12 March, 2009

Sneaky Jesus

It's long been an article of faith for me that Jesus is sneaky. Not Dick Cheney's Merry Band of Secret Assassins sneaky, but sneaky in a different way. A good way. Just when you least expect it, Jesus comes busting through the door of your heart like a heavenly CIA agent, sans search warrant.... but, I digress.

To be slightly less theologically cartoonish about it: my experience has been that God speaks into my life in strange and surprising ways. Usually quiet ways, unexpected ways. But seemingly always at the times when I most need to hear something from El Bosso Muy Grande Del Cielo.(1)

My shorthand/smartalecky way of talking about the subtle ways that the Holy Spirit whispers into our lives is "Sneaky Jesus." Partly, I like coopting simplistic theological language for my not-so-conservative ends. Mostly, I like the mental image of Jesus hiding in some shrubbery or around the corner of a building, making the "sneaky-eyes-looking-left-and-right" face from cartoons.

I've had two grade-A, USDA Prime Sneaky Jesus Experiences of late.

To Wit:

#1) A friend from a certain southern state (known for its BBQ and as the home of our most recently former President) was fired from his church job. He's a super cool, incredibly gifted pastor, hired not 3 months ago to lead children's ministry for this church. Did he abscond with money? Perhaps he kicked a little kid? Maybe he was just generally incompetent? Nay. He got fired because he has the queer notion that God loves God's gay children just as much as the straight ones. And he had the gumption to say so. To people. IN CHURCH! Well, we can't have that kind of a radical Gospel floating around, making us uncomfortable. So, via an email at 5:00 am (!), Mike got offed.

Mike being not only a friend and colleague, but a mentor and inspiration, this got my knickers in a twist. I was mad at the Poopy-head senior pastor who fired him, at baseless paranoia and bad theology and at the Church for being so small-hearted and stupid. And I said so via my Facebook status update.(2)

A few folks commented on my status, including one friend from back in the day: elementary through high school days specifically. She asked what church it was, seeing as she and her partner were looking for a church and wanted to make sure she didn't accidentally go to this one, where she would clearly not be welcome.

Well, long story slightly longer, we chatted via Facebook messages for a bit and I pointed her to another UMethodist Church that will actually, you know, treat them like, you know, people. Shocking. Offensive to Jesus, surely. But that's what this church does. Crazy damn liberals.

So, here I was, stuck up in east Oregon(3), being irked about my friend Mike's situation when, Lo! and behold!, Sneaky Jesus shows up and says, "Oh yeah, that sucks. Here's something you can do: help your friend and her partner find a church that will love them. Maybe not so much a karma thing as striking a small blow for the Kingdom." And then, like that, he was gone.(4)

#2) A few days later, it's a Wednesday. And since it's Lent, that means it's time for our church's simple supper and Taize service. But no one has signed up to bring food. And not as many folks are coming this year as did last year. This all led me into a few hours of bummed out self-pity. Bemoans me to myself: "Why should I even do this? No one really appreciates it. It's just my own little worship fetish that makes me want to start Taize services wherever I go..." That sort of (really attractive) crap.

So a few hours before I need to head to the store to get food for the ingrates so that we can eat sandwiches before sludging though a half-hearted worship, Sneaky Jesus shows up. (But, of course!) Only this time, SJ looks like my friend Sue from England and s/he's chatting me up through the Facebook instant message program. We're catching up on one another's lives and I'm getting all the gossip from North Molton, Devon. It seems things are still pretty much as we left them 4 years ago. This is part of North Molton's charm.(5)

Then, Lo! and behold!, SJ-as-Sue, apropos of nada, says, "We still do those Taize services." Oh yeah. The ones I started there. During Lent. The ones that always left me feeling like the good people of North Molton were just playing along to entertain their nice American minister. Damn.

So, I went to our La Grandian Taize service, had a great sandwich and maybe even felt the Spirit moving a bit during worship. I certainly left there feeling a tiny bit less navel-gazingly self-involved, which is clearly a plus.

So that's why I think Jesus is sneaky. 'Cause he is.

But the real moral of the story is this: God is down with Facebook, apparently.

much peace, much love, etc.

(1) (a) Some really bad, faux Spanglish for you. Me gusta faux Spanglish. (b) I think that using asterisks for these ridiculous footnotes is unweidly, so I'm trying numerals. Standard, not Roman, because Roman would have been unwieldier than multi-askterisking.
(2) "Clay is blogging/working/watching TV/going to bed." It's important that my friends/people-I-haven't-talked-to-since-high-school know this! I love our narcissistic culture.
(3) Thank you, Mr. R.E. Keen.
(4) You know, like Keyser Soze.
(5) That, and the sheep. Lots of sheep.


  1. God is down with Facebook. Im going to have to make sure I edit my posts before I hit enter!

  2. Thanks for loving me and reminding me that SJ loves me, too! Mike WWC

  3. Love that sneaky jesus and how you sneak him in. Taize Rocks and if I didn't have to trek 4 hours to LA Grande I'd be there with bells on or at least my singing bowl!