grave to be the first of the throngs that will be raised to new life at some point in time. We don’t know the year, the day or the hour, but the Hope of the follower of Jesus is just that. Evil, Death, Curse – does not have the last word – Love, Life, Freedom wins!
This is my hope and where I put my faith. In the Roman Catholic tradition I remember the priest would recite ‘The Mystery of Faith, with these Latin words, Mortem tuam annuntiámus, Dómine, et tuam resurrectiónem confitémur, donec vénias translated, Your death we proclaim, Lord, and your resurrection we confess, until you come. Or in other liturgies, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”
In a few weeks we will celebrate the Ascension of Jesus. That is for another post.
Today I sit in my office the day after my 60th Easter celebration listening to this song.