I want to share this with my blog visitors because it speaks to what you can expect from my soon-to-be-published book, The Memorial of Jesus. In her book Christianity After Religion, Diana Butler Bass, writes:
“Christians are used to reading the Gospels as focusing in Jesus, mostly because our parents and churches have taught us that the purpose of the four books is to tell who Jesus is, so that we might believe in him. This Christ-centered focus is not necessarily wrong, but it does limit our imaginations if we only understand the Gospels as theological puzzles for which we only have to skip to the end to find the correct answers. If we shift the focus, the stories open up in new directions – what if the most important question is not Jesus’s identity per se? What if the most important question is the identity of the other people in the story? How do Jesus’s friends and acquaintances change or gain new insights when they find themselves in Jesus’s company? Who are the disciples, the followers, the crowds, the nameless peasants, the children, the sick, the oppressed, the angry, and the anxious when they discover they are in God?…
“Almost everyone leaves Jesus’s company saying: He made me whole!” “I have been healed!” “I’m not a prostitute, a sinner, an outcast, or a leper. I now know who I really am!” “I may be a Samaritan, but I can still know God.” “I am loved!” “I am accepted as I am! “…in his presence or conversation with him pushes the other person beyond social roles and masks to deeper awareness of “Who am I?”
I am reminded of a radio guy in Chicago years ago that would play romantic music in the evenings. His lead in was this brief poetic phrase: “I love you, not only for who you, are but for who I am when I am with you.” This is what Jesus’ disciples came to realize in their loving him. I invite you to read their stories.