August 23, 2020 + The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:13-15)

I love the dinner prayer scene in “Talladega Nights.” Ricky Bobby played by Will Ferrell begins his prayer by addressing his favorite version of Jesus, “Dear Lord Baby Jesus.”  After several references to the baby Jesus his wife comments, “Hey, um… you know sweetie, Jesus did grow up. You don’t always have to call him baby. It’s a bit odd and off puttin’ to pray to a baby.”  Ricky Bobby quickly defends his prayer, “Well look, I like the Christmas Jesus best, and I’m sayin’ grace. When you say grace, you can say it to grown up Jesus, or teenage Jesus, or bearded Jesus, or whatever you want.”  This kicks off a wonderful and hilarious conversation about how each person at the table prefers to imagine Jesus including a Lynyrd Skynyrd Jesus!  (You can find the clip on YouTube)

So, which “Jesus” do you like best?  Which “Jesus” best meets your personal needs or desires?  In which box would do you like to keep your “Lord and Savior?”

If the truth be told, I think there’s a little Ricky Bobby in all of us, we all have a definition or notion of Jesus that is uniquely our own, and most likely, selfishly our own; That Jesus that we use to keep away the parts of faith that we are not comfortable with, that Jesus that we can use to rationalize parts of our life that are perhaps in conflict with some of the teachings of the faith.  So while it’s good to find “the Jesus” that you can relate to, that can’t be the only Jesus in your life.  Jesus needs to both comfort and challenge us.  The beloved and innocent “eight pound six ounce baby Jesus” also needs to be the “radical prophet and trouble maker” who drives the money changers out of the temple, the Jesus who calls the status quo into question!

This week’s Gospel invites us on a journey to discover more about Jesus, to be in relationship with the whole Jesus, the Jesus that is familiar to us and the Jesus that we do not always recognize. On this journey we are invited to look for Jesus in new places, in the midst of people who are different than us, people who speak a different language, people who are a different color, people from a different economic background, and even people who don’t believe in the same way that we believe.

Let us pray …
Dear Eight pound six ounce baby Jesus,
Dear Man Jesus with a Beard,
Dear Jesus that we know,
Dear Jesus that we don’t know,
Open up our hearts and come inside,
That we might know you more fully,
Understand ourselves more deeply
And live more faithfully in your kingdom

“As You Go Your Way” – Greg Ronning

“As You Go Your Way”
As you go your way, may God go with you
As you go your way, wherever you may go
May God go before you to show you the way
May God go behind you to encourage you every day
Beside you as friend
Above to watch over
And within to give you peace
In the name of the Father, in the name of the Son
In the name of the Spirit, in the name of love


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