Author’s Note: As a dedicated fan and often poor imitator of Jesus Christ, I’ve sought to “follow” him as he so famously requested in scripture. And as I find myself identifying with his social proclivities, I’m curious as to what really went on at all the parties and events he attended. What were they like? What was it like to hang out with him? So I’ve decided to write fictional accounts of all of the parties Jesus went to, as modern-day emails to God the Father.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message
As you know, I’ve been pretty busy showing people how to pray, teaching up on mountains, and “committing blasphemy.” Although it’s pretty easy (and kind of fun) to make religious people uncomfortable, it just makes me sad that the people who are most looking for me can’t see that I am who say I am. The boring self-righteous types like the idea of me (but don’t really like-like me), and the mean self-righteous types can’t stand me (which of course is not a surprise). But at least all the fun people seem to want me around! At least they get me. That is, until they get crazy religious and forget who they were and who I am and turn into the boring (or sometimes mean) self-righteous types.
You would think that the religious-types would be all about me, the way that they go to such an extent to “find me” by going to services and partaking in the latest teachings. They spend so much time and energy doing religious stuff. It’s great that they want to do “what’s right” but in all that work and busyness they just completely forget me.
The non-religious types are afraid of me, because a lot of them think that I’ll reject them. Sometimes they don’t care. Sometimes they do, but they’re so focused on what they think I should be like that they can’t see that I am who I am.
Isn’t that always the way? I guess that’s why I’m here, eh?
A surprising number of the the “sinners” are looking for me. They hope that I’m real and their tiny movements toward devotion are actually more genuine than many of the great and elaborate demonstrations of their more religious brothers and sisters.
I just got back from a dinner party in Bethany, thrown by Martha (not to be confused with this Martha, although eerily similar). She decided to make the dinner into this huge crazy deal. We’re talking several courses, the good plates and actual crystal instead of those plastic cups that are supposed to look like glass. Which was all really nice of her, but come on! I used to live in Heaven and I kind of invented the idea of parties. I didn’t come here to try the local cuisine. I came to be with these people and I don’t have much time.
Martha has a sister named Mary (they’re all named Mary, aren’t they? One famous person has a kid named Mary and then everyone’s naming their daughters that) and a brother named Lazarus (when we play basketball, we like to call him Laz for short).
Martha went right to the kitchen to get the party ready. But Mary surprised me. She dropped everything and just sat with me and let me teach her (after all, I *am* a rabbi). Finally! Someone understood what was important! Not the good deeds or the nice presentations. Just learning from me. I wished that Martha would come hang out too–really, I’d be ok with just some pizza and a beer and good conversation–but she spent the entire time in the kitchen. Which is fine.
And that’s what was so sad about the whole thing. She was trying so hard to measure up and to prove her value as a woman through her cooking and entertaining. If she only realized that I already knew her worth and it didn’t have a single thing to do with anything she did.
But she didn’t know that. While Mary and I were hanging out, Martha came out of the kitchen to yell at Mary about not helping. It was really awkward. Martha asked me to tell Mary to help, but I couldn’t do it. So I said “Martha, you’re freaking out about a lot of ish when you could have spent time with me. Mary chose JC and I’m not going to take that away from her.”
The longer that I’m here on earth, the more I see how exhausted everyone is from trying too hard. The religious people are trying too hard to be good. The women are trying too hard to prove their worth. The tax-collectors are trying to hard to make money. No one feels complete, but they all want to complete themselves. I just want them–all of them– to know the unforced rhythms of grace that don’t fit weirdly or make them less than human.
Anyway, once we had dinner, Martha calmed down a bit. The food and presentation was amazing. But as you know, it’s never really about what you eat, as much as the people you’re with.
Next Episode: Guess who’s inviting Himself to dinner?