Proper 15C: in search for Chillaxin

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Gospels / Lectionary / New Testament

“What stress I am under.”

Jesus felt stress. Jesus was, in the modern vernacular, stressed out.

Of course he was, he was on his way to his death. His death bore the sins and weight of the whole world.

You’d be stressed too.

But, it’s not a common subject, to talk about Jesus’ stress.

As I write this, I’m sitting in the Cuxa Cloister, in The Cloisters – the branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art dedicated to medieval art and architecture. It’s situated in such a beautiful setting, that one has to remind oneself that one is in Manhattan.

As I ruminate on various sermons throughout this day of sermon retreat I take time to walk around and take in the beauty and history that is here. There seem to be a countless number of Madonnas with Child. There are many crucifixes. And depictions of Jesus as infant, teaching adult, and hanging on the cross abound.

There are pieces here which show Christ in majesty. Christ in agony. Christ as a rigid corpse. Christ in resurrection triumph.

But, I can’t find a single depiction of Christ under stress.

There are many of Mary under stress, both in annunciation, and by the cross.

There are even some of St. John, also in stress, and also under the cross.

But, Jesus is either regal or dying.

In our world, at this time, maybe we need to create some sort of icon to Christ Under Stress. More and more people feel more and more apathy towards God and the church, presumably because they think the church has no meaningful intersection to their busy stressed-out lives.

There’s the boss breathing down your neck, the mortgage payment to make, the fluctuations in the market, there’s terrorists who are out for your death, and swine flu which might break out any moment – and then there’s the really scary stuff like making sure your kid isn’t late for soccer practice, and that she has the right shoes to go with the right outfit.

How would God ever relate to that? How could the church ever relate to that?

Well, Jesus did.

In the ‘good old days’ the faithful would inflict all kinds of bodily torture upon themselves so that they could experience the pain and agony of Christ – so that they could feel closer to Him. We saw that in gory detail in the DaVinci Code.

But, in our world, everyday we already embody some of the sufferings of Christ – albeit in silly, small ways. But, are they any smaller or sillier than whipping ourselves or strapping on a celise?

See Jesus here with the weight of the world’s sin on his shoulders. Our sin. Your sin.

And see how he is stressed.

Pray on that.

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