Friday, March 30, 2007

They Call Me Jesus...

The past couple of weeks I have been going into one of the local schools in Chelmsford to lead some lessons on Easter. I was looking forward to these lessons. I had done some year 7 lessons on Christmas in this same school and I really enjoyed it. The kids were a lot of fun and asked some massive questions. I had no reason to suspect this would be any different.

I had 14 lessons booked. I had seven year 8 classes who I had never met and then the familiar year 7 groups made up the other half. Although any young class are usually excited to have a guest teacher in (the word soon spread that the bearded Christian guy throws out chocolate eggs at the end), I was especially pleased to be greeted by my year 7 friends with exclamations of "oh cool, it's him again" and "yesss, this lesson is going to be fun" (although, having said that, one conversation did go something more like this: Girl #1: "Oh look it's that man again" Girl#2: "What do you mean man?!" Girl #1: "Alright, it's that boy").

But then one of the kids said something weird:

"Cool. It's that guy who did the Christmas lessons. It's Jesus."

The name caught on.

By the end of the two weeks, I was unable to walk through the playground without being bombarded by shouts of "hey Jesus" and "look - it's Jesus" and the popular "got any eggs Jesus?".

My first reaction was to think about the extent to which I'd failed. I'm not supposed to be Jesus. Why aren't they taking Jesus more seriously? Why is Jesus just a funny nickname to these kids?

But then something occurred to me. Maybe I am supposed to be Jesus. Not in a "Carry On Calling Me Jesus and Come Follow Me" type Waco kind of way. But in a "I Might Be the Only Experience of Jesus Some of These Kids Get" kind of way.

Now I should make two things clear at this point:

Number 1: My nickname of Jesus probably had far more to do with the beard and long hair than my inspirational grace and compassion for mankind.
(Note: The picture above is of me and was drawn by one of the year 8 students. Cute when they're five. Not so much so when they're 13 and should be listening. Still, I appreciated the gesture. And if that's how I look I can kind of understand the Jesus thing)

Number 2: I was not encouraging (nor will I ever encourage) anyone to call me Jesus.

But it did make me think. What if I am the only representative of Jesus that some of these young people will ever encounter? That's a big responsibility. Essentially, I do have to be Jesus to them. I have to act as Jesus would have acted. I have to show them the character and grace and love that Jesus would have shown. I have to teach as Jesus would have taught (although I think I can do better - Jesus never had PowerPoint).

I have to be Jesus (or as close as I can get). My Jesus impersonation has always left much to be desired but I owe it to everyone I work with and for to try and be more Christlike.

Maybe there's nothing I can do about the nickname. But I can certainly try to live up to it.


Glyn said...

Oh my goodness. I've only just noticed something on the picture that could be taken rather inappropriately wrongly.

So for clarification purposes, it's my belt.

Just so you know.

Heather's place said...

I was less troubled by the belt and more concerned about why you are wearing a sailor suit?

Anyway - I agree with your serious points. To those kids (and to some of the grown-ups too) you will be the best representation of Jesus they have.

I'm not sure whether we should be surprised or not when people inadvertently speak out profound spiritual truths - even when their trying to be funny.

God bless your work.

Glyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hi Son

If you are Jesus then what does that make me?


Glyn said...

You can be Joseph.

Anonymous said...

Now Son, I don't want to get technical but you remember that conversation we had years ago about where babies come from? Well unlike Joseph I did have something to do with you being here.

However, I readily acknowledge that you are, and always have been a child of God and that, like Jospeh, I am simply privileged to have been entrusted with helping to bring you up.

Love Dad

Liz said...

Elwyn, that's beautiful, seriously, I'm welling up.

Glyn re the picture - I think the guy that's drawn it is also getting you a bit confused with a Hobbit, but all that aside, it sound likes you ARE doing a great job.....unlike me!

I had a complaint from a Grandparent this week - a little girl returned home and told her family that I had told them the Easter Bunny doesn't exist and apparently this has scuppered their plans for an Easter egg hunt on Easter Day.
I neither confirmed nor denied existance of said legendary creature but my blustering response to her question obviouisly led her to beleive that I wasn't entirely confident of the part the Easter bunny plays in the Christian celebration of Easter- very perceptive child.

It's a tough job.

christina said...

Liz, you do a great job and are a fabulously brilliant childrens officer!!! People are all too quick to complain about silly things I find.

Oh, and Glyn you won't be mistaken with Jesus when you wear your new shoes that you bought today....Jesus only had sandals not two pairs of the best trainers ever (although his sandals were on his feet so technically that does make them the best shoes ever to grace this earth!?!)