This past Saturday, I was ordained to the transitional diaconate (meaning that in six months I will be ordained a priest). As I stood at the altar signing the decree of ordination with Bishop Gutiérrez, he spoke of several things I should remember. In a conversation only he and I could hear, Bishop Gutiérrez swept his hand across the community gathered and said, “Look, all of these people are here for you today,” and after brief pause, he continued, “but always remember that you are here for the church.”
Bishop Gutiérrez went on to ask a question that took me by surprise. He asked, “In one word, who is Jesus for you?” What also took me by surprise was my answer – “Savior.” This is not the first word I would have used for Jesus if you asked me on any other day. Mostly likely I would be more apt to say, “teacher, healer, or friend.” Yet, standing there in the presence of that crowd of beloved people, I felt something deep in my soul exhale when I said the word “Savior.” The bishop’s encouragement was to hold fast to that word and come back to it during my time in ministry.
On Tuesday, during the clergy meeting, I shared that story and invited my colleagues to offer their word of who Jesus is for them. It was a rich conversation of the nature of Jesus on an intimate level. The words used were nouns, adjectives, and verbs. No one had the same word. There was a startling beauty about how Jesus was fresh and different for each of us.
So, I ask you – who is Jesus for you? Consider how Jesus shows up in your life. How might you keep hold of that word or image and allow it to guide your relationship with Jesus? I invite you to write me or stop me the next time you see me. Knowing your word for Jesus would feel like a lovely ordination gift and a way to know you better on your journey of faith.
It is easy to lose sight of Jesus in our busy lives. One way I keep focused on his presence is to have John Wesley’s 21 Questions posted on my bathroom wall. It is the perfect way to meaningfully fill the time as I brush my teeth. The last question on Wesley’s list is, “Is Christ real to me?” It seems like a simple enough question for us as Christians, yet I invite you to hold it close to your heart as you move throughout the world.
Who is Jesus to you…?
Is Christ real to you…?
… and then live into those truths with grace and intention.
The Rev. Emily Given