Transfiguration Sunday & Concordia Choir – February 23rd – 10:00AM
Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper – February 25th – 7:00PM
Ash Wednesday – February 26th – 8:00 PM
Forgiveness Sunday – March 1st
Ways of Healing – Presentation on Alcoholism – March 1st 11:15 AM
Service of Healing – March 8th
International Dinner & Hymn Sing – March 14
Lenten Vespers – Every Wednesday in Lent – 7:30 pm – 8:05 pm
Centering Prayer – Every Thursday in Lent – 7:30 pm – 8:15 pm
One of the films I always love to see is “Cool Hand Luke”. Who can’t like a cool, young, smiling Paul Newman who plays the rebellious, charismatic figure in the title role? He is a character seeking, even lonely for, something deeper, tinged with irony and tragedy.
In one scene he sings part of an old country song:
Well, I don’t care if it rains or freezes,
Long as I got my plastic Jesus,
Sitting on the dashboard of my car.
I could go a hundred miles an hour
Long as I got the Almighty Power
Glued up there with my fuzzy dice.
Recently, I found the rest of this folk song, of which the chorus goes,
Plastic Jesus, plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car
Through all the trials and tribulations
We will travel every nation.
With my plastic Jesus I’ll go far
The verses that follow say that you can buy Him “phosphorescent, glows in the dark, He’s Pink and Pleasant…” The anonymous narrator says he tries to run down pedestrians using the plastic Jesus’ halo as an aiming guide.
He complains because his plastic Jesus is turning white because of stains from the smoke of his cigar. When the policeman stops him on suspicion that he is DWI, he’ll never find the bottle because his plastic Jesus’ is hollow. The head comes off, and he uses Him for a flask, “a holy bar!”
That old song from “Cool Hand Luke” comes to mind in April as we walk into Lent and Holy Week and into Easter Day, because at its root is the question, “What kind of Jesus do you want?” Many people don’t want the real Jesus; they want a more convenient version.
When we look closely at the dynamics of that Palm Sunday, we are not really surprised at the Friday outcome. On the surface, it seems like the Triumphal Entry was a grand celebration, but underneath we find the seeds of the crucifixion lying among the palms.
Mickey Anders writes, “But the real meaning of Palm Sunday for us today can be found in that same question I asked about each of the groups, ‘What kind of Jesus are you looking for?’ Do you want a Miracle Jesus or Ritual Jesus? Do you want a Military Jesus or a Messiah Jesus? In more modern terms we might ask, ‘Do you want a plastic Jesus or a Prozac Jesus? Do you want your Jesus in a bottle or a Mr. Rogers kind of Jesus?’
If you are looking for any of those, you will be disappointed too. But note that the reason we are disappointed is that we are looking for the wrong kind of Jesus. A friend wrote me yesterday with a wonderful quote she heard on the radio. Each time one lady discovers someone claiming to be an atheist, she responds, ‘Tell me about the God you don’t believe in.’ And when they do, she usually observes, ‘I don’t think I would like that kind of God either.’ Our disappointments in God usually come from a wrong view of God.”
J. B. Phillips said it best in the title of his wonderful little book, “Your God Is Too Small.”
What kind of Jesus are you looking for? That question is a pebble in my shoe. I’ll have to sit awhile and think of the kinds of Jesus I have conjured. The ones out of need and the ones that were good for different stages in life. Nothing as crass as a plastic Jesus on the dashboard of my car nor a Virgin Mary statue either. Mostly, I’d like to know Jesus as he chooses to reveal himself; transparently. I guess I’ll need to read the gospels again. And ask him to show me. And come worship with his people, even if the pews are hard. And receive him as he promised in the bread and wine.
I know no other way.
I’ll be looking for you too.
Rev. Dr. William J. Damrow